Code Words and the Jesus Juke

In the South we have our ways.  Our ways of marginalizing folks who don’t quite fit in with who we think they should be or how we expect them to act.

Mostly we use code words.  Words that seem innocent enough to the uninitiated but pack a punch if you have inside information and know what they really mean.

Any sentence that begins, “Bless her heart….” will almost surely end with a tidbit of gossip that undermines a reputation.

Sometimes we switch it up (especially in church) with “I think we need to pray for…”.  Because we all know asking for prayer is holy, even if the situation isn’t and the person mentioned would just as soon her business stay private.

Social media has its own code words too.

Vague references to someone or something we don’t like or agree with usually begin with,  “Ugh!  I just don’t understand why….” followed by a litany of thinly veiled complaints.

But sometimes the code isn’t very complicated and it’s really easy for others to figure out precisely who or what you are talking about.

And it damages reputations and hurts feelings and you may sit back in  your chair, tablet or laptop in hand, thinking, “Not my problem.  I didn’t say WHO it was”.

But it IS your problem.

Even when you cloak your complaint or comment in biblical references or godly quotes, bottom line is you are accusing or mocking or undermining someone else.

My daughter calls it “Jesus juking”-tacking on a Bible verse before or after a remark in an attempt to shut down discussion or rebuttal.

Because if someone tries to disagree with YOU, it’s set up to make them look like they are disagreeing with Scripture or God Himself.

I don’t like these games people play.  I don’t like code words.  I don’t like tactics intended to make others feel small so I can feel larger.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Sometimes social media forces my hand and I have to speak publicly on what I would rather discuss privately.

But that’s rare.

If I have a problem with someone, I try to take it directly to THEM.

And I hope they will do the same with me. ❤

did I offer peace

#Iknow

After publishing the last post, there has been interest on some private grief support sites to create our own version of the #metoo hashtag sweeping social media.  

We tend to talk among ourselves, lamenting the lack of understanding that losing a child changes everything.

So here it is, folks.  Our opportunity to stand and be counted.  Our chance to have our voices heard.

Let’s speak up.  

Let’s refuse to be shamed into silence.

#Iknow

child-loss-overcome

 

 

Boundaries: I’m Not a Punching Bag

Last week I wrote a post titled They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know and made the case that often folks say insensitive things but truly don’t mean harm.  Many are walking in the dark and step on our toes because they can’t see.

But there are some people who make it a habit to be insensitive.

They are the ones who delight in speaking their mind regardless of how it hurts another heart.  They pride themselves on “telling it like it is” and justify the fallout as a necessary consequence of “opening the eyes” of people they consider “blind to the truth”.

And while I believe that it is my duty as a Christ follower to forgive these folks when they hurt my feelings, I do not believe that I am required to continue to offer my heart to them to be tossed to the ground and trampled.

boundary yellow line

I do not have to welcome them with open arms and invite their untimely and unkind comments.  

I do not have to engage with them on social media-I can unfollow, unfriend or simply ignore their posts.  I can delete inappropriate comments made on my own posts and untag myself when they try to draw my attention to an article or meme that they think “helps” when it only wounds me.

If the person is a family member, I can choose to be polite when we meet at gatherings but I do not have to sit next to them at the table.  I can excuse myself early from birthday parties, Sunday dinners or holiday meals.  I can simply refuse an invitation and stay home instead.

If the person is someone tightly woven into the fabric of my friendships, I can do the same thing-choosing not to be alone with them so I’m not an easy target for their “helpful” monologues.

If the person is a casual acquaintance then I can choose not to engage them at all. It’s OK to scoot around the next aisle in the grocery store so that I’m not caught like a deer in headlights when they see me and exclaim, “How ARE you???”

In other words, it is perfectly acceptable to have boundaries around my heart so I can survive this journey.

It is healthy.

It is necessary.

I’m not required to be someone else’s punching bag.

punching bag

Please Share!

I realized after I wrote about the recent incident where someone plagiarized my blog there was a good deal of confusion about HOW to share it appropriately.

I wanted to clear up the confusion.  So here’s how to do it:

  • I post every blog set on “public” on my personal Facebook page.  You are always welcome to share it like any Facebook post which means it will include my original comments and the link to the blog;
  • I post every blog on the public page Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child and it can be shared from there the same way;
  • You can click on the LINK to the blog and use any of the social media buttons at the bottom of the blog to share to the social media platform of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.);
  • If you are a WordPress user, you may reblog any post by clicking that button-you will have the option to add personal comments and then the blog will show up on your site with a link back to my original post.

I also post the blog on several closed bereaved parents’ sites on Facebook.  

If that’s where you see it, please click on the link and share from the blog itself to protect the privacy of those sites and the people who belong to them.

A great way to be sure you never miss a post is to sign up to receive blog posts in your email.  Just click on the “follow blog via email” button on the right hand side of any blog post.  

You get the whole post-not just a link that makes you click through.  That’s an easy, fast way to get it every morning without having to get on Facebook.  You can forward the email to friends if you like.

Really the only way NOT to share the blog is by copying and pasting the content and then posting it as your own.

I love, love, love when I get feedback from another bereaved parent that says what I’ve written is what they feel or have experienced.  Not because I wish this pain on a single soul, but because I know others share my pain and I am thankful that sometimes MY words help them put THEIR feelings into a form they can share with others.

So, if a particular post is helpful to you-please DO SHARE.   ❤

 

 

Plagiarism

I write because it’s important to me and because I want to share freely what I feel God is teaching me in this Valley of the Shadow of Death.

I don’t have affiliate links on my blog, don’t sell books, posters or merchandise and have no plans to do so.

But I am jealous of the content I produce.  Not jealous because I think it is of high value but jealous because the words are wrung from ny heart each evening to be posted the next morning.  Jealous because they reflect MY experience, expose MY heart and contain details of MY journey.

In all the time I’ve been sharing, I have never had a post stolen, to my knowledge.  Until the other day when I found another blogger had re-blogged my post, “International Bereaved Mother’s Day” and given credit (appropriately) to where she had found it-on a Facebook page.  

I followed the link and yep, there it was-MY post, copied and pasted changed-only to exclude Dominic’s name and replace it with “child”.  Even the graphic I chose was used.  

I contacted the page and they have agreed to correct the post and add the link to the blog. I appreciate that.  

But in responding to my concerns, the page administrator indicated that it had been found and reposted from another page ( I don’t know which one).  And that upsets me.  

I know social media is risky business and that I can’t stop anyone from doing whatever they want to once I hit “publish”.  But I would ask that in this community of bereaved parents we show one another the respect anyone deserves and honor our individual contributions, whatever they may be.

Taking the words of another and passing them off as your own is plagiarism.  It is wrong and it is hurtful.  

I will keep writing and risking but now I’m on guard and I hate that.  

If you are a regular reader/poster/sharer I ask that you help me watch for this in the future.

I want people to share.  

That’s the purpose of writing-that one more heart my be encouraged or strengthened for another day in this Valley.  So share away!

But please do it honestly 🙂 ❤

Healthy Boundaries in Grief

As a people-pleasing first born who hates conflict, giving in has always been  easy for me. It’s only later that I wish I hadn’t.  

So for most of my life, setting personal boundaries has been challenging.

But in the aftermath of child loss, healthy boundaries are no longer optional, they are necessary for survival.  

So what are healthy boundaries?

  • Saying “no” without guilt
  • Asking for what you want or need
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Saying “yes” because you want to, not out of obligation or to please others
  • Behaving according to your own values and beliefs
  • Feeling safe to express difficult emotions and to have disagreements
  • Feeling supported to pursue your  own goals
  • Being treated as an equal
  • Taking responsibilty for your own emotions
  • Not feeling responsible for someone else’s emotions
  • Being in tune with your own feelings
  • Knowing who you are, what you believe, what you like

~sharonmartincounseling.com

What does this look like in real life?

  • Not being “guilted” into engaging in social/family/church activities before I am ready
  • Letting family and friends know when I need encouragement, companionship, solitude, help or space
  • Keeping or making doctor’s appointments and staying on top of my physical well-being by sleeping/eating/taking medication/exercising as best I can
  • Participating in what is helpful and life-giving to me when I want to and not because I feel like I have to.  
  • Giving myself space and time to figure out how losing a child impacts my beliefs, my sense of self, my understanding of the world-being honest about questions and about struggles.  If I have to take a break from church for awhile, that’s OK.
  • Expecting support from friends and family to do the work grief requires.  If some in my circle can’t do this, then I’ll put those relationships on hold until I feel stronger. I am not required to live up to other people’s standards.
  • Embracing and acknowledging my own emotions.  Not expecting someone else to “make me better”.  No one can take away the sorrow and pain of child loss.  It is excruciating.  There is no way through but THROUGH.  Face the feelings.  Get help from a counselor if necessary.  Join a support group.  Find safe friends.  But I will not be able to distract myself or ignore the heartache forever.
  • Understand that though I share the loss with others-a spouse, my surviving children, my child’s grandparents, etc-I am not responsible for how they are dealing with loss. I may offer help, may arrange counseling (especially for children), should strive toward an environment where feelings can be expressed-but I can’t work through their loss experience for them.  
  • Pay attention to my own feelings and what triggers grief attacks.  When I can, plan around the triggers.  When I can’t, accept the feelings and go with them.  If I need to leave a venue, leave.

What it doesn’t look like:  

Healthy personal boundaries are not an excuse for bad behavior.  They are not to be used as blunt instruments to bully others into submission or to advance my own agenda against theirs.

My boundaries don’t give me the right to be hateful, hurtful or unkind.  They are not permission to pitch fits, make public displays or belittle others.  

say-what-we-need-to-say-gently

And they are absolutely NOT a reason to plaster hate speech across social media.  If I have a personal relationship issue then it needs to be handled personally and privately not publicly. Vague Facebook statuses that suggest I’ve been offended by half my friend list are off limits.

Establishing healthy personal boundaries is work.  

Already exhausted from grief, the last thing I want is more work.

But if I don’t defend the space and time I need to do the work grief requires I cannot make progress toward healing.

If I don’t limit my interaction with those who are unhelpful or downright hurtful, I will be dragged down further in the mire of sorrow and sadness.

If I don’t purposely pursue physical, emotional and psychological health, grief will kill me.

Thanks for Listening!

One year ago today I began sharing my grief journey publicly on this blog.

IMG_1790

 

 

You can read that first post here.

 

It was (and still is) scary to expose my thoughts and feelings to a wider audience than just the pages of my personal journal.

I’m never certain that what is helpful for me is necessarily helpful for anyone else.  But in writing it down I find that I am able to sort through things better than when I leave it bouncing around in my own head space.

I decided upfront that I would be as honest as possible about what I felt and how I was coping.  I wasn’t sure if I would post only a few times or a lot, if it would turn into a day-by-day diary or a more sweeping revelation of deeper things.

I think it’s kind of been both at times.

And here we are, 366 days (it was a leap year) and  355 posts later and I’m still here and you’re still listening.

I don’t claim to have any special gifting or knowledge or ability.  I am simply one mama whose love for both her child in heaven and her children still here demands that I speak out.

My heart is full of  love and pain.

thank you

And my heart has been blessed beyond measure by those who read and share what I have written.  I’ve met-in person and virtually-many bereaved parents who are helping me as I continue down this road.

I am so very thankful for each one.

I pray that for those who read these words and know the pain of burying a child, I am speaking things you may think or feel but are not willing or able to express.

And I pray that in hearing them spoken aloud, you are affirmed and encouraged that you. are. not. alone.

Dominic matters.  

Your child matters.  

It’s not only OK but absolutely necessary to admit that life after child loss is a struggle.  It is also just fine to take your time working through the pain and sorrow and overwhelming changes child loss brings.

For those who read my posts and do not share this pain, I pray you gain insight into what bereaved parents feel and how burying a child changes EVERYTHING.

I hope you are better equipped to offer the ongoing support we need and crave.  I hope you learn that this is not something we have chosen, it is something that happened to us. 

And I pray that all of us will be more willing to extend grace, mercy and love to one another.

Words are not neutral.  

They bring life or death.

They wound or heal.

May each of us be an instrument of healing for someone’s hurting heart.   

its hurting again