It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t walked this path.
Deep pain and unfathomable sorrow stripped me of any reserve, any defense, any padding between the wider world and my oh-so-fragile heart.
I was a walking nerve.
Every awkward and less-than-thoughtful word or deed by friends, family and acquaintances rubbed me raw. I was utterly incapable of extending grace even as I knew I should and understood that most often their intentions were kind.
I had suffered a grievous wound and spent most of my energy just trying to protect what was left of my heart.
All I wanted to do was retreat to the safe cocoon of my own home. I unfollowed people on social media, I screened telephone calls, I rarely ventured out for anything but the most necessary supplies. It was the only way I could provide the space and time needed for my heart to heal enough to bear even the slightest brush with folks who might say or do the wrong thing.
Eventually I found the strength to venture beyond the safety of home, family and the few friends with whom I felt comfortable and secure.
I could scroll through Facebook once again without reacting to every single post.
I went back to church and even showed up for covered dish socials where I couldn’t be certain which way the conversation would flow or who might get me blocked into a corner and ply me with questions.
I attended a few large gatherings: graduations, weddings and a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert.
So if you are in the early days of this hard, hard journey, do what you have to and find the safe circle that gives you time, space and grace to help your heart toward healing.
It may take longer than you’d like, but resting from the constant pressure of trying to protect yourself from the hustle and bustle in a world where child loss is misunderstood and frequently ignored will make a difference.
And one day, like me, you might well wake up and realize that what once felt like personal attacks are simply folks saying and doing foolish things because they haven’t been forced to learn the wisdom of compassion through unfathomable loss.
I’m still more sensitive than I used to be.
There are times I just can’t take crowds, unpredictable settings, offhand comments about death, dying, grief and heartache.
But I’m finally able to walk in the world without feeling I have to protect my heart at every turn.
It’s liberating and I’m thankful.