What I Want You to Know About My Grief

I am so very thankful I live in a country where the vast majority of parents do not know what it’s like to bury a child.

I am part of a relatively small group.  Bereaved parents make up a tiny segment of the population.

It’s possible that you may never be close friends with someone who has lost a child.

And because death and dying are unpopular subjects, and because grieving parents can become very good at hiding the pain, even if you DO meet someone whose child has died, they may never tell you about it.

So, so many of the friends I have made on this journey live each day bearing the weight of grief AND the heavy burden of being misunderstood-at work, in church, even in their own extended families.

One of the first posts I wrote was born out of this angst-birthed in pain as I realized that even well-meaning friends and family members who have not experienced child loss really don’t have any idea how it feels :

People say, “I can’t imagine.

But then they do.

They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.

That’s not it at all.

Read the rest: What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

 

Waiting on Sunrise

I realize that some people reading this can’t imagine a scenario where Google Maps won’t guide them to the nearest Starbucks.

But I’m old enough to remember when paper maps were all we had, cell phones were science fiction and Interstate exit signs didn’t include helpful footnotes to tell you what restaurants and gas stations were just beyond the tree line.

Even further back in time, people traveled with only the sun and stars to mark their progress.

The rising sun was a sure and faithful witness to which way was east.

Every morning a wise traveller took note of where they had been and made sure that they were headed in the right direction to get where they wanted to go.

Grief often feels like I’ve been picked up by a whirlwind and deposited in a country with no familiar landmarks and all the signposts are in another language.

If I try to depend on my own sense of direction, I’m condemned to walk in circles, wind up lost and never find my bearings.  I will not be able to point myself toward home.  .

For my hurting heart, God’s Word is my morning sun.

I orient my thoughts to His truth and walk on, even when I’m unsure of the road, because I can trust His promises.

Each day, I shake off slumber, open my eyes and look for the infallible Guide that can lead me in the right direction.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and with hope I wait for his word.
     My soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 GW

 

 

 

Today’s Choice

Every day I have a choice:  do I allow grief to overwhelm me and harden my heart or do I cling to mercy and grace and embrace my vulnerability?

Losing a child is a uniquely painful experience, but we all face some kind of trial.  Every one of us carries a burden.  Each of us must decide.

And it’s not that easy.

Read more here:  A Daily Struggle

 

Messy Lives, Merciful Savior

Growing up digesting Disney fairy tales can warp your sense of reality.

There are no unblemished princes or perfect princesses out there.  The bad guys don’t always get what they deserve and the good guys don’t always win.

At least not here on earth.

I want the scales to balance, I want the last chapter to wrap up all the loose ends and expose all the secrets.  I want to know what happened and why-oh, to know WHY!

But that’s not how it is.  I live a messy life with untidy edges.

So do most people.

The Bible doesn’t gloss over the hard places of life.  God’s Word doesn’t hide the faults of God’s heroes. His Spirit directed the men who penned the holy pages to tell it all-the good, the bad AND the ugly.

I think sometimes in our desire to demonstrate the power of Christ in our lives we want to tie things up into a perfect package.

I know I do-I want desperately to be able to say that I can see the good in Dominic’s death. I long to be able to point to a finished monument of redeemed pain and restored joy.

But I’m compelled to tell it like it is.

And it is just plain HARD.

But God uses the broken things of this life to display His glory.

Because then there is NO DOUBT as to the Source of strength.  He leaves no room for boasting.

He declares His power and faithful love by taking those of us who are weak and stumbling and leading us home, redeemed and victorious.

For look at your own calling as Christians, my brothers. You don’t see among you many of the wise (according to this world’s judgment) nor many of the ruling class, nor many from the noblest families. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world calls weak to shame the strong. He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are—that no man may boast in the presence of God. Yet from this same God you have received your standing in Jesus Christ, and he has become for us the true wisdom, a matter, in practice, of being made righteous and holy, in fact, of being redeemed. And this makes us see the truth of scripture: ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.

I Corinthians 1:26-31 PHILLIPS

 

 

More Time

The other day I needed to get something in the room where we have Dominic’s things stored-not the boxed-up-not-dealing-with-them-now things-but the personal things that bear his scent, his mark, his personality.

And the warm spring air had concentrated the odor that is him just behind the doorway.  It caught me by surprise-that I could still smell him, still feel his presence, still be so certain that he had just passed by this very spot.

My mama heart cried, “More time!”

Just one more minute,

one more hug,

one more “I love you”,

one more breath.

But it would never be enough.  One more would only feed my longing for the next minute.

There is no earthly cure for this heart sickness.  No words to make it better.  No medicine strong enough to numb the pain of missing him.

So I wait.

I wait for my heart to heal enough so that I can focus on something other than healing.

I wait for passion to return to my soul.

I wait for a day-just one day-when joyful moments outweigh sorrowful ones.

I wait for the promised beauty from ashes.

I wait for faith to be made sight.

And while I wait, I turn my heart and mind and strength toward the One Who is Faithful and True.

Nothing that has cursed mankind shall exist any longer; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be within the city. His servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name will be upon their foreheads. Night shall be no more; they have no more need for either lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will shed his light upon them and they shall reign as kings for timeless ages.

Then the angel said to me, “These words are true and to be trusted, for the Lord God, who inspired the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must shortly happen.”

“See, I come quickly! Happy is the man who pays heed to the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Revelation 22:3-7 PHILLLIPS

 

 

Still Wrestling

If you’re looking on from the outside you might well think that I’ve laid most of my questions to rest; that I’m no longer wrestling with trying to comprehend both the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God;  and that I’ve figured out how to reconcile verses that seem to promise protection for those that love the Lord and the reality of death and destruction of some of the very same people.

But you would be wrong.

I do experience the peace that passes all understanding.  I do rely on Jesus to be the Arbiter of Truth and the Umpire of my questions:

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

Colossians 3:15 AMP

.I am trusting fully in the ultimate redemption of my pain.

Yet there are moments when I am overwhelmed by the “whys”. Thankfully they don’t come as often as they used to.

Still, I refuse to pretend that I have it all figured out.  Five months later I continue to identify with what I wrote here:  Wrestling With God

 

Slow Fade

It would be easier, in a way, if it happened all at once.

If the vivid memories of his voice, his laugh, his body language, his sense of humor just disappeared-POOF!-now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t. Then I could make a single adjustment.

But that’s not how it is.  Instead, the living proof of his existence recedes like a wave from the shoreline, only there’s no returning surge to remind me of the force that was Dominic.

Each new day marks one more rotation of the earth, one more sunrise and sunset that places me further from the last time I saw him, the last time I heard his voice, the last time I hugged his neck.

And there is no cure for time marching on.  There is no “pause” button that I can push to let me catch my breath and allow my heart to comprehend the reality my body and mind must embrace.

Small mementos that are insignificant to those around me crumble to dust between my fingers.  Eventually I’m forced to sweep them up and put them away forever.

His friends find jobs, get married, have children-wonderful life events, things I celebrate with them-but they also remind me that he will never do those things.  I will never hold his child, relieved the labor is over, thrilled to see his eyes or nose in a tiny face looking back at me.

The subtle and constant change keeps me off-balance.  As soon as I think I have found my footing on this new plateau of loss, the earth moves beneath me and I’m stumbling once again.  

I came across this quote not long after Dominic left us.  When I first read it, I didn’t really understand.

But now I do.

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany