Friday, May 19, 2017

On the Necessity of Marking Unsettling Anniversaries

How's your week been?

In this neck of the woods, friends and family are beginning their annual pilgrimages here, even as we've morphed overnight from early spring to early summer.  Grabbing a sweatshirt has quickly been replaced with grabbing a tall glass of ice water.

It's blazing hot.  At least for a couple of days.

Go figure.




A different kind of unfolding has also begun, the quiet kicking off of a very personal anniversary season.  This is the second year where we mark Mother's Day, my Dad's birthday, my parents' anniversary, the day we moved from New York to Massachusetts followed by the sudden death of my Dad the day after.

Woven into this time frame are Father's Day, grandkids' birthdays, kids' anniversaries, remembering the birthday of our littlest grandson, Tyler.  And then marking his early death just two years later.

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It's important to notice how we're feeling as our remembered losses come to call, deep sorrows wrapped around joyful memories sweet.  Not to notice leads to shoving weird unexplained emotions deep down inside somewhere dark, even as odd behaviors and strange responses seemingly pop out from nowhere.

Which can only lead to all kinds of maladies and messy junk ... emotional, physical, spiritual, relational.

I'm all about remembering, sifting through a difficult season yet once again.  

Not in a maudlin way, but rather reflectively, quietly, considering all that has emerged in the weaving of our family's story.

And then laying that chapter to rest, for now, moving ahead from out of its shadow, acknowledging the impact, for better or worse, of all that God has allowed.  

And thanking Him that He specializes in redeeming our losses in ways far beyond our wildest dreams, in restoring those 'years the locusts have eaten' {Joel 2}.

I believe that this is what it looks like to continue to grieve well. 






P.S.
I'm curious what you do to mark your own difficult seasons, when grief seems to bubble up from those subterranean places.

P.S.S.
Mandisa's back and I'm celebrating with a giveaway of her brand new CD, Out of the Dark!  Come back to visit on Sunday night or sometime Monday to get in on the drawing ... and find out how she's impacted our family in a way we'll never forget.  You can subscribe here so you won't miss out!

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44 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for all the losses you have suffered, Linda. May God give you strength and peace! I love that you encourage us to allow those deep sorrows to surface and to grieve about them. It has been 11 years since my mom passed and 7 since my dad passed. I mostly feel the sorrow bubbling up on birthdays or special days. Or when something reminds me of them. Sometimes I mourn and wish I could have at least one more conversation with each of them. But I'm glad I can also now think of the good times and not just dwell on the bad ones. I love "that He specializes in redeeming our losses in ways far beyond our wildest dreams, in restoring those 'years the locusts have eaten' {Joel 2}." Thank you, dear friend. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. 'Sorrow bubbling up.' So very tenderly spoken, Trudy. That's so apt. Try as we might, it's quite hard to halt those bubbles of grief from coming to the surface.

      But try as we might to thwart their appearance, they will emerge in one way or another.

      Thanks for leading us into this conversation today, friend. For who among us hasn't shed those painful tears ...

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  2. Lexa was just talking about Tyler this morning.

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    1. Conversations with the kids are another way we adults heal. Their perspective and simple faith clear the way for our own faith to grow.

      I can't wait to hear her 8 year old wisdom yet one more time ...

      You should write a book. Or maybe a blog?

      ;-}

      xx

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  3. Linda, you are so right about the need to process our emotions of grief and loss, and it's so hard when all those "anniversaries" happen so close together, as yours do. My big month for loss is March (ironically, the 1st is my birthday): Loss of dad, of spouse, quitting, against my wishes, a job, and now, most recently, Danny's bout with heart problems. Whew!
    So I can empathize so deeply with you. Let us be gentle to ourselves in our grieving and thankful for the memories.
    Blessings!

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    1. You bring up a good reminder, Martha, that grieving isn't just about death, but change and loss in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

      Gentle, gentle, gentle. Yes, please. If we can show that grace to ourselves, it will naturally spill up and over onto others.

      How's Danny doing this week?

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  4. I'm so sorry for those losses, Linda; you have been and are in my prayers.

    I don't grieve my losses; those who have gone on ahead are a little around the bend, out of sight of me for now, but I still see the mark of their passage, their footsteps and discarded beer bottles along the way.

    One day I'll catch up and there will be every reason for God to hope that His Angels have stowed Heaven's breakables, 'cause we're going to party hard!

    "I am the Resurrection and the LIFE!" I can't help but think Jesus was grinning when He said that.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/05/your-dying-spouse-312-and-there-is-joy.html

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    1. You have been a great big support to me the past few years, man. How good God has been to give us a super blogging community where we can be with each other and lift each other up when the chips are down.

      The mark of their passage, their footsteps. Yes, yes ...

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  5. I agree, it is important to acknowledge and process our emotions, rather than pushing them down, to make space to grieve while also remembering that God can redeem our losses. Praying for you and your family as you remember and reflect.

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    1. My Dad was from Scotland, Lesley, and mighty proud of it. He'd be thrilled to know that you and I have come to know each other despite the ocean that separates our keyboards.

      Our hearts mingle.

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  6. This is an important reminder in our lives. Not all dates bring happiness. Some are reminders that mix the joyful memories with the longing of missing someone dearly loved. May we honor those cherished individuals.

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    1. Cherished. Yep, Jonathan, that's the word for the ones we've lost. And all those memories we share with each other.

      I'm glad you're here today ...

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  7. "And then laying that chapter to rest, for now, moving ahead from out of its shadow, acknowledging the impact, for better or worse, of all that God has allowed."
    Linda, I thought that said it so well. I felt it this past Monday as we welcomed home our son. It brought back painful memories of how his wife left him just days after he returned but I acknowledged the pain and it's impact and then moved on to seeing all God has done since that painful memory. For me, it's always seeing and being reminded of how God will show Himself faithful.
    Sending hugs your way, friend.
    xoxo
    Beth

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    1. Beth, thank you for that reminder that God is always faithful. It's easy to miss when we're wandering around in the dark. But this is a choice we are called to make.

      And even if we can't grasp hold of it on our own, the Psalms, the hymns of the faith can take us there, helping us to reclaim what we know to be true about our Savior.

      Thanks for pointing the conversation to Him. Your life, your words do so ...

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  8. I don't believe we ever "get over" loosing those things that we love, whether they be people or dreams, etc. Grief, for me, has been more of a journey. It changes, and it changes me. When I involve God in the process, it changes me for the better. Praying for you and your family during this season, my friend.

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    1. I want to scream when someone says / writes / implies the need to 'get over it'!

      AARRGGHH

      You're spot on, June, calling grief a journey, and reminding us that much will change as we move through it. And God will remain faithful and strong and unchanging even as everything around us shifts and moves around in the most unsettling ways.

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  9. Dear Linda,
    Thank you for being brave and honest about the process of grief and how hard it is. I pray God continues to hold you and your loved ones close as you remember and grieve your losses. May God give you a special sense of his closeness with you even as He promised to never leave us. ((Hugs)) So sorry, dear one, for how hard it is...

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    1. I feel held. I praise God for The Comforter. He's here to stay.

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  10. Your post brings up a lot of emotion for me, too. A lot of those anniversary moments are mysteries on how they are best commemorated. And it differs from year to year. Praying you find what works best for you, Linda! One day, one event at a time....

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    1. I appreciate you naming this all a 'mystery,' Lisa. Love that. And the reminder to give grace to each event, each year, each anniversary.

      And to accept that there are some answers we'll never get on this side of heaven.

      Thank you for speaking from your own deep losses, friend.

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  11. Recently someone quoted that old saying "when it rains it seems to pour" and it does seem that grief seems to be compounded upon itself with other events doesn't it! I'm so sorry that so many difficult memories are all around this time of the year when spring and summer are doing their little seranade. We haven't quite traded jackets yet here for summer wear, but no doubt it's coming soon. I pray that healing will come gently to your heart throughout this difficult season, with precious memories to comfort you with their presence. Hugs :)

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    1. You're right, Marilyn ... when the rain comes, it seems like it'll never end.

      And then, lo and behold, finally, joy comes in the morning {Psalm 30:5}.

      Praise God.

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  12. I do think it is important to remember our loved ones no longer with us. And finding the right balance to live in the present... Sending you all my love and prayers.

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    1. I like what you're saying about finding that right balance between an ongoing honor and remembrance ... and continual 'sackcloth and ashes.' Yes, Jandi, yes.

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  13. I am entering into unchartered waters myself. My beautiful mom passed away Monday and we are burying her today. I don't know what lays ahead as the numbness is pressing down.........

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    1. Oh Valerie, I am so very very sorry for such a great loss. I am praying for you right now ...

      May you feel enveloped by God's comfort and strength. He knows your grief, He carries your burden.

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  14. Linda, ((Hug)) -- Grieving well -- what a lovely concept. It speaks of release and power rather than of tension and drain. I think it's a learned thing, this "grieving well." Beautiful post, dear friend. Hugs and prayers for you during this season of remembering.

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    1. I love how you put that, Brenda - 'release and power.' What a great takeaway for us all today, for sooner or later there will be losses, changes, and all manner of disappointments.

      Weekend blessings to you, friend.

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  15. I grieve quietly too. My loss is like a life-long empty room in the mostly full and happy house I've built around me. The room is empty, but not dark. Quiet, but not lonely. I visit when I must, stay awhile when I need to, and always leave the door slightly ajar. I'm glad you're gathering those you need most around you. Blessings and peace as you mark your memories and anniversaries.

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    1. Oh this is priceless, friend ~'I visit when I must, stay awhile when I need to, and always leave the door slightly ajar.'

      I think I will jot these wise words down for safekeeping.

      Truly thought-provoking ...

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  16. Praying for you and your family.

    God bless.

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    1. Blessings to you and yours this weekend, Victor ...

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  17. I often repeat a lesson I have learned to others in a similar place,
    "I will never get over it, but I will learn to live with it." It being whatever has caused grief. The loss becomes a part of our history, and yet our entire future stretches before us--an altered future-but still our future.
    Bless You As You Remember, My Friend!

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    1. 'An altered future.' Yes, yes, Lulu. It can take awhile to accept that reality, a real wrestling, even a crisis of faith ...

      He remains gentle and faithful throughout.

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  18. What a beautiful post, albeit concerning a hard journey, Linda. If I remember correctly, we lost family members near the same time. It's not easy - but with the comfort of the Lord, smiles at memories become possible. Walking down memory lane is deemed do-able, even if it is at a slower pace. Acknowledging it is important. But that verse from Joel? Oh goodness, how appropriate and power-filled it is! Hugs to you, dear friend.

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    1. 'Smiles at memories become possible.'

      I absolutely agree with you, Kristi. And yes, please to the slow pace. There's no such thing as a race to the finish line when it comes to grieving.

      May your wise observations give encouragement to some of our friends who are grieving even as they read this conversation.

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  19. Hi Linda! I am coming up very soon on one year since my dad died, and I can hardly believe it. How well I remember the passing of your grandson too.
    We all have sad things happen, and I think your choice to stop and feel those feelings is such a smart one. Our emotions are a gift, pointing to the need for us to act. Sometimes 'to act' means to rest and reflect.
    God bless as you ponder the meaning of it all, and come to peace,
    Ceil

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    1. Dear Ceil ... is it a year already. Time has passed so quickly ... although I'm sure some days have dragged on slower than you ever imagined.

      I really appreciate that you're reminding us that our emotions are a gift that points for the need for us to take action. Indeed. That's a profound reality in and of itself.

      I'm grateful to walk through these valleys with you, friend ...

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  20. Deep sorrow wrapped around memories sweet.,..beautiful way of describing memories around someone we have lost. Like the refreshing cold water on a hot day, God's living water gives us comfort and sustains as we continue on. May you have many sweet memories to drink in during this time of remembrance Linda, and God's comfort always washing over you.

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    1. Thank you for the reminder of how God refreshes us with what we're really yearning for.

      Beautiful, Lynn ...

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  21. You have experienced a lot of loss in a short time period. Besides being unsettling it is hard to even catch a breath before you have to face it all again. I know this feeling. I read your post the other day and saw the question at the end and wasn't sure how to answer it. I am still figuring out to live with grief and continue to move forward. What I know for sure is that you must pause and mark the anniversaries of special dates even if it is just by yourself. I let myself sit in the grief but also look to the future so I am not getting stuck in that place. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    1. There's no 1-2-3 steps, no one right way to do grief, is there. I run when I hear anyone say 'do it this way!'

      It comes like waves. I'm finding this 2nd anniversary easier than the 1st. If I need to cry, I do, and then move on from there. I feel like I've processed that transition year well.

      But it doesn't mean from time to time, things don't come back that I need to understand and then release again.

      We hear each other well, Mary ...

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda