Wednesday, December 9, 2015



I need your Spirit ear. I need you to hear, to listen. The feelings of angerthe angst, maybe the angst—that’s what I'm really feeling towards the Christmas Holiday Season. They are the unsettled feelings before that moment of clarity illuminates. As life goes on for the rest of the world, when the ordinary-ness takes hold, when the mundane tasks cannot be accomplished because the brain reverts back to acute grief and humanity loses her patience; this is when the first sense of alienation settled in. Different.  I’m different now. How can this holiday be the same? It cannot, will not—Matthew you will never again be in the physical with us. Different is not a bad thing—it’s simply a new thing. The pain comes from trying to recreate the past instead of embracing the present. The love we have for you will never leave us. Your Spirit will forever be a part of us. We can bring you into the festivities and allow you to regale us with the stories and memories you’ve left us. If the tears flow—so be it. You’d cry for us if we were departed. Keep your Spirit alive. Is there a better way to show the children that life goes on after death—that their Daddy, their Uncle, their Cousin will never be forgotten? That we can ‘rub-in’ this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as the start of a new beginning; an homage to the past Eves’ and Days’ we’ve shared—to the wonderful souls of our family now watching us from Above.  It’s sad, it’s teary but we are so very blessed to be graced by so much LOVE.

Pain needs to be given its rightful place. It cries for expression. It does not diminish joy or gratefulness. It’s just not discussed often, nor in depth. It stews most often in silence and erupts in anger, or more damaging to the soul into depression. Death etiquette. That is what I have been concerned about. I say to hell with Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette! Out of frustration with the manner in which death and grieving are viewed, I wanted to see what the source had to say. From the Index, death in extended families falls in the middle of anniversaries and See also Funerals. It falls after death in colleague’s family, engagement announcements when a parent is deceased and euphamisms. It appears before mourning periods, occurrence of and spouse’s death. It gives the bereaved such advice as not to be disappointed in those incapable of helping you through this time, those that retreat . . . but “with a small gesture that the time is right” they may resurface. Shocking to me that the onus is placed on the bereaved. The feelings of alienation are making more sense to me now. I close this book. At this moment, the phoenix in me rises from a depth so deep so dark and so new to me. It shoots to the sky, encircles my being, and in the sounds of the flapping of its wings, a voice is emitted—the voice of grief. It cuts through the wind and howls to the world “Open your hearts. LET HER BE. HER SON IS DEAD! Have you learned nothing from her pain? Release your empathy and show your compassion or will you wait until your own tragedy strikes and then your broken-ness will take the lead that guides and teaches. You cannot escape death, you cannot escape grief. It waits in the shadows ready, willing and able to pounce. Her pain and the pain of all parents, siblings, husbands and wives that have gone before are lessons that have been presented to help with the understanding that this journey was never meant to be travelled alone. The path —yes, unique and individual, the hard work can only be accomplished by one. Accept the teaching of these lessons; create communities of safe, sacred places where the injured hearts have a soft place to rest until they begin their healing and relinquish their space to the next broken heart—which may be yours. Your bereaved brothers and sisters do not need your silence. They need your warmth, your love, your acceptance. Their pain needs to be seen, acknowledged, given reverence and seated at its rightful place next to the joy and gratitude that they work so diligently to uncover. Go ahead—touch it. It may hurt, it may blind, it may shake you to your core. It may fill you with fear and thoughts that you religiously push away. Adorn yourself in your cloak of humanity. Kindness always protects. Why you ask, WHY is this necessary of me — because a child has died and mourning and grieving must take place. A child that lived, that loved, that made a difference to you or perhaps someone like you. WHY WOULDN’T YOU, I ask. ”

As I finished typing the last sentence from the paragraph above, you my dear Matthew, seeing the confusion, sensing the despair, the mourning of lost hopes and dreams—you send me a lifeline. Not only a lifeline for me, but a beautiful lesson, a way of expanding the heart to help, to hold the hand of the bereaved. My Facebook Instant Message notifications rings and this is what I am graced with. With permission, I share:

“Hi Diane, not often in my life am I speechless, since God gave me such a gift of gab! But I have been trying to think of words for you. Hard though, because I know nothing is comforting. I SO remember the first Christmas after Jen, my niece was killed! It was horrible. I could not stand the pain my sister was going thru. She didn't want to celebrate anything , and I respected her. But it drove me crazy. So know what I did? I came up with the philosophy that if I can’t make my sister smile, I will make others smile. Grant and I and our kids adopted 3 families. I shopped for them and we personally delivered their gifts. It was the most emotional experience Diane. The first couple was elderly and alone. NO family. The husband was in a nursing home with the wife by his side. We went to the nursing home to bring them gifts. They cried and were so grateful. The 2nd family was also elderly, no family. The husband was blind and the wife had broken her arm. They lived in an apartment near one of our local high schools. They were waiting for us, watching out their window. We brought them meals and gifts. They were so cute and grateful. BUT the third family was VERY emotional. They lived in center city, originally from Africa. 5 kids and their Dad had just died. They proceeded to sing us a song. Diane, their voices were heavenly. The words in their native language. After they were done, I asked what the words meant. And they said they were grateful to us and we were a Godsend! The gifts we brought were the ONLY ones under their tree. 5 kids and a single Mom! We all had tears. Even my macho teenage son and husband. It was horrible that year that I could do NOTHING for my sister, but at least we could make other people smile. I am sharing this not for a pat on the back, just because I wish I could make you feel better but I can’t! However, every year I adopt a Senior from St. Joseph’s Community Center and this year added a bit more, just to honor you, my friend, in this ##%$#**??? up time in your life. BUT it just doesn’t seem like enough. Can I see you? Can I help you prepare food or festivities? Can I clean your house? Can I just hug you? Just wanted you to know how often I think of you. Love Sue (Benson)”

My pain got its due. I was able to speak its hurt and you heard. As such, you helped me make room for gratefulness to return. I could barely read the words through the tears. This woman, this friend, this heart wide open gave me the most precious of gifts this year. I release my pain. I accept Different. I accept that this Christmas and its Eve will be days of being for me in whatever frame of emotion I am feeling. Doing is something I will look forward to next year. Finding joy while living with the ache . . . this is so difficult at times. Thank you for Peace, Matthew. Thank you Sue for being you.
Love you forever and always Sweetheart—



No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, resources and experiences.