Lessons in Loss: Learning to Listen

I admit it:  I’m a fixer.

It’s probably genetic (won’t mention any names!) but it has been reinforced by training and life experience.

When faced with a difficult or messy situation, my mind instantly rolls through an inventory of available resources and possible solutions.

And I tended to cut people off mid-sentence with my brilliant (?) plan to save the day.

But there are things you just can’t fix.

I knew that before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven but I mostly ignored it.

I can’t do that anymore.

Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen

Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of the Need to “Fix It”, Making Space To Watch God Work

As a people-pleasing firstborn pseudo-control-freak I’m all about fixing it.

I’m pretty sure I chose Psychology as one of my college majors because I figured it would better equip me to fix relationships around me.

But life intervened with first smaller unfixable crises and then the ultimate no-way-on-earth-to-fix-it death of Dominic. So I’m not nearly as inclined toward even trying now as I was a few years ago.

Still, I can find myself falling into the old habit of offering up advice instead of offering an ear. I might quickly delve unasked into my own experience and silence a heart that simply needs to be heard. I may well toss out trite “reasons” that “explain” why awful visited my friend while God seemed silent.

Part of the compulsion results from the author’s observation:

The church in general panics when miracles miscarry. We scurry clumsily about to prop up God’s sagging reputation. There must have been a problem, we offer. God must have something even better around the corner, we propose. Must He? Here, then is my Lenten plea for the day: let the mourning mourn. Grant those who grieve the dignity to ask questions. Bestow upon the bewildered permission to not edit their honesty.

Alicia Britt Chole

Recall miracles that ended in heartbreak…when, if ever, have you felt the need to “prop up God’s sagging reputation”?

How might you choose a different approach that grants grace and space to those who mourn?

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Fix It Or Forget It: Why Unfinished Stories Make Others Uncomfortable

Attention spans are shorter than ever.

It’s easy to understand why.  We live in a world full of sound bytes, memes, tweets and T-shirt slogans.

But life can’t be reduced to such little snippets, even if we wish it could.

Not every biography has the perfect “beginning, middle, end” arch that makes for a good and satisfying story.

Some of us can’t tie up our experiences in tidy boxes, with colorful bows and a lovely tag line that inspires thousands.

gift box with bow

We are living unfinished, messy, hard stories that keep shifting, changing and require us to face mountain after mountain and valley after valley.

And we stumble. 

A lot.

I suppose it’s tiresome for our friends to have to slow down, turn around, bend down and help us get back up over and over and over.

Many of our compassionate companions turn into personal trainers at some point:  “You can do it!  Try harder! Push farther!  You’ve got to work at it!  Don’t give up!  Come on, don’t you want to get stronger, fitter, better????”

personal trainer

The hidden message?  If I wanted to badly enough, would try hard enough, work long enough or get the right help, I could “fix” this.  I could emerge from child loss whole, healed and healthy.

And when I don’t, they get frustrated, disgusted or just plain bored and leave me lonely on the trail.  They walk away and forget-because they CAN forget.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If you think it’s hard to watch your friend struggle with a broken heart, a shattered life, doubts and regrets, it’s harder to live it.


You can walk away.  I can’t.  You can go home, close the door and think of something else.  I go home, close the door and am flooded with thoughts, emotions and overwhelming grief.

mixed stages of grief


If I could “fix it” don’t you think I would?

But I can’t.

I will continue to have a messy, untidy, unfinished life this side of Heaven.

And I will keep climbing, struggling and stumbling.

Will you stick around and walk with me?

Or will you walk away?




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