Category Archives: grief

comforting without talking.

i’m published. :0

okay, so i don’t have a new york times bestseller on the shelves just yet, but yours truly does have an article featured on the front page of relevant magazine’s website today! remember my blog post from earlier this month, on being quietly present? many of you contributed to that post in a variety of ways, and an extended and more polished version of it is featured in the life/relationships section of relevant’s online edition. go here to read the article in full! please feel free to share your feedback either here or on the article’s page itself.

so many of you have given me boatloads of encouragement since learning of my feature today, and have even promoted my article on twitter and facebook – THANK YOU! y’all are the best. :)

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Filed under grief, publications, silence, writings

on haiti, brokenness, & the problem of evil.

we’ve been glued to our television screens, newspaper covers, and online articles for the past seven days, catching glimpses into the brokenness of haiti.

and in the midst of so much chaos and tears, many are asking the ever-present question of, “why?” whether or not you’re a follower of Christ, you’ve undoubtedly been asked for your opinion on why horrendous events such as this occur on our earth. moreover, you’ve likely asked this question as well – to yourself, to the individuals in your everyday life, to God. what do you say when people ask you how our God could allow such terrible things to happen?

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on being quietly present.

the months since my mom’s diagnosis have been a catalyst for growth and change, though i admittedly didn’t want any of it to happen this way. out of the dozens of lessons He’s thrust in front of me since november, what not to say sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. i’ve learned quickly what i will try my absolute hardest never to say to someone with a parent or loved one who is ill or in crisis. individuals seem to feel exceptionally free and forthcoming with whatever wisdom or advice they feel i need, and it isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. their intentions, i’m convinced, are as pure as can be. unfortunately, it doesn’t alleviate the sting of their occasionally insensitive remarks – some of which i’ll share at the end.

i decided to poll my friends and followers on twitter several days ago, asking them what they dislike hearing from others when in a situation that resembles mine. the replies i received were insightful and raw.

ronnica: “everything will be okay.” how do you know?

ashley: “i know what you’re going through.”

dana: it’s tough having romans 8:28 quoted time and again, even though it’s true.

addison: “i know how you feel. this one time, …” no one can know how you feel, so don’t compare your story to mine.

heather: i hate hearing, “i know how you feel.” no matter how similar it could have been, everyone reacts differently.

kristina: when people die and others say, “they’re in a better place now,” that really bothers me because it’s often not true.

justin: “it’s going to be okay.” what does saying that even accomplish? nothing. i’d rather hear realism. sometimes it’s best to do what job’s friends did before they opened their stupid mouths, and just be quietly present.

jonathan: i dislike hearing “everything happens for a reason.” it doesn’t make me feel any better thinking it was supposed to happen.

veronica: “it’s God’s will.”

sarah: the worst is, “i’m sorry.” and, “why do bad things happen to good people?”

linn: “don’t worry. it’s going to be okay. you will see.” this is what i don’t want to hear if a beloved person is ill or in need! 

kelly: “God will take care of it.” God also allows people to pass away. and please, don’t say, “i’m praying for you” if you’re really never going to.

i’ve been told several times to think positive thoughts, to be strong for my mother instead of showing my fear, or that this isn’t the end of the world. though these and other utterances are surely intended to put things in perspective for me, that isn’t what i’m looking for. and while i’ve only been asked how i’m doing with everything a couple of times, i’ve discovered that no one wants to hear the truth. insensitivity hurts so much more when emotions are already magnified by an illness or hardship.

where does this leave us, then, who will all undoubtedly one day be in a position where someone we know is suffering? be geniuine. be sensitive. pray with us intead of saying you’ll pray for us later. ask what you can specifically do to help with practical needs, rather than telling us you’re available if we ask. listen. don’t ask how we feel unless you’re prepared to hear the answer in a loving way. don’t feel the need to offer advice or instruction. don’t make promises you have no way of fulfilling for us. if you feel uncomfortable or don’t know what to say, say nothing. often, the best thing to do is be quietly present.

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o, israel.

how closely our own stories resemble that of israel’s. i pray this chapter from the prophet hosea will challenge and permeate you tonight.
//
“when israel was a child, I loved him, and I called My son out of egypt.
but the more I called to him, the farther he moved from Me,
offering sacrifices to the images of baal and burning incense to idols.
I myself taught israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand.
but he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him.
I led israel along with my ropes of kindness and love.
I lifted the yoke from his neck,
and I myself stooped to feed him.

but since My people refuse to return to me, they will return to egypt
and will be forced to serve assyria.
war will swirl through their cities;
their enemies will crash through their gates. they will destroy them,
trapping them in their own evil plans.
for My people are determined to desert me.
they call Me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor Me.
oh, how can I give you up, israel?
how can I let you go?
how can I destroy you like admah or demolish you like zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me, and My compassion overflows.
no, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
I will not completely destroy israel,
for I am a God and not a mere mortal.
I am the Holy One among you, and I will not come to destroy.
for someday the people will follow Me. I, the LORD, will roar like a lion.
and when I roar, My people will return trembling from the west.
like a flock of birds, thy will come from egypt. trembling like doves, they will return from assyria.
and I will bring them home again,” says the Lord.
[hosea 11]

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someday.

it is hard to believe how quickly a year can pass, how four seasons can complete their cycle in what seems like a flash. it has been a year since brady passed away, a precious little boy who words cannot do justice. my first love’s baby cousin touched a multitude more than i can ever hope to touch, and on february 3rd – his sixth birthday – he was released from the pain and obstacles which had plagued him during his short time here. i attended his memorial service on my birthday last year, which i have often described as the most horrific and most precious day of my life. i dearly wish i could detail it much further than that, but his legacy really speaks the loudest. hundreds of friends, family members, nurses and doctors, even news anchors, were present to celebrate brady. the following night i posted this note, pleading for prayer for this wonderful family i came to love. tonight my plea is the same.

oh great God, be small enough to hear us now.
my heart has never ached so uncontrollably for another’s anguish, and i’m astonished at how unaware i once was of what it means to mourn with those who mourn.
it isn’t right to hear a mother and father wail for their child.
it isn’t right for this beautiful, brave woman to acknowledge my birthday on the very day she’s burying her youngest son.
yesterday was amazing, precious, and devestating.
i witnessed how one quiet but mighty soul touched thousands of individuals – something few of us will ever accomplish, but a feat brady conquered within six years.
i rejoiced for a boy who i only had the chance to be in the presence of for a handful of occasions, for a man among children who required only one brief encounter to make you fall in love with him.
i smiled at the thought of all the foods he is finally getting to taste, all of the songs and laughter he is finally getting to hear, all of the races he is finally getting to win.
and i continue to weep for the matchless family that had to give him up to Heaven.
they are all i see when i close my eyes at night. this heavy, horrible feeling consumes my chest when i even begin to think about it. i always thought there came a time when one was all cried out.
i now know that is only an awful myth.
i beg, i plead with you to pray for this group of people i love. if i could only ask you one thing for the rest of time, this would be it. pray for peace to be imparted tonight. pray for joy to show its face soon. pray for comfort to surround ripped and torn hearts. but i think this beautiful boy would also beg you to celebrate, celebrate all of the tiny things we so constantly fail to give a second glance. to celebrate the balloons and flowers he cherished in his tender hands, celebrate life and love itself.
the Father labored and toiled for six days to bless and cultivate everything that is around us, and rested when He saw His work was good.
brady labored and toiled for six years to the very day, blessing and cultivating everything that is around us. it was good. and he is finally resting.
someday all that’s crazy, all that’s unexplained will be beautiful, beautiful. someday all that’s hazy through a clouded glass will be clear at last. and sometimes we’re just waiting for someday. we’re just waiting.
now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. all that i know now is partial and incomplete, but then i will know everything completely… // 1 corinthians 13:12

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