We have all made mistakes parenting, but not all must come to peace with those mistakes in the face of tragic loss which screams condemnation that pours salt into gaping wounds.
I've never lost my spouse. I came close in February 2015 when in the midst of a snowstorm I insisted, by the grace of God, that he let me take him to the ER when his chest pain escalated. It was pulmonary emboli, like buck shot through both lungs with the destruction of an entire lobe. (In celebration of his life, we used the green tubing from months of oxygen therapy as garland on our Christmas tree this year. Ha!)
Processing Loss and Pain
My neighbor lost her husband earlier this year, and every time I drove past her home this month, I remembered that this was her first Christmas alone. I hoped her processing was progressing, and that somehow she was managing to cope.
Today I couldn't just drive by again. I stopped to knock on her door, and invited her to Starbucks to talk over coffee. As her tears streamed, I ignored the tables full of cheery patrons around us and entered as fully as I knew how into the pain of another.
I couldn't possibly understand. But I do know enough that loving and listening and being there mattered.
Her pain brought me back to a time when my daughter was gone from home for nearly six months to attend a boarding school in hopes of instilling some life skills. I missed her desperately and her empty room only amplified the pain of her absence.
I would find myself sitting in her room just to smell her pillow, and enjoy as much of her presence as possible. I wrote her letters, and shipped her silly packages hoping to demonstrate how desperately I loved and missed her.
At a later time, when she was hospitalized for threat to self, again I sought ways to communicate my heart, understanding that outcome of these battles is not in my hands, and only God knows what we will walk through in the future.
Maintaining Hope in the Midst of It All
That's how God sees those who embrace the cleansing work of the cross of Christ. God incarnate, God who came in the flesh to make me upright and to clear my name of all those things I've said, been, or done that I've struggled to forgive myself for.
Proverbs 11:7 (BBE) says that "At the death of an upright man his hope does not come to an end...".
What a promise.
Hope I can count on. No matter what.