I admit I’m full of words. When my mama came to pick me up when her best friend was babysitting for awhile, she said, “You can’t have her yet, she’s telling me all kinds of things!”
More than once my mouth got me in trouble.
It’s still the source of most of my problems.
But for a time after Dominic left I found that the only words I could muster beyond what was absolutely necessary were written in my journal. Because the words I wanted to say were bitter and harsh and tasted bad as they came up my throat and threatened to roll off my tongue.
I didn’t want to tell the story of that early morning knock. I didn’t want to speak aloud the terror that gripped my soul, the literal shattering of my heart, the unholy darkness that enveloped me.
I HAD to make phone calls. I was forced to say, “Dominic is dead” over and over and over. Then I wanted to hide in silence and stay on the fringe of conversations that filled our home and the church before we buried him.
It seemed easier to swallow the words than taste them.
But I couldn’t do that forever.
Eventually the words began to rot inside me and make the pain even worse. I had to let them out. I had to talk about it. All of it.
The actual events.
The feelings associated with the accident.
The pain of choosing a cemetery plot, a casket, an order of service, of writing an obituary, of burying my son.
The awful emptiness that one life missing makes in a family of six.
The fact that at some point I woke from the stupor enough to wonder how the God I had worshiped for all these years let this happen.
And I needed someone to listen. I needed someone to be a witness to my words. It was no longer enough to write them down, wrap them up and hide them away.
They had to be spoken so that the power they had over my soul could be broken.
Thank God for people who are willing to listen!
I have friends and family who let me recite the same thing over and over and over so that each telling helps my heart toward healing.
I have several online and in-person communities of bereaved parents who do the same (and more!) because they understand precisely how I feel and can offer hope from their own stories of healing. *
Listening is love in action.
If you know someone whose heart carries great grief-and child loss is not the only hard journey hearts are making–offer to listen.
Give up a few minutes to hear how they are really doing, what is really hard, what they really need to say but may be afraid to speak aloud. Leave spaces in conversation so a heart can work up the courage to share. Don’t be quick to offer platitudes that shut down deep discussion.
It often takes many, many repetitions of traumatic events for a heart to begin to heal.
And each time you grant someone permission to share and listen to his or her story, you are applying balm to a weary soul. ❤
*Here are two online closed communities for bereaved parents: While We’re Waiting Support for Bereaved Parents Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child
The Compassionate Friends offers in-person support groups around the country.
GriefShare also holds classes and offers in-person support. Check online for availability in your area.