Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Learning to comfort in my own grief

You know that little saying 'time heals all wounds'? I don't think it's true at all. Sure, time can mend things but a broken heart from the loss of your child will never be completely healed. You can't fix something when there's a piece missing. You can try to fill the hole with other things-both constructive and destructive-but nothing will be a perfect fit in that missing piece unless it is what is missing in the first place.

As time has passed for me I have found grieving to be easier except for one day each week. Sunday. (Of course there are those out of the blue moments. You can't predict those.) Sunday has started to become an emotional day for me. And what's funny is that it's only at church. When I leave I feel pretty good. I don't know why this is really. I can only speculate that it is because it is from pent up emotion during the week being released. Maybe that's not even it.

I enjoy going to church. I like the fellowship, singing, and learning. I like going to God's house.

Last Sunday is when this realization came to me. We just started a new Sunday School class and while I enjoy it very much, I just don't feel led to participate talking wise. Sometimes I feel like I might lose it if I talk so it's better to keep my mouth shut. I had a few teary-eyed moments that service. Both my pastor and his wife noticed that it was a rough day for me and gave me some comfort. I appreciated that so much.

This past Sunday we had gotten some news near the end of our Sunday School class that a member of our church's wife passed away. We prayed for him and his family at the end of class and our assistant pastor was saying in her prayer that there wasn't a pain as deep as losing a spouse and then she added unless it was losing your child. I knew she said that for me and I was glad that she acknowledged the great pain of losing a child.

The day felt the same as Sundays before and there were actually moments when I was feeling sorry for myself. I was just thinking of all the people in the sanctuary and how they were all so happy and carefree and here I am without my daughter and it's so unfair. Don't they know how much it hurts? Do they even care? Now, I know in reality that their lives aren't peaches and cream and that they have hardships too but I was content in throwing a pity party for myself in that moment. That is, until I saw a member of my church family crying because of the loss that had recently happened.

We have a time at the beginning of service where we get up and greet each other. Last week I wasn't feeling up to greeting so I stayed in my seat. No one besides her and my pastor and his wife came up to me. And now, no one was really going to her. My heart went out to her and I was thinking how can people not see that she is upset? Are they purposely avoiding her? So, I went up to her and I hugged her. You know what happened next?

She said, "I'm so sorry for not knowing what to say or do for you. I had no idea."

I told her, "A hug feels good, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, it does."

And with that I kissed her and held her face and just gave her a look that said, "I understand."

I took my seat but I kept an eye on her during the service and during prayer time I went up and prayed with some of the congregation for people in need. After all of this, I didn't feel quite so upset and sorry for myself. It felt good to comfort someone else. It felt good to know what would and wouldn't be helpful to her because I had been there myself. I felt more joyful during the service.

At the end of the service she thanked me and told me that she felt like she really gained a good friend that day. You know, I kinda feel the same.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Jennifer Ross said...

I feel the same a lot at church too. I stay in my seat most of the time. I guess I just can't always "fake-it-up." Sometimes you just need to do it. Just hurt...

Danielle said...

Oh Holly! What a great response to her statement! "A hug feels nice, doesn't it?". You have a beautiful heart and a gifted way of saying just the right thing. A hug really is the best thing you can do for someone when you have no idea what to say.

I hope from this point on Sunday gets easier for you. I have to give you props for going. I've been a couple times since we got Wyatt's diagnosis, but have stayed away because it's simply too emotional for me. I've been doing my own study time and prayer time at home, but I miss going to God's house deeply. Maybe it's time to give it a try again. I know I could be doing better for others in church than I am at home as a hermit.

The Blue Sparrow said...

Its funny how grief connects us all weather its the loss of a child, sibling or spouse. A friend of mine has lost a cousin and her ex mother in law in the last month and while we were chatting and she said that she knew that her loss was not even comparable to mine, but I told her that yes, it was. A life lost it still a life lost and grief is not biased toward the personal realationship in its nature. It just is. Im glad that this woman can rely on you for a new friend. We all need someone who understands dispair when were staring it in the face. I think God brought her to your notice for just this reason. *HUGS*

Jill said...

That is so wonderful that she mentioned the pain of losing a child! I now do not believe that time heals all wounds and your are correct the there is no healing losing a child. xx

Karen said...

Church has been a place that has stirred up a lot emotions for me. I thinks sometimes we feel that we need to be happy and cheerful because we are in church. Thankfully it is a place that we can be ministered to by God's people, just like You!

That is so awesome how you ministered to that lady that day! It really does something for us when we reach out to others. I believe it brings healing in our own lives.

You are right, a broken heart from the loss of a child can never be fully healed. I do not think I want it to be because I feel like I would forget about her. I always want her in my thoughts!


kcrussellphotography said...

As always great post. You're a shining example of how God can use someone to help another one of His. It is amazing that you are able to put aside your own grief and comfort someone who's grief is fresh. I certainly have felt fulfilled in praying for others, and while it doesn't take my hurt away, I know that I am doing something that can help someone else. Praying for you and her.

Rebekah said...

I'm sorry for the woman's pain but glad you were able to provide the comfort that she needed in that moment.

Church makes me emotional too. Sometimes I feel God is forcing me to release my emotions to Him and so I try to forego my ___ (pride isn't the right word but I can't think of a better one) when the tears do start flowing.

Romans 8:26 (New International Version)

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Anonymous said...

I often get emotional at church. What better place, right?

AKD said...

I get emotional at church, too. Maddie's memorial was there, so I invariably think about that. We have this lovely stained glass window of Jesus with the lambs, too, which always gets me.

What an incredibly sweet story. You're just so sweet.

klarsen said...

Holly, I think that is wonderful. You are a kind woman and strong to look past your own heartache to heal another. It is true that this helps heal us. xx Katy

Akul's mama said...

Perhaps God's presence makes you feel like you can unburden your sorrows on him. So you cry. I know that is my reason to cry in his presence. Hugssss

Mary said...

How nice to be able to comfort someone else. I have the hardest time in church too. Sometimes I just don't go and I feel so quilty for not going. Maybe insted of feeling sorry for myself I can try to reach out to someone else like you did. You are such a wonderful person. I know she must have been so touched that someone else noticed her pain and acknowledge it. :o)

Mom Putnam said...

It is truly nice to know that God is reaching out to you through you helping others in their need. Yes, it may be the Sundays that hit you the most but what better place-in GOD'S house where he can give you comfort. I am o proud of you for reaching out to someone else in their moment of grief and pain. God is still working on you and through you. Keep the Faith my dear daughter, he will never leave or forsake you!

stitchndeb said...

Really neat reading about you noticing that lady who was upset and hugging her! I don't like the social aspect of church (the greeting time) because I feel like it puts a spotlight on me for sitting alone. Maybe if I looked outward like you did this day, I could find someone else who is sitting alone who'd appreciate having someone to sit with too. ~Debbie

Kate said...

Sometimes I have a hard time going back to our church in Findlay, because I see Andy's casket where the communion table is and I remember his funeral, instead of paying attention to the sermon. I am so glad you were able to comfort someone else in your time of need. You have a wonderful gift Holly! Keep using it for God!

chadandnikki said...

Grief is such an amazing thing. In my own experience I believe it can help me and those around me if I let it. And quite the opposite too. Thanks for reminding me to let the grief help.

Anonymous said...

I think that this is what I'm missing. Thank you.

Kari @ p.s. love.love. said...

Kind of chokes me up to read about it. I don't think time can take away loss and too many people like to tell those who have lost that it will. You are sweet to have gone to her. I think too many people feel we have to 'say' something about a person's situation in order to be in their presence and sometimes a hug or hello or even just a smile can help lift their spirits, even if just a little bit. We all need to start reaching out in compassion to those around us. We need to be more aware, like you were. I hope this Sunday is better for you and for your new friend.

Franchesca Cox said...

Hugs are the best. I am so glad you were able to use your broken heart to help someone else's.


Oh, and yes church is just plain hard. I haven't quite figured it out either.

croleyc69 said...

I'm so glad that you could reach out to someone else and help them. Sometimes just that Hug or a simple smile can help so much.I know that saying to well. There is always that person gone and nothing is totally complete. I do hope church gets easier for you. You are such a wonderful person and I think w/all you have been through you are doing great. Sending you some {{HUGS}}

Emily said...

It feels good to reach out to someone else who's in the throes of grief and offer them your understanding, doesn't it? It almost makes our pain have a purpose. I love that you're honoring Carleigh by using the experience of losing her to help others - and I'll bet she loves that, too. ((hugs))

Heather said...

You really hit the nail on the head in your first paragraph. Nothing, nothing at all can fill the void left by our babies.

I know what you mean about church too. We go to a really large church, and we started going there right before I found out I was pregnant. Since I spent so much time last year gone and in the hospital, we don't know a single person. Not even one. Sometimes I like the anonymity, sometimes I miss going to a smaller church. But anyway, I do know what you mean about those feelings being stronger. I think being at church is always a bit of an emotional experience, and when we have something so largely emotional in our lives, it compounds it.

Anyway, I am glad you found some peace this Sunday in ministering to others!

MommyIvy said...

I'm glad you found a little peace and a friend Sunday. If I lived closer I would give you a hug anytime you needed one.

Just Breathe said...

My children and some friends of mine ask me how I do it, they don't understand how I can just walk over and put my arms around someone that I don't know. It is so simple and so rewarding. When I worked at Hallmark and someone would come in who was obviously in pain I would ask them what happened and how can I help. I'm so glad you did that.

Susan said...

I feel the same way when I go to church. I lost my baby on Oct. 23 of 2009. I was 16 weeks along. I was os excited to be having another child nad was shocked when I was in my second trimester and started spotting. I go to church adn feel o.k. while i am there but then I go home nad am a wreck for the rest of the day. I am so tired of hurting an dtrying to be o.k. I feel like a freak for not moving on but i just can't. So glad i found your blog.

He & Me + 3 said...

What a comfort you were to that young lady. God is using you...through your grief too. AWesome how that works, you will touch many lives.

Mary said...

A hug is a wonderful feeling. I am glad you were able to reach out to someone. I too sometimes am throwing myself the pity party. But, when I let it go and allow myself to focus on others I feel so much better.

Karen said...

Beautiful! We now know how to comfort because we were comforted!

What a beautiful testimony=)!

Nan & Mike said...

Sweet story Holly, I am glad you shared this :) And I agree that time doesn't heal all wounds, as we will feel this forever, it will just get a little easier to weave into our daily lives. Hugs, Nan xo

Misty said...

You have such a large capacity to love. I adore you.

xo M.

Cecilia said...

Church is hard for me too, glad I'm not the only one. I feel a lot more vunerable, I think that is part of it.

Kudos for comforting the lady at church too!

Lisette said...

Holly you may not really know it but you do help others all the time. I am so blessed to have you as a friend. You always take the time to comment on my post or on FB and I really appreciate that, more than you know. You have inspired me and have helped me so much on my loss journey.

I also feel the same about certain days of the week, Monday's are my emotional days. I love reading your blog because it really makes me feel like I am not alone, what I feel is normal. I hate that we had to meet under this circumstance however I still feel blessed.
Sending ((HUGS)) your way!

Betty said...

It always helps you when you can help someone else.

I have a hard time not feeling bad for myself too. It's very big of you to realise that is what you are doing. I dont...and then I get mad at Landon when he points it out. Ugh.

For me, church is where I feel closest to God. I suppose it is that closeness that causes me to just dump all that I'm holding inside. It literally pours at times and I just cant hold it in.

I'm so glad you found a friend you can help!

Once A Mother said...

i love that you were there for her, to offer that hug. a beautiful moment that i am sure she will remember.

Trevor's Mama said...

I feel exactly the same on Sundays at church. For some reason, I let go of all of my emotions. I cry during service; a lot. I always think about my son, and lose it. But it's therapeutic. I am in the safest place in the world, with my Christian brothers and sisters, letting go of my pain and sorrow. I think it's good for us! And I am so glad that you got to feel the joy of helping others. It is amazing how God truly uses us to do His work with our lives. I only hope I can be someday what you were for this woman. God bless you, best wishes!

Sue said...

What a beautiful post, Holly. I can just envision the scenario in my mind. This reminds me of one of my favorite prayers, one that I try to live by, I'm posting it here for you.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

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