Isn’t it interesting how often we speak of our failing memories associated with deep grief, but at the same time have the sharpest recollection of certain moments woven in with the loss of our children? The remembrance of what was seen, heard or smelled at that particular time is etched in our minds with crystal clarity.
I have a very vivid memory of a cold Saturday morning in late fall of 2005 following the death of my daughter, Sarah, in early September of that year. I remember that everything in my home was silent and chilled even though bright sunlight beamed from the living room windows, hitting the wooden floor in sharp, precise angles. The sun was shining only in spite that morning as I could feel no warmth from the rays.
My brother Steve and his wife Cindy called my husband and me to say they were dropping by for a little visit that morning. I remember thinking, “Why would they even want to come over here? This house is full of pain and sorrow. Wouldn’t it be better for them if they did not have to see us and our once happy home in such misery?” We were far too exhausted and burdened with sadness to even pretend with fake smiles and conversation that morning. But Sarah was their precious niece and she had dearly loved her aunt and uncle. Steve and Cindy willingly shared with us in our pain.
I recall that they arrived at our door with a white bakery box filled with doughnuts and pigs-in-the blanket and refreshing orange juice. They sat with us and we talked and talked, about what I have no recall. But I do remember feeling deeply grateful for their willingness to show up, bringing thoughtful comfort. They brought no platitudes, they did not tell us what to do or what was best or give any advice. They were simply a calming presence in those most desolate of hours.
What I learned that morning I have tried to carry forward. All that is required to bring comfort to heartbroken people is a willingness to walk into the midst of grief and be present with them. We are called upon to summon the personal courage inside of us for the good of others.
Pain may come when we take out a memory and examine it and once again experience the emotions associated with the memory. Maybe there is healing in looking back from a distance. What do you remember?
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