Even six years into this journey I have hard grief days.
I had one just this week and needed to remind my heart that while I can’t stop the waves from rolling in, I have ways to hang on and ride them out.
There are many, many ways to survive such days but here are ten that have proven helpful to me over and over again.
My hardest grief season begins in November and runs to the end of May. Thanksgiving through Dominic’s birthday on (or near) Memorial Day are days full of triggers, memories and stark reminders that one of us is missing.
If I could fall asleep November first and wake up in June I’d do it.
But I can’t so I have to employ all the tricks I’ve learned in the nearly six years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven to survive those particularly challenging months.
The fact that so many bereaved parents tell me they don’t feel they can share their experience on their own FaceBook or other social media pages.
That’s just WRONG!
They have been shushed to silent suffering because when they break open the vault of emotions and let others see what’s inside, most people turn away-or worse, they condemn that wounded heart for sharing.
I remember the early days after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven when people were still checking in often on our family.
Some days there were a dozen or more messages that really, really needed an answer.
But I just couldn’t.
“How are you?” is often a more difficult question than you might think when your world is falling apart.
I wanted to tell the truth about how hard the days were and harder still the long dark nights but it felt too personal, too frightening and too likely to be misunderstood by a heart with no frame of reference.
So most of my responses looked something like this:
Eventually I found out who the safe people were and began to share more openly.
The others-the ones who weren’t safe or who were only asking out of a sense of curiosity or obligation-simply stopped asking when they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.
I’ve learned to give hurting hearts space.
I give them permission NOTto answer.
I want them to know I care but I don’t ask penetrating questions that might require answers they aren’t prepared to give.
There is so much going on right now in our country and our world that hurts my heart.
I could get on my soapbox and pontificate about what policies should be or what politicians should do but my tiny voice wouldn’t make a difference on the grander stage.
My world is pretty small in comparison to social influencers and the ones who want to be.
Even still, what I do and what I say each day matters.
It matters to my family and my neighbors.
It matters to the folks with whom I share social media space, the road and the grocery aisle.
So I make it a habit to extend and receive grace.
I extend it when someone else’s experience informs an opinion different than my own. I extend it when someone posts a meme or article with which I disagree. I extend it when I scroll past what I consider offensive-just ignore it and go on-instead of “taking them to task”.
I receive it when my friends do the same.
It’s not my job to police everyone else on the planet.
It IS my job to live according to my profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Grace-unmerited favor-poured out abundantly on me and available for me to pour out on others.