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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Renee Swope – Me Too!

The power of validation and affirmation. We all know there are no perfect Christians – it’s inherent in our theology – so why do we try to wear masks of perfection?

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Faith, Links

 

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My Consolation in Sorrow

iStock_000019848651_Medium-600x400When you lose a loved one to death, you quickly recognize that a great number of people sympathize, even empathize (vicariously experience) with your loss. Close friends and family grieve with you because they lost a friend, a brother, a parent or grandchild too. Some simply grieve for you because they love you but were not personally connected to the one who died. But very few people actually grieve in like manner with you. Even parents experience grief in unique ways. Men often process their sorrow and loss far differently than women do.

I have been blessed by numerous friends and family who have grieved both with me and for me, but none grieved as I. No one grieved as “the mother” with the obliterated heart. None but one. None but one. And I count that one woman as one of my greatest blessings in the midst of all this heartache.

10492559_10152550256319610_3231914152675065142_nHer name is Teresa and I never would have guessed just what she would come to mean to me. (Pictured left, Teresa and her husband, Jakob).

Frankly, I didn’t know Teresa well when my daughters died. I knew who she was, we’d spoken briefly, she is the mother of the young man my oldest daughter had been dating for two and a half years.

 

Teresa, her sister and her son, Alex, stepped in and met practical needs for us following the accident that took Bethany and Katie’s lives. David and I were tied up at the hospital – not wanting to leave the side of our surviving daughter. Teresa and Alex took on the arduous task of purchasing burial garb for both girls. I never saw what they choose but was told Alex had insisted on a scarf in Bethany’s favorite color, pink. They also retrieved all Bethany’s worldly goods from her campus apartment and delivered them to our home. But none of those things explains why Teresa is so special to me.

10525854_805830962812159_8008800412709942090_nAt the time of Bethany’s death, Teresa and her family were living in Sweden. The family moved back to the states approximately six months after the funeral. Her family met us for lunch shortly after their move. I had no idea what to expect and I was a bit nervous. They had been so kind, so generous. Their daughter Emma had written and performed a beautiful song for which her father, Jakob, created a photo montage (Bethany’s Song). Emma also painted a treasured picture of Bethany that hangs in our living room. But in spite of all that, I didn’t know them well but I was aware that they didn’t share the faith that had become so interwoven into my very being. I was afraid my faith would be offensive to them and maybe even afraid that they could find the chink in my spiritual armor and open Pandora’s box in the midst of my suffering. I knew I was vulnerable.

It was at that lunch in an extremely crowded Freddie’s that I discover the blessing that is Teresa. She is God’s gift to me from an entirely selfish perspective. Let me say that Teresa is a wonderful woman in an absolutely average way; the way most women are. They work jobs, raise children, care for their homes and support their husbands.  They don’t live in the spotlight but they are the glue, the strength and the heart of their homes. They are good friends, and contribute to their communities, largely behind the scenes. They are the heart and soul of this world far more than any politician, famous actor, musician or celebrity. Teresa is just such a woman – the world is filled with such talented, everyday but far from average women who make a difference in their small corner of the world. But what makes Teresa so special to me had little to do with any of those things either.

What I discovered about Teresa in that crowded fast food restaurant, what makes her so special to me, what sets her apart as a gift that could have only come from God is only one thing. Teresa loved Bethany with a mother’s heart. Not like a mother, but as if she had adopted Bethany as her own child. Teresa expressed grief that day that mirrored my own. I have not encountered one other person whose feelings and grief over Bethany’s or Katie’s deaths so closely reflected my own.

In the months that followed, Teresa and I got together many times. Over and over she expressed feelings so very similar to mine. The last time we got together, I told her that I find myself embarrassed because people always ask me how Gracen is doing. They always tell me that they are praying for her. And while I am so thankful for that, there is this quiet voice within that wonders if no one cares about how I’m doing, that wonders if anyone is praying for me. I feel selfish. And I feel as if everyone expects me, or David and I, to be finished grieving – to be moving forward.

Teresa confided in me that day that her friends and family also ask how her son is doing; not how she is doing. She too feels as if people expect her to be beyond her grief. What she’s really communicating is that others knew and expected Alex to grieve deeply, but didn’t expect Teresa to grieve as deeply as her son. They understood Alex’s close relationship with Bethany – his grief was expected, but they didn’t realize the depth of the relationship Teresa had developed with Bethany as well. Her grief was unexpected because her love for Bethany was outside the norm of parent relationships with their children’s girlfriends or boyfriends.

In part, Teresa is a treasure because she validates the progression (or lack thereof) of my grief journey. She makes me feel normal in the midst of my personal nightmare. But most of all Teresa is a blessing because her grief is mine. She loved my daughter to such a degree that her heart is as broken as mine.

Bethany was a fortunate beneficiary of Teresa’s love in life and I’ve been the beneficiary of her grief. I’ve benefited by the knowledge of how deeply Teresa loved my girl – I’ve benefited by the gift of someone to share the depths of my loss – to know I’m not alone in my deepest sorrow. I’ve benefited by the friendship she’s bestowed upon me.

While I would never wish my pain and sorrow on another, I can’t begin to describe the ways in which Teresa’s grief has been a consolation for me. There are so many ways in which words meant to comfort unintentionally diminish the value of the loved one lost. Teresa, added value to Bethany’s life and memory. That is why Teresa is such a special blessing to my aching heart.

Thank you, Teresa, for loving my girl and for freely sharing your grief with me.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Grief, Links, Music

 

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You Existed, You Exist

You Existed, You Exist

The desire of every bereaved heart: my loved one was important and remains so still today, two years or ten years later, regardless of their length of life. . .

(Clink on the link highlighted in red entitled “view original post” below to read the full article and “thelifeididntchoose” to access the blog.)  

thelifeididntchoose

Sometimes this thought is  what gets me through the day:

You existed, you exist.

Sometimes I say it to his photo on my phone:

You existed, you exist.

Sometimes I want to scream it out the window:

YOU EXISTED! YOU EXIST!

My son is not a number or a statistic or only a memory.

He is integral to my story, blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh–part of my life.

I rest assured he lives in heaven with Jesus but I miss him here with me. That’s selfish, I know.  But I can’t seem to help it.

I don’t know how to be glad that my young, healthy, brilliant child died-just like that-here one moment, gone the next.

The broken heart of every parent who has buried a child cries out:

My child existed..

He lived.

He mattered.

My child exists still.

He lives.

He matters.

“Can…

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Posted by on March 12, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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Smash Shack NWA

smashshack2

I need a Smash Shack in NW Arkansas . . . I guess there’s always the firing range. Although, there is just a certain appeal to pretending to be a hot-blooded Greek or Italian woman! Throwing a plate is so much more physically satisfying than squeezing a trigger. Just sayin’ . . .

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Adversity, Grief

 

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No Rush

Click on the link below highlighted in red to read an insightful article contrasting physical and emotional healing from blogsite The Life I Didn’t Choose.

“Time, by itself, does not heal all wounds.   But of all the factors that promote healing, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for time–not in the physical world of surgery and broken bones and deep wounds…”

Source: No Rush

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Grief, Links

 

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Spiritually Wounded After Loss

 

The link below (highlighted in red), from Wild Feathers Wellness, was originally shared on my personal Facebook page September 9th, 2015. When I started Boxx Banter, it was only being shared on Facebook. So I published this, and multiple other posts the same evening, knowing that my audience had already seen them. I’ve recently decided to go back and repost several as they were underappreciated due to the manner in which I first published them. If you’ve seen this post before; I hope you’ll reread it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t retain everything I read. I also hope this post resonates within hurting hearts providing much needed validation and equips those who love the hurting to gain understanding and patience as the wounded work through their spiritual beliefs.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord . . .”  Isaiah 1:18a

My own Facebook comments for last september lie just below the link to the article.

 

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Last weekend we took a little family road trip, and some things just happen in car rides. Who can explain it? Maybe it is the absence of distractions, presence of intimate spacing and of course, time. I love road trips for this reason.

On the way home, I found myself in a full-blown meltdown in conversation with my husband. It wasn’t what he was saying, it’s what I wasn’t saying. It was what I was afraid of admitting. How far I had drifted. How my heart had grown cold, and nobody knew it, not really. I convinced myself since I had found “happy” again, my kids were healthy, and I wasn’t falling apart every week; things were okay. I was okay. But being “okay” can have a thousand different definitions. Grieving people know that best, I think.

Spiritually Wounded After Loss

Ah yes, the spiritual wounds lurking beneath or hiding among the deep grief, sorrow and pain of loss. I’m amazed this woman managed to partition out that portion of her heart whereas I have constantly wrestled with how to address reconciling my spiritual wounds and the damage done to my relationship with Christ. Psalm 139:7-12 expresses the comfort and the torment inherent in God’s constant presence well:

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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To Love is to be Vulnerable – C.S. Lewis

 

1 John 4:16b “God is love”

Ever considered that God’s heart is just as vulnerable as ours are?

Partial lyrics:
“Love, how many times can a heart break?
Love, how much weight can a soul take?
Love, I don’t know where you ran off to
But love, love, love, I still believe in you.
Yeah, I still believe in you.
I still believe that you’ll come knocking on my door
When I least expect you to
You give me something I can hold
You pull me through, cuz that’s what you do,
That’s what you do love
Yeah, that’s what you do love”

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2016 in Faith, Links, Music

 

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