Judson's Legacy

Life is Messy

Life is Messy 2

Life is messy.  And life in the midst of grief is especially messy.

I have been thinking a lot recently about my interactions with friends and even acquaintances in my grief: some are sweet, some are okay, but some sting. A few things stand out to me.

First, it means so much when people acknowledge our pain; not that it was painful, but that it is painful.  Many people, though they are very aware of our loss, tend not to address it; not even with a knowing glance or touch. I think this is because they perceive it might cause us more pain for it to be acknowledged.  On the contrary, it’s okay to point out the “elephant in the room.” In actuality, acting as though our pain is invisible hurts far more.

Second, it is hard when people, who have never lost a young child, try to equate our pain with something in their own experience, rather than simply acknowledge that they cannot understand what we are going through. Everyone has experienced pain and loss (or they will) but no two experiences are the same. I appreciate when people admit that each loss and journey of grief is different.

Third, I am touched when people persist in trying to reach out to us, even if our sorrow makes us difficult to reach, especially because we have little we can offer in return during this season. I see the self-lessness this requires of people; it is a love that is particularly meaningful.

Fourth, I hunger for the freedom that comes from being with people who are not trying to fix us. They recognize that what we are experiencing is part of the process of grief and though it is hard to see the hurt, they are not trying to clean up the messiness and “make it better.” They give us space to just be–whatever that might mean.

I was given this quote, written by someone who also lost a young child, and it resonated with my experience:

I have moved to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to meet me. My attempts to be normal are painful and each day carries a quiet but screaming anguish that accompanies me every moment. Were I to give it its own voice, I fear I would become completely unreachable, and so I remain “strong” for a host of reasons, even as the strength saps my energy and drains my will.  Were I to act out my true feelings, I would be impossible to be with.  So I choose to act “normal,” because I dare not do otherwise.

People who understand this dynamic are gold.

Working my way through this over the years will change me, as does every experience — and the more extreme the experience, the more extreme the change. I will know my grief has dissipated when, as I have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal.  I do not know when this will be, who I will be at that point, or who will still be with me. ~Michael Crenlinsten (Adapted)

Life is truly messy.

Yet, when we interact with people who are not afraid of our messiness spilling onto them, risking making their own life a little more messy too, we know we have found gold!

One response to "Life is Messy"

  1. Christie Solovjev says:

    I remember reading this entry last year and thinking to myself that I need to tuck this bit of "advice" away for when an opportunity would arise for me to use it. I lead a table at Treasured (like MOPS) at Saddleback Church and in one of our discussions about desiring to get to a place where we have a passion for prayer and quiet times in our daily lives, one of my friends broke down sobbing. Long story short, she lost a pregnant cousin who was like her sister 5 years ago and 9 months later she lost her son 8 hours after birth (his twin sister survived), but due to both her and her daughter’s extended hospitalizations and then her daughter’s fragile state of health for the following year, she and her husband never addressed or tried to work through their grief. All these years, she has been unable to pray or even open her Bible. This was news to me and as I very cautiously started to explore this with her, the pieces began to fit together in my mind. In the past year and a half, she never completed the Bible study and never prayed. I always sensed a deep sadness about her, but she is a more reserved person than the rest of the women at our table and I thought it was more about her personality than anything else. Last week we were studying prayer and discussing our experiences with both answered and unanswered prayer…my friend wasn’t sharing, and remembering what you wrote, I asked her how she felt about her son’s death and about how she prayed for his survival. She starting weeping and I felt awkward, but again I remembered things you wrote about and I asked her if she appreciated it if we spoke with her about her son and ask her questions about him, and she replied, "Yes." I don’t think any of us expected that answer, but I am so thankful that I asked because all of us were anxious about this topic. So thank you for pouring your heart out in this blog and for giving me insight on how to act around my friend…she is in contact with a friend of mine who experienced similar losses and led an Empty Arms group. My heart aches for your loss of your precious son as best as I can without yet experiencing similar loss in my life.

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