I can't get over the difference-in my receptivity toward outside help- from when my bereavement journey first started, until now… Which then leads me to question just "when" the right timing is, to offer unsolicited support…
What stands out most in my mind, is a friend extending herself to "help" me, while I was still hospitalized. She knew someone, who had lost her husband and one child, in a tragic private plane accident, several years prior to my family's wreck. This woman was asked to write me a letter about her experience, and her walk in faith throughout. [-
The letter was long, and I just didn't feel like reading it all. "Did she lose her whole family?" I remember asking my friend. No…she had at least one other child still at home. So because she had not lost her whole family…I felt that I could not relate to her experience. She still had someone left to hug and cuddle, and hold on to. More like hang on to. And she was physically the same…while I was struggling with broken bones and scars, right along with my broken heart and crushed spirit.
All of her words of comfort to me- with a "Hang in there" tone of sentiment, just fell flat. I tuned her out. She means well, I thought, but she couldn't possibly understand what I'm going through.
I tossed a book (literally) that was given me, not long after that (yes, from the same friend!) because it made me angry. It was a bereavement book that many found comforting. To me, though, on and on it seemed to go-description after specific description of Heaven. I just couldn't buy it. It was too personalized to the author's delight, I felt. Maybe someone else's Heaven would be an entirely different kind of environment. Pleasant, like the one described-but with entirely different "specified attributes"?
Awhile back, I came across a copy of the book in the library bookstore. I flipped the pages, reading here and there…and wondered why I had such an intense reaction to this book! "Hmm…'kinda interesting reading... this man's depiction of Heaven", was my current feeling.
I find myself much more open minded regarding the whole eternal experience. Thirty years can do that to you...The age my children are now, or the fact that our roles of maturity are now reversed, no longer seem important issues to me…at all…Maybe because I've aged and mellowed out, in general, over the years? Except as I write that, I realize that I've also gotten considerably more opinionated-almost crotchety- about issues big and small, too, as I've aged. (Like first names that are so hard to figure out how to pronounce... much less spell correctly!…Why do that to a kid?!)
I've concluded that a bereaved person can only gain comfort when they're ready to hear what's going to be said. Trying to convince someone, for instance, not to blame God for what man's free will did (and He did not stop)-is a lesson in frustration for me…if the person isn't ready to consume that kind of food yet. Intense pain can be very isolating. For me it was like, "Don't bug me now!" Like a wounded animal, I wanted to be alone-cowering in a corner with my intense pain... and not bugged by anyone unless hungry- and it was food I could tolerate…
There's grief work that has to be done first. Work that makes one extra hungry...Grief work can seem entirely all consuming…eating us up alive, it sometimes feels. You can live without food for quite awhile. But you can't live without water for very long. Jesus is our "Living Water"…After liquids, then we're ready for solids... frequent small meals- of a "highly digestible"nature- provide grieving bodies and souls with nourishment. It just takes awhile, before we're back to eating exotic, spicy new foods again…Until then, we eat to "survive" and are not interested in much else. Until later. Sometimes much, much later.