Repost: Blessed are Those Who Mourn?

I must remind my heart every day that Jesus Himself declared the blessing in mourning.  I must remember that there is comfort available at His feet.  Not in running from my pain, but in embracing it and trusting Him to redeem it.

What blessing is there in mourning?  What comfort in distress?  What good can come from pain and brokenness?

Good questions.

Honest questions.

Questions I have asked God. 

Read the rest here:  Blessed are Those Who Mourn?

Ten Ways to Love a Mourning Heart at Thanksgiving

We are all on a journey through life and each carry some sort of load.  Mine is child loss.  Yours may be something else.

We can help one another if we try.  

Love and grace grease the wheels and make the load lighter.  

Here are ten ways to love a mourning heart at Thanksgiving:

1. Let them grieve.  Give space and grace for any outward display of grief or emotion.  It doesn’t require comment.  Maybe an outstretched hand or a tissue or maybe not.  Sometimes silence presence is best.

2. Begin conversation with statements that are true for you and then listen.  I appreciate someone sharing their heart with me.  It’s really OK to say, “Hey, I’ve wanted to reach out but I just didn’t know how.”  I would rather hear that than excuses.  ❤

3. Share a memory of their child or their pregnancy (if a child was born straight into heaven).  Whenever I hear a story about Dominic I may not have heard before, it is a gift.

4. Speak their child’s name.  It may make me cry.  But I cry anyway.  And if no one says his name I cry because I think they’ve forgotten.

5. Give them room to step away.  Sometimes I’m overwhelmed and I just need a breath of fresh air or a moment to gather my strength.  Don’t send the cavalry to “rescue” me and don’t make me feel bad by drawing attention to my absence when I return.

6. Find a way to commemorate their child in company with the living.  Light a candle, place a photo, set an honorary place at the table, give a gift in his memory to a charity and display the card-there are many ways to make him part of the holidays.

7. Allow them to participate/ not participate as they are able.  This will be our fourth set of holidays and I still don’t have a routine that feels “right”.  I do enjoy and even crave cooking meals so I appreciate being asked to do that.  Some other things are still hard so I appreciate not being forced to do those.

8. Don’t use this once or twice a year gathering to require an extended debrief of how they are feeling/coping/doing.  Invite me to share and then respect the boundaries I establish in my sharing.  It depends on the day whether I’m going to give you a brief response or a long one.  Let me lead the dance.

9. Try not to make assumptions about what is best for their heart.  Ask questions instead of making pronouncements.  Like I said, I still don’t have any traditions that feel right after nearly four years.  I need space to think about and make choices about what may work for THIS Thanksgiving.

10. Remember that all holidays are hard.  When the whole family gathers, it highlights even more that my son is missing.  Other times it’s easier to play a mental game with myself and pretend he’s just off somewhere.  But when the chairs are drawn around the table and his is empty, there’s no denying that he is gone, gone, gone.  Lots and lots of grace makes it easier for my heart. 

empty chair prayer

 

 

 

 

Lesson From the House of Mourning

Our  culture consumes death like candy bars-video games, violent television series and gory movies.  Halloween is one of the biggest “holidays” celebrated in America.

We are desensitized to news stories of destruction and devastation because we’ve “seen” it all.

Yet we are a society that shuns mourning.

We can’t stand to hear the keening wail of mothers following the linen clad bodies of their fallen children.

We segregate funerals to special buildings that look like low-slung country clubs complete with ornate light fixtures, clean bathrooms and temperature controlled environments.  In many places we no longer bury our dead next to a church where the living and the gone before mingle, waiting the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All this so we can ignore the lesson of Solomon.

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart.”

Ecclesiastes 7:2 HCSB

woman-mourning

I was only three but I remember my great-grandaddy laid out in the living room.

My parents didn’t hide me away in some corner and allow me to grow up pretending death didn’t exist.  They didn’t shield me from visiting my ailing relatives or from standing by the gravesides of my ancestors.

I brought my children to funerals from an early age.

There’s no use pretending that people’s bodies don’t die.  Sooner or later it catches up to you.

But while our bodies don’t last forever, our spirits do.  We are eternal beings, you and me.

It’s not a question of IF we will live forever, but WHERE.

And that was Solomon’s point:  decide while you still can who and what has your heart.

Because that choice determines where you spend eternity.

There is only one way to the Father’s House-through Jesus.

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

Do you know Jesus?

He KNOWS you.  He LOVES you. And He died for YOU.

He rose to conquer death for you.

He has made a Way where there was no way.

No one gets out of here alive…choose this day whom you will serve.

It makes an eternal difference.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of alland richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13 NIV

hand-and-without-faith-it-is-impossible-to-please-god

You Don’t Have to Pretend

It’s OK to not be OK.

If you are grieving, you are not responsible for making others feel better about YOUR pain.

You have suffered a great wound and you carry a heavy load.

heal and acknowledge

 

You are allowed to express sorrow and longing.  It’s what people do.

It’s what we have to do if we are going to make it through this dark valley.

Find a safe person and let. it. out.

 

Bottling it up inside only drags me deeper under the waves.  Hiding my tears doesn’t save me from sorrow, it only makes me ashamed and anxious.

ann voskamp love will always cost you grief

 

And there is nothing shameful in grieving my missing child.

Great grief is the price I pay for great love.

 

I’m not advocating pitching a fit in public.

It’s good to be sensitive to other people, and I want to extend the same courtesy and kindness to others I would like to have extended to me.

BUTwhen sorrow rolls over me like a tidal wave, I do not have to hide to preserve the comfort of others.

And I won’t.

mourning