perfume and pearls

Each day, the sun rises and sets. The seasons change.
In the garden, flowers bloom and then die.

Death is like the tide – it just is.

Every time I hear of a death, I immediately think, “there is another mother who lost her child.”
I’m not sure how we survive the death of a child, but we do. We find a way to live – not just to survive. But we are changed forever.

When bad days happen, I struggle to stay present but I am sucked backwards in time. With a foot in the past and one in the present, I try to carry on through the day. And, when I am tempted to – again – ask WHY? – I think about this quote by Margaret Brownley,

“perfume can only be produced by crushing flowers; something beautiful must first die…”

I know my face reflects my rawness and I really don’t care. A part of me is gone; I feel diminished, a shadow of my former self.
I am, somehow, less than I was.

And yet I am softer: I feel other’s energy and acutely sense their pain. I am infinitely stronger; I can now survive anything. My discernment is magnified, and I’m crystal clear about what really matters.
Does that mean that, in some way, I am more than I was before my son died?

Rarely is something created without pain and perseverance.  I wonder if our new self (our new normal) forms in the same way as a pearl is created? Do you think our hardship refines us?

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friends who have slipped away

In the months since my son died, I have reconnected with old friends, and made new friends within this (startlingly large) community of bereaved parents.  

Many of my dear friends have drawn closer, but I’m troubled by others who have slipped away.  I recognize that not everyone who enters our life is meant to stay forever, but I’m not yet ready to give up on a few special ones.   

I just found this ‘letter to a friend’ in Margaret Brownley’s, “Grieving God’s Way.”  Here are excerpts that capture what I would want to say:

Dear Friend,

Please be patient with me; I need to grieve in my own way and in my own time… The best thing you can do is listen to me and let me cry on your shoulder.  Don’t be afraid to cry with me.  Your tears will tell me how much you care.

Please forgive me if I seem insensitive to your problems. I feel depleted and drained like an empty vessel with nothing left to give.  Please understand why I must turn a deaf ear to criticism or tired clichés.  I can’t handle another person telling me that time heals all wounds.

Please don’t try to find the “right” words to say to me.  There’s nothing you can say to take away the hurt. I need hugs, not words. 

Please don’t push me to do things I’m not ready to do or feel hurt if I seem withdrawn.  This is a necessary part of my recovery.  Please don’t stop calling me. You might think you’re respecting my privacy, but to me if feels like abandonment.

Please don’t expect me to be the same as I was before….. I’m a different person. Please accept me for who I am today.  Pray with me and for me.  Should I falter in my faith, let me lean on yours.

it’s complicated

How can I know what to ask you for, when each day is a surprise?

Remember the line from Forrest Gump, “….life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” 

My days are like that. Some are filled with a visceral, knife-like pain. Other days, I may be teary-eyed and sad.  I could be in my quiet space, or pacing and hyper-vigilant – waiting for the “storm” to burst forth.

Most likely, I am feeling conflicted: impatient with myself for feeling so lost – – yet terrified that “feeling better” might mean forgetting my son.  Or, it may just be a “normal” day. 

So, no surprise that I am often at a loss when friends ask me, “What can I do for you?”  

I can only tell you what would help me at that very moment (to think about yesterday is too painful; to envision tomorrow is too scary).  But, there are some things that are always helpful:

Listen when I tell his stories; I need to say them and I need to hear them

If you knew him, tell me stories. I love hearing about him, and it’s comforting to know he is being remembered

Please don’t try to cheer me up. It doesn’t work, and it makes me wonder if you are tired of me being sad

Remind me to be patient with myself

Most importantly, I always need your prayers