I John 3:18

All original content copyright Jessica Nicole Schafer, 2007-2016.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day and Throat Punchin'

There is honesty in grief.

If we are living with the death of a loved one, we honestly know the ache.  We honestly know the pain.  We honestly know that some days will be rough.  We honestly know that some moments will be filled up with all the tears we can cry, because our loved one is gone.  We want them back.  We honestly do.  We honestly miss them.

We LOVE them.  We genuinely, wholeheartedly LOVE them, otherwise...the ache wouldn't run so deep...the sorrow wouldn't be so heavy.....if it weren't for the great LOVE, there would be no grief. 
Both love and grief are why I find myself seven years later wanting my Momma to be here.  For Mother's Day.  For everyday.  For any day.
Sometimes I want her here for my own sake.  Other times for my husband and our son.  For my Daddy, my sister, my nieces and nephew.  For her siblings, her friends....but ALL the time, for the sake of LOVE.

My Momma's Momma passed away when I was in high school.  I still remember Momma saying things like how she wished Grandma Haston could've been able to see me get married, how she wished she could've been here on so many occasions.  I didn't fully understand the ache then...but oh how I get it now. 

If we are honest, which I hope we try to be, we will never hide behind a faith that eclipses the sadness of death.  Death stares us boldly in the face, reminding us that life is sacred.  *ALL life is sacred, even in death.*  Through the mucky, deep, incredible tears that we cry, death and grief remind us of the love that still exists...regardless of the death that has ripped us apart. 

One day I was talking to some friends about grief, and the heartless things that are so often said.  More often than not, these things are said in the name of "god".  (Bless their hearts...my friends didn't know what they signed up for with everything that floats around in this head of mine!  They are truly good friends, who allow a safe space for me...which is so important for all of us.)  After talking about some of the things we've been told, or have heard being said towards others after losing their loved ones, my friend had a response that pretty much sums up what countless people I know have wanted to say, but just never could find the right words.  She said something like this, "I would punch anyone in the throat who said that to me.  Like God planned for the Holocaust?  Or the Newtown Shooting?  Or some poor little girl being kidnapped and murdered by some scuzzy man?  If there is a God, he didn't plan any of that."

We have got to be careful with our words about God, because when it gets down to it, we are all just guessing.  Perhaps in all of our vast and often misguided certainty, we can remember that when it comes to death...we don't have all knowledge and wisdom.  And maybe, just maybe, this life isn't about obtaining all the answers, but learning to love ourselves and others.  Maybe it's about joining in with those who hurt....I could be wrong.  But I know of way too many instances in this life when the very being of God met with so many only after the absence of certainty and presence of grief had to meet.

We all say things that hurt people, we all make mistakes.  We learn, and hopefully, do better the next time.  There is grace, always.  There is grace for when we hurt others, and when others hurt us.
But there needs to be some more honesty in our faith when we talk about being so certain on all the things of God.  If we are ever brave enough to talk about this deep hurt, and somebody does use their god, faith, or bible, as a means to silence the grief we all know never really stops...then perhaps my friend's words of wisdom above are needed.

May we never, ever, use God as a crutch.  May we never tell already hurting hearts bibly-ish things in order to explain their pain away.  I believe with my whole heart that God is better than that.  God meets us in our pain, and never tries to quiet our grief.  It's not that God is bigger than our grief....God is just in our grief.  Sometimes we can get so certain about having all the answers, making everything have some meaning, that we forget some things have no meaning.  Sometimes in life, there is just hurt and grief.  Maybe the only meaning in those times is to welcome the honesty of it all, that we don't have answers....but we acknowledge the heavy ache that death leaves us with.  Grief reminds me, as well as so many others living with it, that sometimes there is not an answer, there is just hurting.  Sometimes, there is only grief because we miss our brother or sister or mother or father or son or daughter or wife or husband.......and time won't take that away.  I've found that time only reminds me of the absence she has left behind. 

The deaths of our loved ones will always leave an absence that refuses to be replaced.  Our lives were never meant to be replaceable!!!  Each one of us bears the image of God, and each absence leaves an immense empty space in this world.
There will always be this great void in our hearts calling out to the loved ones we wish to have had more time with.  Grief like that never goes away, we simply learn to go along with it.  I do not think God expects us to find answers, replacements, lessons, reasons, or Bible verses to quiet the sorrow within.  I dare say God loves life enough to understand our aches...and to understand our doubts, anger, questions, and sorrow. 
*Life is sacred enough, and love is sacred enough, and God is sacred enough to let us grieve.*

I'm glad my Momma said so many things about missing her Momma.  I'm glad she teared up when thinking of her.  She unknowingly gave me permission to grieve out loud...and that has meant so much.  I have never thought about that until this very moment of writing it out. 

Whether it has been a day for you, or 47 years, I hope you know you are safe to grieve in a God that welcomes ALL of you.  Whether it's Mother's Day, Father's Day, another holiday, or just any day that heightens the ache you have...may you know the ache is from the LOVE.  God welcomes your doubts, anger, grief, frustration, tears, and questions, even the ones that will never be answered.  Why would we ever expect less from the One we dare to call God???  If the god we follow can't handle all of us, then we need to find out what it is we're following.

Sweet one, you are not alone.
May you feel free to grieve the loved one you miss as you walk along the dirt of this big ol' place.
May you remember the deep ache you have is because of the deep LOVE you have.  And Love will always win. Always.

***Love has no end, nor the grief that holds its hand.***

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