If you’ve joined me here for more than a minute you know I am a fierce advocate for bereaved parents in particular and all grievers in general.
But you’ve probably also noticed that, at least in my own life, I recognize how traumatic and/or difficult circumstances can make it hard to see past the hurt and the shattered world a broken heart inhabits. I can judge others harshly without meaning to.
A couple of recent incidents have reminded me how easy it is to interpret every offhand comment or heartfelt opinion as targeted at ME when, in fact, they are simply a reflection of that person’s experience in the world.
I can’t insist that others see the world through MY eyes if I’m not equally prepared to try to see it through THEIRS.
Look, I know how painful it is to scroll through social media posts and feel the darts land square in the center of my heart. Parents bemoaning their children leaving home (all the while I’m thinking, “yeah-but you can call, visit and still hug your child”); folks complaining about how hard it is to manage schedules and meals or trying to figure out family vacations with teens or young adults (“gee, I wish I had the privilege of including ALL my kids for holidays“); and then there are the “miraculous deliverance from a wreck” posts (I’m wondering why Dom wasn’t delivered).
ButNONEof those folks are posting or commenting with me in mind. They are simply sharing their thoughts and feelings just like I share my own.
I’ve learned to just scroll on past.
It’s neither healthy nor helpful for me to type some long (or short!) snarky comment trying to “correct” them. I’m not entirely sure they need correcting.
Before it was ME that sent a child to Heaven I had No. Idea.
They don’t either.
So save your energy for the work grief requires. Save it for the family you’ve got left. Save it for a rainy day when tears fall as fast as drops from the sky.
One of the magical aspects of sunflowers is how they move through the day to always face the sun.
Like other plants, they depend on light to make their food but unlike others, they seem intent on thanking the source.
I am always encouraged when I pass a patch of sunflowers standing stalwart, saluting in unison the life-giving rays. They remind me that I am just as dependent as they are.
I can’t draw breath without the light and life of Christ in me.
But I forget that sometimes.
Clouds of sadness and despair obscure my vision and I’m tempted to turn away. Life gets hard and I wonder why it has to be like that. Responsibility grows heavy and I can’t lift my head.
So I lose sight of the Son-who He is, what He’s done and how He continues to sustain me even when I can neither see it or feel it.
It’s just then I need to turn toward Him.
It’s that very moment I require extra grace to look up (which He supplies) and extra faith (which He endows) to see clearly.
When I do, He always renews my strength.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening? Yahweh is the one and only everlasting God, the Creator of all you can see and imagine! He never gets weary or worn out. His intelligence is unlimited; he is never puzzled over what to do! He empowers the feeble and infuses the powerless with increasing strength. Even young people faint and get exhausted; athletic ones may stumble and fall. But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace will experience divine strength. They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles, run their race without growing weary, and walk through life without giving up.”
I think Dominic’s death has made me brave in this one tiny place: I say things I might not have said before. I risk pain in relationships where I might not have been willing to risk before. I assume that if I don’t speak important truths RIGHT NOW I might not get another chance.
I long to be a burden bearer for my friends and family because I know what it is to bear a burden.
So I ask and don’t assume.
If someone wants to be left alone, then they are free to tell me.
But I will not stay silent or keep away simply for my own comfort.
If you are new to this journey and still in the throes of asking, “Why ME?” I don’t want my words to feel like a rebuke.
I STILL have moments when I look around and bemoan the fact that it seems (from the outside looking in) other families are sailing through life with little more than tiny bumps in the road while mine is being asked to navigate around (and through!) giant craters with a barely functional vehicle.
But the Lord woke me up one day about eighteen months into this journey with some insight: I’m not the first nor the last mama to bury a child.
Truth is, few of us escape some sort of hardship in life and many of us face tragedy.
It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But you are not alone.
I cannot bring Dominic back-I cannot have my child once again in my arms. I cannot undo the damage death has wrought and the great gash loss has made in my heart.
And so I am left with my pain and my questions.
“Why?” is not a particularly fruitful question (although I ask it still).
I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid. I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.
I am learning so much through grieving my son.
I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.
And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.