July 5, 2020
Remembering Those Who Are with You when the Lights Go Out
On April 2, 1998, I lost my oldest son. Ray lost his oldest son. Gideon lost his older brother. My family members lost a little boy they loved. Andrew's classmates lost a friend. Andrew's teachers lost a student. I had to keep in focus that I was not the only person who had grief. And more importantly, I had to understand Ray and Gideon were not going to grieve the same way I grieved. Our timelines would be different. Our emotions would be different. How we responded to different events would be different.
I am going to be honest. I didn't get that at first. I thought I had to force everyone else into my mold of grief. I am forever grateful for a person who was bold enough to tell me the truth. (Dr. Scott Tynes) I am not sure if he even remembers the conversation. But I do. He told me not everyone grieves the same. So, I had to take a step back. I could not expect Gideon or Ray to react just like me. Our processing of grief was not going to be the same. Dr. Tynes helped me more than he thought that day. I was used to allergy issues... I knew what to do for that. But I didn't know how to react to grief different from mine.
I have no idea how Ray and Gideon processed their grief. I cannot tell you. Those are their stories to tell, not mine. But I can tell you a few things I learned as a grieving wife and mother. First of all, I prayed every single day for God to send someone to help my child as I did my best every single day to help other people's children. I taught in Mobile County Public Schools during the early years after we lost Andrew. I could not stand being away from Gideon all the time, and I begged God to send someone to care for my son as much as I cared for the children I taught.
Mrs. Luane Warr will never know how she made my heart smile when Gideon would tell me that she had talked to him or had checked on him. As a mom, no one can do more for you than to care for your child.
Neighbors are great to have, but Lisa Adams Ganus was the exceptional neighbor. She would often sit and talk with Gideon, and she would not have blessed this momma more had she given me a million dollars or the keys to Fort Knox and all the gold in it.
As you grieve, you may not feel like you can help your other family members a lot, but you can find others who can. And those people are rare. When you find them, pray for them and by all means thank them for their acts of love to your family.
As Gideon grew older, there were still influential people who cared enough to mentor him. I honestly began to think the heavens were hung on Tommy Loper's shoulders. Or at least Gideon thought so. Oh how grateful I am for the people who took the time to help Gideon when I couldn't. I owe each of them more than I could really ever pay them.
While grief has many participants, it is a single path for individuals. Much of our grieving process must be done in solitude. And so we have to learn to respect the methods others have as they cope with their personal grief.
I learned the things that sparked hope in my heart were not always as helpful to Ray or Gideon. I also learned the value of giving a person space - personal space. That was hard for me. I wanted normalcy. I wanted to "fix" all that was wrong in all our lives. Oh the things God had to show me as I floundered in the dark. I would never want to go back through those shadows, but if I had to again... I'd hopefully be smarter the next time.
Remember, your family needs you while you are all in the dark.
Remember, your family needs personal space in grieving while you are all in the dark.
Remember, your family will not grieve the same as you, but you are all still in the dark.
Do not lose hope!
Every grieving person has a personal journey!
Pray for the right people to enter each of your journeys.
Give space; pray for grace!
Grief is not a race!
To Be Continued!