Recently a kind friend asked me to join her for an activity. You probably have some friends like that, too: the kind who enliven your spirit and brighten your smile because they are just good company. And I thought about friendship, and invitations, and finally came to a decision.
I feel like I have earned the right to honesty… many situations in life seem better suited to a polite response rather than an honest one, but now with death and life in my living room and my kitchen and my bedroom and my table, I need stark words. Solid, black-and-white words to fit my jagged-edged reality.
Right now it feels very hard to be around people. Sometimes it takes all I have to get ready to pick up the kids, knowing I’ll need to smile and greet so many folks at their school. Some days are better than others – some days are more smiles than tears. But I feel like I don’t fit in my own life right now. I’m trying to figure out how to be me and keep going as the Jarrett family without Lucy.
Being around people, even good friends, is often hard. More hard than I have energy to face. I’m functioning with a huge hole in me, and there are times when normal life – other people’s worries about their kid’s chicken nuggets and warts and messy rooms and band and too-small-shoes and tummy aches makes me think I will explode and scream rude things at them. I know everyone would forgive me because that is what friends do. But I’m not ready to start trying those normal life social events again.
James said a sweet thing to me recently when I told him (feeling horrified) that I said something crazy to a person at the kids’ school. He said, “They are learning to KNOW a person whose daughter has died, and you are learning to BE a person whose daughter has died. That takes work on both sides.”
Thank you, friend, for being a person who is learning to KNOW a person whose daughter has died.
In the car the other day I was pondering Rachel, weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. (Matthew 2:18). No one could bear that, I thought. No one could bear it if you really poured that anguish out in public and howled at the moon and raged at what has been taken from you and ripped your clothes and tore your hair. If you refused to be comforted.
It is a resentful and isolating facet of grief that you assume other people do not want to help you. They are tired of sadness, you think. They don’t want me to talk about it and make them uncomfortable. No one has suffered like me and I am alone, alone, alone…
And then thoughts sprang unbidden into my mind of a friend who suffered a miscarriage some time ago and I did not do a very good job of bearing with HER. I didn’t listen very well, I thought she carried on about it longer than she needed to, I didn’t call and keep up. I wasn’t a very good friend. But I am STILL her friend, and I don’t think she holds it against me.
It is remarkably difficult to bear other people’s burdens. Maybe we have to learn how. Pain and suffering are all around us, but it takes some personal experience to know how to sit down, be quiet, and share the darkness and silence with someone else.
The thought: I am alone, alone, alone… is the Devil’s lie.
Jesus suffered alone, going outside the gate, so that I could be never left nor forsaken. Jesus cried out “ My God…why have you forsaken me?”, so that lo, I have Him with me always. Jesus was the Lamb of God (so beautiful when we say it in Latin sometimes-
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Lamb of God, who bears away the sins of the world)
and the Good Shepherd, so that I should not want.
And here is another truth, another black-and-white reality: sometimes the words of friends, and the faces of friends, are the words and face of Jesus in your life. I keep trying, struggling to manage the howling and raging and tearing. Each day a new chance to call upon the name of the Lord and fight back the refusal to be comforted. And you keep trying, too, asking how I am and meaning it, recognizing that every day is hard, praying grace over what neither of us can control.
Thanks for learning to know a person whose daughter has died.
Bearing with me. – Katie