Is it OK if I Laugh?

Thankfully our family has always turned to laughter as a way of making it through things that would otherwise bring us to tears.  So it wasn’t but a couple days past when we got the news of Dom’s leaving we managed a giggle here and there as his friends shared some funny stories with us.

But it felt strange to have laughter bubbling up in my throat even as I couldn’t stop its escaping my mouth.

It wasn’t the free-floating, airy expression of joy and merriment it used to be.  Instead it was a strangled, mishapen gurgling mixture of the joy I once knew and unspeakable pain I now knew.

It didn’t float airily into the atmosphere, it thudded heavy to the floor.

And then I felt like I was betraying my son.

How could I laugh just days after finding out he would never laugh again?  How could I giggle over a silly story when my own story had drifted into tragic territory?  Was there something dreadfully wrong with me?  Was I somehow defective?

No. No. No.

And No.

There is nothing wrong with laughing-even in the darkest night of child loss.

Laughter is a gift.

When we laugh our hearts and bodies are receiving strength for the work grief requires.

Laughter  has many proven benefits:

  • decreases stress hormones
  • increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease
  • triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • lowers blood pressure
  • works your abdominal muscles
  • improves cardiac health

Dominic had an amazing laughhe was always cutting up, teasing friends and family and finding the funny in every situation.  He loved to laugh.

IMG_1797

One of the favorite stories his classmates told me was when he dressed as a redneck client for a mock trial case.  They were petrified that when he walked into the “courtroom” he was going to ruin their strategy and chances of winning.

But he played the part to perfection and had everyone rolling in the aisles.

I am learning to embrace laughter not only for what it does for ME but for how it links my heart to his.

This Valley is a long, dark place-I’ll take any light that breaks through.

And laughter is one of the brightest.

laughter-infographic-larger-300x298

 

 

Bereaved Parents Month Post: How Do You Breathe?

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

Read the rest here: How Do You Breathe?

Feeling Our Way in the Dark

Often this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death is dark and lonely.  

man in woods with glowing light

I am frightened of what may lay in wait-tragedy has visited once, it could come again.

I know Jesus is my Shepherd and I never doubt His companionship.  But if I’m honest, as much as I lean into that truth, it’s oh, so helpful to have a living, breathing human being walk with me.

So when a friend reaches out and takes my trembling hand it calls courage to my heart.

When we huddle together in the dark places, waiting out the storm of grief or doubt, it gives me strength to carry on.

Never, never underestimate the power of presence.

For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face, and now we know in part, but then we shall know fully just as we have been fully known

I Corinthians 13:12

So until then, what?
We feel our way in the dark.
Until we find each other.
We huddle together in the storm.
Wet and shivering, but together.
And maybe in the end it will be our huddling in the storm that gives us more comfort than our understanding of the storm.”

~Ken Gire, The Weathering Grace of God

 

me too sharing the path

Can’t You Just Fix This?

I’ve been sick the past couple days.

Nothing serious, just a bad cold but the fever, stuffy nose and body aches make everything

So.

Much.

Harder.

And it has reminded me why people flock to the doctor’s office or urgent care clinics on day 5 begging for a pill or shot or SOMETHING that will make them feel better.  Trouble is, viral colds can’t be cured by antibiotics.

But lots of folks refuse to believe that.

The only thing to do for the common cold is to treat the symptoms-drink fluids, get plenty of rest, eat healthy food and take vitamins or over the counter medications.

In other words-slow down, pay attention to what my body needs and take care of myself.

This rotten cold reminds me that on day 1,134 since Dominic left us, I wish there was a pill or a shot or SOMETHING that could make the pain and heartache of child loss go away. Trouble is, the only cure for missing my son is to hold him again.

But that won’t happen this side of heaven.

So the only thing I can do in the meanwhile is to acknowledge the pain, give myself space and time to do the work grief requires and choose to speak truth to my heart so that it can hold on until Jesus calls me home or He returns.

In other words-slow down, pay attention to what my body, soul and spirit need and take care of myself.

I’m not always the best patient when it comes to colds and sometimes I’m not willing to take my own good advice when it comes to grief.

I’m often tempted to ignore my need for rest.  I try to push harder, move faster, go further but it always ends badly.

This Valley is long and I want to finish well.

I’m going to try to be better at doing what it takes to make that happen.

let-yourself-rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repost: Not What I Had Planned

Every time the headlines scream death and destruction, my heart stops.  

When it’s YOUR child, husband, mother, cousin you can’t change the channel or route the conversation to lighter topics.

You just have to bear it.  

Read the rest here:  Not What I Had Planned

Not What I Had Planned

I don’t get to choose.

I don’t get to plan the way life is going to be.

Oh, I bring out the calendar and mark down the days:  birthdays, holidays, special events and obligations.

calender

But then one dark morning a knock stops the clock and makes the world spin faster all at once.

I’m suspended and plunged under in the same breath.

Frozen.  Broken. Horrified.

How did this happen?

How is this my life?

My head and heart explode in pain.

Months pass.  The days march on.

I still don’t get to choose what sunrise brings.

But looking back I’m grateful that when my circle was whole we chose love.

That when the days were unfolding we chose faith.

That even as the night closed in and the days grew dark we continued to cling to the one Hope that proves true.

I’m thankful that my heart was full of praise songs and Scripture and that when I couldn’t lift my hand to turn the pages of my Bible the Spirit used them to whisper courage to my soul.

This Valley is deep and the sun is often hidden by the towering mountains on either side.

I have learned two things:

I can’t determine how life unfolds,

but I can decide where to place my hope. 

“I admit how broken I am in body and spirit,

but God is my strength,

and He will be mine forever.”

Psalm 73:26 VOICE

 

 

 

Orlando: Beyond the Headlines

Let me begin by saying I purposely remove myself from the 24/7 news cycle that beats our ears and tries hard to hammer hearts into whatever shape a particular organization deems most meritorious.

So it is no surprise that I was unaware of the Orlando tragedy until well into the day on Sunday.

And I don’t know what the pundits and politicians or social media gurus are saying.

I only know how it feels.  

I know how it feels to have an officer come to your door and tell you that your child is never coming home.

I know how it feels to receive the devastating news that whatever you said the last time you saw or spoke to your child is the LAST thing you will ever have the opportunity to say to them.

I know how it feels to stand, dumbstruck and reeling, with the instant realization that your world has been wrecked beyond repair-To have to whisper to your heart, “you’ve got to make calls, make connections, make arrangements”.

Oh! My!  

Why, why, why can we not as a nation simply step back and embrace those who have lost so much instead of standing on the ruins of their lives and posturing for ratings, rankings and political, social or moral agendas????

I wrote before, when commenting  here on the incident at the Cincinatti zoo:

If we covered the stories of families who have lost children with the same zeal and creative journalism as we do the lives and deaths of endangered animals, that would change.

If the despair, heartbreak, brokenness and utter horror of bereaved parents’ lives were on display like the sickening piles of poached elephants and rhinos then at least we could have a discussion that was more informed and even-tempered.

We are a death avoidant culture-we splatter gore across the screen in video games and movies-but we DO NOT discuss the ongoing impact loss has on the ones left behind.

These lives are not numbers, they are not just names or a sweet little synoptic bio plastered on Twitter, Facebook or an AP newswire.  

They are people-with families, friends and loved ones.

There is a single, appropriate response to this tragedydeep mourning for the lives lost to hatred and violent action and prayer for the ones left behind.

I refuse to entertain the musings and posturing of ANYONE who does not first-and for an appropriate length of time-acknowledge the loss of sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers-each a unique creation with an eternal soul.

Tears.

TEARS are what should be filling the airwaves, the streets, our altars.

weep with those who weep