Saturday, March 6, 2010

 In times of grief you may say it best when you say nothing at all

Seven years ago my husband I experienced an agonizing tragedy. We came face to face with one of the worst fears that can assault a parent; losing a child. In the weeks, months, and years that followed I willed time to go past me in fast forward, but eventually realized that if I didn't allow myself to work through each phase of grief I would not reach the healing that my heart desperately needed. And so I allowed myself to feel. To cry. To accept. To mourn the loss of life as well as the loss of dreams and expectations. In the midst of this process many well meaning good intentioned people in our lives wanted so much to say something to make it better. Something - anything. Something to soften, to soothe, to say, "I love you, I care, I know you are hurting... ...and I don't know what to do or say." As our hearts have journeyed through healing (and continue to do so) God has put several other families in our paths who have faced similar difficult circumstances. Prematurity, miscarriage, infant loss, severe pregnancy complications, or even losses of a completely different nature. It has re-broken my heart to watch those whom I love go through these things. Partially because I just care for them and do not want them to hurt and also because I know. Our situations may be different, but there is a bond in these circumstances nonetheless. Even after going through all that we have - there are times that I just don't know what to say to some one else facing these things. And I am so frustrated by that. Certainly since I have gone through it I will have those perfect words. You know the ones - they articulate your love, your concern, your deep sorrow... And yet, some how they elude me. So, I started really looking back to that time. It's not easy to do; digging down deep to memories and emotions that I don't want to feel again. But I know it is important. As I have explored the memories of those painful times I began to think that it could be advantageous to share what I found. I know many of you have dealt with or are dealing with some of these situations - and I want to offer my experience. You know what I came up with? Nothing. Yes indeed - the number one thing that helped me the most when I was dazed by grief were those who did not try to explain away or justify the situation. Those who did not go into a long discourse of how it would get better, how it was building character, or God's sovereignty. Are all of those things true? Absolutely! But timing is of utmost importance when dealing with the delicacy of emotions directly following a loss. I may be skating on thin ice here - but even scriptures which were so readily verbalized during those first few weeks did not fall on ears that were ready to hear some of them. I want to be very careful to convey my meaning here - because God is the ultimate healer and his Word to us is what got us through plain and simple. BUT - again, timing is important - and frankly there was a time during J.D.s visitation, funeral, and weeks following where I felt like if I heard "all things work together for good" one stinkin' more time, I would puke. Do you want to know what I was feeling? Of course God works all things out for His ultimate good. Of course someday I will see it - but now, RIGHT now I don't feel good at all. I don't feel any of this "working together". It sucks. I hurt more intensely than any physical pain I have ever been in. I just need you to recognize that these feelings are legitimate and real and okay. Some of the scriptures that did reach my hurting heart were simply written out and slipped into a card. A card that I could open, read, and perhaps set aside for a time. In God's timing my attention would be drawn back to it, and I would meditate on what was inside. These three words comforted me beyond anything I could've imagined: "I'm so sorry"- the end. When loving eyes met mine, and those words were uttered, walls fell down, my heart felt the love, and tiny little pieces of healing began to fall into place. When those whom you love dearly are faced with some of life's most difficult circumstances I truly believe that more often than not less is more. Less fishing around for those perfect words. Less justification. Less explanation. And more love playing out in honesty {"I have no idea what to say"} and simple, practical acts of service {quietly giving a hug, refilling a water bottle, giving a praise and worship CD, cards, meals}. Different people, personalities, and unique circumstances will call for different ways of reaching out, but I hope and pray that when I see some one hurting I will be able to look into my own scars and find those things which were most a balm to my sorrow.

7 comments:

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Love this Wendi. So very, very true.

Tracy said...

Powerful, Wendy. So glad you shared from your heart. I'm one of those who sometimes retreats in the face of loss, for fear of saying the wrong thing. So good to know a heartfelt "I'm so sorry" is often enough. Thank you again for sharing. I'll remember this, my friend.

Blessings,
Tracy

Vicky said...

Well said Wendy!

Kristin said...

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES. Seriously, people need to shut their mouths. You have much more grace than I do. I would flat out tell people that they were hurting us, or that what they said was falling on deaf ears, when we are going through some HARD adoption stuff. I learned something though...how to deal with others who have lost....say nothing. Just love.

Preach it.

And yes, I am going to be at the scrapbooking night...you?

Charity said...

You stated this so well.
Thinking of you as you miss your precious little babies...

Amy@My Front Porch said...

So true Wendi. Well put.

Lisa said...

Wendi- I don't know how I found your blog but I wanted to thank you for your honesty and the {real} way you communicate.

I lost a child almost 7 years ago and agree 100% with what you've said here. Grief is so tricky and these days, people want to fix. It's tough, I think, for those who love us to sit with us in pain but that's exactly what grieving parents need- the chance to feel and miss...and love and cherish.

Thank you for being {you}