This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Posts tagged ‘grief’

Gone for 20 years; never, ever forgotten

Different things are triggers for different people. I have been pretending I’m ok but i am deeply effected by memories and timing.

I don’t think there’s anyone in Canada who doesn’t know about the story of the family in Calgary who are suffering a tragic loss. So senseless and so deep. I can not express my deepest empathy into words for them.

20 years ago today my very close friend and her twin sons were murdered by their husband and father. The very man who vowed to protect them.

Every time I see the news and the faces of those grandparents and grandson I keep thinking, I know what that’s like for their family. I know how it feels to hold a photo in your hand of people you love and see their faces on tv. I know what it’s like to not be able to call anymore. To never hear their voices again. To watch every second of the news because that’s how you know what’s going on with the case. You don’t get privy to special information, you watch and wait like everyone else.

I also know what it’s like to live without them. To feel the emptiness when they are not there to celebrate major life events with you. To support each other in hard times and love you through your challenges, because it’s what she always did. To not know what the boys would grow to become.

I know that it’s been 20 years, 2 decades, and I haven’t forgotten a thing. Not anything I saw, not anything I felt and not anything that was said. The pain doesn’t end. It changes but it never ends with something so horrific. That’s just reality.

She left me with the best gift she ever could. I was being my usual challenging teenager self and we were disagreeing on something but she called me. She called me and said she just couldn’t leave it. She wanted me to know we would work it through and the very last words she ever spoke to me were “I love you”.

I will never forget. I have many photos, I still have her jeans and her perfume. I will always have them in my heart. One day I will get to heaven and they are waiting. That day the pain will end, not a moment sooner.

I know your kickin it with Jesus; Susan, Josiah and David. I miss you.

Be a friend & shut your mouth

It was not even 10am and I had already greatly angered a complete stranger. That doesn’t usually happen that early in the day.

I have a pet peeve – well a few to be completely honest. This particular one is when well intentioned people say stupid things to hurting people. YES, I get that they are well intentioned but it doesn’t make what they said any less stupid and I am just not going to ignore it.

I have  a friend who is going through an incredibly difficult time, to put it lightly. She should be celebrating a great joy and instead she is wading through loss and grief in addition to all her regular responsibilities. I can not imagine what she’s going through right now and she was open and honest (publicly) about how she can not imagine how she was going to be able to carry on through the week.

A well intentioned friend commented that “He will never give you more than you can handle.” Where the heck did that stupid phrase come from? Can we eliminate it from English please! I commented that this is no where in scripture and not even accurate. I let her know that I recognized her desire to comfort her friend but there are times we do have more than we can handle and it’s in those times we need Him the most because we can not make it through on our own.

This phrase also superimposes that God has given her all this shit right now. This is not necessarily accurate either. Sometimes we make our own storms, sometimes other people make storms in our life. There is also a devil who wants to seek, kill, and destroy; so please lets not leave him out of the equation of storm making.

The final and most important reason I hate this phrase, is that when you are in the middle of all of that, it does feel like it is more than you can handle. I know I have been there. I have had this very thing said to me and it completely minimizes the pain and hurt you are trying to get above. It makes you feel incompetent and like you are weak because if God never gives you more than you can handle why can’t I handle this? It makes you feel like you should put on a happy face and pretend like your ok when your NOT ok.

We need to be free to be real with people. We need to have others know when we are drowning and need help. Well intentioned people can still cause more hurt and pain, and if we learn anything from the book of Job, it is that sometimes the best thing a friend can do is sit in the ashes with us and keep their mouth shut.

Where to stick your bumper sticker theology

I recently read this blog about God not giving us more than we can bear by Nate Pyle. Honest, truthful, bold stuff. The last two years of my life have been filled with a lot of pain and this really hit my heart in a way I needed. I have been through many difficult things in my life: sexual abuse, death of a baby, separation, death of family members and friends by natural causes, accidents and murder.

Almost without fail some, probably well intentioned, Christian has spouted off some little phrase they heard that they think will help. I love how Nate referenced it to bumper sticker theology. So true!

I love how Job’s friends stayed in silence with him, at first. How much better off would they have been if they had stayed that way. We just get so uncomfortable with silence we feel the need to fill it with something – anything. Saying stupid things like, “it’s for the best,” or “they’re in a better place,” really doesn’t help me in my pain.

A dear friend recently said to me, “if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” In her case, I know she meant well and we have a relationship where I could comment back that I think there are many things in life that He doesn’t bring us to, but we go running full tilt into ourselves, never the less, He can still bring us through.

What will help, is other people who know when it’s better to not say anything at all. Sometimes I just need people to BE with me. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

Here are ways to ACTUALLY be helpful:

Learn to be ok with silence

Tell someone you will pray for them and then actually do it

See if there is a tangible need that you can meet

Stay connected

Pain is uncomfortable for the person in it and those around them. The past two years have been a long, hard, painful process for me, but those who have walked with me through it have carried me in more ways than they know. Bumper stickers will fade and peel. True friends, with hearts like Jesus, show love continuously.

Carrying your grief for life

I have lost many people in my life in many different ways. The pain from some of those losses has lessened over time, for others the pain can be fresh and real at any moment. I think this has given me the ability to relate to others who are in pain and understand things they might be going through.

Initially you need to give yourself time to grieve. That may look different for everyone. Whatever your way to grieve is, is what you need to do. How are you going to get out those overwhelming initial waves of pain? Do you need to cry, scream, build something or go for a walk? Do you need to be with people or be alone? Whatever it is make sure you take the time to self care and not just stuff everything inside. There will be times when you need to hold it together to accomplish some of life’s demands, but there has to be some time for a release of emotions.

Once you get through the initial torrent of grief, comes the time of returning back to routine and what life will now be like with the absence of the person lost. This is where I think some people get lost. This process is especially a problem if the loss is significant – how do you “get back to life” when there is a gaping hole?

As I mentioned before there are some losses that I will carry with me. There are times in life when I think, “she should be here,” “they would be X years old now,” or “she would be so proud.” There is something, someone missing. There is pain you carry.

I was recently reading about a mom who lost her son and she realized that others were going through the same thing she was and decided to reach out. Her son died in a Marine Corp helicopter crash and she sends packets of letters and helpful materials to families also affected by such a loss. Philip Yancey  says, “The activity has not solved the grief for her son, of course, but it has given her a sense of meaning, and she no longer feels helpless against that grief.”

I think that is the key – finding a way to find meaning and no longer feel helpless against the grief. I am convinced I will carry this pain with me until I reach heaven and so I have to find a way to not have that loss overwhelm or dictate the rest of my life. We will never find meaning if we only focus on ourselves. Look at the needs of those around you. Is there a soup kitchen nearby that could use  a volunteer? Are there other families you could host a group for? There are so many different ways to get involved that the importance is to do just that – get involved. You are not helpless – your life doesn’t have to end just because theirs did. You still have life – live it, and live it with meaning.