Book Review: Joy in the Mourning

My friend and fellow bereaved mom,  Leslie Lamm Harder, has published a book chronicling the first months after the sudden death of her son, William.

I’ve not met Leslie face-to-face but have had the blessing of her long distance friendship for over a year now and am constantly and consistently encouraged by her words.

I believe you will be too.

Leslie has written a memoir that takes an honest yet hope-filled look at life after child loss. I appreciate that she chose not to edit out the questions, the hard days, the words that reveal the struggle a heart has to go through when tragedy strikes.

While always clinging to and pointing the reader back to her hope in Christ, she doesn’t hide the truth that hope cannot take the pain away.

It makes it bearable, but it does not remove it.

faith says i will sit with you in the pain

Many books about child loss are written so long after the event that some authors’ words are inaccessible to the parent who has just started down this path.  The author has reached a point of healing that a freshly broken heart can’t comprehend.

Healing does happen.

But it is very slow and incremental and not without setbacks.

Leslie’s book is an excellent aid for any heart seeking to hold onto hope in the dark Valley of child loss. She walks us quietly, gently down the path without insisting on an early declaration of “victory in Jesus”.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

It will be on my shelf forever and I will be giving copies to parents for years to come.

(Available at Amazon.com)

Can’t Have it Both Ways…

At this stage in my grief journey I have learned to exercise the “just ignore it” muscle that allows me to scroll through Facebook without taking comments personally.

Most of the time.

But yesterday a grieving mama posted a tribute to her missing daughter complete with a beautiful photo collage and a sweet message that included sharing her feelings.

This mama revealed that her heart was broken, that she missed her daughter and that she was oh, so proud of her and thankful for the years they had together.

Many comments were simply, “Praying for you” or “Love you”.

But one comment stuck out.  This person said, “She wouldn’t want you to be sad.  She’s at peace in heaven with Jesus.” 

Really??!!  

How is that helpful?  

In a single line you have dismissed this mama’s honest and appropriate feelings and implied you know her daughter better than she does.

Of course she’s in heaven with Jesus.  As believers in Christ we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

But knowing that, trusting that truth makes grief easier to bear, it does not erase it.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We do not grieve as those without hope.” (I Thess. 4:13)

NOT “We do not grieve.”

Here’s something you need to know: hurting with hope still hurts. The sting of death might have been removed, but it still stings. No, we might not sorrow as those who have no hope, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be sad.

Levi Lusko, Through the Eyes of a Lion

Grief is the price we pay for love.  

Grief is an appropriate and proportionate response to the death (the end of earthly companionship) of someone we love.

If grief is small, what does that say about love?

It can’t be both ways.  

We cannot celebrate a mother’s love and then dismiss her grief.

So my answer to that comment was this:

It’s perfectly OK to be sad.  Death is awful. And missing is hard. Praying that the Lord will bring a special memory-one that has been tucked away in your hearts but mostly forgotten-to mind today and that it will bring a smile to your lips. May you feel the Lord’s Presence today and may He sing a song of love, grace and mercy over your shattered heart

God’s grief over a world of people doomed to eternal separation from Himself was to send His only Son as a sacrifice.

Why was the grief so great?  Why was He willing to pay that price?

Because His love is infinitely greater.  

Image result for image john 3 16

 

 

 

Wow! Just. Wow!

I’m always a little frightened to expose my vulnerable underbelly to the sometimes vicious wilderness of the worldwide web.

So when I clicked “send” for yesterday’s post I had immediate regrets-was it too personal? too negative? too self-focused?

I am overwhelmed by the comments both on the blog and on Facebook-comments of encouragement, understanding and hope-not condemnation or condescension.

All I can say is,  “Thank you!”

And I was reminded that isolation is a powerful weapon in the hands of the enemy of our souls.

But godly community disarms it.

So I want to make sure that everyone who reads this blog knows about two online Facebook sites that offer hope and healing through the truth of Scripture and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Each has a public page visible to anyone on Facebook and features posts of interest to bereaved parents and those walking with them.

While We’re Waiting is a large, well established non-profit organization.  In addition to the online presence, it offers in-person support to bereaved parents through retreats and support groups.  I am very grateful to the Sullivans and Browns who founded the group after experiencing child loss-their obedience has been a blessing in my life and in the lives of many other grieving parents. 

Heartache and Hope is the name of a page I created as an additional resource, along with the blog, for those who are grieving a child.

To receive posts in your newsfeed, simply “like” the public page and benefit from the encouragement.

From each group’s public page, bereaved parents and grandparents can request admission to a closed discussion group.

The private discussion groups are just that-private. Only bereaved parents and grandparents may participate.  It’s a safe space where everyone understands and shares your pain.

As I read and was encouraged by each comment on yesterday’s post, I thought of an image many of us have seen-a defensive circle of elephants facing outward-the vulnerable calves safely tucked in the middle.

circle of elephants

A lion can prowl around the edges but knows it is already defeated.  Nothing can penetrate the powerful perimeter that protects the potential prey.

Peter warned early believers:

Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone.

I Peter 5:8 VOICE

That’s what community feels like.  

I’m surrounded and protected.  

That old lion-the enemy-can roar all he wants to.  He can’t touch me.

For God did not choose us to condemn us, but that we might secure his salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. He died for us, so that whether we are “awake” or “asleep” we share his life. So go on cheering and strengthening each other with thoughts like these, as I have no doubt you have been doing.

I Thessalonians 5:9-12 PHILLIPS