Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Candid Thoughts on Heavenly Reunions

It was not the first time someone told me this and I suspect it won't be the last.

Talk about bittersweet.

I suppose I should explain. I'm talking about when people hear that your child died and immediately----I mean without even pausing to take in a breath----say, "You will see him again in Heaven."

Is that supposed to make it all okay?

Tell me, what exactly do these kind folks mean when they toss out that line?

If I were to watch a mother or father crying over the loss of an infant that only breathed for a few moments or a son or daughter who lived to be forty, I would never say that line.

It's a cheap shot. My opinion. To me, it makes it seem as though there is no reason for tears. Or makes it seem that if I had real faith, I wouldn't be sad.

Don't get all ruffled up now. It's not that I don't believe. You see, I do believe in Heaven. I wish more was written about it in The Bible. On many days I wish for just a glimpse. When I'm at the ocean and the breeze blows and the waves dance against the shore, I feel I'm closer to Heaven. Or when I go for a walk and the scents and sights of spring fill my vision, I think, "Ah, this is heavenly."

I believe when people die they go to Heaven. The criminal on the cross next to Jesus was promised he would be with Jesus in paradise. Love is perfect there because the Creator of love, God the Father, lives in Heaven. There is no sin, no sorrow, no tears and no human frailty in this place of eternity.

Yet sometimes I wonder if those who tell me not to worry, that I'll be with my son again in Heaven, are not using their God-given mind to think, to ponder.

Do you really think I am going to be serving animal crackers and reading bedtime stories to my Daniel in Heaven?

There will be reunions, yes. But I will never be Daniel's mama on earth again. Gone is the dream every mother holds and that is to watch her little baby grow up. That ended for me with Daniel's death at age four. When he died, so did my need to buy Cocoa Puffs for him.

I was thirty-six then. I'm fifty-two now. That's been a lot of time for me to wonder and pray and think, and oh, yes, bite my tongue. Especially when well-meaning folk try to cast off my pain by quipping, "We'll just think, you'll see him again in Heaven."

"If Heaven is going to be just like earth where I have to take out the trash, worry about paying bills, and discipline my kids, I don't want it," a mother said to me.

Some seem to think Heaven is an extension of earth. That Heaven to many will be a repeat, only without mosquitoes and a place where consuming a pound of milk chocolate won't make one fat. Many act like it's going to be where I can see my Daniel again as he was on earth. Folks, that little body that took a beating to cancer is gone. It is no more. The Bible promises we'll get new bodies, and I imagine that they won't age. In fact we probably will all look the same age----young and flawless, like the women in all those Oil of Olay commercials.

So before you tell a mother who is sorrowful over the death of her dreams, who is questioning who she is now without her son or daughter, who dreads Christmas because it means one less stocking to fill, who has seen her family diminish in size, and who has a hard time putting one foot in front of the other on most days---even years later----THINK!

There are so many healthy and nurturing ways in which we can comfort each other. Consider them. Instead of giving a pat, "Well, you'll see your child in Heaven," why not sit down, hold a grieving mother's hand, and listen?

You just might cry when you hear her aching heart. Don't you think Jesus would be weeping if He were seated next to her, too?

She knows she'll see her child again in Heaven. Right now she needs more than that reassurance. She has to learn how to live the rest of her life without him. She has to conquer sleepless nights and inappropriate comments, criticism, and push herself to believe that she will get a day free of tears.

Let her know that she is going through the hardest journey a mother ever goes through.

Let love coupled with understanding be how you bring comfort.

~ Alice is the author of five inspirational novels and the new devotional on grief and loss, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache. Read the reviews and order a copy here.


Warrier Girl said...

Thank you Alice, for writing what so many of us feel. ` Diane

alice wisler said...

Thanks for reading and for your comment! I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alice!! It was a beautiful article that we
have all felt over the years.

I'll never forget returning
to work that 1st week and a
customer came up to me
saying I'm sorry, "I know how
you feel, I just lost my dog"
I said REALLY...do you know
what you are saying!!


alice wisler said...

Yes, my husband had that said to him as well. What a line! How hurtful. Thanks for reading and for your comments! Thank you!

Cindy said...

Yes, exactly. My daughter was killed before her High-school graduation. It has been 8 years and a few months and I am living in a world that is very unwelcoming. The world that I used to live in with my daughter is very lonely. People say the cruelest things and either they want to romanticize the sadness of it all or they want me to just be invisible.

alice wisler said...

Cindy, so sorry to hear this! People can be thoughtless. Hugs to you as you navigate this rough journey. Tell your story! Don't let others keep you from sharing what is in your heart and the memories of your daughter.

Maikata NaJonathan said...

Alice, I've linked to this on my blog. It describes so perfectly how I would have (and wouldn't have) wanted people to respond if J hadn't beat the odds last year, if I'd have lost him. Thank you.

I realize that without the experience of last year, I may have been that unthinking soul.

I hope others can learn from your well-written post.

May we learn to sit and not to solve.

alice wisler said...

Thanks so much for your comment here! So glad that Baby J has you as his mom!

Janesara said...

I'm almost seventy but I remember the pain and confusion I felt as a ten year old when people said things like that after my little brother died. The worst was," Your brother was so good and God loved him so much, He took him to be with Him. " I grew up believing God takes the good ones. No wonder I sunk into depression after my son was born! Thank you.

alice wisler said...

We don't help each other when we say such remarks, do we? People really don't know what to say and often come up with some of the worst lines. I hate that you were hurt. Thanks so much for sharing with us here.

Trish P said...

Thank you Alice. You said it perfectly. When my Olivia died at age 7 to cancer, almost a year ago now, a huge part of me died. My future is changed and those motherly dreams I carried died right along with her. She was my baby. Knowing that my daughter is somewhere other than with me, is not comforting to me at all. I KNOW she is in Heaven but she is supposed to be here with me and I am supposed to die first. That's how it's "supposed" to work.

alice wisler said...

Trish, you are so right! That is how I feel, too. Thanks for reading! Continue to tell the world about your Olivia. She is loved and remembered.

Lois Lanham said...

I haven't lost a child. To those of you who have, my heart aches for you. I truly can't imagine the devastating pain you have experienced, and continue to experience. Ten years ago my first husband was killed instantly in an accident. While we received tremendous support and love, my three kids (all teenagers at the time) and I heard our share of insensitive, hurtful comments. And I have no doubt that there have been times when other people have been the recipients of my less-than-helpful words. I think all of us have had experiences when we didn't know what to say or wished we had the "right" words to ease someone's pain. But when experiencing such enormous loss, there are no words that can make it better. I think people are so uncomfortable when faced with someone else's pain. If only people would realize that it is truly okay to say nothing, but be present. It is okay to simply say "I'm sorry" or "I'm praying" or to just be there to listen. It is okay to give a hug and not offer any words. Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words, especially words that end up adding more hurt or minimizing pain.

alice wisler said...

Thanks, Lois, for your heartfelt words here. Sometimes the less we say, the better. Love and compassion often have no lengthy sentences. Appreciate you reading and commenting.

Jennifer said...

I had an employee at my job ask me how many kids I had and then say "well at least you have other kids"...I just smiled because what I was thinking was not nice and I knew he did not know any better...and telling me "now he's watching over you" is not overly comforting either..or "if there's anything I can do"...I always wanted to respond "can you bring my son back...then no there's nothing you can do"....I have as strong a faith as anyone and it doesn't lessen the loss it just allows me to know he's at peace and resting in our Father's presence....and honestly, I'm glad those who say the things they say don't understand because I would not with the pain and heartache of losing a child on anyone....

alice wisler said...

No, we don't want anybody else to have to go through the death of a child. That is so true! Thanks for reading and for your comment here, Jennifer.