The question is starting to pop up with greater frequency in our closed bereaved parent groups: How do you make it through the holidays after child loss?
So for the next few days I’m going to share again from the many posts I’ve written in the past five years addressing different aspects of holiday planning, celebration, family dynamics and just plain survival for grieving parents, siblings and those who love them.
Most parents feel a little stressed during the holidays.
We used to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving before our 24/7 supercharged and super-connected world thrust us into hyper-drive. Now we zoom past the first day of school on a highway toward Christmas at breakneck speed.
For bereaved parents, the rush toward the “Season of Joy” is doubly frightening.
Constant reminders that this is the “most wonderful time of the year” make our broken hearts just that much more out of place. Who cares what you get for Christmas when the one thing your heart desires–your child, alive and whole–is unavailable…
In fact, I’ve never been the retreat kind of gal myself.
But I’ve changed my mind about one very different type of retreat that has both encouraged my heart and led to deep and lasting friendships with other women who know the pain of child loss.
Since February, 2018 I’ve had the privilege to be part of two unique, intimate and life-giving retreats for bereaved moms.
This February (21-23) will be the third.
This time we are focusing on God’s promises to redeem our pain, to restore our hearts and to weave the broken threads of our lives into a beautiful tapestry that testifies to hope, grace and the faithful love of our faithful Father.
He binds their wounds, heals the sorrows of their hearts.
Psalm 147:2 VOICE
Hope Lee, a fellow mom-in-loss, provides the wonderful facility (a cozy but spacious camp house in the Mississippi countryside) and I facilitate interactive sessions filled with Bible study, sharing and encouragement.
There is plenty of time to just visit, lots of great food and we usually do a fun craft or other slightly zany activity.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet other moms whose experience may help you in your journey. It will definitely be a safe space to let your hair down and take your mask off.
I have left each weekend with renewed energy, hope and courage for this often tiresome and lonely road.
Depending where you are in this journey the thought of a weekend away with other bereaved moms may be either terrifying or exciting.
But may I encourage you-whether terrified or excited-to listen to the Spirit? If He is pushing you to step out in faith, do it.
I promise you won’t regret it!
Spaces are limited so call or text Hope at 662-574-8445 today and reserve your spot.
I have to admit that I’m not nearly in the fog as much with my mama’s death as I was with Dominic’s death.
I’ve found this time around I can kind of stand a little apart and be a little more objective.
It’s no less horrific or painful or sad, but it IS an orderly death (parents before children) and gives me space to take a step back and observe some things instead of having to filter every single interaction through my emotions.
So can I share a little secret?
It literally takes five minutes or less to encourage a broken heart.
I know people often think that if they don’t have the perfect words or lots of time it’s better to do or say nothing.
That’s just not true.
Send a text, a private message, an email, a card. Make a quick phone call (believe me, the bereaved will not keep you on the line!) or leave a voicemail.
What grieving hearts want to know is that someone sees their pain, someone has taken notice of the drastic and unwelcome change that’s been thrust upon them.
We don’t want to feel invisible. We don’t want to be overlooked because it makes you uncomfortable.
Face your own discomfort (which is microscopic compared to the heartache of the bereaved!) and make the call, send the message, write the email or card.
I promise you will waste more than five minutes today.
So take that tiny bit of time and focus your efforts on speaking courage to a hurting heart.
You don’t have to have the perfect words- “I’m so sorry” is just fine.
Then your head can hit the pillow tonight knowing you helped a heart hold onto hope.
You made a difference between someone giving up or going on.
We’ve all been there-someone we love receives a terminal diagnosis, someone we care about loses a family member, her husband walks away from their marriage of twenty years, his addicted child hasn’t made contact in months.
The list is endless.
This life is hard and broken hearts abound.
What to do?
I’ve written extensively about the many practical ways a friend or family member can reach out and walk beside a wounded heart.
Choosing to offer compassionate companionship is the greatest gift you can give.
But there is another way you can help. You can carry the one you love to the Throne of Grace and intercede on his or her behalf with the One Who can be there when you just can’t.
I’ve learned the hard way that many situations are not fixable.