It has been a long time since I wrote about grief. I think that is because I have finally moved beyond the feeling that my heart has been ripped out of my chest and breathing feels excruciating, and frankly, I don't want to remember that. I don't want to remember what it felt like to think of listening to my mom gurgling in her last breaths before she died from lung cancer or seeing my husband's body on a table in the ER as I tried to figure out how I was going to tell my kids or his parents that he had died. I don't want to remember looking at the empty chairs at my table as we tried to have Christmas dinner for my brother, kids, and myself when all I could see is where my husband, mom, dad, and stepdad weren't. I don't want to remember the times I picked up the phone to call Mom to ask a question or times I started to call Rob because something had happened only he would understand the impact of. And I really don't want to remember the nights where I woke up and could swear I saw his silhouette in the darkness but knew if I reached over, he wouldn't be there, so I lay there, letting myself believe a lie because it was less heartcrushing than the truth.
I don't want to remember the heartcrushing pain of grief or loss or emptiness. I don't want to remember how little things can slam you like a freight train and suck the air right out of your lungs.
But I do remember.
I also remember what it was like when someone made some thoughtless, packaged, "get back to normal so I can feel better around you" answer. I remember the pain that inflicted, too.
Thoughtless, judgmental statements like:
"God needed another angel", which a crazy number of my friends who have lost babies and children have heard. Seriously? What kind of person says something like that?!
"You shouldnt' be sad for that person. They are in a better place. You should be happy." I'll be honest. My first thought is always, "Let me put a bullet in your loved one's brain, and THEN you say that." This who statement and its derivatives infuriate me. They may be in a better place, but there is someone who loved them HERE, missing them, wishing they could share all kinds of things with them but can't. That is reason ot be sad, and that is not selfish.
"Well, at least you never held your baby." When a woman who has miscarried tells me someone has said this, my heart breaks for that woman. Love is carried in the heart, not the hands. How dare anyone minimalize the hope, joy, and excited that comes with the news of a baby on the way.
There are so many others that totally dismiss the broken heartedness of grief. They make the person grieving sound selfish and wrong. They brush over the depth of the loss as though it were nothing because, after all, we know Jesus has this, so who are we to do anything but rejoice that these people are in a better place?
Who we are are the ones left behind with the empty cradles and the empty chairs and the empty beds and the phones with no one to call and the babies on the way that will never know their dad/grandparents/aunts/uncles. We are the ones who thank God for a better place but still have to walk through the pain of adjusting to the void.
And if you are one of those people learning to walk through the void, I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry. I can tell you honestly, God and time do wonders. I can also tell you honestly it is a hard road, and it takes time to learn to breathe again without it aching more than you think you can bear. And, honestly, there is no magic time limit when you wake up and suddenly you are fine. I have come to realize the idea that it all gets better in a year is only a partial truth, so it's okay to ache on holidays, birthday, anniversaries, and death days as long as you do. Some folks won't get it, but a lot of us do.
And I'm sorry for the things people say because they either dont' know what to say, don't think about what they are saying, or have never experienced the loss you have. Do yourself a favor and forgive them. You've got enough going on that your heart is trying to carry without adding unforgivness, too.
If I could, I would sit with you, hand you kleenex when you need them or hold the box when you didn't, listen to the stories you need to tell or sit in silence when you have nothing to say, give you a long hug or just be present. I would let you grieve in earnest and let you feel what you feel and say what you need to say and be honored that you trusted me with that honest part of you.
I am so sorry for your loss. I'm praying for you. Please feel free to comment if I can pray specifically because I will.
May God comfort you, lead your as you move forward, give you peace in Him, and be your ever present help.
Love and prayers,