hope

A Lifetime of Holy Saturdays

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In the moment of a child’s death, we enter into our own living of the Easter triduum.  We have our hearts pierced, like Mary’s, when our lifeless child is placed into our arms and everything we knew about this world is shattered into a million pieces.  We weep and wail from the depths of our souls. In the one final gesture that we have to offer them, we painfully and lovingly lay them into their tombs.  Then what?

That is where we enter into our lifetime of Holy Saturdays.  Every day of our lives from there on out, echoes that Holy Saturday. It is a time of immense pain when we try to make sense of what has happened.  It is a time where we are brokenhearted, dismayed, our worlds are spinning, and the faith that we thought we had figured out becomes uncertain.  We are still traumatized by the events of yesterday, we grieve deeply for the absence of the one we love, not knowing what will be next.  Yet, there is this glimmer of hope and anticipation.  He told us that death was not the end of the story.  And so, with no real understanding of exactly what that means, we hope for that promise to be fulfilled while we wait in the aftermath of death.  Lingering, grieving, hoping. 

When that long, lonely, painful Holy Saturday comes to its end, the ones who loved Him run to Him, and find that their hope was not lost.  Death was not the end.  There, springing forth after the time of waiting, came life--glorified, rich, and deep, with every moment saturated with meaning and purpose, and a whole new world opened before our eyes.  There is joy. Relief. Gratitude. Adoration. 

Rest in the quiet of your Holy Saturday.  Honoring the grief and the pain, yet holding the hope of His promise. When this day comes to a close, we’ll find that Hope has come to life.

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Sunset Reflection

As this project comes to a close, I want thank those of you who followed along. Your little encouragements with personal messages or post likes, comments, and shares are meaningful to me. Even though I don’t respond to most of them they are appreciated.

This is not an easy project to do…it takes time, it takes thought, it takes re-living some of those toughest moments of my life. However, by actually taking the time and making the effort to put my thoughts into words, somehow I seem to get new insights into some of my own thoughts and feelings, I come up with new ways to describe the experience, and I solidify some things that I’ve felt all along. I think journaling is an incredibly healing experience and these prompts are done very well. They encourage reflection in a way that brings hope and healing. I’d certainly encourage others to give it a try, whether it’s openly for the world to read or in your own private journal at home.

One of the helpful things in my early grief, was to read others experiences and to know I was not alone. To know that others could feel what I was feeling and still go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life brought hope. They could offer new perspectives that seemed to help calm the sea. By sharing this project shared on social media, outside the “safety” of support groups or closed circles of bereaved parents, I hope that others can get a glimpse into the mind of someone wrestling with the aftermath of losing a child. I hope that by “normalizing” grief to some extent that it won’t seem so foreign and scary when it happens to someone we love. I hope it will make it a little easier for us all reach out with gentle compassion and some sort of understanding when people we love are grieving.

I know I am not the only one to suffer. Everyone has their own personal experiences of struggle, loss, and grief. Not everyone’s struggles can be shared out loud. I hope that by telling my story and my path to healing that I am not the only one who gets something out of it. I hope that in some way sharing my experience, because I can, will touch someone else and help in their road to healing, too.

You know that feeling that you get when you actually stop what you are doing to watch and appreciate a sunset…there’s something like that in this project. To stop what I’m doing and give my attention to the journey of grief does something of the same. Grief, like joy and a beautiful sunset, are holy. Grief is love’s souvenir. It is our proof that we once loved—and that that love continues beyond death. When we watch a sunset, or look at a heart after loss, for that moment, we are stopping to notice that heaven has reached down to touch the earth. 

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Pearls of Wisdom

My message today for the newly bereaved is simply this. You are going to be ok. I know, it doesn’t feel like it. When you are in that new grief and your body physically hurts, when every single moment and thought is entirely consumed by the torment of not having your child in your arms. Your world is shattered and nothing is ok. When you hurt so much that it seems your heart should simply stop beating in your chest. When the idea of living the next 60 years on this planet without your baby is unbearable, it doesn’t feel like it can actually ever be ok again.

I can think of numerous occasions where I’ve met with someone who just lost a baby. When someone asks me how they’re doing, my answer is often, “they are going to be ok, they just don’t know it yet.” There’s no timeline for getting back to good, but it takes a LONG time. You can’t really even perceive that it’s happening, but it does. One day, you’ll just look back and be able to say, “I still miss him, but I’m ok!”

Before Lach died, I viewed happiness and sadness as opposites. Two sides of a coin that can’t both be experienced simultaneously. I know differently now. I can be both sad and abundantly happy at the same time and because of the same event. I always miss Lach and thoughts of him are never too far away, but sadness doesn’t overpower my days anymore. Even on the days I really miss him, I’m ok.

Eventually, you can be even more than just “ok.” You will be happy, fulfilled, content with this life you’ve been given, and able to be joyful with life’s experience. That’s really an understanding that only time can give you. You’ll never be the same, but if you want happiness again, it is yours for the taking, just by making choices most days that lead you by baby steps in that direction.

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