For when you wish you could change things for them.
This one is sensitive. I hesitate to write about it, except that I think it’s absolutely critical and something we all struggle with—myself included. I’m praying that we approach the following with love in our hearts, open minds, and some deep introspection & compassion for all those involved. These thoughts are coming from a personal conversation in which a suggestive and insensitive comment was made, and the subsequent ponderings I have had, lately.
Sometimes I think we all struggle with the concept of death as a solution to or at least relief from a “problem.” How many of us, for example, have watched someone we love care for another, be they elderly or sick or disabled or whatever, and when that person dies have thought, “Gosh that’s sad. But also kind of a relief. At least the caretaker can lead an unburdened, normal life, now.” I am ashamed to admit I have thought things like that! And now that I am in a position to potentially care for someone throughout their life, I see just how misguided and incomplete my perspective was.
They say that when faced with loss you go through various stages including anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. What I don’t think we realize is that we sometimes go through those stages even when the loss is not our own, but happens to someone we love.
What I think we all mean when we look upon death as a relief is, “I wish that I could take this from you. I wish there was a way to change this thing that is so hard.” But there are some things that cannot be taken away. There are some things that are just hard, and some burdens that only God can lift. And I don’t think He does it by taking them away. My daughter’s death would not ease my burdens—it would add to them. Immensely. Death brings its own trauma and scars—especially a child’s death. Just because someone is gone, it doesn’t mean the pain is. Just because someone is here and needs to be taken care of, it doesn’t mean life has to be anything less wonderful than it might otherwise be.
We’re in it, now. I need to accept this, and I need you to accept it, too. In the spirit of “less helpful verses more helpful,” let’s approach this another way. Instead of wishing a different life for me, instead of looking for the challenge to be removed or changed, just help me carry it.
There have been so many people who have done just that. My mother-in-law, for one. When I told her that Lydia would need open heart surgery (something that is difficult to face myself, let alone break to others) responded simply: “We’ll get through this.” And instantly it was Team Lydie. Team “you’re not alone.” Team hope for a bright future. Then my own parents, when I’ve said things like, “I can’t believe this is my new reality,” have responded with, “You are not alone. We’re here to help”—and proved it.
Dan and I were musing about what will happen to Lydie when we’re gone and how we need to prepare for that, when without hesitation a sweet sister exclaimed, “I’ll take care of her!” As if this is her fight, as well.
Another sister and so many friends have called to say, “I’m bringing dinner!” We have had many friends who have texted or sent messages just to say, “I’m thinking of you. I’ve cried for you. I love you, and when you’re ready and you need me, I’m here to talk.” People who have connected us with support groups and friends. The woman I barely know who sat beside me at church, put her arm around me, and sincerely asked, “How is your new life?”
I cry just thinking about it. All these people with open hearts and reaching hands. This is what real support, what sharing each other’s burdens, looks like.
It’s not going away. And I don’t want it to go away. So please God, and those I love, help me gain the right perspective. Help me make it through the day. Help me face it head on and learn what I’m supposed to from this experience. Help me make the life I have been given absolutely beautiful.
And for the gift of your love, we can never thank you enough.
In my next post I’ll get specific about things you can DO that truly help.
More interesting facts:
The life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome is now 60 years. WAHOO!!!