Thursday, June 19

For the last several months, I have been training for a program in our church to help people during times of crisis. When I complete the required number of hours, I will be assigned a person to work with who is experiencing crisis resulting in grief and loss. This particular role entails listening and encouraging without counseling. So far, the lessons have been very insightful, however, they have challenged me in a way that I had not anticipated. Each week, we work through topics such as helping people through the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or any major change that could result in a crisis. Since I do not have direct experience with some of the topics we have discussed, I have been able to absorb the information objectively. Recently, however, the topics have hit very close to home.

Last night in our training, we focused on infertility, miscarriage, and the grief of losing a child. The facilitator discussed the pain associated with these losses, and the need to grieve when experiencing them. During the class, we were reading through a vignette of a woman who had just been given the news that she and her husband would be unable to have children. Shortly after she was told, the woman found herself in the middle of a mall sobbing as she saw children lining up to have their pictures taken with Santa.

This story took me back to last years Christmas Eve service at our church when we were surrounded by families with children. In front of us, there was an energetic little boy with a white button down shirt, a knitted red vest and khakis. He kept popping his head up and down smiling at us, in an attempt to make us laugh. I tried to smile back, but all I could do was cry. As everyone sang Christmas carols, tears continued to flow. We heard the Christmas story, and I still could not stop crying. Finally, at the end of the service, when we lit the candles to sing Silent Night, I thought I had shed my final tear, but as I sat in the dimly lit room with candles flickering all around, I stopped trying to hold back the emotion that had been building as the thought of spending another childless Christmas filled my mind. I didn't think I would need any tissue for the service, as a result, both of my sleeves were wet, and Brent's left sleeve was a bit damp from the times I had to borrow his shirt in place of a tissue.

I have been pondering what it will be like to work with someone who is going through grief when I still bear the weight of my own losses. My natural tendency is to want to pull away from helping others until I am (or seem) all together, but then, I am well aware that this may never happen. I have concluded that if my fear of being vulnerable becomes and excuse or something I see as a limitation, the result will be a life dominated by introspection and self absorption. As I thought about some of the people who have impacted me the most, the types of people I have wanted to emulate, they have been those whose lives are defined by transparency and authenticity. Many names come to mind; people who have suffered much, and yet have remained hopeful.

1 comment:

Bridget Beth said...

Darlene. I love you! When I had my miscarriage I found the most comfort from people who could feel the pain with me, not from people who "had it all together." I think your empathy and tears will be a gift to those you counsel. Sometimes just knowing there is someone else in the world who can truly understand is enough.




Italy trip

I have been going through my pictures, and have enjoyed looking at this album of Italy. I was able to go over last year to attend a conference. This was the first time I have been back in twenty years. The pictures are made up mostly of places we lived as a family. My brother and I were able to go together, and we were graciously hosted by some friends of ours from language school in Perugia. I feel such a sense of nostalgia when I look at these pictures. I miss Italy so much. It was strange to go back as a tourist knowing I would be returning to the US after such a short time. Tonight I made cookies with Nutella in them, and I remembered how much I enjoyed the simple pleasures. Fortunately, you can find it here! Saturday, we are going up to my brother's house to celebrate a late Thanksgiving, only we will be making homemade tortellini instead of turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!