I am a reader of PostSecret. If you are unaware of PostSecret it is an ongoing community art project where people mail their anonymous secrets on one side of a homemade postcard with the potential of being shared publicly on the PostSecret blog and elsewhere. (Note: If you choose to visit the PostSecret blog, please be aware that some postcards contain R-rated content and they are not censored.)
Over a year ago, I read this Postcard:
A natural response to reading this secret may be shock and disgust. How could someone who has endured the heartache of losing a child possibly wish any such devastation on another?
But if I look beyond the horror of this secret. I see deep, deep pain. I see a person so isolated by the anquish of their loss that they’re desperate for understanding—an understanding that might only come by experience. I see someone who feels pain upon pain due to insensitivity. I see someone who has felt unable to meet the unrealistic societal expectations for grief. I see someone who has lost friendships and no longer fits in the same ways they used to. I see someone whose whole life has been turned upside-down while feeling alone in the heartache.
I don’t think there is any part of this writer who actually wishes for someone to lose a child; I think this secret simply reflects a longing for understanding, for the space to feel the depths of heartache without judgment.
I am, of course, reading between the lines, but I am intimately familiar with the feelings that stem from isolation, insensitivity, unrealistic expectations, and even judgment that can emerge out of the loss of a child. There are times I have thought to myself, I just wish they understood! It’s not that I would ever, ever want another soul to experience this heartache. But it is hard to weather some of the social pains and pressures on top of an already broken heart.
But in reality, aren’t we all desperate for people to understand us in our pain? None of us want to feel alone, or judged when we hurt. The validation that can arise when someone gets a glimpse of our heartache and “gets it” can bring sweet healing.
So this postcard reminds me to be an expression of grace and validation for all the brokenness around me, whether or not I have walked the same path!