Seriously…there is a “how to” manual for just about EVERYTHING these days…or a book for us “DUMMIES”!! Heck, I even saw a news story on a woman who, along with her four children, built their own home…using nothing but “how-to” videos from YouTube!! Seriously…if you don’t know how to do something these days…the answer seems to always be…”Just Google it!”. Well…let me tell you something…there is NOTHING out there for what I’ve been going through in mine and my kids lives!
Let me share with you my night. First, when I picked up my daughter from school…I could tell she was “in a mood”. She wasn’t being rude…really, she wasn’t even talking. But I could sense there was something under the surface. She came home and wanted to rest. That was fine..because I was tired as well. That didn’t really happen…and then…the fireworks. Nothing I said was met with kind responses. It was either an argument or an explanation of why she didn’t need or want to do something. This led to me losing my cool. After a bit…she went to her room. I went back there and we tried to “talk”…but it just wasn’t happening. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to unpack what was really going on with her..and she didn’t want to talk. So I left her alone for a while.
I prayed while she was back there. I knew there was something..I just didn’t know what. It frustrated me…and in my frustration…I was going about getting her to open up to me all wrong! I had kept prodding in ways that weren’t conducive to her becoming vulnerable and going below the surface to what was really wrong. I prayed and asked God to help me…to give me the timing and words to say to truly help her heart..not just her situation.
After a long while I went back and opened the door…and asked if we could talk. I stayed there at the door and didn’t invade her space, even after she told me she was okay with it. And then….it happened.
She shared so much. She opened up to me about her struggles….her hurts…emotionally and spiritually. They were very deep wounds and she was drowning in her own feelings and thoughts and couldn’t find a way out.
I realized then that my sweet daughter has the gift of empathy to the point of taking on the burden so heavily..that she was losing herself. She was so wrapped up in what is going on with the ones she loves…she wasn’t able to focus on herself and know how to still feel for the other person…and not let it effect her own life so much. We started discussing healthy boundaries and having to understand everyone has their own responsibilities. She broke…hard.
But then….there was more. She started asking me about her brothers. She broke…and it broke me. She just wants…so badly…to hear they are proud of her. She wants to know they notice her…that God notices her. She is still angry at my ex for taking her brothers away from her. She cried and mourned….and as much as I understood….I didn’t!
You see…for her….she is mourning someone she loves very much…her BROTHERS….but also…someone she NEVER MET!! Take that in for a moment. She never met them. She doesn’t know them. She has no memories with them. She only knows stories of them.
Where is the manual for that!!?? For “How to grieve a loved one you never met”. I mean, really…think of it…. When people are grieving we often tell them to “remember the good times”…or that “the memories we have in our heart of that person will never die”. Well…she doesn’t have any of that!!!!
I held her…for the longest time. Her head buried in my chest…I had tears rolling down my face…falling on her head. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to comfort her….to reassure her. I don’t even get it! I got to have them here with me….she doesn’t. I get to think of the moments we had…their silly grins…. All she has…are pictures…and stories. And…it’s been so long since they were here….there aren’t many around us who speak of them…to us anyway. Her grief is on a whole different level. One I’ve never experienced…or have any wisdom on the way to help her. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
She carries a burden for them as well. A burden to live…since they didn’t. A burden to live well…for them…to make them proud of her. She carries a burden of sadness….and her mind takes her to places I can’t even imagine…because she can literally….can only imagine who they were…what they were like…and who they might be to her now. Her burden is heavy…..and all I want to do is take it from her. But I can’t…because it isn’t something I understand.
So, God. She is wrestling with Him now, too. She is wrestling with all that she is burdened about…for herself as well as others. She is wrestling with feeling Him…with forgiveness…and why it is so expected. She is wrestling with His loving…all while allowing….so many to hurt…including her.
So, I prayed. And prayed some more. We talked…we cried….we cried and talked some more. And by the end of the evening…we had smiles again. Our hearts were lighter….and our load seemed lighter. If only…just for a little while. There were no “magic words”….no “fix-it slogans”. Just tough realizations and conversations.
We decided we will be brainstorming together. You see, in less than a month…we will have the 20th…yes…20 years…anniversary of her brothers death. We want to do something special in remembrance of them. We aren’t sure if we will ask others to join in…or if it will be just a private, family event. But…we will honor the brothers she never knew. We will continue to heal the broken in our lives…and allow God to help us write the “how to” as we go along.
In mine…and my family’s grief process…I’ve learned there is no “how to” or specific way it is supposed to play out. We are all different…and it looks different for each and every one of us. And that’s ok.
I truly believe we can have a guide…but we need to understand…there is no “right way” to grieve. Until my sweet girl shared…I never considered just how different her grief process was from my own. I thought I could understand…because I lost them too. But I’m realizing…it isn’t the same. For any of us.
So, having said all that…I ask you to consider a few things.
1.) Please, if you think of it…pray for our sweet family. We are struggling more than we will probably ever let on…with the upcoming anniversary. But our God will see us through..and there will be..I’m sure…many lessons yet to be learned.
2.) Pray for my girl. Pray she is able to build healthy boundaries…to release to God what isn’t hers to “own”…and she would see Him…in all she does.
3.) You would consider…when dealing with anyone…there is not always a way to completely understand what someone else is going through. You can empathize…but you can’t own it. You can share and love…but you can’t fully “get it”…and that is okay. Love them through…pray with them…and point them to Jesus.
4.) Open up…be real…to someone you trust. She needed someone to help bring her out of the thoughts in her head. She was letting the voices inside her become so loud…she couldn’t process them..or anything else. She NEEDED to talk…but was afraid to. Open up…be real. We were never meant to be an island. Do the hard work of finding that safe place and open up and let them cushion your thoughts…to guide you into reality…to share in the burdens you carry.
I’ll do that for any of you…seriously. I don’t think we are supposed to walk alone…so if you feel alone…and are reading this…reach out. I promise to keep it confidential. But know…I’ll be honest back with you…and love you through it.
“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you'” – Isaiah 41:13
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” – Galatians 6:2
all my love ~c