In the last month, my mom died.
A friend/former colleague died.
And, early yesterday morning, I received a phone call about a friend’s 31-year-old daughter who died.
Yesterday was the second Sunday morning my friend has been awakened around 4 a.m. with news of losing a child. Her son died in a car accident some years ago.
I don’t claim to know how she feels or what to say or how to help. However, after we talked, I understand more about the necessity of loss.
Without losing, I’m not sure we can grasp loving.
Death is the harsh half of bittersweet. It’s the yin of yin and yang. It’s the ultimate pain of our journey, but it’s also the ultimate wakeup call, even if, like my friend, it’s not the call we hoped for.
During our conversation last evening, the tone of my friend’s voice, as well as her words, expressed tenderness like I’ve never heard in a counseling session or sermon. Not that she won’t get angry and experience moments of questioning God, but she’s got hold of something that some of us never do. She said she was crazy and probably would be for a while.
All I could think was, “Crazy in love.”
And I can relate some. Since Mom’s and my friend’s deaths, I have more lovingly reflected and intensely missed them than in all the years they lived. Death, if we let it, brings to the forefront our own tenderness.
Whose death has left you at a loss so much so that it also changed you?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Often I have posted what a counselor said when she asked if I felt like I was dying, “You’re really being born.” I believe dealing with death is often a birth into deeper love.
Related post: Pain, the fabric softener of life
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Beautiful words. Thought provoking. Thank you!
Thank you, Rick. It\’s been a thought provoking month.
Bless her heart. Yours too.
Please keep her and her family in your prayers. I appreciate your comment.
Thank you, Anjana. I\’m Baptist born, you know, so nothing like an amen. I\’m praying that this time feels gentler for her and Rick.
What a horrible time for your friend – and for you.
I\’ve been fairly lucky in my initial experiences with death, in that most of the people close to me who died were colleagues who met violent ends. Part of the occupational hazard of the work, and I could take a nihilistic pose of \”better you than me\” and \”don\’t mean nothin\’\”.
However…I was later unable to stop the killing of the woman who carried our unborn child, along with a good friend. Dealing with that was a bit more difficult. Not something I talk about.
Not a day passes that I don\’t think about it. Not a night passes that I don\’t relive it in my dreams, trying to change the outcome.
It\’s certainly changed me. I can\’t walk through the toy aisle at Wal-Mart without wanting to weep. I don\’t think of vengeance, though – the killers are dead. That knowledge makes me happy, and I guess I\’ve changed there, because I used to believe in John Donne\’s \”ask not for whom the bell tolls / it tolls for thee\”..
It\’s decades in the past, and the story\’s irrelevant now. But I can\’t quite say, \”don\’t mean nothin\’\”.
Andrew, I\’m sorry for your loss as well. You know about horrible times, I can tell, but isn\’t it amazing how those times can shape us for our own good?
Your comments are deep, which caused me to overlook visiting your blog until this evening – I was getting much insight from you right here. I encourage readers to check out your writing. It\’s as insightful as what you share in these comment sections. As always, thank you.
Kim, this piece has haunted me since I read it.
I was an unoffical (and unexpected) chaplain to college students for many years, and I found that the ones who most wanted to find God were those who\’d recently lost a parent, sibling, or friend. The most important thing to them was not \”oneness with the Godhead\”, but seeing again the loved and lost.
I think that this is a good thing, because it reduces us to, at last, the position of the \’Little Child\’ whom we must emulate to gain Heaven.
It\’s no longer an intellectual question, or \’falling in love with Jesus\’, or the pride that can come from an attempt to live a holy life.
Instead, it\’s the child, fallen, lying in the dust, hurting, and crying for Someone to bear her up and wipe away the tears. The scabs of learning and experience are ripped away; the heart\’s blood flows freely, the primal wound reopened. We weep, as Jesus wept.
Someone to hold her in His arms and say, \”It\’s all right. Everything will be okay. I promise.\”
I like how your counselor would ask, \”Do you feel like you\’re dying?\” — and then encourage you that you were being born. There were times when I felt as if I was going crazy — but realized I was getting into my right mind. Ever felt that way?
The tender-heartedness of this post was a reflection of God\’s heart.
Oh, Beth, I like that … \”I felt as if I was going crazy, but realized I was getting into my right mind. Ever felt that way?\” Do you have to ask? Uh, yes! A lot.
Change is so uncomfortable for me that sometimes it convinces me I\’m dong the wrong thing, the crazy thing, the unkind thing, when really I\’m changing for good.
You\’ll never know how much I appreciate your friendship and your guidance.
Kim- Thank you for these thought provoking words and your love and friendship with Peggy. She has been offering strength to others but will certainly need our strength along the way. I know you & Diane Dale are going to be there to offer her lunches and laughs to help and that will be such a priceless thing.
Eileen, I was on the phone with Peggy the night of the accident and she was encouraging me, so I\’m not sure how good I am at this, but lunch I can always do. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your own encouragement. I know the leadership conference meant the world to her and lifted her up. She\’ll need all of us over the next weeks and months … I feel fortunate to be in her circle of friends.
About three years ago, Brenda, my very dear friend of over 25 years, suffered a major heart attack. It was a miracle she even survived it. However, April of this year she had another heart attack, only this time it ushered her straight into the arms of Jesus. Although saddened by her passing, I know she had accomplished her mission on this earth. She had a successful ministry and a great family. She was also able to see her daughter through nursing school then help her daughter plan the wedding of her dreams.
Since her recent death, I\’ve found that I am acutely aware of my own mortality and how very short life really is. I find myself thinking about my eternal home and what my dear friend is doing in hers.
Two weeks ago Brenda\’s daughter gave me her moms bicycle. Brenda had only ridden it twice. I feel so blessed to have a part of her and when I go for a ride I wonder about life is going to be like on the other side.
I\’ve made a promise to myself and that\’s to take myself and life more lightly (hard for a Type A personality), to enjoy the journey, and to love others along the way.
You\’re right Kim, dealing with the loss of a loved one, is a birth into deeper love. Beth J.
Beth, I got teary reading about your friend, her being here to help plan her daughter\’s wedding, and the gifting of her bike to you. I liked a photo on FB of you on that bike, didn\’t I? I didn\’t know the backstory or there should have been a Love button.
Maybe we type As can help each other with the promise you made to yourself. It sounds like the way I want to live and I\’d enjoy joining you in that challenge. So, so, so happy we\’re friends.
I see this in people who have lost loved ones…and I have…but, I haven\’t lost a child…a grandchild…a husband… so I\’m not sure I will know how I will react…Hopefully…I too…will see the \”birthing\” process…
Marilyn, your comments are always so gentle and loving, I can\’t imagine you\’d react any other way. I appreciate each time you stop by.
thanks…I enjoy your post!
I loved this piece, Kim. You\’re such a beautiful writer. And person. Thank you. H
Thank you so much, Heather. You made my night.