LOSS OF A CHILD DOES NOT “HAPPEN FOR A REASON”.
Loss of a child, or any tragedy does not “happen for a reason”. A friend sent me this article from the website of Tim Lawrence called The Adversity Within. It is well worth a share. I particularly love the idea he so perfectly and simply articulated, that grief is not something we choose to go through or not, or something that we need to be cured of. I have also come to understand that it is, in itself, part of surviving tragic loss. He writes,
“You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.”
I also love his point that the people who essentially save you are the ones who are just there. “Saying nothing.” Listening, holding you, telling you they aren’t going anywhere and meaning it. Some feel that saying nothing at all is best, but honestly, sometimes having people around you, but saying nothing at all can be very lonely. Like they can’t face it with you. When your life has taken up residence in the bowels of hell, you want others- who can only try to imagine, to at least ask about how your hell is. To at least try to view it from somewhere on the outskirts. It comforts me when people ask, “How are you today, can I do anything?” or “I know this is beyond anything I can imagine, but I’m here and if you want to talk or say something, I’m not going anywhere.” I can feel the imaginary arm around my back and immediately know I’m not doing this alone. That is a powerful thing. But with others, saying nothing at all is saying volumes. He writes,
“I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.
Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.
Are there ways to find “healing” amidst devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.”
And this-that not everyone is “OK”. Many never recover from devastating loss.
“I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.”
And my last favorite part before I let you read it is something I have been acutely aware of but haven’t been able to put to words yet. Im glad he has- that in a newly shattered world, people entering your world, or you re-entering theirs, poses a huge risk. It’s frightening and uncertain. Being alone or only with very trusted ones is what feels like the only safe place to be. We avoid even the slightest risk of more pain.
“When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.”
So true! Thankfully we had a friend who, somehow understood this long before I did, and in the very early days, guarded my family and I like a Pitbull. Allowing only the most trusted to enter our fragile womb. Sufferers need people to try an understand this extremely lonely world we now live in. Rationalization, quick fixes and platitudes drive us deeper into our pain, and cause us to isolate from the pain those words bring and the people who say them.
I hope you’ll read through this article. If you are a family member or a friend of someone grieving, you may find it helpful in understanding how to be there in a meaningful way when they most need you to be, when their very survival hinges on the loved ones who surround them. There are some language choices that may offend some, but I did not feel it appropriate to only present a portion his work and it goes to his urgency of the topic.