Praying My Way Through Grief

The hour is early……barely 5:00 a.m.. I suppose it may be a normal wake-up time for more than half of the U.S. population, but not for this little lady. My normal isn’t for another hour and a half.

So what disturbs my slumber so early on this spring morning?

I was awakened by dreams surrounding my son’s funeral.

It was a hard day yesterday, making the funeral arrangements. No parent should have to bury a child, but when someone else tries to take that right from a parent, or at the very least, just gets to be to pushy about any number of things, the whole planning process starts to decelerate, rapidly I might add.

I’ve been going over the dreadful news of my son’s death since the morning I found out, May 17, 2018 at 3:30 in the morn. Many details surrounding his death are still unclear to me. Investigation officers tell me it can take up to a month before results will be available.

How sad surviving relatives must wait so long before knowing the final results. It’s quite a conflicting state of limbo, understandable because we want the truth, but sad because we want the truth now. Right now.

I just need to remind myself that some goes months, years even maybe the better part of a lifetime without knowing. God must have special blessings for these surviving relatives.

Ahh, blessings.

During Mass this afternoon, the teachings focused on the Pentecost. As I sat through the readings with my grieving heart, I was listening to the moments of love that Jesus showed. More pointedly, one of the moments in which Jesus showed unconditional love to another and unselfish surrender to God’s will. Jesus was at last supper. Judas, the betrayer, had to leave to complete the task he had been paid to do and he was wondering how to excuse himself without drawing unwanted attentiin to himself -questions of his departure. Jesus, with his unselfish love, gave Judas the chance to exit without getting the dreaded questions of his departure. He called Judas to him and simply told him to do what he must all the while knowing what Judas was about to do. Meanwhile, the other men only believed that Jesus asked Judas to take the money bag to feed the poor.

As I sat there on the church pew and listened to such a beautiful story of love, my heart silently breaking, I wondered if I was putting more effort into being angry about my son’s death than I was putting into love and forgiveness.

In all my humanness, it occured to me that if I were doing that then I’m fine with it for now. Forgiveness may come, eventually, but right now……

right now I don’t have the strength and quite honestly, nor do I have the mind to.

Some day, but not this day.

Please continue to pray for me, my friends, pray for my ability to forgive the ones who I think are responsible. Pray for my ability to love in the midst of all my grief. Pray for my ability to give it all to the Lord so I may move forward – always remembering, but never holding a grudge.

I ask continued prayers for my family and for my son in Heaven.

God bless you all 💜💜💜

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Grief

Yesterday is a blur and I am not looking forward today. I went to bed crying last, we all did. And today, I woke up crying.

As I sit here, my heart quietly continuing to break, my eyes all red and swollen, having barely slept, I am filled with……

Grief.

It’s all consuming and I don’t even know where to begin to start the healing.

I am scared I will never heal. I am scared I will be stuck in this awful, devastating place I am in at this exact moment.

Lost.

Brokenhearted.

Confused.

And yes…..Alone. However, I am not alone. I have a house full of loved ones, all pulling together in the same heartbreak, all trying to figure out….What next?

When other’s around me suffered the loss of a loved one, I would offer the same heartfelt apologies that I’ve been hearing, “I’m sorry, so sorry for your loss” among a litany of other condolences. I would watch in horror as these families tried to mourn the loss of the beloved person taken too soon, at the wrong time (we feel in our hearts anyway), unexpectedly, or maybe expectedly. Who knows? I didn’t know their circumstances, I didn’t understand their pain. All I could see in passing, is they were mourning someone. My heart always broke in those moments for what those families were suffering. In those moments of someone else’s suffering, compassion was there long enough to say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” words that roll so easily off the tongue in just the right moments. I mean, what do you say in the face of someone else’s tragedy or loss?

When my two older sons lost their step-mom, a woman who loved them dearly and devoted her life to helping create the wonderful people they have become, I opened my arms to those sweet babies of mine. Their pain at that time became my pain. I believed at that time, I couldn’t feel any worse pain than seeing my two children suffering so much.

Looking back, thinking of those moments when I offered my words of sympathy to the ones in mourning, I know I felt those words so deep within my heart. I meant those words with all my heart. I would often wonder what it must be like, how awful they might be feeling at that moment. I grieved with them through that time. In an indirect way, that loss affected me as well.

But, my day would go on. My wonder was fleeting as I had something to get back to…..anything to keep my mind from wondering to far into such an abyss. The pain at just the mere thought of such a loss was too much to handle…..Their pain, however, lasted much longer – still to this day- than mine did.

But now……I am that person.

My heart is no longer filled with compassion, a compassion that comes in and out of our lives at just the moment we need it in order to offer those words of kindness in moments of sadness.

My heart is just breaking.

Breaking because of that same loss, the death of my beloved son.

I have been told a multitude of encouraging words, words that are said because people just don’t know what to say. They want me to know I am not alone and that they care.

Trust me, I hear you.

I hear every single word of sympathy.

I hear every single word of well-meaning encouragement.

I appreciate every hug or hand-on-the-shoulder touch.

However, with this dark, luminous cloud, the feelings of question, doubt, love, and loss hovering over my head, nothing makes sense to me right now.

Everything is a blur.

I keep hoping, praying that I will wake up from this horribly bad dream to see my Darren driving into the yard or him texting me, ‘I love you mom.’

One of the last moments he was with us here at the house, I watched with joy and laughter as he and Dylan were tossing the football around with Devin. I watched, in awe, at how far they could get that ball to fly. I decided I would give it a try. The ball barely made it half the distance of his and Dylan’s throws!

What a wonderful moment!

I will cherish memories with him forever.

Please keep him and our family in your prayers over the next weeks as we stumble our way through the healing. I am not sure how long it takes. Maybe the healing process is one that never ends, but eventually it’s gets easier. Doesn’t it?

One of the most encouraging sympathies I’ve received yet is……

I love you my dear sweet niece. If I could give you anything it would be time because only God and time can heal the broken heart. You and your family are in our prayers. ~Aunt Tina

Please bare with me in the months that follow. In grief, I may respond in a way on unlike me. If I respond in a questionable way, please just pray.

I love you all. Thanks for your gente and kind words as well as your prayers. They are much needed.

 

My Dear Sweet Child

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My dear sweet child, only seventeen

Your light will shine forever.

My dear sweet child, only seventeen

Your pain is no more, for now you are blessed forevermore in the arms of our sweet Jesus.

My dear sweet child, only seventeen

your days of sadness gone.

My dear sweet child, only seventeen

Your fears and worries are now at rest

because you, my dear sweet child,

have been welcomed into open, loving arms, of the very best.

So as you walk those streets of gold with our savior Jesus Christ, I hope you look down upon us who loved you most to see us smiling back at you with grateful hearts that you are in the place we all, one day, hope to rest.

I love you my sweet dear child , only seventeen

Gone much to soon, you will be missed, but I know you are in a better place and that all your pain and sadness is gone. It doesn’t make it any easier whatsoever, but I trust that God knows better than I.

I love you my second born son. You will always be in my heart.

Love Forever and Ever

Mom

 

Apologies

So often, in fact more-often-than-not, I hear people say:

Why should I apologize for what I’ve done……..

Let me tell you why:

We apologize not for the benefit of the other person. We apologize for the benefit of God.

Friends, we cannot control what others do. We cannot control what type of person another is. We cannot control the attitudes of others. We cannot control the beliefs of others. We cannot control A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. but

OURSELVES.

My husband and I are constantly trying to get it through our children’s heads that they cannot control one another, but they can control themselves. They can control how they react in any situation. They can control the words they say and the actions they take.

In today’s self-centered world,

Nobody

is made to take responsibility for their actions. For instance, my son was being bullied in school. When he finally stood up for himself, which progressed into a physical altercation between he and the other kid, my kid is the one who got in-school detention (during school hours he had to sit in the principal’s office all day). The other kid only got reprimanded. I understand a no tolerance policy in regard to fighting, but the school also has the no tolerance policy for bullying as well. It makes no sense! After this incident, my husband and I both had conversations with the principal of the school. Please understand I am in NO WAY condoning my child’s behavior. I don’t want children who want to handle their conflicts with their fists.

But, this post isn’t about how I want my children or how we are raising our children to be, it’s about the need for apology.

The world is such an ugly place that apologizing for the wrongs we do tends to make it a little better place, at least in my opinion. The apology itself shows that one isn’t just thinking of him/herself, but is, in fact, thinking of another.

Anyone can have character when situations and circumstances are in a good place. It takes real integrity and character to act with goodness in the face of negative or evil situations/circumstances.

It’s easy to say ‘I have to revenge because said person did this or that.’

It’s in the Old Testament – Exodus 21 – in which we return behaviors based on another’s behaviors. This chapter of Exodus outlines how we treat others. Back in the days of the Old Testament an ‘eye for an eye’ was perfectly acceptable, probably even expected.

However, the new covenant is one of love and forgiveness. Jesus spread the word of love to any and all who would listen. He also teaches actions such as forgiveness.

For instance, Luke 6:29

To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.

Jesus is not implying that we should or should not react out of retaliation. He is, however, inferring that we should return love in situations in which love was not given, such as slapping one’s cheek.

As you can see, when Jesus is going through His sufferings, He never once asked God to revenge His sufferings, but rather, He offered pleading on behalf of His crucifiers,

Then Jesus said, “Fatherforgive them, they know not what they do.”  – Luke 23:34

So, the new mantra should be:

I forgive you not only because I love you, but also because I love Jesus.

In the end, an apology is just a nice thing to do, but it is also a stepping stone in Your walk with Jesus.

We apologize because……..

we were wrong for whatever the action we took or the word we said. The motivation behind what we said/did may not be wrong, but how we handle the situation can be right or wrong. For instance, my son wasn’t wrong for wanting to defend himself. He was wrong in how he defended himself.

We apologize as……….

a sign of peace. I am a person who likes peace. I don’t care for drama or fighting or upset at all. I enjoy peace. But when I am wronged, I try ( I say try because I have a long way to go) to react with God in my heart. As I said, this doesn’t always happen because I do speak and act hastily. A lot! And then it’s me offering apology (peace).

We apologize because…….

we love Jesus and Jesus is the PERFECT example of forgiveness. Did He not forgive those who wronged Him? Did He not continue to love everyone despite the evil He endured?

Walk with peace today, my friends, offer an apology where an apology is due, and offer forgiveness to those who wrong you.

Blessings to you this day.

 

 

 

 

Life Moments #8: Compassion

My husband and I with our three youngest children (5, 4, 8 mths) took a trip to Vegas and then on to Idaho where we bought a van and proceeded to visit family in Montana before arriving back home. It was a nice, busy, chaotic trip as I’m sure any parent can relate to…..three children under 7 in the vehicle for hours on top of hours. Yes, not the highlight of our trip, but enjoyable for the most part, anyway.

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However, my real story starts at the time we left. All I could think about was time with my husband – a fleeting concept with seven children in the home – as well as it being my three youngest children’s first time flying. I was excited – six out of nine have now flown! Okay, it might seem silly to some, but since I didn’t fly for the first time until I was 29/30, their first flight was exciting and went incredibly smooth for our young children.  Another exciting part is that we got to see another part of the US. We live in small North Dakota with nothing but flat lands (in our area anyway), fields of golden wheat or green corn stocks as high as I am – probably higher – and cows, sheep, horses. Nice views sometimes, but views that may not seem that exciting to young children. Anyway, we like to travel and I was excited for myself, my husband, and our children to see a change in scenery. Las Vegas was full of desert vegetation that we aren’t used to seeing, lively sparkling lights at sundown, and beautifully landscaped roadways and scenic drives into the hills/desert that contain some pretty awesome rock formations and wildlife. My husband was excited to hike into the hills and to explore the differing landscape. As we drive through the mountains in Idaho, with their winding roadways, small mountain towns, and a rushing river that switched from one side of the roadway to the other, we discovered some hotsprings and many, many beautiful, trees that stood so tall over the sides of the snow-peaked mountain tops. If you’ve never seen it in person just imagine the mountains on the Coors beer can, snow-capped mountains – at least that’s what the mountains made me think of (not the beer, I don’t drink, but the image). Absolutely stunning! But, alas, that beauty was interrupted with my bad moods and the children’s fussiness at being in the vehicle for such long periods of drive time. We tried to stop frequently to stretch our legs and take in the fresh, mountain air, but it’s never frequent enough for children!

The tail end of our trip ended with visiting family in beautiful Helena, MT. Now Helena is a place to visit that I will recommend. It definitely has its’ share of beauty and peace. The best part was just seeing our family though as I’m sure most of you can attest to. When you haven’t seen family members in over a year, possibly more, it’s fun to see the changes in their children, but also to reminisce and collaborate with the adults. To see siblings, brothers in this case, interact with one another is full of wonderful moments.  This was the best part of the trip!

However, one of the most memorable points in our trip was driving in downtown Vegas, past all the sparkling lights and casinos, away from the hustle and bustle of the strip that boasted a wedding chapel on every block and back-to-back hotels fervently calling one tourist after another. The downtown area was whole different place, yet similar to the strip. The architecture seemed to play down quite a bit, but was still full of the culture of Las Vegas, interesting to say the least. It was here, however, in which we saw what is missing in our smaller part of the US, but is a very prominent problem in bigger cities.

Homelessness.

As we drove the streets of downtown Las Vegas, we witnessed one homeless alley after the previous. We drove down one roadway in which we discovered a village of homeless people with their tents scattered about under a roadway tunnel/overpass. When I saw this, the excitement I had at the start of our trip started to wane. I no longer saw the trip as all about my husband, myself and my children. It opened up the concern in my heart that seems so easily lost in our protected, coddled state that we live in, a state in which we very seldom encounter a homeless person, let alone a village of homeless people. We might have our run-ins with jobless individuals passing through trying to get back home or boom/bust out of state workers who’ve somehow lost their earnings trying to get to the next job or their home, but as for full-fledged homeless, jobless people who are truly at the mercy of the city or town in which they homelessly reside, it’s a rare occurrence.

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Witnessing such a life really tends to opens one’s eyes to the problems of this small part of the world we call home. It’s a problem that is world-wide, but until one actually sees it, witness it with one’s own eyes, it doesn’t seem to be an immediate problem, one worth the time and effort it takes to combat it. Unfortunately, driving in this area of town was the night before our plane was leaving. At a loss as to what to do, we did what we thought would be beneficial to someone. We had bought a few groceries for an all-day scenic drive that we took earlier that day, some stuff to picnic with and munch on while driving and exploring. As we came back into town that evening, that’s when we drove through that area of downtown. The next morning, as we got ready to head to return the rental car and head to the airport, we drove back to that area of town and gave the food we had left to the first group of homeless people we encountered. We had spoken with our girls that morning and they fought us because they wanted to keep their snacks. However, after some heart-felt conversation, they finally agreed to give the food away. With heads down and frowns on their faces, they walked with their dad to give their food away. They were not happy about it, but they DID it! To me, that’s the most important part of the trip.

They learned a concept that some never learn,

to give up what they want so others may have.

My husbands’ and my heart was happy.

There is no better way to teach your children compassion than to show compassion yourself.