Friday, October 24, 2014

Loving well.

  I've mentioned at least a dozen times that I love rereading this book every Fall. The first time I read it, I was smack dap in the middle of grieving our miscarriage and life seemed a little more bitter than sweet for me. The second time, I was feeling a bit weary about trying to get pregnant and life still felt a little bitter, but in a different way. This time around, life is really sweet. And now, I think I get it- the bittersweetness Shauna talks about. And how it is hard to balance those out well. 
  Someone in a podcast I heard a few months ago mentioned that the church does not always do a good job celebrating the joyful things in life. That maybe we're a bit better at mourning the hard things together than celebrating. I would argue we have a really hard time celebrating or mourning past the initial shock of it, whatever it is. We know to send cards and flowers and bring food- to new parents and to friends who've lost a loved one. But what about three months later? When those same new parents are celebrating and the friends are still so deeply morning-but life seems to have moved on? Do we do a good job celebrating and mourning then? 
  I don't think I do. This became pretty apparent to me this summer, when I just truly fumbled around with how to love my friend well in her grief. Especially as I entered into my own season of celebration. And learned, firsthand, what bittersweetness feels like. I haven't talked about it much on here, because it's deeply personal. I know there are a lot of challenges as a new parent, but for me, this has been mine. It has been so deeply difficult to reconcile my joy as a new mom and my heavy grief as a friend. Most of my tears since June 16th have centered around that bittersweetness. 

  Shauna says it really well...
"That's why it's hard, I think, to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I love that line from the Bible, but it's so incredibly difficult sometimes, because when you've got reason to rejoice, you forget what it's like to mourn, even if you swear you never will. And because when you're mourning, that fact that someone close to you is rejoicing seems like a personal affront."

  I think for me, the hard part has been the extremeness. It's not in me to not celebrate the season I'm in or to not mourn such a close friend's loss. It's not like I can pick one and not the other. But it's hard to do both, and do them well. To go from one extreme to the other. And love across those seasons, you know? I remember feeling pretty raw after our miscarriage and being so, so sensitive to new babies and pregnancy announcements. It was all so hard and even more difficult to really express to anyone. I equal parts wanted to separate myself from those celebrations but still be fully included. I really wanted people to want to talk to me about my loss, not to act like it had never happened or I should have moved on already. I also didn't want people to walk around on eggshells around me or to see me as the person they couldn't share their joy with. But is that how everyone is? 
  So, it's hard. To celebrate and grieve together. And maybe even a little awkward at times? For both sides- the mourners and the celebrators. We don't want to say the wrong thing or seem selfish or hurtful or whatever. But it seems like it is far better to risk awkwardness and fumble around than to avoid it just because it's hard. 
  All of this rambling, I guess, is just to ask- how do we do it better? How do we best celebrate and mourn with each other? For the long haul? Even if we find ourselves in a different season? It's a bit prescriptive at first- send cards, make food, give hugs. But what about after life settles in and moves on? Seasons are more than a birth story or funeral- they last. That's something I really want to get better with. Loving well into the seasons of sweetness and bitterness, not just at the beginning or in little spurts throughout. 
  How have you been loved well in seasons of mourning and celebration? Really, I'm asking you. It's not a rhetoric question. I think we learn best through dialogue, and I truly want to hear. Maybe you haven't been loved well in one of these seasons- I want to hear about that, too!
 I'll start. Here are some ways I've been loved really well across some different seasons {celebrations and grief}...

.care packages
.hand written notes
.honest questions and conversations about how I'm doing
.'just because' voicemails and texts
.shared experiences 
.intentional coffee dates, phone calls, and visits 

1 comment:

Allison said...

So well said my friend. After my miscarriage (per your recommendation) I read Bittersweet as well and have since recommended it to others in the same boat. I feel like I could have written this post myself that is how much I can connect with it. I have such a sensitivity towards those mourning right now and you are right, it is hard to cross over the seasons, but we still need to do it and love those who are mourning well! XO