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Posts Tagged ‘mourn’

My jaw has been clenched tightly for over a week and I know it. Birthdays will do that. When you’ve lost a loved one, these special days–once so joyous–become about mustering just enough grit enough to get through.
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Jay would have turned 39 today. Stop!

JAY. IS. TURNING. 39. TODAY.

I’ll grind my teeth down to the gums if I don’t allow myself to have a good cry. And so, I do.

I am.

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“What are YOU going to do for Jay’s birthday this year?” We bat this question around among family and friends; comparing notes about honoring his birth and dealing with the reality of his death.

So just what is a girl to do on days like these?

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Strange things. For a split second I wonder if anybody’s watching,

but I don’t really care if they are.

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I’ve done this before, in birthdays gone by.

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But, the waves of grief feel much stronger this year and I know why. Losing ‘Grammy’ has added to the grief of losing Jay and I wonder how something so subtractive can add so much weight.

Like the corners of a photograph, Grammy and Jay hemmed us all in. But now we feel like a family frameless.

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And so I grieve. Again.

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And I heal. Again.

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I remember. Again.

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I release. Again.

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And, He Redeems. 
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Again. 

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FOREVER.

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Never the SameMy 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.”

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.

Someone once said, “Grief is life’s greatest teacher.” I’m not far enough into the journey to pass judgment. When a wound isgaping 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.

IMG_4250My friend, Micki Ann, understands suffering because she has suffered. A lot. She says, “Suffering is a seed we’re 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.

In an effort to prove my friend’s theory, I searched the scriptures. 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 IMG_4254troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV).

IMG_4264I 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.

When I used to write essays and articles, 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.

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. 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.

IMG_4261The 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).

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.

IMG_1095I press into my pain as I ponder God’s Word. I press into my pain as I grasp for Micki Ann’s seeds. I press into my pain as I pray that somehow, my lament will offer hope to yours. And, somewhere amidst all this pain and pressing, a tiny bud bursts through the dirt: What if suffering isn’t supposed to be a hazard, but a hallmark? What if suffering isn’t supposed to be avoided, but embraced? What if, instead of shrinking back, I seized my suffering? 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)

God only knows what the seed of suffering might become. 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, redemption will tip the scales in glory’s favor.

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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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