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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

You’d never know it if you saw us all there on that stretch of the shore.

No. You’d never know…

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That her niece was drowned in a pool.

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…and that their husbands just couldn’t go on.

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That my brother ended his anguish…

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Or that their only son was slain.

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No, you’d never know any of this if you saw us there;

In the warmth of the sand and the sun.

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You’d only know that we had made a pilgrimage…

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We’d come with a purpose.

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To let go of her niece.

And my brother.

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To let go of their husbands.

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And their only son.

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And we’d never know it…never comprehend grief’s great mystery.

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That only when we let go of their lives…

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And let the sea swallow all of our pain…

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Would their love be right there…waiting.

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For in our hearts they will always remain.

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“What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage…

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.”

Psalm 84:5-6

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My journal from January, 2012 contains only two entries. The first is a black “X” across the entire page along with one sentence that reads, “Everything—life as we knew it—changed forever.” The second entry simply says, “I can’t write.”

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In the days following my brother’s suicide, grief paralyzed me in body and soul. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of pain in life: The pain of being outside God’s will, and the pain of being inside God’s will. Having experienced both, I’ve always said I’d take the latter any day. But after Jay took his life, I was tempted to rethink my preferences.

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Someone once said, “Grief is life’s greatest teacher.” I’m not far enough into the journey to pass judgment. When a wound is gaping wide, you don’t care about learning anything. Grief burns a hole through the center of your chest and, frankly, most mourners just want to pick a different teacher.

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My friend, Micki Ann, understands suffering because she has suffered. She says, “Suffering is a seed we are given to steward.” Several months after Jay’s death, Micki Ann gave me a handful of seeds. Even though there were days when I wanted to throw them back at her, I couldn’t deny the fact that her wisdom invited intrigue to inhabit my despair.

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In an effort to prove my friend’s theory, I searched the scriptures.

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It didn’t take long to realize that the Apostle Paul had a real knack for stewarding his suffering. Stonings? Shipwrecks? Paul went through the wringer. That’s what makes him so credible. Given his ordeals, on many nights, Paul’s words stopped my self-pity in its tracks. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV).

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I believe Paul. I really do.

It’s just that in the face of our present pain, eternal glory can seem so very far away.

When I glance up from my computer and see the photos of Jay posted above it, glory’s gates couldn’t feel any farther away.

On days like this, grief outweighs glory—hands down.

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When I used to write essays, articles, or blog posts, I would conclude my thoughts with some neat and tidy resolution.

But, grief isn’t neat, or tidy.

It’s sloppy and snotty. Inconsolable and distressing.

There is no closure, especially with death by suicide. Instead, there are only endless questions that will never be answered.

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Grief makes a writer ramble, but I should at least be woman enough to confess what I can’t gloss over…

I have no prescription for this pain.

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Truth be told, if the J-shaped hole in my heart could be filled with a prescription, I’d be the first person in line for that pill.

I’m not trying to sound dramatic, just honest.

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The temptation to shrink back from my sorrow and suffering is immense. But, there’s no evidence that grief’s purpose is to make us give up.

Paul never backed off from God’s mission. Actually, the opposite is true. It was Paul’s pain that propelled God’s purpose, and he knew it. “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12 NIV, emphasis added).

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By faith, Paul pressed into his pain and in doing so, his pain shaped his purpose; giving it color and contrast and depth.

And so…

That’s all I know to do.

I press into my pain as I ponder God’s Word.

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I press into my pain as I grasp for Micki Ann’s seeds.

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I press into my pain as I pray that somehow, my lament will offer hope to yours.

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And, somewhere amidst all this pain and pressing…

A tiny bud bursts through the dirt.

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What if suffering isn’t supposed to be a hazard, but a hallmark?

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What if suffering isn’t supposed to be avoided, but embraced?

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What if, instead of shrinking back, I seized my suffering?

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And, what if I let God till this unplowed ground, hoping against all hope, that what sprouts forth will become “an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor”? (Isaiah 61:3b NIV)

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God only knows what the seeds of suffering might become.

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And, although there are still days I want to throw my seeds back, I have a sense that if I press into this pain hard enough…

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Redemption will tip the scales in glory’s favor.

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My brother, Jay, has been in Heaven for a year now. It sure seems like he’s been gone forever. In his honor, I post this commemorative video which includes some of Jay’s original music.

Jayson John Bronzini August 3, 1976-December 10, 2011

Jayson John Bronzini
August 3, 1976-December 10, 2011

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On nights like this…

I want to hear your voice on the other end of the line.

To have one last chance to beg you to stay…

To declare how deeply you are loved…

And, how we long for your return.

On nights like this…

I long to hear your thoughts and inklings…

And, the things that concern your heart…

To hear your records blaring in the background…

To know that you won’t give up.

On nights like this…

I want to wake from this terrible nightmare…

To hear joy in our family because you’re back.

I want your healing to have come on our side of Heaven…

To have this night without you be my last.

But, I can have none of these things,

No, not one.

THIS is the sobering reality I must stare down…

Knowing that it will stare coldly back at me.

Unchanged.

Unmoved by the weeping of my soul…

On nights like this.

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It’s been nine months since I got “the call”

Nine months.

I’ll never forget the moment I received word that my little brother was…gone.

NEVER.

“Penny. Penny! PENNY!” My sister kept sobbing my name over and over again on the phone, each time with increasing intensity.  That weekend, we had both been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a hold of Jay. When he hadn’t responded to our repeated texts or calls and his friends hadn’t heard from him, she decided to drive over to his house. Deep within my gut, I knew what she was about to confirm.

Her words paralyzed me in every way. I listened to what she was saying, but refused to hear the tragic truth: That our brother had barricaded himself in his bedroom, ending his pain the only way he knew how.

“No. NO!” I cried. “I don’t believe you. I’m not going to believe you! It’s not true!”

I curled up fetal on the floor, wrapping myself in the blanket my grandmother had sent me two weeks earlier.

“Wrap this around yourself when you need a hug,” she had said.

The crushing weight of my grief and sorrow was more than I could bear. I wept in anguish for the rest of the night…

As I would on many nights thereafter…

My journal from those first agonizing days contains one entry.

Nothing has been the same since December 11, 2011.

NOTHING.

But, while I never could have conceived it nine months ago, I am slowly coming to understand…

That the labor pains we must bear in death…

Are God’s passageway to birth new life.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24

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I never wanted to have a blog about grief and loss. I suppose no one does. Those who have stumbled along the rocky road of traumatic loss understand how a little grace unfolding amidst the searing pain is a very, very big thing. Thank you, Jackie of www.swervingforbutterflies.com for being grace’s deliverer by nominating For Those Who Weep by a “Lovely Blog Award.” 

On most days, grief feels anything but lovely. Today, Jackie changed that. Thank you, dear one. No doubt you are a kind and beautiful soul. Butterflies should swerve for you.

I’m not good at following rules, but I will gladly do so here in order to accept this humble honor = linking this post back to the blogger who nominated me with thanks, listing 7 things about myself, recommending 15 other blogs for this award, informing them of their nomination, and posting the above logo on my blog.

7 Things About Me (in random order)

1. I hate disclosing stuff about myself.

2. I am in love with God…a sacred Romance like no other.

3. I miss my little brother every. single. day.

4. There is nothing better than being barefoot.

5. I will sit for hours to refine a photograph.

6. My yet unfulfilled dream – a publishing contract.

7. My 7 nieces and nephews are rare and priceless treasures.

For their creativity, courage, and honest expression of travail, I’d like to recognize the following bloggers as “lovely”…

www.joshua-mom.blogspot.com

http://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/

http://www.griefreflection.com/

http://www.widowschristianplace.com

http://www.thegriefexperience.wordpress.com

http://www.teamemmett.com/blog

http://www.thinkingaboutsuicide.com

http://www.holdingourhope.blogspot.com

http://www.mymauloa.blogspot.com

http://www.ourprecioushope.blogspot.com

http://www.brightmomentsduringdarktimes.blogspot.com

http://www.hopesjourneyblog.blogspot.com

http://www.blessedbycreativejoy.blogspot.com

http://www.avazoeg.blogspot.com

http://www.walkingthevalley.blogspot.com

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When a day that has always marked his life…

Beckons to remind me only of his death.

When the hole in my heart…

Threatens to swallow me whole.

I grab a firm hold of my grief, before my grief grabs hold of me…

And, determine to do what I’ve always done on this day.

Because in surrendering the sorrow of his absence…

I celebrate the sanctity of His presence…

And, somehow…

Someway…

It is I who receives a gift.

“…that I may gain Christ.”

Philippians 3:8

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I always wanted to be the chick singer in a band. My first stab at stardom took place in the 2nd grade. I really should have known better than to form a rock band with the most rambunctious boy on our block. We called ourselves The Super II (using Roman numerals in our name somehow added an air of cool-ness). Unfortunately, we never landed a recording contract, or even a gig for that matter. I blamed my partner for the band’s difficult and very public break-up when he put a hole through the skin of my snare drum during our first front porch rehearsal. It was a shame too, because we had some serious potential.

While I’ve spent the better part of more than 40-something years still dreaming about sound boards and stage lights, I guess I’ve been booked for the one gig NOBODY wants. I find myself cast front and center on the stage called grief, playing out what looks like just another tragic drama. But, deep in the recesses of my shattered soul I know that I know that I know this one thing:

While I do not like the way this particular scene has played out…

I am in the midst of a Greater Story whose triumphant end I know.

“Let them who sow with tears, reap with rapture.”

Psalm 126:5 The Septuagint

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What’s a woman to do when…

The basket on the table contains the ashes of her brother…

 And sorrow comes parading…

To bid one last goodbye.

When she weeps as those who loved him…

Reach in for one last touch.

When words are few…

But, tears are many.

Just what IS a woman to do?

A woman must surrender at sunset…

 

And exchange his ashes…

for His beauty.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”

“In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

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I wish the sun would stop setting.

If, even for just a moment, God would stop it from going down…

Right here in this very place.

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But, the sun will set…

And, tomorrow’s ache will come long before I’ve dealt with today’s.

Because grief waits for no one.

But, then again…

Neither does love. 

“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23a

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