Saturday, December 22, 2012


With every "first", there is some degree of pushing.  And after the push, comes the crash...  Today was one of those days.  I have a beautiful post written about the gift of faith, but I feel compelled to share the lower parts of this journey as well as the high... I want to be an expression of love, life, and faith, but in the context of real human weakness and sorrowful loss.

Since I awakened this morning to the sound of Alea's footprints coming toward me, every moment, every movement, ever breath, has been lived with great difficulty, as though heavy bags of concrete were strapped to my shoulders... my insides weighted down with raw, cold despair.

It is in this context that I become aware of the anger, roaring steadily beneath my surface.  I have read of anger, even rage, as a necessary part of grief, but often wonder about it. I don't often acknowledge my anger and when I do, I do not understand where it comes from or what I am feeling?  It isn't blame or anger towards God, or anything rational... just rage.

My friend Jody gave me a book called Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff.  In it he writes, It's the neverness that is so painful.  Never again to be here with us..."  He says, he might have been able to live with a month, a year, five years... But not this forever.

I think it is this neverness that ignites my anger.  When the girls are fussy, tantrums are rampant, no one is listening or cooperating... When my days are long and lonely, less people around to keep me busy...  When people say things and mean well, but it still hurts...

It's the neverness, the finality of sudden death, the total inability to have any say or control in the matter.  There was no opportunity to pray, no chance for bargaining with God, no goodbyes or farewells... Just over.  Forever.  A forever as big as eternity...

I will never again see Lynn's face as he comes around the corner, home from work, with the girls running to greet him.  Never again will I feel his arms come around from behind me when I'm doing dishes at the sink.  Never again will I answer the phone and hear his voice, Hi Babe! Never again will I feel his presence, exuding passion, energy, and life, or his tenderness as he reaches over and touches my face in the car.  It's the way he leaned back just so when satisfied after a good meal.  The way he oddly hiked up his pant legs in the summer when he was hot instead of changing into shorts.  The way he played music at our piano with two eager daughters climbing all over him.  The way he sparkled when he talked about his favorite composers or what concert he was doing next...

Neverness.  It's cold, and yet it burns... cold burning* Nicholas wrote.  Only in grief, in neverness, does that make any sense.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Open hands, the gift of generosity.

Where's your gift, Mama? Alea asked, after looking through the gifts under the Christmas tree.
Well, I responded (at the time), I may not get a gift this year because Daddy's not here to buy me one... 

Later I thought, Perhaps it is time to write about the gifts Daddy has given me.  Maybe there could be no better time than the Christmas season...

Lynn, being Lynn, sang back-up once with Steve Green at the church where he did his internship, Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan.  We were dating at the time, but very quickly falling in love.  During that concert, Steve Green called his wife on her cell phone through the sound system for the whole auditorium to hear and sang to her "their" song - Holding Hands, by Steve Green.  Later, back stage, Lynn asked him, Hey Steve? (Okay, he likely didn't say it like that...) What was that song you sang to your wife?  Steve replied with a twinkle in his eye, When are you getting engaged? Lynn sort of flushed and stammered, Well I'm not, really, yet...  Still, it became our song :)  And lo and behold, (I should have seen it coming), he tried to sing it to me as part of his vows on our wedding day. (I say tried because he wept like a baby and barely got a single word out!!)

This became a song that we listened to throughout our marriage on very special occasions... We danced to it in the night, in a dark and quiet house after the girls had gone to bed... Holding hands always meant something special, a belonging, a loyalty, a commitment...

I remember a few particular instances since Lynn's death when I watched another husband tenderly take his wife's hand in his, holding it as if it was life's most precious gift... It was beautiful, but bittersweet, like tears of joy streaming down your cheeks, while a knife is stabbing at your heart...

On our anniversary, after going through our wedding pictures, I picked up some more of our old cards.  The first one I opened said, My hand misses yours.  And I thought, Yes, Babe!! My hand misses yours!

But as I felt the emptiness of my hands, that still small voice whispered inside my heart... Open hands.

Lynn led our family in radical generosity.  Selfishness was not permitted and would not be tolerated.  I began to say to our children (at least 100 times a day...), We expect you to have a generous heart, and a generous heart means open hands, open hands for sharing... We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

My hand is empty of its companion.  How my hand misses his!!  But Lynn left me with a gift to steward... the gift of generosity.  My hands may be empty, but they are open.  Before, one hand was open while the other one filled... Now they are both open, turned outward, We are blessed to be a blessing...

Lynn's example of generosity impacts me.  I feel a responsibility to steward this gift, though I will never be Lynn and cannot carry forward who he was and is...  Still, with my will, and in humility because it is not something I could ever accomplish in my own strength, I choose a generous heart, with open hands, knowing full well that God will continue to fill them with Himself and all the riches of His glory... But God help me if, like my toddlers-turned-preschoolers-turned-kindergardeners, I struggle to share!  We are blessed to be a blessing!  We are filled to be poured out!

Make me a river in which your living waters flow freely and generously to those around me.  With open hands, I surrender myself as a vessel of your love.  Nothing I am or have is my own.  It all belongs to You.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How the soul grows.

My 9th anniversary has come and gone, except Lynn was not here to share it with me.  Instead, it was a day of memories, reflection, and quiet celebration...

It would be easy to romanticize my love with Lynn, to look at beautiful pictures taken by Daniel St. Louis (whose career makes ordinary people look more beautiful than they are...!), and to think that we are somehow special...  It would also be easy to say Why me!?  Why Lynn!? and dwell on the injustice of his life ending so suddenly.

After death, it is easy to change a person or marriage into something ethereal, otherworldly, almost creating a new persona... But grief must be done in honesty, just as worship must be done in truth.

I think sudden loss (brace yourself...) is like someone violently gouging out your eyes, the world as you knew it has gone black.  Some people continue in this state of blackness for a long time, maybe forever.  They never learn to see again.  But I think others learn a whole new way of seeing.  God gives us new eyes where we can see and appreciate the sorrows of this world, identify more closely with the whole of humanity, stare boldly into the face of evil and wickedness and pain... And in that place we see the value of life, the treasure of each moment, the meaning in every breath.  The soul grows in grief so that we can see the world with a whole new perspective, with new eyes, and be held captive by the grace so evident in our lives*.

Yesterday was filled with both grace and sorrow.  I went to lunch by myself and it was mysteriously paid for by a friend who was leaving as I arrived.  It snowed :).  I napped.  My supper came from food prepared and dropped off by others. Two friends came over in the evening and we watched one of my favourite movies, a Christmas tradition, Little Women.  My Mom is a never ending blessing and took on the work load of the day... But I also felt weakened physically, to the point of collapsing, by the intense emotions of the day.  I napped fitfully, with haunting thoughts and images swirling around in my mind, I sat with no energy or motivation or strength to engage with my daughters and love on them throughout the day...

Yesterday was the first day I experienced the tangible pains of sorrowful loss with an unspeakable sensation of joy and thanksgiving at the same time.  And I thought... this is how the soul grows...

It reminds me of something God continues to resonate in my spirit from Isaiah 54:2, Enlarge your tents... (I blogged about it Aug 16th, ~2 weeks before Lynn's death - Enlarge your tents.)

God wants to fill our tents with blessings because we are blessed to be a blessing... The world is suffering and in need of God's grace, but North Americans can trick ourselves into a sense of control...  We want to control our losses and keep out the pain of suffering, seeing with old eyes that miss the glittering grace of God in every situation... Enlarge your tents!!  Grow your soul by embracing the pain, sorrow, and losses of this world! So that we see with new eyes and have room for a greater light that reaches further into the darkness than we would otherwise never dare to go...

Can I survive the sharp pains of loss and allow my soul to stretch to the point of embracing both the sufferings of this world as well as the richness of God's grace???

*Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss  (Again!!!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A calling.

Oh, how I'd love to be sleeping... But it's the eve of my anniversary and my mind is exploding with memories!  My mom's here, the girls are asleep, the lights are out, the house is quiet...  I MUST write!

I remember the eve of my wedding day, 9 years ago today, maybe close to this very moment...  I was laying in bed, wrestling with the doubts and fears I carried in my heart...  My wedding dress hung in the closet, my vows were written and memorized, and I had written a letter to Lynn in my journal to give to him the next day.  Soon, I would be speaking my vows, binding myself to a man I was powerfully in love with, and entering into a "lifelong" covenant of mutual love and respect.  That special night, I remember closing my eyes, peace reigning in my heart, with the hint of a smile on my face. This was it!

I was honored to be Lynn's wife, because he was so great and loving and kind... but also because I knew God had called me to it.  Being Lynn's wife was a calling to me.  It was not easy, as some might think.  It was a high calling with great expectations.

In recent years, I remember falling back onto my bed in exasperation, begging God for a break from the intensity of my struggle... (Something I will likely share more about as time goes on...)  I remember God speaking to me again and again.. He is a great man, my Daughter.  I have called you to be the great woman behind a great man. 

It may sound terribly prideful, but my role as Lynn's wife played an important part in his life and ministry.  He relied on me for strength, courage, constant encouragement, unconditional love, grace and integrity at all times... He held me to the standard of the Word and did not ever believe in just this once. He was driven by self discipline, passion, and idealism mixed with radical faith and enthusiasm.  He expected sacrifice, humility, and meekness, reigned in strength and a guarded tongue...  How we grew and what we "accomplished" in such a short time is really quite remarkable and exhausts me just thinking about it :)

Lynn loved me with an incredibly powerful love, but he also expected everything.  With his words, he said, I support you.  If you want to do something than do it.  We fought often about this.  His words were true and genuine according to what he believed in his head, but his eyes always told me the tale of his heart... Please don't go.  I need you here.  I need you to stay so I can go...  My decisions to be less involved in church, less persuant of a musical/ministry "career", and more involved behind the scenes was largely due to this great inner struggle, this calling I could not escape from that kept me bound to one purpose.. Be a great woman behind this great man... 

Was it Lynn or was it God? ...asking me to sacrifice my own passions and ambitions in life to love Lynn into his...?  I failed so miserably at this so much of the time.  I was so desperate to escape the confines of wife-hood and motherhood... My bones burned within me, on fire with another calling somehow separate from my calling as Lynn's wife.  In my head, I could never understand it... Why God?  Why do you continue to give me this burning in my bones, a calling and passion to speak your word, to write, to sing... then ask me to sacrifice it in honor of my husband???  How does any of this make sense?  

Now I know a small truth that makes a big difference to my interpretation of these two separate callings.  God knew it was seasonal.

God gave me a great gift in my marriage to Lynn (I look forward to expounding on this in future posts...).  He taught me and is teaching me so much about love, life, faith... But he has also been preparing me for the life ahead.  Though it is foggy and scary and unbelievable on so many levels, there is a calling that remains on my life that has been there since I was a child... a calling that is not seasonal, but rooted and grounded in the depths of my being...  As a child of God and daughter of the King, as a worshipper and an artist, as a believer and lover of God... a calling remains for me to lay down my life and open my heart as a vessel for His Spirit, for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven...

Monday, December 17, 2012

The darkness of December.

Christmas lights everywhere.  Shimmering.  Glittering.  Sparkling with glee.

I cannot help but enjoy this season, to laugh with my children, to be blessed by the festivities, to get caught up in the contagious excitement of the season... And yet, behind my smile lies a deep heaviness. I am aware of the two worlds I am trying to juggle... The world of my broken, traumatized heart and the world of engaging with the present.

How are you? people ask.  Are you spending Christmas in Moncton? they ask.  How are the girls doing? and When can you come for dinner?

I answer these questions with limited cognitive awareness of what I am actually saying.  Sometimes, I stare straight ahead dumbfounded, completely unable to put my heart and life into words that touch my lips...

Sometimes, in conversation, when people are free to say whatever's on their mind... I find myself wavering...  My mind gets taken up into a world of trauma and brokenness.  I see the person in front of me talking, but cannot take in what they are saying.  All I hear is the echo of emptiness in the big dark cloud that follows me wherever I go, where my husband used to take up residence... The part of me that was him, one with him... just empty.  In that hollow space, my singular thoughts echo loudly... repeating over and over, My husband died.  He died.  Sometimes it says, Lynn would be doing this.  Lynn would be saying that.  Where is Lynn's contribution in this conversation?

How can the world just go on?  How can people ask me how I am doing or what my plans are?  How can I sit and discuss trivial things that have no bearing on my life?  How is any of this real?  I do not want to be self-absorbed, and yet I want to scream... Lynn is gone!  I find myself feeling isolated in a terrible grief while I watch the rest of the world move forward...  I've been there, people say.  Sometimes it's death, sometimes divorce... But you haven't.  You haven't been here.  My loss is unique, as is yours.

There are so many others grieving.  I have friends and loved ones. We are all grieving with Newtown, Conn.  Yet, my heart is so heavy-laden, pierced with the realities of my own grief, that I can barely manage to go there, emotionally, to grieve with others, to mourn the loss and the wickedness of our humanity...

My mind and heart are swallowed up in the simple fact that I am alone.  My husband is no more.  It's Christmas time.  And in two days, it is our 9th anniversary.  My husband died, and the world moves on...

I have suppressed my world of personal brokenness and trauma for many days now... I have engaged as best as I can in the present with the people around me... But now the menacing black cloud of grief is rearing its ugly head, rising again to the surface, expanding and taking over, laying me flat on my back and sapping me of my strength...  

It is the darkness of December, this wretched month, in which the light of the world descends, resides, and impacts... Be born in me, my Jesus.  Fill me anew.  Take up residence in the humble scene of my sorrowful heart...

Friday, December 14, 2012

A barbed wire fence?

Where's my Dad? Alea asks, speaking as the pink pony with the purple hair.
He's right over there! replies Roya as the littlest pet shop deer character.
No, that's not my Dad!  Where's my Dad!? yells the pink pony...

I listen to these play conversations constantly throughout the day while I make lunch, clean the kitchen, turn over the laundry, go through the mail, try to tidy the living room, listen to the phone messages, input receipts into the "budget", run around constantly responding to sibling fights, cheering when they show me a craft or something they've accomplished, trying to write down a grocery list and think ahead for meals (even when they've already been prepared for me), trying to get everyone out the door on time, remembering to start the car early and brush off the snow, and oops! I forgot to water the tree again! and dropping everything when Alea needs to go to the bathroom, even though she is perfectly capable of going on her own...

No matter how much I am or do, it is not enough.  Alea still craves her Daddy's love and attention, the kind of arms that throw her up in the air, chase her through the halls, and tickle her all over... She wants me to play ball and take her outside to run around.  Roya needs more one on one time with me.  She craves Mommy-daughter dates and drawing times together.  She needs a safe intimate environment where she can feel encouraged and share the deep feelings of her heart.  She stays up late into the night, waiting until Alea is asleep and everything else is quiet, so she can get me to herself... But then, I have nothing left to give and want desperately to lay my head down and go to sleep, or sit for a few minutes of quiet by myself.

Virginia Watts wrote, Becoming a single parent is like giving birth to a barbed wire fence - extremely painful.* 

Yikes!!  I am experiencing the labor pains, the crude and awful birth of the multi-faceted challenges involved in single parenting.  My parental influence has drastically diminished.  I didn't just lose Lynn or lose a father, I lost the "more" that was the sum of our parts.  I went from half the pie to an 1/8 of the pie with Lynn's portion empty and terrifyingly void. Some days I think, I can do this.  We're doing fine.  Other days, I fall to my knees and weep, I can't do this, Lord!  It is impossible to do everything by myself!

What is impossible with man/woman is possible with God (Luke 18:27).

Months ago, I wrestled with my standards of parenting... How can I uphold mine and Lynn's parental standards by myself.  It can't be done.  Then, I began to let go (a little) and trust God to fill the void that was left in my daughters' lives.  Now I realize the standard is not lower, but much higher...

You and the Holy Spirit are always a majority, says my American friend, Carla. :)

Roya, 4 years old, told me at the dinner table, If Alea and I are in trouble, God will help us. He will reach down with His big hand and hold us, and we will reach back, like this (with demonstration) and hold on to Him. (Just like Beth Moore in believing God!)

I am incapable of accomplishing my to do list each day, touching my daughters' lives the way I want to, meeting the demands of school, schedules, errands...  But I think God is taking care of us!  My girls know they are loved and see God's hand tangibly at work in our lives!

And I think... What if all parents worried less about needs and roles and all the numerous good Christian things we're supposed to do to raise our children, and more on loving God, and trusting Him to be our God, teach us, and train us by His Spirit.... Maybe we would all be better off in the end, and have a Spirit-filled generation that walks the earth as children of the light...?

Maybe my children will be okay with God as their Father and me on my knees, desperately clinging to God's goodness and grace??? 

*The Single Parent, by Virginia Watts

Thursday, December 13, 2012


...quiet.  There's nothing like it.

After travels, and visits, and concerts, and dentist appointments, and regular life chaos... the quiet feels warm and inviting like a hot mug of tea and a warm glowing fireplace.  People and activities tend to draw me into the present, keep me moving forward, hold me captive in the real world.  But here, in these quiet moments, I can retreat into the other part of my being that just needs to feel the absence of my husband and go over and over it in my mind... He died.  He really died.  Did he really die?  Yes, I remember it.  My husband died.  I have to remind myself, not in an obsessive way, or an inability to move on.  But because the mind plays tricks and denial is still my friend :).  How quickly I can move into that place where I am secretly telling myself he's just away on a trip and this has all been a terrible dream.

Jerry Sittser* uses another metaphor in his grappling with grief.  He describes the relationships we have with others as dynamic, living, and always moving forward.  Like a motion picture, it smoothly transitions from one scene to the next, always an awareness of more to come.  Then suddenly, the screen freezes and the motion picture has turned into a snapshot suspended in time, incomplete.  With a DVD, a person might take it out and clean it, or skip ahead to the next scene.  In death, the relationship that was alive, moving forward, full-dimensional, is left incomplete, a snapshot, with no conclusion or resolve.

In the first couple of months after Lynn's death, I wrestled with all kinds of emotions inside.  What was I supposed to do with a full heart of everything from anger and disappointment to total love and commitment towards a man that was no longer?  How do I adjust from a dynamic motion picture, always an awareness of movement, the assumption that we would have the 75 year marriage that we signed up for...( Lynn always said our contract was for 75 years and after that we'd re-evaluate!)

Now, our marriage relationship is a snapshot, like a masterpiece that will never be finished, frozen in a frame of questions, doubts, memories, and regrets.  I will never see the reward after marital struggle, the elastic nature of marriage, ebbing and flowing, pushing and pulling, but always bound together... resulting in a beautiful oneness that takes a lifetime to accomplish.

Now I am forced into a different life, a new motion picture, with a moving plot and riveting climax...?

But the snapshot will always remain, framed with gratitude and longing for what might have been.

*A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Silhouette, by LRE

by Lynn Robert Erskine

(written maybe 2003?)

My heart-
A window.
So I stare.

A movement.
An unmistakable
Stands in front of
The window.

The hair.
The curves.
The moves.
All too familiar.
No doubt about it - it’s

But you’re looking at
Something in
Your hands.

Even a silhouette can’t hide
Your smile.

I can feel
Your eyes, and
I realize.

I think I’m watching
You, but 
You’re beholding
My heart.

And I love it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Plunging East.

Jerry Sittser recounts a dream he had after his traumatic loss:

I dreamed of a setting sun.  I was frantically running west, trying desperately to catch it and remain in its fiery light and warmth.  But I was losing the race. The sun was beating me to the horizon and was soon gone.  I suddenly found myself in the twilight. (p. 41)*  In the twilight he turns to see the suffocating darkness approaching from the east.  He is exhausted, but terrified.  Everything in him wants to continue west, chasing that last bit of warmth and light from the sun.  

A few days after his dream, Jerry (we're on a first name basis at this point) learned of a poem that says though East and West seem farthest removed on a map, they eventually meet on a globe (p. 41)*.  Later someone else said to him, the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. (p. 42)* 

Every day I am conflicted by this longing to chase after my past, run after that last bit of warmth found in the memories of my past life and marriage.  But the sun is setting and darkness looms.  It reminds me of another widow who wrote, I knew that I could not allow my past to overwhelm the present if I was going to move forward. (I am not home, but will come back to credit this source later.)  The future seems so barren and lonely.  Living a life that few around me understand and can relate to.  Raising my children alone.  Facing everything alone...  (The community of friends and family makes such a difference!!  But it does not fill the empty side of the bed or the silence of my house when everyone else goes home...)

I have no desire to plunge east.  I have no anticipation for the coming sunrise.  I scarcely believe it to be real.  But, I must plunge east!  I will plunge east because my daughters deserve a full and happy life.  I will plunge east because it honors my husband and all that he stood for...

But mostly, I will plunge east because God's Word is alive and active in me (Heb 4:12).  Because he has given me every spiritual blessing under heaven (Eph :13).  Because he has given me His grace that is sufficient, and power to be perfected in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  Because His love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).  I plunge east because I cannot deny my God.  To sit in hopelessness would be just that, denying Him, who He is, and all that He's done for me.

I miss my husband.  I want to chase the setting sun.  Father, carry me eastward...

*A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser.  (I'm not finished it yet, but, so far, I HIGHLY recommend this book!!!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Through the veil.

In the moment I looked upon my husband's body and saw death with my own eyes, eternity exploded in my mind, expanding to become the vast majority of my "reality".  Lynn's shell was empty, evacuated, left, forsaken, back to the dust.  But he was so alive!  He lives, I have no doubt, but I can only catch glimpses of his life looking through the veil that lies between life and death, his world and mine.

He is worlds away.  And yet, there are days when he seems so close...  My thoughts about this have been "conservative" (hopefully meaning, "not crazy"), but I do have my moments...

In the first week after Lynn died, when a dark calamity overtook my home and the thick cloud dripped with the wretchedness of death... I  escaped up to my bedroom for a moment of quiet despair.  I remember looking up and asking, Lynn, do you see any of this?  Do you see what is happening to us?  Then, the image of Lynn falling down on his face before the Lord over and over again came to the forefront of my mind.  Was I happy? No.  Was I blessed?  No.  Was I even thankful?  Only a little.  I thought, Of course.  You're up there weeping and basking in the presence of our living saviour while I deal with all this!  Then I sat up and said, (out loud, I think),  Lynn! Get off your face and pay attention down here!  :)

Other times, when I was desperate for the peace and comfort only Christ can bring, I entered into wordless prayer, trying to draw near to the Lord...  Then, the image of Lynn standing there at the throne of grace would come to the forefront of my mind.  It would overtake my thoughts and ability to concentrate, blocking my view of Christ...  With eyes closed and waving my hand, almost like swatting at a buzzing fly, I'd say,  Lynn!  Get out of the way, will ya!? I'm trying to see Jesus!!

It is surreally odd feeling connected to a man who has died and risen again.  I do not know how long it will last.  But it has been a journey.  Seeing him through the veil evokes a myriad of different emotions - anger, sadness, confusion, jealousy, loss, sorrow, depression, etc.

And also joy.  I have closed my eyes and travelled there, imagining that day when I'll meet him there... Emotional and experiencing the many wonders of glorification, I see him... walking toward me.  He is beautiful.  I see the radiance in his smile and the sparkle in his eyes.  His driven energy perfected into profound strength and depth of knowledge.  Not a quiet strength.  But calm.  His fears and insecurities I once felt lingering under the surface of his life, a calm and brilliant sea of hope, beauty, and perfected life.  The image reminds me of a choral composition he wrote not too long ago called, All will be well.  

I had to let the past go before I could dare to see Lynn through the veil.  When I see him, I still say, How?  How do I live life without you?  How do I move forward?  I am partially paralyzed by the beauty of him and the awesomeness of our God, and the scary unknown that still lies ahead of me...  How is any of this real? What has happened to my life? How is it that you are there and not here?

My life has always been lived with some awareness of what lies on the other side of this life.  But now I've had glimpses that excite me even more about God's Kingdom and glory and perfect love.  I only wish we could all take a short cut and get there now instead of moving along in this brilliant yet painful journey of redemption, bringing His kingdom come, His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven...

Monday, December 3, 2012


December looms over me like a dark heavy cloud.  I know it's so early in the process of grieving a loved one, but I find myself wondering, Does this ever end?  But I don't think it does.  It changes, ebbs and flows, life grows and continues, but grief and sorrow remain.  Like Jerry Sittser said, the death of a spouse (or other loved one), catastrophic loss as he calls it, is by definition without hope of recovery.  It is not a broken limb that can be fixed.  It is an amputation, a limb cut off, never to grow back again.

Today, I also find myself wondering, Can I allow my soul to grow through this month of December?  Can I embrace and endure this pain in a healthy way, so my soul is bigger, stronger, and healthier on the other side?  I suppose all things are possible.  But I cannot do it alone.

I am in a new season.  December 2nd marked the close of a sacred season of grief that I will never forget and will never have again.  The lingering presence of my beloved husband, his scent, his things, his love... sacredly tended to by a bereaved wife and grieving children.  I needed to withdraw, to grieve my husband privately as only a wife could. Though the world around me grieved and lived and carried on, time for me stood still.  I sat in the sacredness of my husbands death.  I love him so much.

Today, though, I am aware of a shift.  I've started longing for my church family and community, anxious to return (however hard it may be)...  The numbness and barrenness of shock and trauma have given way to a muddy puddle of wretched tears.  My strength, motivated by my love for my children, has diminished into a quivering weakness.  I am hurting, wounded, bereaved, and needing to grieve in the presence of others.

And now, here you are :).  My church family has waited three months... They patiently and graciously honored my need for space and quiet and reflection... for sacred grief.  But now I need you, and you are still here :)  Thank you.

There is only one problem with this... I am not easy to help.  Oooh my, it was hard to let friends come into my chaotic house today and clean!!  I'm embarrassed by my weakness, a total people pleaser, don't enjoy crying and breaking down in front of others, and still very introverted... all of these "qualities" make me a source of trouble for my family and friends :)  I am going to struggle in this season.  I am going to struggle in my grief (it was way harder than I anticipated decorating our Christmas tree, pulling out nostalgic ornaments, seeing the four Christmas stockings strewn about the floor...), but I am also going to struggle grieving with friends and family... being open and emotionally vulnerable.  (Funny that I'd struggle with that after putting some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet...?)

I hear my friend Liz's words to me, Allow the flow, Natasha.  Allow the flow. :)  And so that is my prayer, that I'll allow the flow, and that God will bring healing in this heavy season of grieving with and leaning on others.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three months.

It's December 1st.  Tomorrow marks 3 months since my husband died.

In the last several months, after staying with, seeing, touching my husband's dead body, I experienced a catastrophic explosion that left every corner of my world a dry and barren wasteland.  I was somehow held together and completely shattered at the same time.  I've been broken apart and sent lower than I ever knew possible. I've felt heart-wrenching pain strong enough to shred my insides and threaten my physical being, and I've felt a terrifying numbness, a still emptiness of the soul.  I've planned a funeral, picked a coffin, intentionally choosing the tux with a plain, "organic" wooden box... I've met with bankers and lawyers and financial advisors, and plodded through mountains and mountains of paperwork... (with much needed help from close friends and family).  I've watched my children scream and kick, question and doubt, grieving the loss of a loving father.  I've mourned my best friend, husband, lover, encouraging companion, fellow-challenger in the race toward Christ... (and so much more).

This month especially, I am inundated with sacred memories.  In the coming weeks, I will face my 29th birthday, our 9th anniversary, and of course, Christmas.

Today, we accompanied our precious neighbours, trekking through the tree acreage, bundled up in our winter snow gear, and sawed down a Christmas tree.  This evening, it stands tall and beautiful in my dining room.  Lynn, I think we finally found the right place for a Christmas tree in our home.  I know you would love it.  The fire is going, the girls are drifting off to orchestral Christmas melodies... I can close my eyes and see Lynn lighting the tree, jumping up for his IPad with 3 new Christmas recipes on the go, our vegan holiday fudge melting on the stove...

There were days in the last week when I had lost all desire to live.  I had no sense of life or joy in me at all, and for the first time, didn't know how to bring myself out of it.  (I couldn't even write, which tends to be my life line.)  A friend in Alberta sent me a package and in it a book called A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser.  Wondering if anything could possibly speak to me in a moment of such void and emptiness, I nonchalantly picked it up and started reading.  I am deeply moved by the raw and profound words written by a meek man with great depth and genuine struggle.  He writes about the soul's somewhat elastic ability to grow in grief.  Grief is not something you "get over", catastrophic loss is never fixed this side of heaven.  But, your soul can grow to embrace the pain and suffering enabling a new kind of living that reaches deeper beneath the surface, as well as higher into the clouds...  (I could write a lot more on this... So far, I highly recommend this book.  Thank you, Donna!)

What is God doing in me?  I don't really know, but I am scared by it.  I somehow know I am not who I was and will never be the same again.  I feel old, like the last three months have aged me in years.  I do not know the young, naive, innocent girl I once was, but still, God has preserved my faith and somehow, a child-like joy and ability to love.

I haven't written in days.  And these days, a day is as a thousand years!!!  I have so much more to say.  But blog posts can only be so long...