I am NOT Crazy!

It was just over a year after Dominic’s accident and a friend forwarded an article about odd behaviors of those who were “stuck’ in grief.  Along with the forward was a little tag, “Reminds me of you.”

It hurt my feelings.

And it was inappropriate.

Because not only had I not participated in any of the listed behaviors (most of which anyone would deem odd and some that were actually harmful) but as far as I could tell, I was doing pretty good, considering.

Considering I went to bed one night with four children alive and well and woke in the wee hours of the next day to the news that one was dead.

No warning.  No good-byes.

Just gone.

In the months since that day I had gotten up each morning and taken care of necessary tasks.  I was not abusing alcohol, drugs or food.  I was still exercising when I could.

And I was engaged with my family -working with them to put the pieces of our shattered lives and hearts back together again.

Yes, I cried.  A lot.  No, I didn’t like to be around crowds.  I stayed at home much more than before. I struggled with anxiety when anything out of the ordinary happened.  I found small talk hard to follow and forgot things (still do). And I was not participating in many “extra” activities.

I slept with Dominic’s pillows every night-it was a way to touch what was left of him.

But I was functioning.

My friend’s reaction to the fact that I was “still” grieving after a year is not all that unusual.

I speak to bereaved parents who are often made to feel by others as if they should “be over” the death of their child.

They are told to “move on”.

Or, in faith circles, to “be happy he is in heaven”.

Most mental health professionals agree that child loss is probably the most difficult loss anyone has to bear.  

A simple Google search will turn up dozens of articles that support this understanding of a parent’s heartache and lifelong struggle to embrace the pain of losing a child.

Yet most people are unaware of this fact.

So I’m here to tell you-grieving mama, grieving dad-you are NOT crazy!  

You are not overreacting to one of the most awful things that can happen to someone.  Out of order death is devastating!

When asked about his son years after he had died,  Gregory Peck replied:

every day

As I’ve written in a previous post Am I Normal?

No one thinks it strange that the ADDITION of a child is a life-long adjustment.

So, why, why, why is it strange that the SUBTRACTION of a child would also require accommodation for the rest of a mother’s life?

I understand that if you haven’t walked this path, you can’t REALLY know what it’s like-even if you try.

I don’t want you to know this pain by experience.

It’s awful and unrelenting.

What I do want you to know is I am NOT crazy for missing my son.  I am NOT crazy for wishing I could turn back the clock.

I am NOT crazy because this devastating, paradigm shifting, unbelievably painful event still impacts my everyday life.

Please don’t treat me like I am.

The best help a friend can offer is a listening ear-no judgement-and a hug that says, “I love you. And I’m sorry.”

changed for life

 

Navigating Treacherous Terrain

One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is that there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.

Read the rest here:  It’s Complicated

When Will You Be Over This?

Think back on the most awful thing that has ever happened to you.

Does it still hurt?  Do you still carry scars from where it pierced your soul and broke your heart?

Can you forget it? Really, really forget it?  

Has it shaped the way you think about life and how you conduct yourself today?

Are you a different person NOW because that happened THEN?

Now magnify that to an impossibly greater degree and you might have an inkling of how child loss impacts parents and their families.

I will never “get over”, “move on”, “cease feeling sorrow” or “forget what happened”.

My son is my son as long as my heart still beats.  If he were living, he would be part of my life.  Death hasn’t changed that.

I am learning to live with loss, learning to bear up under its unceasing pressure and learning to carry on and keep going.  

I am different than I was and different than I would have been if Dominic hadn’t left us.

But only heaven can undo this injury, only Christ in eternity can fully redeem this pain.

Cfamily never gets over the death of a loved one

Ask Away!

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard or read bereaved parents second-guessing themselves.  They say or write:  “I know you’re not supposed to ask ‘why?'”

Baloney!  The Psalms are FILLED with “Why God?”

Questions are where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life.  

Questions are where I learn to submit my heart to the lordship of a God Who loves me and Who has a perfect plan even when all I can see is pain.  

Questions are the way I weed my garden of faith-they force me to choose between trust and doubt.

“There are those who say faith means you never doubt.  Those who live by the creed, ‘Don’t ask questions!’

But I say faith is exactly what you cling to in the margins of doubt–when you have exhausted all the possibilities that exist in the physical, you-can-touch-it world and yet you KNOW there is MORE”

Read the rest of this post here:Debate and Faith

The Hard Question of Prayer

In the wake of burying Dominic, the most difficult spiritual discipline for me to recover has been prayer.

In part because my heart just doesn’t know what to ask for or how to talk to a God Who has allowed this pain in my life.  

In part because I don’t really have a framework for placing the prayers I want to pray inside my ongoing struggle to commit my future and the future of my family to the hands of a Father Who didn’t step in to prevent Dominic’s death.

I still struggle with this.  

“When it’s not your kid you can think of all kinds of lofty, theologically correct arguments or reasons for why God answers one prayer and not another–for why one person is healed and not another–for why one person survives a devastating-should-have-killed-him accident but not another.

But when it is your child that doesn’t survive or isn’t healed or is stolen through the violent actions of someone else…well, that’s a different matter entirely.”

Read the rest of this post here: The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

 

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

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.

Read the rest here:  Messy Lives, Merciful Savior

Changed

I’m not the same me  I was two years ago.

I no longer look with confidence down the driveway as friends and family pull away, certain that we will see one another soon.

I whisper, “Be safe” when we part, but know that they are not the keeper of their days and that “being safe” doesn’t mean everyone escapes deadly peril.

Read the rest here:  A Different Me

After

Last week’s headlines were full of heartache:  first the attack in Orlando and then the tragic tale of toddler and alligator.

So many parents and others bearing so much grief.

As is the way of things, this week the mentions will be fewer.  

And in a month or so, as the nation turns its collective attention to campaign coverage, these stories will move further and further to the background.

Most mentions will be in the context of larger “issues”-individuals largely forgotten.  .

But each person lost represents others who will mourn them for the rest of their lives.

Hearts of parents grieving their child will ALWAYS require special care:

Please, please, please don’t look for the moment or day or year when I will be “back to my old self”.  My old self was buried with my son.  I am still “me”–but a different me than I would have chosen.

Read the rest here:  Loving the Grieving Heart

Signs

 

When my kids went anywhere, I would always ask them to send a text just to let me know they had safely arrived at their destination.  They honored that request (most of the time!) and it eased my mind.

My mama heart wanted to know they were OK.

My living children still send me texts when traveling.  It’s an easy way to relieve anxious thoughts and I appreciate it.

But my son, who has made the last great journey, is silent.

And that’s exactly what I expected.

I think Dominic is so enthralled with the beauty of Heaven, with the communion of saints gone before and with the fullness of joy at the right hand of his Savior that he does not look with longing at the life he left.

He is in possession of the promise.  He knows fully, even as he is fully known.

At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!

I Corinthians 13:12 PHILLIPS

He has the ultimate assurance that God is faithful and that His lovingkindness endures forever.  Dominic (if he even thinks of it at all) has no concern that the same Savior who rescued him won’t also rescue me.

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.”

~Jesus ( John 14:1-4 PHILLIPS)

My faith has been tested in ways I never thought it would be.  And it has been, and continues to be, HARD. 

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]

Hebrews 11:1 AM

The same God who made a donkey speak and sent ravens to feed Elijah can use the birds of the air and the beasts of the field to encourage me.

And He does- I have found a dozen perfect bird’s nests since Dominic left us.  I believe they are signs from my Savior, not my son-tokens of hope sent to bless my broken heart from the Father who loves me.

God still speaks-He makes Himself known through His Word, through people, through nature and in still, small whispers to my heart through His Spirit.

He doesn’t answer all my questions.  But I don’t feel abandoned.  

Dominic is with Jesus and Jesus is with me.

Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

Hebrews 13:8 PHILLIPS

I don’t feel close to Dominic at his grave. I go to honor him, to give voice to his memory but the essence of who he was and who he still is, lies in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him and love him still.

And the witness of that enduring love is the sign to which I cling. 

Faith is to believe when you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

~Augustine

 

 

 

 

 

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