Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Grief is like a two-headed dragon.  One moment I am fine, pressing on, and I feel like I am going to make it through the darkness.  The next moment, for no apparent reason, I am crushed, struggling to breathe, clawing my way through the mire, searching desperately for hope and light and air.  I feel abandoned, hopeless, as if nothing matters.  I find myself struggling to believe, struggling to have faith, struggling to hang on to the things that I know in my heart to be true.  Yet, here I am, struggling to believe them.

There are tons of books out there about grief.  How to deal with grief.  How to help someone deal with grief.  The stages of grief.  Ha!  Certainly I've not read everything out there, but there is one thing I know... Every single person who cares about me has the same fear when talking to me.  They are all afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.  I completely understand this fear.  Words can be hurtful.  And since pretty much everything hurts right now, I understand people be afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.  Here's what I want you all to know...

I am different.  I will always be different.  There are things I no longer enjoy.  It's hard for me to be around people, even those of you who I love.  I don't know why.  It has nothing to do with you or my feelings for you.  I still love you.  It's just hard.  I still care about you.  I still want you around.  I appreciate the fact that you are trying to comfort me.  Or that you will sit in silence with me.  Or that you share your stories of William, even through my tears.  Tears aren't always bad.  It would be worse to never hear about him.  It's important to me that other people are thinking about him, too.  It's important to me that he was important to you.  That I know that you loved him.  That you haven't forgotten him.  Share your stories.  Let me cry.  Or be silent.  Let me stay home.  Or leave early.  Let me retreat.  Or withdraw.  Don't take it personally.  And don't give up on me.  Love who I'm becoming, not who I was.  It is a process and I don't even know who am I anymore.  I'm struggling through the "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" verse in a whole new way, day by day...moment by moment.  Bear with me.

My friend, Melanie, runs a blog called The Life I Didn't Choose.  She wrote this post called, What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know.  I copied it here because I think she has some very valuable things to say.

People say“I can’t imagine.
But then they do.
They think that missing a dead child is like missing your child at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.
That’s not it at all.
It isn’t nostalgia for a time when things were different or better or you talked more: it’s a gut-wrenching, breath robbing, knee-buckling, aching groan that lives inside you begging to be released.
There is no smooth transition up the ladder of grief recovery so that you emerge at the top, better for the experience and able to put it behind you.
We’ve all heard the much touted theory that grief proceeds in the following stages:
  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance
And people (who haven’t experienced grief) tend to think it’s a straight line from one stage to another, gradually going from bottom to top and then on with life.
But it just isn’t true.
Reality is, these “stages” coexist and fluctuate back and forth from day to day and even hour to hour.
Grief remakes you from the inside out.
Losing a child has made me rethink everything I believe and everything I am.  It has changed and is changing my relationship with myself and with others in ways I couldn’t imagine and often don’t anticipate.
And it is hard, hard work.
Life around us doesn’t stop.  Grieving parents return to work, continue to nurture their surviving children, keep getting up in the morning and taking care of daily details.
We are doing all the things others do, but we are doing them with an added weight of sorrow and pain that makes each step feel like wading through quicksand.
We want you to know we are doing the best we can.
Life without my child is like having a leg amputated–I am forced to learn to manage without it, but everything will always be harder and different. And it will be this way for the rest of my life.
The one thing a grieving parent DOESN’T want you to know is how it feels to bury your child.

I don’t want anyone else to know what it means to leave part of your heart and a chunk of your life beneath the ground.

“But please: Don’t say it’s not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as a comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.”
Nicholas Wolterstorff   LAMENT FOR A SON

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