Dear Sweet Grieving Mama,
I want you to know I am thinking about you. A lot. I guess because I am you.
This year I think about my dear friend who lost her son 10 years ago, my friend who lost her little daughter who I held just a week before she died, and the one who has had miscarriage after miscarriage and then a stillborn son. I especially think about the mama who is walking into her first Christmas without her young adult daughter. So many memories comforting her, surrounding her, and stabbing her heart all at once.
And while I have lost my son, Mark, I do not dare say that I know all that you are feeling. I do not know the smell of your child’s neck, or the way they felt when you hugged them. I do not know what it is like to dream of a future that does not make it out of the womb. But I believe we share a terrible “missing” that can only be shared between mothers who have lost children.
There are words we have heard and memories we have that no mother should ever experience. There is a depth of pain that we have felt that surely should have killed us and we sometimes wished it would. There is a quiet sorrow that walks with us and replaces acute anguish as time slowly passes. We mark the time passing differently than others with a sometimes obsessive counting of how long it has been. And worse, how long we might have to live without the one we have lost.
And strangely, if we lean into the sorrow we have this knowing that we have experienced the gift of something so incredibly beautiful and special. Of course, we wish there was another way to know this but we would never trade one second of our child’s life even if it meant we would be spared the pain. There are words we have heard and memories we have that no other person has ever experienced because they belong solely to our hearts and our child.
So how can we possibly do this Christmas thing? Any way we want to. Any way we need to. But do it. One minute, then the next, and then the next. I can not look ahead or I stop breathing. We have to remain right in this moment.
It helps me to be around you. This year I was up for our church Christmas party (couldn’t make it through last year…and who knows about the next?) and I sat right beside a woman who has also lost a son. A woman who has grieved hard but lives with joy and hope. We didn’t talk about our boys, but we felt them. Right there on that couch we laughed and knew the other “got it.” Sorrow and Joy lives on the same street. Often in the same house.
There is One even closer to my heart who “gets it.” Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” and “he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” (Isaiah 53:3-4). That is who I look for now when the day seems long.
There was a little Christmas game we played with our kids when they were little. When we would go into the nursing home to sing Christmas carols we would tell the kids to look in all the faces of the residents and see which one was “Jesus.” It was so cool to talk about on the ride home because sometimes we each picked a different person, but sometimes there would be one lady or gentleman who just had those eyes. The gentle loving sparkle that looks right into you and loves you.
Sweet grieving mama, draw close to other women who have tasted your grief. Let their presence comfort you. But even more so, draw close to the One who has borne your grief. Look for Him everywhere you go in people and in the creation He helped make. I believe wholeheartedly that He is especially close to us. Jesus made sure His mother was taken care of in her grief (John 19:26) and I believe He makes sure we are also comforted. I pray this comfort is the gift you and I receive from Him this Christmas.
Wishing you Comfort and Joy,