Immediately after tragedy struck, I couldn’t hear it. It wasn’t time. But even hard things, through healing, bring blessing. The leaves take on brighter varied hues as they die than they ever did in life... and it may take a valley to see the beauty.
Grieving with children is a complicated thing. I want to be genuine with my young boys about sadness and the freedom to feel and express emotion, but I also want to keep unnecessary burdens off of their shoulders. I want to help them grieve in their own ways and in their own timing, but I also want them to be able to be just happy sometimes. My strategy for how to grieve with children is as young as those children and it grows and develops with them.
In February 2016, the lives of Lindsey Atkins and Lizzie Lindberg went through epic changes that culminated to a profound juxtaposition on Saturday, February 20th. These circumstances compelled us to write our stories together.
At that time and even right now I wonder, was it worth it? Was it truly better to have passionately loved Eric and to have felt the tearing anguish of his absence than to never have loved him at all? Most of the time my answer to those questions is a resounding "YES." Other times, when breathing becomes like rocket science and surviving is my only goal… I wonder if love is worth the pain of loss.
As a mom, I sometimes feel like I should be an excellent question answerer. I like to have the answers, and I like to talk, so one would think that I'd be good at taking on the quandaries of my kids. But sometimes I don't know the answers and I'm well aware that I can't protect my kids from the world or ensure their understanding. I can rely on God's faithfulness in knowing the heads and hearts of my children and sending the Holy Spirit to direct the words that come from my mouth to their ears.
Grief has given me an acute awareness of the brevity of earthly life. Because of that knowledge, I try to treasure each moment and each relationship just a little more. The dark side of this reality is that I also face daily this feeling of dread, that the ones I love are not safe from death.
Death is terrible and sad on its own. Death rips and tears at hearts and it breaks people. It shatters worlds and families. When someone you love dies, it is never the right time, even in the case of people who've lived many years, because death is not ok. It's not the way God originally intended it. So why do we also kill each other? How can people be so cruel? How can our God, who is both completely sovereign and also completely powerful, allow evil that He hates?
Eric loved to dance and he took every opportunity to sway with me to the music. Sometimes it was pretty and sweet like a waltz, peaceful and pleasant to behold. Other times (a lot of times) it was more like a passionate tango as both of us fought to take the lead, and often made others uncomfortable. We glided over smooth surfaces in lovely outfits but also tripped on tiny toys with spit-up everywhere. We zig-zagged and jumped to music videos with our littles. Here are a couple of my favorite dancing memories.
Suppose, for a minute, that you are about to walk into a room full of grieving people. Imagine that you're going to enter a situation sort of similar to speed-dating, where you'll go through a line and come face-to-face with each grieving individual. These people are in different stages and situations of grief... some people mourn for…