Is it OK if I Laugh?

Thankfully our family has always turned to laughter as a way of making it through things that would otherwise bring us to tears.  So it wasn’t but a couple days past when we got the news of Dom’s leaving we managed a giggle here and there as his friends shared some funny stories with us.

But it felt strange to have laughter bubbling up in my throat even as I couldn’t stop its escaping my mouth.

It wasn’t the free-floating, airy expression of joy and merriment it used to be.  Instead it was a strangled, mishapen gurgling mixture of the joy I once knew and unspeakable pain I now knew.

It didn’t float airily into the atmosphere, it thudded heavy to the floor.

And then I felt like I was betraying my son.

How could I laugh just days after finding out he would never laugh again?  How could I giggle over a silly story when my own story had drifted into tragic territory?  Was there something dreadfully wrong with me?  Was I somehow defective?

No. No. No.

And No.

There is nothing wrong with laughing-even in the darkest night of child loss.

Laughter is a gift.

When we laugh our hearts and bodies are receiving strength for the work grief requires.

Laughter  has many proven benefits:

  • decreases stress hormones
  • increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease
  • triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • lowers blood pressure
  • works your abdominal muscles
  • improves cardiac health

Dominic had an amazing laughhe was always cutting up, teasing friends and family and finding the funny in every situation.  He loved to laugh.

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One of the favorite stories his classmates told me was when he dressed as a redneck client for a mock trial case.  They were petrified that when he walked into the “courtroom” he was going to ruin their strategy and chances of winning.

But he played the part to perfection and had everyone rolling in the aisles.

I am learning to embrace laughter not only for what it does for ME but for how it links my heart to his.

This Valley is a long, dark place-I’ll take any light that breaks through.

And laughter is one of the brightest.

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Bereaved Parents Month Post: How Do You Breathe?

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

Read the rest here: How Do You Breathe?

Feeling Our Way in the Dark

Often this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death is dark and lonely.  

man in woods with glowing light

I am frightened of what may lay in wait-tragedy has visited once, it could come again.

I know Jesus is my Shepherd and I never doubt His companionship.  But if I’m honest, as much as I lean into that truth, it’s oh, so helpful to have a living, breathing human being walk with me.

So when a friend reaches out and takes my trembling hand it calls courage to my heart.

When we huddle together in the dark places, waiting out the storm of grief or doubt, it gives me strength to carry on.

Never, never underestimate the power of presence.

For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face, and now we know in part, but then we shall know fully just as we have been fully known

I Corinthians 13:12

So until then, what?
We feel our way in the dark.
Until we find each other.
We huddle together in the storm.
Wet and shivering, but together.
And maybe in the end it will be our huddling in the storm that gives us more comfort than our understanding of the storm.”

~Ken Gire, The Weathering Grace of God

 

me too sharing the path

Another Milestone

I began this blog almost a year and a half into my grief journey.

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At first I wasn’t fully committed to writing on a regular basis.

I certainly never thought I’d write every day.

But this month marks a milestone:  From November 1, 2015 to today I have posted at least once a day.  Not every post original-some reposts of my blog or links to other blogs.

But I’ve shown up.

And it has been helpful to me, even if it hasn’t helped anyone else.

I had been journaling since the day I got the news but was too raw and too hurt to share my thoughts with anyone but God.

Goodness, I’d been journaling for almost 20 years and never expected to share any of it with anyone.  It was my way of working through hard emotions, recording insights and venting things that wouldn’t be helpful for others to hear.

But here I am-letting so much of it out to the world.

Every time I press “post” I still tremble.  Am I saying something helpful? Hurtful? Foolish? Wise?  I never know until I get some feedback.

I appreciate everyone who has commented on or “liked” or shared a post.

It gives me courage to carry on.

My only ambition for this effort is that I remain authentic, faithful and honest about the journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

I want to finish well. I want to make Dominic proud.

It is my way of redeeming the pain.

Thank you for joining me in the journey.

easier-to-begin-than-finish-well

 

Where is Victory in Death?

I first learned my son had been killed in the dark hours of morning.

I made phone calls.

I had to be certain there was no mistake in identifying the accident victim.  I assured the officer on the other end of the phone I was not in denial, I was just confirming what I knew was true.

That was a lie-my ears heard it as true.

Some part of my brain was acting as if it were true.  

And I was passing the information along as true, but it was not until I saw his body that my heart embraced as absolutely undeniable what I had been told.

He was gone, gone, gone.  No coming back.

That’s when I knew:  Death is awful.

It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. ~C.S.Lewis

Death was not part of God’s perfect plan for the people He made and the world He created.

But sin marred that perfection and we are left to walk this wounded world in bodies that, at best, wear out, and at worst, plunge headlong into darkness due to illness, accident or violence.

Where is the victory in this defeat?

Where is the happy ending to this sad chapter of life?

Victory is declared when I trust in Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner-to uproot the evil that the enemy seeks to sow into my life.

desimones uab family

Victory is displayed in my surviving children who have chosen to lean in and labor on and love and laugh even while grieving the loss of their brother.

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Victory is demonstrated when my marriage does not crumble under the heavy weight of sorrow, when my family is made stronger- not weaker-and when our story breathes courage into the hearts and lives of others facing devastating trials.

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The ultimate and eternal victory lies in the finished work of Christ.

 I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?

But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

I Corinthians 15:50-58 MSG

Jesus has redeemed and restored what the enemy has stolen.

I will not enjoy the fullness of this victory until I embrace Dominic in heaven.

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But I can live confidently in the promise that it has already been decided.  

I can walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death without fear, because Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner (my Victory) is with me.  (Psalm 23:4)

I am not alone.