A dreary day like today would be a good day to clean out my bedroom closet. Instead I am trying to process something I read earlier this week which continues to disturb me.
My friend, who is also a grieving Mom, sent me a link to a well-written raw response to a “pastor’s” misguided views on grievers. I am not going to mention this “pastor” by name or toot the name of his book. I base my opinion on the information provided in the response written by Lynda Cheldelin Fell in theblaze.com as well as book reviews I found online.
Ms. Cheldelin writes:
“For your trespasses against the bereaved are not your fault. Sadly, you portray the perfect example of a larger problem in our society known as grief illiteracy.
Grief illiteracy is a dreadfully expensive and problematic issue in America costing millions in lost wages, lost relationships, lost health, and worse. It stems from adhering to outdated beliefs surrounding the mourning process following the loss of a loved one.”
* * * *
Ms. Fell goes on to write: “To give you an idea of our journey, imagine going about your everyday life when, without warning, a raging fire overtakes you. If you survive, for some don’t, you find yourself with third-degree burns over your entire body, not an inch of skin spared. The pain is excruciating and the best medications do little to dull the intensity. The medical community gently warns that although your skin will eventually heal, the scars and disfigurement are permanent, leaving you utterly unrecognizable to loved ones, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and even yourself.
At first, doing little things like sitting up in bed or standing is so painful it takes your breath away. Just the mere thought of daily activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing are too much to bear. Pity and sadness are evident in the eyes of everyone, and you wonder why on God’s earth you were spared the peace that death would bring.
Welcome to the life of a grieving parent.”
Amen. I hear you!! And I am so sorry for some of the horrific comments that followed your raw heartfelt post, Ms. Fell — obviously not written by anyone who has stood in your shoes or walked on your path. My husband and I had to stop reading the comments as we found ourselves feeling so sickened by the harshness which exists among us.
Every day peels off a new layer of my grief and shifts my thinking and emotions all over the place. I loathe self pity and never ever seek it. Instead I seek validation that my daughter was here and that her death has indeed changed everything! Don’t peek over the fence at me or “check in” on me to assess if the coast is now clear hoping I am back to normal. And definitely don’t look to me to be the success story of a mother who emerged from her tragedy and went on to save the world! I continue to be extremely charitable as a way to honor my Amy and her life but I am not soliciting any admiration in my role as a grieving Mom. I will never soften to this role because I resent every single way it has changed every aspect of me, my family — my life.
Grief illiteracy – wow! Never thought of it that way. After 3 months of zero contact, just this week I came face-to-face with grief illiteracy via a passive-aggressive egotistical email. My niece’s little boy taught me two words when he was just beginning to talk. Not nice. Yes, Tommy, some people are just “not nice.”
Grief does not need to be fed in order to exist. Seems to me that the nucleus of grief is the purest love which any human is capable of possessing. A ga-zillion layers of emotions surround that nucleus of grief and take years and years — maybe forever to work through. As I experience layer after layer of the fiercest emotions, I continue to write — always lamenting, ranting and sobbing. You cannot neatly sum up certain losses in 5 stages. And make no mistake, as I continue to say, grief is not a willful choice. It is your heart, body, mind and soul’s reaction to the loss of the purest of love. A love which made you a better person, gave you a purpose and one which is devastating to live without in the way we need. I have been on this lonely, painful and misunderstood path for almost 23 months. No one chooses this pain as a way to seek attention or live in their own pot of pity. Mr. Pastor aka ordinary man, you are wrong. We continue to thrive in other areas of our lives but the grief remains as we miss our loved one.
To each their own. Mr. Pastor does not know how to speak on a subject of parents mourning a child any more than I can preach the word of God from his point of view. Our life is unique to our own individual paths. I wish this ordinary man no harm or enlightenment which could come if the worst possible thing would happen. However, I will never ever believe God/or any part of our compassionate universe would agree with his judgement of grievers.
Always remembering Amy.