Is It More Admirable to Pretend?

 

We say we want real.

But we really don’t.

We tune in by the millions to watch “reality TV” even though we know the drama is manufactured and the outcome decided months before.

We participate daily in quiet subterfuge when our coworker pretends her marriage isn’t falling apart even though we overhear her desperate phone calls trying to mend it.

We like to hear “Fine, thank you.” when we offer the polite greeting, “How are you?”.

What happens to the person who refuses to play along?  What about the one whose heart is so broken that she can’t begin to put on the false front that would make everyone else more comfortable around her?

smile-question

What do you do when someone stops pretending everything is OK?

Often, people walk away.

Because we have absolutely no idea what to do with real. We have no words when “How are you?” is answered with “Awful.  My world is falling apart.”

We reward those who choose to go along with the script that makes us comfortable and isolate the ones that don’t.

But is that the world we really want to live in?  Do we want to walk with unsaid words between us, unreleased feelings bottled up and threatening to overflow?

It is really more admirable to pretend?

 

masks by shel silverstein

MASKS  by Shel Silverstein

She had blue skin
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by —
And never knew.

 

The Empty Chair

Most people realize that the “big” holidays are painful for bereaved parents-Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day-that makes sense.  

But what most people don’t know is that every single red-letter day-even the obscure ones-can be hard on parents missing a child.

Because any day that marks a departure from routine leaves gaps where I can dwell a little longer on the fact that Dominic is NOT here.

Any day off that lends itself to a family BBQ or celebration or just extra time around the table because we aren’t in a rush highlights that empty chair.  

ask me about the empty chair

 

Amazing Grace

I will be forever thankful that in the years just before Dominic ran ahead to heaven, I spent each morning lingering long over Scripture.  I had just completed filling my fifth journal, copying entire chapters and making notes about what God revealed as I wrote and read.

Because if I had not been so thoroughly steeped in truth before it happened, I’m not sure I would have listened to it afterward.

I understand how hearts are hardened by tragedy.    

It’s a wonder that any heart remains soft at all.  

Only God’s amazing grace has kept me from turning away.  

Only His steadfast love has kept me from leaving it all behind.  

not doubting wondering how painful the best will be.jpg

 

 

Dispelling Marriage Myths Surrounding Child Loss

Today my husband and I celebrate 33 years of marriage.  

Our thirtieth anniversary was a mere two months after we buried our son.

Here’s the last “before” anniversary photo (2013)-unfeigned smiles, genuine joy, excitement to have made it that far:

hector and me 29 anniversary

This is us on our thirtieth anniversary, at our oldest son’s wedding -holding one another up as best we could:

IMG_2151

This is us last Christmas:  

beach hector and me and boys in sand

We are definitely the worse for wear, but we are still here.

Together.

There are a lot of myths floating around about what happens to a marriage on the other side of child loss.  The one tossed out most often cites a “study” reporting 90 percent of marriages fail after the death of a child.  

It’s just not true.

But the danger is that if you believe it is true, you may stop trying.  You may stop reaching out across the painful abyss that threatens to keep you apart forever.  You may decide that living alone with your broken heart is better than living alongside someone who may be broken in very different ways than you are.

It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

The truth is that child loss is no more likely to destroy a marriage than a list of other terrible life events-even though child loss is the most terrible.

A child’s death shakes a marriage to its foundations and reveals the weak spots. And EVERY marriage has weak spots.

So the challenge in this season of marriage-like every season of marriage-is to turn toward one another instead of away.  Choose to do the work necessary to make it:

  • Do the best you can to take care of your own emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual health so that you can come together stronger and better able to help one another.
  • Assume the best and not the worst about your spouse.
  • Allow for different grieving styles and different ways of honoring your missing child.
  • Get help from others.
  • Don’t expect your spouse to carry your load of grief as well as his or her own.

It takes energy and commitment right when we don’t have any to spare. But at least in this, we have a choice.

I have already lost so much over which I had no control.  

I will fight for what I CAN hold onto as hard as I know how.

wedding rings

 

 

To The Friends Who Stay

Sticking with a friend whose life is hard and is going to continue to be hard is not for the faint of heart.

Not all wounds can be healed.  

Not all problems have a resolution.

Not all relationships follow a path that leads to a happy ending. 

grief lasts longer than sympathy

So here’s to the friends that don’t give up, that refuse to leave and whose presence remind me that while life is painful, it is also beautiful.  

Here’s to the ones whose commitment to love me in the dark places reminds me that love still lives.  

You’re my lifeline.  

good friends

 

What NOT To Say

Humans are hard-wired to say something when silence lingers long between them.  

So it’s not surprising that when death makes talking difficult, the person most susceptible to that pressure will often blurt out the first thing that pops into her head.

And it is often, oh, so wrong.  

Any sentence that begins with , “Just remember”, “At least”  or “I know exactly” is better left unsaid.

image of what not to say