We live in a hurting world. It hurts my heart that so many people are in deep pain. In the past several weeks, I have had precious people in my life grieving and in so much pain due to the death of their loved ones. There are so many people in need of love and comfort.
Dear friends of mine had to bury their beautiful, 19 month old Jameson after this brave little soul battled cancer with all of his might. This beautiful family did everything they could for their boy. They stood in faith and prayed with all of their might for a miracle for him. They provided the best care possible for this little sweetheart in all areas, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They battled on every front. As he passed away, he was being held by his beautiful mom who was being held by his incredible dad. He was surrounded in love. He will be missed with all of their hearts. Now each day, week, and month that arrives, they are missing him with all of their hearts and trying to navigate their way in their grief to continue each day in their faith and in their lives. Please pray for this wonderful family as they journey down this heart wrenching road.
At the visitation and funeral, I had the blessing of meeting one of their “battle buddies” and two families that came to show their love and support to the family. Both of these families had kids battling cancer as well. Iliad’s parents that I had the honor of meeting had just lost their baby to cancer the week before Jameson. There stood Iliad’s incredible parents with Jameson’s family on the day of the funeral. They are incredible people just like Jameson’s family, and they came to comfort Jameson’s family and to be with them. I still get tears in my eyes as I think about watching Jameson’s family when they saw their “battle buddies” arrive… it meant the world to them. Please pray for these precious families.
During the same week that Jameson died then one of my dear friends also lost her mom after a brave, long battle with heart disease. Deanna died on February 4th, and when I arrived at her funeral then I was able to hug and hold my dear friend Leigh Ann and her beautiful daughters Olivia and Anna. Their hearts were breaking as they were trying to say goodbye to Deanna. This family is so close to the girls and I, and we love them so very much. The service was so personalized and had so many wonderful stories about Deanna. As I drove back to work, then I felt like I knew so much more about this wonderful lady. Her family will miss her so much. Please pray for this wonderful family.
This past month on January 16th, one of my classmates died. He and his family continued to live in the small, loving community of approximately 3000 people that we were raised in. My class growing up was close and has done well staying in touch through the years. It was great to grow up with such a wonderful group of people. Growing up and going to all the years of school K-12 together helps people know each other well. I have been impressed with how well so many of my classmates have stayed in touch or have reconnected through the years. Experiencing Mike’s death this past month has reconnected even more of us. This tragedy has been heartbreaking as our classmate killed himself. It hurts my heart that Mike’s family is in this tremendous pain and grief and are now left without him. He has left behind a wonderful wife and children, and so many other family members and friends. This past month I was able to see my class coming together to show love and support to Mike’s family. Please pray for this dear family.
Tragedy can definitely help to bring people together. I am always so glad when people are able to rise above adversity and help others.
“We rise by lifting others.” Robert Ingersoll
I love this quote and believe so much in it’s truth. I am heartbroken for Mike’s family. Being left in this way leaves the loved ones with so many unanswerable questions and pain. It breaks my heart for them. I am thankful to see our loving, supportive class and community surrounding them in encouragement and hope. They will need it now and for the days, weeks, months, and years to come. My heart hurts for each one.
A beautiful baby girl also died this past month on January 23rd. Layla was born on Christmas Day. Before she was born, she ingested meconium which caused hypertension in her lungs. The placenta almost ruptured and had a hole in it which cut off the oxygen to her brain. She had swelling on her brain and damage. After her mom’s c-section, the physician had to pump oxygen into her lungs for approximately 30 minutes. She had to be on a ventilator. Her incredible mom wrote this on the day she died, “Our beautiful angel got called home today. I’m thankful that she will no longer have to worry about seizures, withdraws, or any type of hurting. My heart hurts because my babygirl had to fight for so hard and for so long. This is no news I wanted to have to share with everyone but as most of you are emotionally invested in Layla I feel as if we should let everyone know as well. Thank you everyone who prayed for a better outcome. She came into this world and touched many hearts, and that was her purpose I believe. Layla Rayne Wheetley entered this world December 25 2018 at 4:57 -January 23rd at 5:38 pm.”
My heart hurts for this precious family as well as they are hurting and in need of continued loving support and comfort. As they mourn their precious baby girl, then the grief and loss will be there with them deep in their hearts as they mourn and work on healing. They will miss her and all that they thought that they would be able to share in her future with them.
I pray for all of these families and that they will be surrounded in love and comfort for all of the days, weeks, and months to come. I shared in one of my first blogs, Grief and Pain in Today’s Culture- Let’s Push Back & Slow Down dated June 19, 2017, about how comfortable our culture is in the first week of grief generally. People know to bring food and supplies to the home, to send cards and money, to come over to see the grieving, and to come to the visitation and funeral. It is so important for those who are grieving to have all those supports and more during that first week. What happens so often after that is that everyone else returns to their “normal” lives, and the grieving are left as the shock of the death begins to wear off. As the shock wears off, then many grieving feel the pain and the depth of the loss more and more as the reality of the death settles in.
After my husband’s work related accident which led to his death just 4 days later in August 2011 and my only son’s death in June 2013 when he was killed instantly in a car accident at the age of 18, then I have continued to learn a lot about grief and pain. I have learned that so often others want to “help” the grieving by telling them what to feel or what to think. I know that intentions are almost always so good, but please let me encourage you not to try to tell them how to feel or how to think. Instead, take some time to hear their pain. Take some time to discuss their loved one with them and how they made a difference in your life. Try to focus on just being a loving support and a comfort. Listen and try to hear how they are doing and what would be helpful to them. We are all so different, and we all grieve so differently. Let me encourage each of you to focus on continuing to be there and hearing them rather than worrying about having the “right” words to say. There are not any “right” words to say. We just need to hear from those who are grieving and in pain and to let them either tell us or show us what they need. We also need to keep listening through the days, weeks, and months that will follow as what they may need will probably continue to change. Some people have no idea what they want or need, and if that is the case then we can just pay attention to the signals that they seem to be giving.
I also quoted in that previous blog, Author Tim Lawrence who so wisely said, “when you’re faced with tragedy, you usually find that you are no longer surrounded with people- you’re surrounded by platitudes.” He continues, “So what do we offer instead of everything happens for a reason? He suggests that the most powerful thing that you can do is to acknowledge. He says,
“To literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you.”
For some of us, it is very difficult to just sit with someone who is in pain. We want to fix their pain. Often times when someone is hurting and in pain, it is a priceless gift if we can hear them and be with them in it. If we could all learn to be comfortable with their tears and pain instead of saying to them, “Don’t cry.” or “Be strong.” If we could just surround them in love then that would be such a priceless gift. Sometimes those who are in pain want to be quiet, and we need to learn that we can sit with them in quiet and not feel compelled to fill the silence with forced words.
There are so many people in each of our lives who are hurting or in pain. I hope that we can all learn every day how to be more sensitive and caring to those who are in pain who are around us. Of course, this requires us to step out of focusing on our own hurts, troubles, and stressors and to focus on someone else’s pain. It is such a part of our humanity to reach out and to help others. For those of us that have went through trauma and tragedy then we know what a blessing it is when others are there for us and journey with us as we grieve and are in pain.
I hold on to different scriptures throughout the different seasons of my life. After going through so much trauma and tragedy, then one of my key verses that I hold on to now is from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and says this:
“Praise be The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of compassion and The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
This is the desire of my heart. I want to comfort those who are hurting, grieving, and in pain. I just want to be with them and to acknowledge their pain. I want to walk with them as they heal and learn to live their “new normal.” This is one of the purposes of the blog: To honestly share our journey of pain and grief and how we continue to seek to renew our hope and to build our faith as we work on growing and healing. I want to acknowledge pain, be there, and provide comfort just as I have been comforted.
If you are hurting, grieving, or in pain then I want you to know that I will walk with you. I want you to know that I acknowledge your pain and that I am here with you. I will not push you forward in your grief journey or your pain. You can move at the pace that you need.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” Criss Jami
Please know that sharing your pain and hurts is not weakness… it is true strength. If you are hurting, grieving, or in pain then please don’t try to journey alone. Please reach out to others and try not to isolate yourself even though that is easy on this journey. Thank you for journeying with the girls and I. You are each in our heart and prayers.
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