The turkey was almost done with the cheesy potato’s going in next, an hour before part of my fragmented family arrived for Thanksgiving dinner. I was already feeling a little disjointed knowing that not everyone would be there because of broken relationships. Silently, I was thinking of the misunderstandings, bitter words, and unresolved conflict. As usual, the holidays were more hurtful than meaningful.
Three years had gone by since my family had been together for a holiday. This year we thought it would be different, but sadly it wasn’t. Caught up reminiscing of the years gone by…..my phone rang.
The news was devastating.
It was the second time in eight weeks that a friend had lost her son in a car accident. The first son was 21 years old, this son was 28. And this son had been entwined with my family.
Best friends with my daughter all through their Christian high school, and my son’s roommate shortly thereafter our lives had been interwoven with Brit. For a time he worked for my husband’s construction company. Memories were made from numerous river trips, impromptu dinners, or simply hanging out at home.
I stood in my kitchen stunned. Saying a quick prayer for his parents I walked out to the garage to tell my husband. He was instantly grief stricken. “Oh God, Oh God,” was all he could say. He then walked into the house to our daughter’s room to share the news.
She broke down and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
Within the hour my family arrived to share the Thanksgiving meal. We caught up, visited and enjoyed the day but my heart was broken. When everyone had gone, Don went down to his office to be alone to think and pray, as I sat on the couch and prayed. “Oh God, Duke and Kathy must be shattered. Please wrap them in your loving arms. They are such a tight family unit this is devastating for them!”
My husband came home and we went to their house. Our daughter had been there all afternoon. She was just as much a part of their family as Brit was of ours. All anyone could do was hug and cry. Words were scarce and at the moment so unnecessary.
It was the seventh person this year I knew personally who has died and grief has taken center stage. I have experienced a gamut of emotions in this unfamiliar territory.
· I want to be alone.
· I want to be with friends.
· I want to talk.
· I want to be silent.
· I don’t know what I want.
· I may be angry.
· I will cry.
Yet I don’t want:
· You to be offended or hurt by my actions.
· You to tell me to get over it.
· You to make this about you.
· You to say, Call me if you need anything.
What I need:
· Is for you to call me because I don’t know what I need.
· Is for you to keep praying for me.
· Is for you to just hold my hand.
· Is for you to be patient with me.
The most valuable lesson is that each person grieves at their own speed. What works simply for one may not work for another. Watching a parent die is difficult. Losing a beloved friend is also tough. Yet I still strongly believe that no parent should ever have to bury a child.
It takes grief to a whole new level.