God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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No Name for Me

Where do I fit?

There’s no title for me.

A husband who loses his wife is a widower.

A wife who loses her husband is a widow.

A child who loses her parent is an orphan.

What about a parent who loses her child?

I know of no word that identifies a parent who has lost a child to death.

I never noticed this fact until my daughter passed away.

So, I look for an explanation.

Why isn’t there a special name for me?

A woman who lost her daughter.

Widow, widower and orphan say a lot.

They are bridges to understanding someone’s story.

With one word, a person’s relational history and heart are exposed.

The words widow, widower and orphan create respect, empathy and acknowledgment.

These names honor a deep connectedness and then loss.

Is there no title for a parent who loses a child because child loss creates a unique and

unthinkable agony?

Is it because no one word can contain the relationship – the combined joy of having a child

and

pain of losing a child?

If I created a title, it would reflect a keeper of sorrowful beauty.

A “love keeper” – a holder of love that lives and blossoms forever.

I do find comfort in the fact that whatever the world does or doesn’t call me –

my true identity is

mother.

And it always will be.

Wherever my children are.

My forever name is mommy.

A descriptor and gift.

A name reflecting a bond never to be broken.

Although society may not acknowledge my unique loss with a word,

the name mother is tattooed on my heart

for all time.

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Living Naked and Exposed

It’s truly winter now in the Midwest. Gray skies, snow on the ground and bare naked trees. Not my favorite time of year. I love the vibrant colors of nature in full bloom, so the dull skies cast a gloom over my winter world.

Surprisingly, one thing I enjoy about winter is the nakedness of trees. I like seeing the full exposure of their branches – what’s hidden under the cloak of green. There’s something about seeing what is kept from view most of the year that is fascinating.

When the leaves of a tree are absent, its essence is fully exposed. Some trees have scrawny, weak looking branches and limbs. Looking at them, you realize that they don’t hold up much of anything. A child definitely can’t climb them and they won’t hold up during a storm.

Other trees have powerful, heavy branches that reach up to the sky. These trees look as though they can withstand anything. Their branches confidently lift upward. They are helpful homes for birds and squirrels.

Some trees may not be as beautiful in winter, but their power and majesty are showcased at this time of year.

I’ve been connecting this metaphor  – of full exposure – to how I feel about myself as a grieving parent. Prior to losing Leah, life was going pretty well and I’d say I was covered – seen by others as a tree filled with beautiful leaves – sparkly and vibrant.

After losing Leah, my soul feels exposed, naked and barren – just as a leafless tree. My tragedy and loss are known publicly and visible to people who have more than a casual conversation with me.

We all have deep souls – alive with joy and pain. For many of us, the pain is hidden and most people don’t look for it or observe it. My overt and tragic circumstance has caused what’s inside to be more easily discernible and accessible.

It’s an interesting position in which to live.

For example, there are now feelings or perspectives that come to the surface that are more observable such as impatience, frustration, disappointment or anger. Either I may have these feelings toward myself or toward others. (Most impatience has to do with how others may not empathize or even attempt to understand the loss of a child. At times, it can be like living in a desert interacting with someone who lives in Disney World.)

And then there are positive traits I see at the core. One of the areas that comes to the surface is that my awareness of and compassion toward other people in pain has increased. After losing Leah, I hope that I reflect more empathy and active kindness toward parents, spouses and siblings who have lost someone they love.

Recently, there have been articles circulating about how suffering and life difficulties can be good – they develop a person’s character and endurance. I think we all intuitively recognize this truth and acknowledge it. Yet, who actually wants to be the one to learn to be a better, stronger and more courageous person because of suffering? I doubt many of us would chose to stand in the hardship line, if we had a choice.

I’m going to keep pondering what this season of barrenness and exposure shows about the sturdiness of my character, faith and heart.

I encourage you to consider this metaphor as well.

What’s at the core of who we are – without the external adornment of a positive circumstance?

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