Feel like you have to live as an impostor?
When my son died, I asked, "Why this way? Why now? Why did he die when I prayed?"
Some well-meaning people said, "Think of what you have to be thankful for" or "It was God's will". I pasted on a smile and nodded my head but I was an impostor because deep in my heart I could not accept these cliches.
When Mark's wife Sue, died of cancer last March, he angrily asked, “Why God? She was only 54 years old?” His friends told him, "Everything has a reason and it was wrong to question God". Now, in October, his friends were happily hooking up their trailer to spend the winter in Arizona. He and Sue were supposed to be joining them. She was also supposed to outlive him since she was 11 years younger and she was the sparkling glue of the family. Her death made no sense and neither did all his grief that threatened to swallow him up.
You have the right to search for meaning
The Mourner' Bill of Rights states, " I have the right to search for meaning," but your friends may not be comfortable with the hard life questions that you are asking. Watch out for the clichéd responses like. "God needed another angel" or "It's not a funeral but a celebration" or "Everything has a reason". They are not helpful but in fact minimize your loss. The idea that “Jesus took them,” mistakenly suggests that he is heartless even though he died to overcome death. Better to say, "It was death that took them but Jesus took them away from death!”
So is it punishment?
Cliches can feel like God might be punishing us. But that is not how he operates. Jesus said, "Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all others… No." (Luke 13:4–5). No, they were not worse and being punished. He also clarified that a man born blind was not a punishment on him or his family, saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). It had a purpose.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
I used to think that accepting things with a calm smile meant you were more spiritual but now I know better. In my struggle to understand why my son was killed, I brought my questions to God for several months. I found it especially hard when people told stories of: "My child was almost killed/ almost died of illness/ almost flunked out but God saved them." I asked myself, "But my son did die so God, what went wrong with us?" I had to find answers that made sense to me. Only the desperate, the real or the courageous go there.
Finding your own answers
Searching for meaning is natural and a common part of the journey of the desperate bereaved. Death leaves you feeling powerless, unable to stop it. The person who died was a part of you and now you feel empty. It is as though a part of you died. Now you are forced to confront the questions racing through your head about your own spiritual beliefs. You do not have to accept the cliches. You will find your own real and authentic answers that are meaningful to you but you may have to face that some questions may not have clear answers today and accepting that tension. Other questions may evolve and change. This is part of living life authentically.
One widow found some help by asking herself, “What would my husband want for me going forward?” That was easy: to be happy, healthy, kind and giving and take care of their family. She thought she would try being happy again by really laughing at her favorite comedy, “Big Bang Theory” but at first she felt guilty. At the same time though, it felt good. He would want her to laugh again, and to use her loss to grow, adapt and as a springboard to make a difference in the world.
For me, as a result of losing my son, I am more determined to live an authentic life. I have little time for the petty and theatrical. I have a deep understanding and confidence in life after death - which is a long explanation that I have mentioned in other blogs. I have bigger dreams for my life. My son dreamed big dreams and made the world a better place by helping build leaders at home and start Wellspring school in Rwanda - to rebuild the nation devastated by genocide. He is an inspiration. It’s one of the main reasons why I am now a Life Coach specializing in loss and trauma.
Meaning in suffering
Concentration camp survivor, Victor Frankl told of a widower came to him in deep grief, unable to find meaning in the death of his wife.
Frankl asked, “What if you died first and your wife survived you?”
“That would have been terrible, she would have suffered deeply.”
“Do you see, you made a sacrifice. You have spared her the suffering.”
The man shook his hand and said, “Thank you, you have given meaning to my pain and to my living, I can go on now.”
In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it has meaning, such as a sacrifice. We can’t avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope and how we find meaning in it. If you are searching for meaning, don't let anyone stop you. Search for it until you satisfied - even if you do not find an answer. It can be an important part of finding renewed living and resilience, your personal story can change, and the reason for living can be deeper and richer also.
This is the last of my eight points in the Mourner`s Bill of Rights, "I have the right to search for meaning". I am excited to list them all here again for you. They give confidence to express our grief and mourning to stay on the most effective path to real healing.
The Mourner's Bill of Rights:
1. I have the right to experience my own personal, unique grief.
2. I have the right to embrace my grief and heal.
3. I have the right to feel many different emotions including surges of grief.
4. I have the right to treasure my memories.
5. I have the right to respect my own physical and emotional limits.
6. I have the right to talk about my grief.
7. I have the right to embrace my spirituality.
8. I have the right to search for meaning.
Bless you in your real and authentic journey!
BIG HUGS AND ALL MY BEST,
Check out other helpful blog articles including :
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