Thursday, September 8

Walking Alongside Those in Grief

While I truly doubt anyone really reads my blog, sometimes I am so moved by someone or something or a writing of some sort, I feel I must share it...and so I share it here: whether anyone reads it or not!!

In the past few years, many wonderful women and families have crossed through my life~mostly via the internet, through blogs and facebook, though some "in real life" too. I have met (especially) women of such strength and courage and depth that I hadn't known before. I am not saying there aren't men out there too who are strong like this, it is just that women tend to express it more publicly than do their counterparts.

Sadly, these women/families have lost something so precious that the fact that they can even breathe impresses me: they have lost a child.

In their losses, they have each in their own way struggled with grief darker than the darkest night, shock, anger, rage, sorrow, despair, healing, love, and hope. They have struggled in private on their own, and in public (via blogs, etc) reaching out for help and offering help and hope to others struggling through a similar journey. And this is a journey that doesn't end: yes, life goes on, healing occurs, etc...but never is the hole left by a child who should be there filled. That child is always loved, always missed, and the loss will always pierce a parent's heart.

I can honestly say, I don't know if I could survive such a journey. I am (selfishly) grateful I haven't had to. The little glimpse I did have of this journey when my nephew died in 2009, let me realize how very weak I am. I glimpsed their sorrow through a window but can never understand it fully. I am not a mother.

All I can do is cloak myself in as much comfort and understanding as possible and choose to walk alongside them on this journey of grief.

I look at people like Kristine, who lost her daughter in Dec 2009, but has gone on to change the post-birth  care for new-borns in such an incredible way, as State after State, pass Pulse Oxometry bills. With the simple, harmless, inexpensive Pulse Ox test conducted within 24 hours of birth, hundreds, if not thousands of undetected congenital heart defects will be discovered and lives saved. Kristine helped to do this through her grief over her sweet Cora. I can't imagine the courage this takes.

In the past couple days, another such woman opened herself up once again, to share her struggles after the loss of her son. Opened herself up, despite vicious attacks that came upon herself and her family in the midst of her son's death. Her courage, too, staggers me.

And what she wrote in the past couple days has refreshed my soul. It has bolstered me. It has given me hope.

I think because she put into words what I could not, though I tried. Jill has mentioned that she has struggled to write the posts of yesterday and today...but I have to say she put into words what I think I failed to do.

Her posts are soul-searching and she has been trimphant in her sorrow. I urge you to go read her incredible words.

She has been broken but not crushed. It is amazing to see. She has struggled with finding/acknowledging/choosing God, having been a Christian prior to her son's death....the questions of where was He? could He?...why didn't He?

I am overwhelmed with Jill's wisdom and grace. And to Jill, I respond:

Thank you for being so honest...what you shared yesterday and today is something that needs to be heard by so many. I understand your feelings about that verse in Jerimiah. And the confusion of how such horror can happen even when God is close by. The questions of how some are healed while others are not...

The anger that comes, directed at God~he can handle. The feeling of abandonment~he understands though he is near. The confusion...the torment...the suffering...the grief...he feels along with us. Of course then, comes the question of wishing that rather than being alongside us in this place, why hadn't he rescued us from it instead?

I am impressed that you were able to put into words this choice you've made...I had a hard time doing so. It's just that I knew if I turned away from God, it would be even worse. If I tried to make it on my own and comfort myself, I would fail and the darkness would be worse. Years ago I the verses from Isaiah 50 (10-11) suddenly seared themselves in my heart and broke through the darkness I was in at the time when I realized I was trying to light my darkness without God. Around that same time, I realized that though I had clung to Psalm 23, verse 4, it hadn't dawned on me that for there to be a shadow, somewhere there must be light...I only needed to find the true Source.

The time following my nephew's death, the darkness was deeper...and then somehow, those words broke through. And I knew I couldn't not believe in God...couldn't not trust him.

It's such a relief, really, isn't it, when you come to that place? Even if those around you aren't there yet...or you can't quite put it into words... There is a peace the floods in~not necessarily replacing the grief, sorrow, exhaustion...but joining it.

Many Christians that have not known this struggle or these depths of grief may have an easier time with their faith, with trusting God; they may (unconsiously) judge those in the midst of this battle rather than quietly supporting them through the darkness of it all. But then, perhaps, too they miss out on the soul-searing/shattering depths that is only known by those who have walked through the fires in the dark of night with God.

It is these women, these mamas with empty arms and grieving hearts and questions that have no answers, who continue to live on, who are to me true Women of Valour. They should be honoured and prayed for and supported. It is my honour to walk alongside them in their journey in whatever way I can.


PS~If you made it this far, please note that I believe in walking alongside my friends through their journeys of grief be they Christian, agnostic, Jewish, athiest, Muslim, or anything in between. It is my faith that boosts my compassion and understanding~not theirs!

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