Wednesday, June 29, 2011


When you lose someone you live with inch by inch instead of all at once, the final goodbye is the last of a series of small goodbyes.  Often you don't even know it's the last time you're going to do something, but things fall away one by one, like trips to the zoo, family dinners at the table, or even movies together in bed.  And when the grief spans 16 months, there don't seem to be all that many tears left because whole oceans could have been filled by the tears you cried while begging for God's mercy.  It's not that you don't grieve or that you've moved past grief, but more that for the first time you can actually start to heal.  

I think of David in 2 Samuel 12 who, after a serious of sinful decisions, is punished by God in order to lead him to repentance.  While the child is sick, David fasts, prays, and weeps, so much so that the people are afraid to tell him when the child dies.  Yet when he hears the news, he rises, eats, and comforts Bathsheba.  His subjects question his behavior, and yet David says to them: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

My conjecture is that grief is experienced differently when you do not live with the person, when you don't see him gradually slipping away, and the end comes as more of a surprise.  When the shock of loss leaves a sudden, gaping hole rather than one that grows by gradual degrees.  I would think it leaves you more breathless, reeling from the sudden absence, and you have to deal with the absence before the healing can come.

I think this difference is why I have found other people's grief a bit foreign.  Not that one is better or more valid, but they're just so different.  I still encounter people who have just heard the news or are just seeing me for the first time, and it's a strange interaction.  Again, not good or bad, just strange. There is at least a perceived rush of intensity, and often I'm not at that moment in a place of deep sadness, so the reaction is incredibly awkward, although not always bad.  

Strangely though I find myself thankful for the awkwardness, thankful that broken people would love each other, no matter how awkwardly.


  1. I dreamed about you last night. I bumped into you with some friends at a restaurant and asked how you were. You gave a calm smile. That's all. I remember a look of sad, worn out peace in your eyes. I was getting online to tell you that and read your post. Thank you for explaining...

  2. Wendy, thank you for your posts. You describe very well what I watched my mother-in-law doing as she said goodbye over a year or so to her father as he lived with them during his battle with Alzheimer's.

  3. I love that story of David, and hearing it now from your perspective makes even more sense.

  4. Wend - I love your embrace of the awkwardness :) So true and so realistic and so YOU to acknowledge and somehow be thankful for it!

  5. I am praying that the Lord would keep this post from your eyes until the right time, so that it would not be an extremely "awkward" moment. I read these lyrics yesterday and thought of you. I found the words to be extremely reassuring and hopeful. I hope you feel the same way.

    Come, ye disconsolate,
    Where'er ye languish,
    Come to the mercy seat,
    Fervently kneel

    Here bring your wounded hearts,
    Here tell your anguish,
    Earth has no sorrow
    That heav'n cannot heal.

    Joy of the desolate,
    Light of the straying,
    Hope of the penitent,
    Fadeless and pure!

    Here speaks the Comforter,
    Tenderly saying,
    "Earth has no sorrow
    That heav'n cannot cure."

    Here see the Bread of Life,
    See waters flowing
    Forth from the throne of God,
    Pure from above.

    Come to the feast of love,
    Come, ever knowing,
    Earth has no sorrow
    But heav'n can remove.

    I continue to wear my TE bracelet, to pour out my heart for you. I know we are not close friends, but I feel very bonded to you through this (I think interceding does that). I pray your face is lifted to His today.

    Much love,