Daily Thought For March 14, 2019

One Family's Journey Through Grief

     It was the kitchen table that hurt. It was the extra space in the house that hurt. It was the empty seat in the car. It was the driveway too wide as three, not four, children walked home after school. I asked David, "What's the hardest time?" He said, "Playtime. The other kids just don't play like Johnny did." People can say all they want about a brother in heaven. But that does not make playtime any better. Once, he prayed, "Dear Jesus, I thank you for John-Paul and I ask you to bless the man who hit him." After family prayer I asked him why he prayed for the driver. He said, "So he won't feel so bad." He continued, "Dad, I miss John-Paul." "How do you miss him?" "I just see his face everywhere. I see him everywhere." I know this feeling: seeing him everywhere and nowhere. Then his eyes welled up, and I knew that this child's heart was broken. Everything .. in me wished I could take his grief and pour out my own blood to strengthen him. But I could not. I could only trust that the God who loves him would not give him more than he could endure. So I held him and prayed that Christ's love would heal and console him. 
     This was our work, as father and mother: to help our children grieve and work through their feelings about Johnny's death; to create an environment where the children felt free to talk about anything on their minds, whether happy, sad, angry, humorous. The only way to help our children was by being their model, by letting them see us grieve. Contrary to what many people think, trying to shield children from grief and pain is one of the most destructive things a parent can do. Their grief is real. The choice is to express it or repress it. If they repress it now they will deal with it over and over again in later life. This is a psychological fact of life. A child who sees a parent grieve will know that it is okay to grieve. For the children to see us grieve had this advantage as well: They know how much we love Johnny. And by inference, they know how much we love them. They know we would miss them this much if they were gone. 

     They also needed to see us survive, because our example would assure them that they would survive. We needed to give them permission to survive and get better and grow through this experience—and thrive once again, however long it might take and however improbable it might feel at the moment. Watching us gave them permission and showed them how. They were watching us even as we watched over them. They were getting cues from us about faith, hope, love, endurance, sorrow, and so many other things besides. Of course we did not want to overwhelm them with our sorrow. But our great concern was their freedom to talk. So we kept talking about Johnny, but not canonizing. We did not want them competing in an impossible race with their brother the saint. 

from A Grief Unveiled —One Father's Journey Through The Death Of A Child by Gregory Floyd pp.63-64

Popular posts from this blog

Daily Thought For September 28, 2019

Daily Thought For February 28, 2020

Daily Thought For June 11, 2020