Archive | January 2015

2/18/17 – “dust off” for repost? “Out of the Shadows” -likely move to new page

~No human has more clarity about the scourge of suicide than the survivors who are outliving their loved one who died by this shocking, dreaded killer of our young~

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Suicide is NOT shameful, but society has been saturated for generations with the belief that somehow suicide is shameful and it is reluctant to give up this stinky thinking even in the face of indisputable truth. “The shaming of suicide” in my humble opinion, is a product of society mores and historical traditions, festered by the daily use of the word to provoke emotion. It is society’s intent to pack a punch with this inflammatory word, and the media is hugely guilty when they jam their rhetoric full of phrases like: political suicide, financial suicide, sports suicide, etc.

I will attempt to speak particularly to the heart of those of us who are outliving a child, and worst of all, from a death of suicide. But hopefully, all of us who mourn will take away something. And to each of you, I am so sorry for your pain.

Is there anyone who does not like chocolate? If you happen to prefer, let’s say, bananas, then I know this won’t “appeal” to you, although I happen to think a banana dipped in chocolate makes a nice treat. Please stay with me here. I haven’t “gone bananas” but I want to see if a comparison can be made. You decide.

Chocolate is fragrant and silky smooth and beguiles the senses. Place a piece of milk chocolate on your tongue, let it melt, and then describe the experience. It’s rich and flavorful and screams, “more” does it not? Far too often I reach for chocolate every time I feel bad. It may not be wise to feed the pain, but chocolate helps me forget the problem for a few delicious seconds before it settles permanently on my hips (sigh). And the reason it’s not “hip, hip, hooray” is because of the volume of fat and sugar that goes into that divine piece of chocolate to make it the sensual experience that it is.

I suspect I have swallowed shame just as easily as I have swallowed chocolate. In my young and developing years, I was criticized for my “flats” ~ flat this and flat that (on my body). It was totally humiliating when my mother, just trying to help, would say to the clerk, “Do you have anything to fit my daughter? She has flat feet.” It sounded to my heart like she had been handed a megaphone and everyone in the entire store heard her. I wanted to crawl under a display, or better yet, drop through the floor. Perhaps even back then, chocolate was my friend, smoothing out the frayed edges shame spawned in my heart.

Is it possible that shame hides in suicide like sugar hides in chocolate? I read the lines and between the lines on social media grief sites. Some mention shame directly, but many more don’t say the word, but I think I know what they mean. When people tell us to “move on” is it because they are tired of thinking about the cause of death? Does it make them feel uncomfortable? Some attend church and it’s in this intended “safe haven” where they might feel shame after some saint speaks some thoughtless words within earshot. I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. And if you personally have felt shamed by others, I am so sorry for the extra pain inflicted on your already shattered heart.

file2491298389219Darkness breeds lies and shame so let’s bring this bad boy out in the open. Let’s treat it like the dirty cockroach it is and shine the light on the darkness of shame, scattering and zapping it’s lies like scurrying insects. May I suggest that we don’t have to hide. We have done nothing shameful. Our child or other loved one did nothing shameful. They died. It should be just as acceptable to tell our cause of death, as if it were by any other cause. There is no difference in my opinion. It’s time to tell the world to back off or spread the truth. Give us some breathing room and we will tell you what it’s like to lose someone to suicide. Their lives are worth talking openly about and others to respectfully listen.

I hope I did not sour your love affair with chocolate by comparing it to shame. But shame is slick, slimy, scummy, and can stick like glue, but it’s also as smooth as chocolate the way it coats the tongue of someone appalled by the way your child died and “shares the shame” with their gossipy friends. Think about it and let’s spread the truth.

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. Proverbs 12:19, NLT

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on January 30, 2015. 12 Comments

Yesterday’s gone

P1050122acdcThis is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24, NLT

 A line of a song, sung by Bill Gaither, drifted into my consciousness this morning and it has a line that goes something like this: yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have these moments today. You may not be at a place in your grief journey where you can think about tomorrow and I certainly understand, for I have been there too. So if you want to save this to read when you are farther along, please do.

It seems our lives are made up of yesterday’s decisions and tomorrow’s dreams. If you have been forced to bury one of your children, then you know the deep longing to have them back in your life. I know this longing first hand. We suffer long into the night with the pain that death brings. I know how difficult it is to even take steps into the next day, next week, next month, when the death is by suicide. I’ve been where you are and I also have taken steps into many tomorrows and I can tell you that you will too. We are survivors. We will take as many steps into as many tomorrows until we meet our children again and hug them tightly to our breast.

Most probably the line from the song above refers to making the most of today. This twenty-four hour period of time may seem daunting. How to live it? What shall go in it? Will I stay in bed? Will I push myself to go to work? What does it look like to you? We no longer have yesterday’s hours. We can’t return and live them again, swapping out wasted time or change out harsh words for something sweeter. Yesterday is recorded in the annals of history and in the records above. And tomorrow is not promised. It is no more promised to those of us who remain than it was promised to our beloved, buried children. Does that seem harsh? I don’t mean it to be so. My goal is to speak truth in love.

I have been in the trenches of grief longer than many of you who are reading this, but if you have been in here with me for years, then you probably understand that time gives us perspective. We’ve exhausted ourselves asking “why” questions. We no longer are swamped with comments from people within our circle who have long since returned to their own rat race. We’ve had enough practice fielding answers to unwanted questions so as to artfully dodge what we consider none of anyone’s business. Sound familiar?

Perhaps the lines to the song above came from a quote by Mother Teresa: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come yet. We have only today. Let us begin.” Is it intended to inspire us to make this day our best day? I think so. There is wisdom in this challenge. No doubt it means to treat others as we wish to be treated. Maybe it means to live in a way that honors the one (s) we are outliving. In the New Testament, there is a list of suggestions in case we are low on ideas and need a jump start. They are called fruits of the spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Wow. This is a robust to-do list, or bucket list if you prefer. Fortunately I am not expected to add them all at one time, but I can work to integrate each one into my character building. It’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight and will involve many tomorrows. But since this list is with God’s blessing, I suspect He knows that incorporating them will help in the healing process.

I know that one of my first desires in my grief journey, was to experience peace. Let’s suppose God is writing us a love letter about peace. Maybe it would read something like this: “My Dear Children, the only peace you will ever have is in Me. This world does not offer peace ~ though it promises you many things. Some things are good, but most lead your mind far away from truth, and from Me. Please lean on Me. You will never be too heavy for Me to hold. I have much to teach you, to share with you, so you will be strengthened for troublesome times ahead. Yes, many will cry ‘peace and safety’ from now until I return, but don’t be misled. I alone am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it is in these three that you will find the fruit of perfect peace.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34, NIV

Prayer quoted from, “Shattered by Suicide, My Conversations with God After the Tragic Death of My Son” by Gracie Thompson, p. 163-164

Bless the children

. . . and little children will lead them.  Isaiah 11:6, GW

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It was just a smile; one I didn’t know I needed . . . until now. As I write this I am being blessed once more by the memory of her sweet smile. Not sure why I’m including this story. Maybe it’s because I’m running low on illustrations. Or maybe, truth be told, I’m getting old.  Or maybe it is because she was just so cute!

I have a disclaimer. Like I said, I’m getting older whether I like it or not. I may look old, but I layer the camouflage on thick enough in an attempt to hide the aging that seems to accelerate after loss. I’m fortunate to walk without assistance so what tipped her off? But she was just so cute!

My hubby kindly let me off at the church door and drove off to park. Walking toward the door, I noticed a family coming up close behind me. The little girls were maybe ages 3 and 5 and the boys older. What caught my eye were their cute pink coats and sweet smiles to match, so I engaged them in polite conversation, asking questions as we approached the door. I got there first so I opened it for the younger little girl. Mamma appeared to be murmuring in parent-to-child language soft enough that I could not pick up what she said. Okay, yes. Add hard of hearing to the list, but she didn’t know that!

As I held the door open for this adorable child, she thanked me so sweetly with, “Thank you, Grandma.” Grandma? Ouch!

I didn’t get much beyond the entrance before the scene hit instant replay and I burst out laughing. I know it’s church, but I couldn’t help it. Grandma indeed. I found myself doing a quick inventory to see if all my body parts were covered. What gave her that idea, I wondered. Do I look that old? But there are some pretty young, hip grannies out there and I hope to be one of them when the time comes. It just struck me funny.

I can’t scold an innocent child. I did the same thing when I was about her age. I was standing at the bathroom sink, watching my beloved grandma wash her face. I studied her intently, capturing her every move, which led me to ask a serious question, serious in my mind anyway: “Grandma,” I asked, “why is your face all cracked?” She looked startled and then had the same reaction as I did and burst out laughing. I couldn’t figure out what was so funny. Her face was “all cracked” with wrinkles and to my young mind, I thought it might hurt.

I love that memory. Time has brought me full circle I suppose. That sweet child thought I looked like a grandma. Bless her little heart.

Remember how Jesus treated children? He loved them crawling all over Him, sitting on His lap, maybe touching His beard, looking intently into His beautiful eyes, sharing smiles, rubbing noses. “The kingdom is made up of these,” He said to their mothers, His disciples, and anyone else within ear shot as He stroked their hair and patted their rosy cheeks.

God does come in all shapes and sizes. He reaches out and blesses us when we are least expecting it and in extraordinary ways. I had hit a rough patch this week and probably was not in the best mood this church morning, but it took some words out of the mouth of a child to lighten my step and put a smile on my face. I know how hard it is to find anything to be cheerful about. Our world often becomes harsh after loss and we may find ourselves berated for taking so long to heal. Definitely not words of comfort. But if I may suggest, I pray that you will be blessed soon with something special. Something out of the ordinary and maybe even delivered by a sweet, angelic child.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16, GNT

 

New Year’s Resolutions Revisited

Deep water fishing

Deep water fishing

It’s that time again. Time to change calendars to one that reads 2015 at the top. Seems impossible doesn’t it? But not only do we change calendars, we are supposed to make new resolutions aren’t we? Do you remember when your mom cornered you about something you failed to do and you tried to segue to another topic, hoping she would forget her question? Well, I’m about to do that. I just can’t help it; it was just too funny not to share.

My readers know about my cat, Pipy. I have shared several stories about my hi-jinks cat. Although he loves water: faucet dripping, bath water for dipping, spritzing water from my toothbrush to his face, to name a few. No, I don’t think I’m mean when I spritz him. He sits at the edge of the sink, watching me intently while I brush my teeth, and waits for it!

Even though Pipy has an interest in water, he never has intentionally taken a bath . . . until yesterday. We can only piece the story together, but my backside had something to do with it. I must have accidentally turned on the water with my behind while multitasking with the hair dryer. (Don’t ask. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.)  Hair done, I left the bathroom unaware that the faucet had been turned on. Fortunately, the tub has a little gizmo that keeps it from overfilling or we would not be having this conversation. I would be too exhausted from pulling up soggy carpet!

Meanwhile, back to Pipy. Our best guess is that he must have decided to dip his paw in the filling tub and lick it dry which he prefers to lapping water out of a bowl like any normal, civilized cat. Perhaps he couldn’t quite reach the water, and since this is a deep soaker tub, we assumed he hopped up on the tub’s slippery edge and you guessed it. He fell in! Now he didn’t stay in for long as you can imagine, but long enough to get thoroughly drenched. Out he came, tearing through the house, leaving wet foot prints everywhere. Finally he settled down to begin the laborious licking to get himself dry and “purrfect” again. Poor Pipy. He looked quite dazed after his surprising bath, but it sure was funny. That was probably his first and last bath during his lifetime. And since he knows nothing about resolutions, he’s making no promises . . . but am I making any?

I should be ashamed to admit this, but I have had the same resolutions on my bucket list for several years now. I’m huddled in front of my computer as I type this ~ as if you could see me if I didn’t ~ which probably helps to keep me honest. The two I will mention are simple and straight forward and obviously hard for me to accomplish: I resolve to eat less and exercise more. Now why don’t I follow through on these? Do you have some that have been on your list for an annoyingly long time too? They roll off the tongue easily in January, but become a distant memory by May . . . or March. Perhaps you are more disciplined than I, and if so, I’m proud of you!!

I would love to read some success stories. Perhaps your successes will help motivate me. I can only hope. As I type this I am aware that there are far too many who recently had to bury someone they love, maybe right before Christmas. The families of two policemen in New York are living this nightmare as we speak. Every Christmas from here on will be laced with the suffering that follows horrific loss. My heart goes out to them and to you too. Fresh grief is a mountain range of pain. Each day that passes is one day farther away from the horrific memory  for me, and I am grateful. You will be grateful too, but it happens almost imperceptibly, like a whisper. So be good to yourself. Take one day at a time, a phrase we often fall back on. But it is true. It is so easy to jack up our agony with “shoulda, woulda, couldas” right?

My grieving friends,  don’t give New Year’s resolutions a thought unless it is your desire. There is nothing harmful about looking out for one’s health, which can help to ease our sorrow going forward, but if our plates are already full, then put aside the things that don’t matter. Instead, just concentrate on taking one step at a time . . . and it’s not a bad idea to follow God’s big ones.

Seek his will in all you do,  and he will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:6, NLT

 

He knows everything

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Children like these are part of the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14, GW

This picture is priceless, don’t you agree? Does it take you back to a time when your children were young? I recall an incident that happened when my children were “knee high to a grasshopper”. The younger had been punished for obeying his older brother instead of his parents and as a consequence for his actions had received some “knowledge applied to his seat of understanding”. Afterwards I cuddled him and explained why his actions were unacceptable. Between heaves and sobs he blurted out, “But mommy, he knows everything and I know nothing!”

Although this precious memory happened long ago, it remains fresh in my mind and makes me smile. They were precious words out of the mouth of my babe. As the younger child, he idolized his older brother, who from his tender viewpoint, could do no wrong. He loved him, was in awe of his knowledge, and he trusted him to always play fair. I quickly pointed out the problem with following someone who may be a bit older, but not enough wiser to listen to his counsel ~ which was often intended to get him into trouble in the first place. And of course in this situation he had taken the bait.

This story reminds me of my relationship with God. He does know everything and I know very little. I can trust Him because He loves me unconditionally. Fortunately He is willing to teach me what He knows from His Word. No matter where I pick up and read, the Bible always has something to teach me. Even a well-worn text will often smack me between the eyes as if I am reading it for the first time. Unlike childish behavior and trickery, He always has my best interest at heart.

As humans we are all broken from sin. We are all broken from tragedy of some kind and we desire healing. The process is slow, but thorough, if left in the hands of our all-knowing God. He is the healer of broken hearts.  He can pick up the pieces of broken relationships, broken bodies, broken hearts, and put us back together again.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.  Jeremiah 17:14, AMP

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  Romans 11:33, NIV

 

 

This entry was posted on January 2, 2015. 8 Comments