What to say…

Not long ago I recognized an old acquaintance’s car as I left the grocery store.   Before I was really even able to process it all I found myself thinking, I hope I don’t run into her.  And then before I could even finish that thought it was as if I stopped to yell at myself in disagreement.

Don’t worry I was thinking all of this quietly to myself.

In the parking lot unloading my groceries I realized I have no clue what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, especially when that loved one was their child.

Sure, I could say something.  And I am sure I am not alone in my ineptitude, but what can I say that is kind and helpful to this person who is suffering?

My first thought was to not say anything at all and avoid the possible conversation all together.  I must admit I was very angry with myself for even considering this option.  And since this moment I have been thinking a lot about grief and how I can best be a friend to someone who is grieving.

I suppose because of my increased awareness of the topic I have been more attune to others and their need to discuss things like death, loss, hurt, and overall extremely difficult situations.  Recently I have noticed these topics are far more common than I used to recognize.  Unfortunately, I think part of this inability to recognize is more of one’s choice.  Difficult situations are not something new, but very likely something I and others avoid, ultimately diminishing the impact and knocking it off of our radars.

I have made a point to be more aware, and in doing this I have learned two very important things when speaking with others who have suffered.

  • It is very important to recognize the loss or suffering and not attempt to belittle it through comments like, “This is all part of a plan,” or “They are in a better place.”
  • It is often more important to be a good listener than to have something to say.

This morning I found an incredible post by another mother who lost her daughter, Natasha.   This mother explains what she and others who have lost a loved one really wish you would say.  I encourage you to read this incredibly honest and humbling post.  I did and am very grateful for what I have gained.

I now know why I sometimes feel like a crazy person

Last week I was part of a discussion with other mothers of preschoolers.  The group was asked, “What do you enjoy most in this season of your life, and what prevents you from enjoying this thing you love best?”

After thinking about this for a moment I realized it is no wonder I feel like I am going crazy on most days.

I have two things that really make me happy.  Well, really there are several things that make me happy, but these first two things are pretty elemental in allowing anything else to happen.

One of the first things I could think of that really makes me happy is organization  and cleanliness -although you would never guess this about me based on the condition of my house on most days.  The second thing I really enjoy is being with my kids and allowing them to be kids.

Awesome.

But then I pondered the remainder of the question.  This is where I realized there is an absolutely rational reason for my moments of craziness.

The very two things I enjoy are also the same two things which prevent me from enjoying them.

Let me explain, I love a clean house, everything in its place, fresh sheets, spotless windows, clothes folded neatly on so on.  The main reason my house is not this way is, well – five kids.  But, I also love allowing the kids to have fun, play and make a mess.  I enjoy allowing them to play uninhibited.  Often this means I will find paint on the walls, mud on the floor or something strange in the freezer.  But all the while they are exploring, learning and growing in ways they could never otherwise be taught.  This I believe is very important.

So now I know, yes I have a rational reason for my feelings of craziness induced by the conundrum I have created.  Fortunately, this is only a “season” of my life and there will be another time in the future when I am not questioning my sanity – at least not for the same reasons.