Saturday, February 28, 2009
I just recently reconnected with a college friend who informed me within the past year she'd given birth to a stillborn little boy. When I read her news on FB I sat in front of my computer shaking and crying for over an hour. It's hard to describe the amount of sadness I had in my heart for her. Having given birth to three children and experienced my own struggles with having children I could empathize, but what I felt was beyond that. It made me sensitive to her that I could relate on some level, but what mattered more was my response.
I believe we all have a unique responsibility to comfort one another in meaningful ways. I also think it can be something of a learned behavior on how to do this tenderly and not annoyingly or harmfully. I'm still shocked by some of the things that were spoken to me during my trials of sadness. How quick we are to fill the room and space with words.
How quick we are to try to fix, heal or avoid the ache of the heart of the hurting. Let's face it, we are not born knowing how to come alongside someone. Yet, I do think we have an innate sense of how to be there but for some reason we are convinced it's not sophisticated enough, caring enough or it doesn't do enough to help. Sometimes I am most drawn to the Jewish way of helping others grieve. They sit shivah. Essentially, for seven days of mourning loved ones gather around the grieving, cooking for them, taking care of their needs and well, they sit.
If you've ever been hurting and had someone come sit down beside you when you're folded like crumpled paper on the floor you know there is something to it. Someone to wipe your tears, to rock you, to pull your hair away from your tears. There is such beauty in those initial acts of coming near to the grieving person. There is something to be said for just being there.
While my friend lives on the opposite coast and I couldn't sit shivah with her (completely willing to take on this beautiful Jewish act in my Christian faith) I wrote her about it. I let her know I wasn't going to throw verses at her or empty words. I made it clear I'd be there as someone who would hear her/read her words any time she wanted to write about her son. Because that is who he is and who he will always be.
On her facebook page she has a cartoon picture of her, her husband, her dog and a little picture of her son with wings. I don't know how her son looks in heaven. I believe she'll know when she sees him. Just this past week I learned she's pregnant again. She's nervous and excited. I know the twins she'll be having won't take away from or replace the sweetness she had with her son for the brief moments she saw him here on earth. I know this because he was still born and held in the arms of his mother.
Next time someone is grieving in front of you...think of how you can love them without feeling the frustration of finding words. Sometimes there are no words.
Loving all that's been given and taken away.
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