Hi, Friend (part 2)

 

400610_683860053586_1183745968_nHi, Friend. You came back… thank you.  Let’s dig in a little deeper, shall we? There‘s a plethora of opinions and resources on how to handle a child-lost parent, how to love someone who suffers, how to support those who are broken… Do’s and don’ts, advice, how-to’s, tips and tricks, personal stories, etc. etc.  Some tools are great, others are so personal or so disconnected they kind of miss the mark.  So here’s my own personal list of insights, I have no idea how universal my experiences and opinions are – they’re true for me… for right now anyway 😉

  1. You can always speak Graham’s name and include him in our family whenever it feels right – it always feels right to us.
  2. You are always welcome to ask questions about my son, and enter into his story in big or small ways.  I love him! I love sharing him! His memory is full of shadows but I promise they don’t diminish the joy.
  3. I’m always thinking of Graham. I’m always aware he’s not here. You don’t have to worry about reminding me or saddening me – I’m already there – whether you can see it or not. More times than not, I welcome a moment to share that burden with someone else.
  4. Tears don’t bother me.  Not your tears, not mine.  I cry a lot. I need to cry a lot.  If you find you’re censoring yourself so as not to make me cry, please don’t.  I know it’s awkward and painful, but it’s real, and I much prefer that to a superficial alternative.
  5. I love children – I love blond boy babies and kids with long legs and round heads, I especially love 11 month olds and 2 1/2 year olds. I love remembering my son, and the vibrancy of flesh and blood help to freshen my memories.  There’s ache mixed in with the enjoyment of other children, but it’s worth it. Your children are worth it and your happiness doesn’t cause my pain.
  6. I don’t have a my-baby-died trump card on suffering and sadness. Brokenness is everywhere -100 different versions of brokenness -I see it all with weary eyes. I can do brokenness.  There’s no need to compare your hurt with mine. I don’t need more of God’s grace than you do, I have all I need. We both do.
  7. Don’t let me fool you, I often come off as stronger, healthier, braver than I really am. I can say things that should rip my heart out but my voice doesn’t even waiver and my eyes remain painfully dry. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt, only that a choreographed version of myself has developed over time.  This stoic warrior persona tends to be my ‘first responder’ allowing me to function in day to day chores and interactions.
  8. I work hard to maintain sincerity, honesty and vulnerability but if you find my tone too mechanical or empty, I invite you to chip away at me – it doesn’t take much to find tender pieces of my heart. However, if you’re going to take me up on the invitation – please be gentle – maybe use a cup of coffee and a quiet moment.
  9. Lastly, a great practical means of meeting me where I am is with the simple phrase, “How’s your grief today?”  With these simple, intentional words you help teach me you’re safe and committed, and that you see me just as I am. When in doubt, hugs work too. Even silence.
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Hi, Friend. (part 1)

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Hi, friend. Well, we’re not quite friends yet, are we? Perhaps we just met. Maybe you reached out, maybe I did… Did I seem desperate? Awkward? I’m meeting a lot of new people these days. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but the process is often uncomfortable and leaves me emotionally jumbled.

Maybe I seemed a little too eager, a little too happy… a little intense in my commitment to connect, to interact, to be honest but still likable.  Perhaps I seemed a little too sad.

Maybe I found a way to attach words to the ugly in my life, and you came here looking for answers you’re not sure you’re allowed to ask.  Maybe you unsuspectingly ‘friended’ me only to stumble upon my little corner of internet. Maybe you’re curious or concerned. Confused or saddened… Maybe I scare you a little.  Regardless – here you are – peering into the deep darkness of my story.

So, umm… Welcome.  Sorry.  Thank you, perhaps?  I trust you’re safe, but forgive me, I don’t know you’re safe… This is a vulnerable place to be.

You don’t get to know Graham.  In fact, if I hadn’t mentioned him, heaved out a glimpse of our story into your path you would never even know he existed…. I’m not sure I can find the words to describe the injustice and heartache that accompanies this truth.

You also don’t get to know the me I was before he left us… To be honest, I wish we could have met a few years ago instead of now – I imagine you would have liked me better. As it stands now, you will find me entirely incomplete. I am endlessly weak, when I wish to be strong. Empty when I want to pour out, dull where once there was vibrancy. You’ll find that, much like a toddler child who insists scraps of paper or bits of rock are somehow precious – I offer up the broken pieces of myself to anyone who wanders close. I don’t know what I expect you to do with these fragments of me – I’m at a loss most days, myself.

I imagine I might look rather pitiful as I pick through the ruble trying to gift away the bits and pieces… but I hope you see a little beauty too, because much like the child – it’s all I have to give.