Why We Don’t Need to Be Told How to Grieve


HAVING LOST our son – stillborn on October 30 – and the fact it is only four weeks from the funeral, five weeks since our first day with him, please don’t assume you know my grief. It is unlike what you may think it is.
Having been a student of grief for a decade now, I have found this most recent case – even the loss of my child who I never got to meet alive – has been both a tune-up and a confirmation of God’s work done in me ten years ago. (Yes, actually, over ten years ago, now.) I find it astounding how God can do something so simple as give me an everlasting hope. That occurred and that remains.
Nathanael Marcus’ memory I carry about with me via the Blessed Pounamu I wear that was given to me by a dear Pallister-Killian Syndrome (PKS) mum from New Zealand. Nathanael, having been diagnosed with PKS in the womb at the 19-week scan, complicated by severe Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), was never going to live long. We have received much support and love from the PKS community locally and globally. We had months to ready ourselves. It was by far not the only thing we had to contend with at the time; it was a significantly stressful season in more ways than I can tell you. But, with our Lord’s Presence, and through the prayers of the saints (you!), and because of our faith, we managed to not only survive but we thrived, too!
You see, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty that I’m not racked with a despairing grief. Sarah, also, is managing marvellously well; yet we are just being real about it.
I love it whenever our 20-month-old son, Ethan, grabs at my Pounamu; it reminds me of his unending brotherly bond with Nathanael.
We truly do celebrate that God is good, despite the fact our second son has passed into the hands of the Lord.
I really do feel that Nathanael has given me something; I feel he’s given Ethan something; additionally, we have a dear family friend, who’s more family than a friend, who shares Nathanael’s birthday; he feels he’s been given something by Nathanael.
We really do all grieve differently. For the person who imagines ‘it’s a long journey’ and ‘we pray that time will heal your wounds’ and ‘don’t be afraid of being sad’ they are wrong in my/our instance. These are inappropriate things to say (if the person knows us) because these statements don’t reflect our grief – what we are feeling. These sorts of words are really no help because they are clichéd – they are generalisations of grief – when we could all be better blessed to understand each other better.
The person, likewise, who expects us to have gotten on with our lives already, is also wrong. Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean I’ll drop everything, in this season, to minister. I need to be free to minister within my family just now. You’ll hear no apologies from me for doing that.
If you want to be of support, just say something encouraging or inspiring, like, ‘you’re doing well, keep going.’ We are easy to encourage and inspire.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.



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