A few days ago, I came across a letter online. It was written by a woman to her friend who had just buried a baby.
It was gentle and caring. She spoke of hope through the pain, and how the soul grows through loss. It was lovely.
It frustrated me.
Because I’m not there yet.
We all grieve differently. There are some who walk through the early days of child loss aware of the refining process happening under their pain. Maybe this young mother needed to be reminded of the truth in that frightening place, right after her loss. Or maybe she will, like me, hide the letter away for a later day.
I just miss my son. And that missing knocks me down and I can’t breathe. I press my hands to my chest because the emotional pain is so physical it threatens to rupture my heart. My hair won’t stop falling out and half of my toenails peeled, then flaked completely off. Yes, grief can actually do that.
When the loss belongs to someone else, it’s easier to hope. My friends feel my pain, they are horrified and hurt by Samuel’s death. They are frightened by how easily the future in his eyes was turned off. They are trying to make sense of it, wrestling with why’s, knocking persistently at the doors of heaven for me. As the days go on, they begin to discover peace. They see God at work. They are comforted and confident that a good God can do something, well, redeeming, with all of this.
It’s good that my friends get to these places before me. I am deeply grateful. We’d be in trouble if we all carried the same weighty burden. But they are there before me. My eyes are still clouded by hurt. If they tell me too soon or too often, that my pain is a good process, I assume they don’t get it. It’s hard to listen to what they have to say. And eventually, I need to hear what they have to say.
To my friends, please keep working these things out with me. Keep hoping, keep praying, keep fighting for my heart. Search for the answers. Not the kind that make it all OK. Those look like answers but they are counterfeit. Find the real answers, the kind we have to content with in a broken world. The ones that don’t satisfy on the surface, but stretch our faith and make us dig deeper into life. I’m searching too, I’m just slower.
But if I’m crying so hard I can’t even hear your voice, maybe you should wait before you share. The only words I can hear on the worst days are a hand on my shoulder, a hug, or the tears in your own eyes.
“…don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed