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The impact of grief on the outside observer

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Wide White: The impact of grief on the outside observer

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The impact of grief on the outside observer

Grief is something I don't understand very well. I've never lost a parent or a sibling. I lost one grandparent at 17 but have otherwise had a relatively grief-free life.

Others have not been so fortunate.

This Sunday we visited a new church - well, new to us - and one of their elders had just lost a 35-week-old pre-term baby. Needless to say, the church was grieving.

Last week we had an appointment with our midwife for our own baby, who's now 13 weeks along. At some point the conversation turned to her own family and she told us of her 7-year-old daughter who she lost this summer to meningitis. She mentioned that we may have seen the story on WCCO. She showed us a picture and Jamie teared up just listening and imagining the thought of losing our own child at such a young age. Later, I found the story and her CaringBridge site and teared up more times than I could count by the end of it.

There are many other stories I've heard and seen over the last couple of years. A 10-month-old died due to a "freak" accident involving food lodged in his throat and becoming infected. Another story involved a full-term stillbirth. My brother and his wife have been through two miscarriages in the last year.

Each of these families has endured grief that has changed them for the rest of their life in some way.

What's the purpose of all of this? Why were these little lives brought into the world only to be taken away so quickly?

I can't answer why. I suppose that's the question that each of these parents wrestles with and hopefully eventually comes to terms with. Sure, I can give some textbook theological answer, but those answers are often rather insufficient when the real scenario is being played out away from the textbooks.

But I'm thankful that there are parents who choose to tell their stories. People like me need it. We need the perspective it gives us towards our own children, towards our parents, towards our siblings. We need it as a reminder the next time we start to lose it with our 10-month-old's fussing or our spouse's (or our own?) seemingly incredible stupidity. We need it when we're tempted to run out the door for work in the morning rather than lean in for a goodbye kiss.

Grief is hard, but we need to see it because it helps make us better at the relationships we have. We need to see it because we will experience it. We need to see it so we can walk alongside those going through it and weep with them.

Thanks to Chad and Bridget, Abraham and Molly, Chet and Priscilla, and many others of you who tell your stories. They mean more to the rest of us than we know how to tell you.



Blogger Buff declared,

Those of us who are going through or have gone through heavy grief are glad to read your words. One of the hardest things about grieving is feeling all alone and not wanting to bore or upset people we love. Thank you.

1/05/2011 9:42 AM  

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