I am happy in spirit, but the flesh is sorrowful and will not be content; the parting grieves me beyond measure. -Martin Luther
NOTE: The following was written some time ago on a rather difficult day. I needed to get this out of my heart and onto paper. I wasn’t going to publish it. But maybe it will help someone. It’s pretty raw, but here it is…
Why I Do Not Want to Move On.
Why I Do Not Want to Let Him Go.
Letting go and moving on is not something I want to do. Pain is something I have always avoided and most normal people will do almost anything to keep from experiencing pain, but this is my first experience with pain that I do not seek to get away from.
Why does a grieving parent hold on to it? Why do we continually live in the past and replay old memories? Why do we seek to stay in a place of pain? Why do we feel as though existing in a state of emotional anguish keeps us closer to our child? Why do we keep their things around and pretend they are still here or that they might be home soon?
It has been ten months? So what. It is nothing. For me it is still January 11, 2016, 6:05 PM.
Why do I stay sad? Somebody has to. He was not just a lost set of keys, or a house that burned down. He was our son, our first son. He was our daughter-in-law that never was. He was half a dozen or so grandchildren we will never hold. He was a guardian for his disabled brother, a friend and protector for his sister, a companion and comrade to his brothers, a provider for when we are old. We have lost so very much more than one person.
We were so proud of him for all he was and all we knew he would do. He made us laugh. And he is gone. It is all gone.
I do not want to smile. I do not want to talk. I do not want to be happy. I want my son.
I do not want to get over it, move on, let him go, or feel better. This is not logical. I want the pain to be gone but I do not want to let go of the pain. I do not want to let go of my son. It feels like leaving him on a door step or putting him in a basket and floating him down the Nile. I do not want to say good bye. I wish I could have said good bye. I want him back. I want him to be happy. He is happy. I am unhappy that he is gone, but being gone has made him happy. Am I really that selfish? What kind of a mother am I?
Oh, troubled heart, be still and learn that no selfishness can be in love; that he who loves his Master withholds nothing when He has need of it; and he who loves his child will sink all sense of loss in the everlasting gain of lying safe upon the bosom of the Shepherd. -Benjamin Palmer
To be happy seems to be the same as saying that I don’t have anything to be sad about. Happiness seems to diminish our son’s value. People who have not expressed sorrow at our loss seem to convey that we did not lose much. I know they don’t really think this but that is how it feels. I know they are afraid of upsetting me but it is unlikely that I could be more upset than I am already. Acting as if Hans never existed does not help me. It is an outrage and there is no more effective way to wound me further. He not only existed but he exists even now with the Lord. I need to be reminded of this even though I know it is true and I am hanging on to this truth with everything I’ve got.
So what if I cry. Cry with me. There are some that have not shed one tear in my presence, have not shared one memory of our son, have not spoken his name-not once. Our eye doctor cried, our customers cried, our mechanic’s wife cried. But others, who I thought would understand, or would at least make the effort to try, gave me canned, platitudinous, generic comfortisms. I could have just bought myself a Hallmark card.
I do not want to talk about me and “How I Am Doing.” I want to hear you talk about Hans and I want you to talk about him because you miss him, too – not because you know that it is what I need to hear.
And you there, the ones who should have thought before speaking, in answer to your incredible questions: Yes, forever. And Yeah, somebody died.
I am not angry with God. Not even one little bit. I am angry with death and with time and with thoughtless people, people who say nothing, who will not weep with those who weep. I understand your discomfort, but your heartfelt tears would mean so much to me.
If you want to do something for me, remember our son. And then tell me about it.
It just might help.
POSTSCRIPT: So, there was some bitterness here. I have confessed and forsaken it. The anger is gone. I have asked the Lord to help me to be merciful and gentle with people. I have forgiven offenses real and imagined. Most of us have so little experience with comforting the grieving. I used to be one of those who did not know what to do with a person like me. Because there really is nothing you can do. No one can undo this.
So, I have asked my Father in Heaven to not let me become damaged, joyless, useless.
The pain leaves one so vulnerable. So tired.
But God is good and I trust Him. I trust Him fully and more completely than ever. The absolutely sure hope of Heaven has never been more real to me.
I rejoice in that.
Quotations taken from the book From Grief to Glory by James W. Bruce III; Crossway Books