Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What Not To Say To Someone Experiencing Grief - Part Three

I recently asked members of an online support group that I frequent about the types of comments they have heard after receiving their child's diagnosis or, in some cases, after their beloved child had passed. The comments ranged from well meaning (but missing the mark) to downright heartbreaking and cruel.

"God won't give you more than you can handle." and "God knew that your were such a strong mom and that's why God gave you a kid with hlhs." - First of all, these statements imply that God has caused this suffering. That he caused our child's illness or death or diagnosis and apparently did so because He felt we could take it, like He is just trying to toughen us up. I don't believe this at all because we have already established that God has plans NOT to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). In Part One, we discussed that sin and suffering and death exist in this world because of choices that Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden and that God allows this because he loves and respects us enough to make our own choices, even though our choices sometimes have consequences. The consequence of Adam and Eve's decision to introduce sin into this world is that suffering and death now exist.

Secondly, these statements also insinuate that we can handle whatever comes our way. Umm, yeah.... So hear that? My child receives a life-threatening diagnosis or passes away and I'm supposed to say, "Back up folks, I GOT this" like it's no big thing. I've got news. It IS a big thing. It's the worst thing. And we are in no way equipped to handle it at all. Part of being made in God's image means that we love and when someone we love as dearly as our own child is ripped away from us it hurts. It hurts beyond all hurt. Many of us have discovered that the day your child enters this world, you find that you have the ability to love like you've never loved before. Some of us have also discovered that when our child leaves this life, you hurt like you've never hurt before. It is most definitely more that we can handle. Thankfully, God promises that even if we should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that He will be with us (Psalm 23:4). Because we are NOT strong moms! I never felt more weak in my life than when my baby was suffering and there was nothing I could do to fix it. I never felt more weak than when my babies passed away. Maybe sometimes people say that we are strong because if you believe hard enough that only strong moms and dads go through a loss, then maybe it won't happen to you. We are regular moms and dads too! We never thought that our child would be the one in a hundred, one in a thousand, one in a million. That is something that happens to someone else! Until that someone else is you.

Thankfully, God DOES promise to be with us through whatever we go through. "He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak." (Isaiah 40:29) "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." (Psalm 119:28)

There have been days where only by the grace of God was I able to get out of bed and get through the day. There have been days when I fled off of an elevator when a pregnant woman stepped on, because I had miscarried Lillian a few weeks prior and lost Katie a few months before that. I've had to run out of a parent-teacher conference before, barely making into one of the guidance counselor's offices before bawling my eyes out because there was a little baby girl present at the meeting. There were days when Jason Grey's song Remind Me Who I Am would come on the radio and I would beg God to remind me who I was to Him. To make me believe that I was His beloved because I literally did not have the strength to get through what was happening. God was there with me those days. He got me through them. He was my strength and my comforter. And each day was a little better. I felt joy again, even though it seemed impossible at the time. My memories of my lost babies have evolved over time. They are now bitter-sweet instead of purely painful. I can remember them with joy mixed in with the sadness. And I know that as time goes by, it will get better still. I will never be healed (at least not in this life), but am constantly healing.

The pain that we as parents of heavenly children feel when we are separated from our lost little ones also comes from having been made in God's image. It is the same pain that God felt when Jesus was on the cross and He was separated from His own child for a time. It is the pain that God feels when He is separated from us. It is why God allowed His own son to die so that we could choose to be reconciled to Him. It is why God wants to adopt us as His own children.

Remind Me Who I Am

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