Bone Deep Grief

My fellow bereaved mother and blogger, Kathleen Duncan, recently wrote that she felt she was done writing about grief.

It’s been  a little over four years since her son Andrew ran ahead to heaven and, as she explains:

I think I’m done.

I think I’m done writing about death. Writing and thinking about death, grief, and pain doesn’t help me anymore. And it may be detrimental for me to spend time writing about those topics. ~ Kathleen B. Duncan

Both our sons were killed instantly in an accident (although the details are different) and both were vibrant young men pursuing what they loved when they left this life.

That got me to thinking since I’m only a few months behind her in my own grief journey.

Because my experience seems to be very different from hers.  

I still find writing not only helpful, but healing.  And while I think of many things in addition to grief, I still think about grief often-not only my own, but that of others.  Not only the grief of bereaved parents, but of all the suffering, broken people I meet or hear about each day.

The feeling is different, but it remains.  

At first my grief was so overwhelming and the sorrow loomed so large that it was constantly before my eyes.  Everything I saw, heard, experienced or felt was filtered through tears.  The world was a blurry place and life was unbearably hard.  Every day I labored to lift my head from the pillow and roll my body from the bed.  Every morning I remembered afresh that Dominic was not here, that my family circle was broken, that another 24 hours loomed large and lonely before me.

It’s definitely not like that anymore.

But, for me, what’s changed is the location of my sorrow and sadness, not the FACT of it.

Now, instead of being in front of me, my sorrow has bored its way into my bones.  It rests deep inside the core of who I am, woven into the fabric of me.

I think of it like I think of being a mother.  

My “baby” is 25 years old.  But if I hear a plaintive “Mama!” in a store, I instinctively turn to see where the desperate or needy child may be.  I can’t resist even when my head tells me that whoever it is, isn’t MY responsibility.

My heart responds because “Mama” is an unchangeable part of my identity.

I don’t cry every day.  I don’t only see, feel or hear things through a veil of tears anymore. But bereavement has changed me forever.  It remains part of the way I experience the world.

I appreciate Kathleen.  I hate that we are part of the same “club” where the dues are higher than anyone would willingly pay but I love the precious community of loving parents who are willing to share their journeys through blogs, closed groups and published books.

And I am blessed by honesty, transparency and authenticity-whatever that looks like.

For me, that’s to continue writing about my grief journey.  For someone else, maybe not. 

There’s room for everyone because what calls courage to MY heart might not call courage to yours. 

I suspect that just as our children are unique, the circumstances surrounding their deaths unique and we are unique, so will be our grief experience. 

grief-is-as-individual-as-a-snowflake

 

What Does God’s Love Look Like?

If, as a believer in Christ, I abide in Him and am filled with His limitless love, why do I portion it out in such a miserly fashion?

I often act as though it were MY personal treasure house and that to give love freely diminishes my supply.

What foolishness!

God’s love is eternal and bottomless and as a conduit of that love He invites me to lavish love on others without fear of running out.

What does God’s love look like. It has hands to help others, it has feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

~Augustine

Love is never wasted!

I want to love without limits and without fear, trusting God with my heart because He is the One Who fills it.

love is not what you say it is what you do pooh

Give What You’ve Got

If you had asked me four years ago where I’d be and what I’d be doing in life, I can guarantee you that writing a blog and ministering to bereaved parents wouldn’t have been in the top 1000 answers I might have given.

But here I am.  

Because it is where I have been sent.

Not where I would have gone-oh, no!-I would have taken a ship in the opposite direction like Jonah if God had given me a heads up.  Instead I was whisked away on the waves of grief right out to sea.  

Gasping for breath and trying to keep my head above water, I realized that what I had needed early on were two things:  (1) assurance that what I was experiencing/feeling/thinking was normal; and (2) encouragement from others farther along in this journey that I could endure this awful pain.

So I stepped out in faith hoping that being authentic, transparent and sharing MY journey might help another heart desperate to know she wasn’t alone.

I decided that even if others misunderstood or took issue with or didn’t like what I wrote,  I would not pull any punches.  

It was going to be the good, the bad and the ugly.  

No holds barred.

Emotional nakedness-even if it meant embarrassment.  

And I pray every single time I hit “publish” that what I send into cyberspace is what at least one heart needs for THAT day.

It’s all I’ve got, and I’m giving it away.

go where sent stay where put give what youve got

Kim Nolywaika at You Can Trust Him was kind enough to nominate thelifeididntchoose for a Liebster Award. What a surprise!

Thanks, Kim.

Liebster-award-ribbon

As per the (alternative, Set #2) Rules, I would also like to nominate the following blogs that I follow and which bless me:

Boxx Banter

Cause Me to Hear

Finding Joy in Him

Kathleen B. Duncan

Shattered Dreams and Shattered Faith

 

 

 

How “Sunday School” Answers Isolate Wounded Hearts

We of the conservative right rail against political correctness.

We chafe at the constraints imposed from government, media and society that make us feel strangled when we share our faith, our opinion and our life values.

“Free speech!” we cry.

Yet the church has its own form of political correctness that often silences and isolates the very ones we should be serving.

It comes in the form of quick Scriptural replies to heart cries of “Where is God?” (“He’s right here beside you, faithful and good.”)

“Why did this happen?” (“All things work together for good for those that love the Lord.”)

“I don’t think I can take it anymore!” (“I can do all things through Christ.” Or “We are more than conquerors through Jesus.”)

Where is the compassion in that?

I firmly believe that:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

2 Timothy 3:16

Yet, wisdom isn’t only knowing WHAT to say, it’s also discerning WHEN to say it.

wisdomSunday School answers only serve to widen the gap between hurting hearts and the hallelujah crowd.

What wounded hearts need first is understanding, not correction.  They need to know that church is a safe place to speak the pain they carry.  They need to be welcomed into a community of grace and mercy where healing can begin.

in every encounter pretty

 

Repost: No. It’s a Complete Sentence

When news that Dominic left us spread, our yard was filled with friends and family here to help bear the burden of grief and loss.

Our house was bursting with people and food and phone calls-more coming and going than our gravel lane had seen in a lifetime of living up in the woods.

It was beautiful and terrible all at the same time.

Read the rest here:  No. It’s a Complete Sentence.

Feel and Deal to Heal

If I touch a hot stove my hand jerks away almost before my mind registers the searing pain.  It’s reflex.  Our bodies were designed to react to and protect us from things that cause pain.

Run away.  Don’t go back.  Set up barricades and warning signs so that others can be protected.

Most of the time, this reaction serves us well.

But sometimes those reflexes keep us from healing.

Anyone who’s had major surgery knows that when the nurses come in the next morning saying, “We’re going to get you out of bed today!”, the last thing you want to do is swing your legs over and stand up.  It HURTS!

We want to avoid what hurts, not embrace it.

So it’s no surprise that when we suffer deep emotional wounds, our first response is to try to run away or bury them or ignore them.  The last thing we want to do is face them.

But if I am to heal, I have to face them.  I have to take hold of each place where the dagger of grief and sorrow and regret and anger has pierced my heart and examine it closely.  I have to decide what to do with it, how to integrate it into my life after loss.

Grief is work!  That is one of the reasons grievers need solitude as well as companionship on this journey.  And that is why grief can’t be hurried along.  It takes a great deal of time to do the work grief requires.

If instead of facing our pain, we try to run away or distract ourselves or numb ourselves with alcohol, food or drugs, we only prolong the process.  Grief will not be ignored forever.

healing doesnt mean damage never existed

We must FEEL what we need to feel.

Then we must DEAL with those feelings-it might mean seeking a professional counselor or a trusted friend.  Online or in-person grief support groups are a wonderful resource. Journaling can help too.  But we have got to acknowledge and work through these feelings.

And then we can begin to HEAL  Hearts that have embraced and made some sense of grief can begin to beat again.  They can begin to love again and feel joy again.  They can learn to carry both sorrow and happiness-to remember and honor the missing child while also honoring and loving family and friends still here.

It’s not a “once and done” exercise.

I have repeated these steps over and over in the nearly three and a half years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  New feelings show up at the door of my heart and I have to choose to feel them, to search for what they mean and why they are here and then allow them to be woven into the fabric of who I am NOW-this side of child loss.

It takes courage and stamina and determination, but it is the only way forward.  

owning-our-story-and-loving-ourselves-through-the-process