Thursday, July 29, 2010


Lots of people ask me how I'm doing. And mostly I just say, "Sad." There are a lot of words I could use: anguished, heartache, lonely, sorrowful, broken, etc., but I can kind of just sum it up with sad. I mean, I try not to spill my emotional junk all over people, but it's sort of ludicrous to tell them I'm fine.

I wake up in the morning, and I'm sad. What are we going to do today? Be sad. What's for breakfast? Sadness. Do you want to go to the park? Yup, if it's Sad Park, count me in. What do you want to watch? That Sad Show.

Here's what nobody can really tell you about bereavement until you experience it yourself and it's this: Life has an insidious, brutal little way of continuing on. Your car (or both of them) still breaks down. You still have to figure out what to cook for dinner. The bathroom still needs cleaning. Your kids still come home from VBS with a vial of colored sand and sprinkle it throughout your bed, and sand is all over the floor and the shower and the sheets and the pillows and the blankets and you have to rip everything off and throw it in the wash and remake your bed at 11:30 at night. (If you're wondering if I handled that situation with sweet grace and a tender mother's love, Readers, oh no, I did not.)

And as much as you just want to throw the (non-sandy) covers over your head and lie there, listening to Annie Lennox sing "Little Bird" on continuous repeat ("My, my, I feel so low, My, my, where do I go...") you don't get to.

When I think about this summer, particularly the beginning part when my mom was in the hospice, it seems like some awful techni-color nightmare. There were some beautiful, spiritual moments, and I'll forever count it a privilege that I held her hand while she took her very last breath. But there were the other times when she was so distressed and told me she was burning alive and thought she was going to hell. If I think too much about that time, and I try not to, I feel like I'm just going to freak out.

I told Darren, "It's like we were all in this massive car crash. I got out of the car and called the paramedics and made sure everyone was OK and got everything organized. But after it was all over, I discovered I have a broken neck and massive internal injuries."

Spiritually, well, that's another story, too. That feels like I got to walk up to the gate of heaven only to have it slammed in my face--consigned back to the regular world for me. It seems like whenever you feel far from God that pastors always like to tell you, "That's because YOU moved," but I didn't. I didn't move. So...where is He?

A couple months ago, Darren and I were visiting a Sunday School class and one of the questions was, "Do you ever doubt the Resurrection?" and everyone in the class (who spoke up) said they never doubted the Resurrection. Wow, I wish I had whatever they've got because I have doubts all the time. Like, at the mall. And the airport--surrounded by everyone else who seems to be doing just fine on their own. Am I the only one who believes this stuff? I'm thinking there have got to be a number of things that can really blow a hole in the side of a person's faith, and death is one of them.

I find myself going through the motions, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I say, "I believe, I truly do believe, Lord, please help my unbelief." I've been doing this Bible study on the book of Ruth all summer, and, while it's a great study, I don't think I am getting as much out of it as I would another time. Tomorrow is the last day, so this afternoon I went online and ordered a new study called "Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times."

I hope I will find hope and encouragement from them, and if I do I'll try to post them on here. I feel as though I've been given a passport to another land: Those Who Are Left. I've got quite a number of friends there, too, and they're a great comfort. Like my friend Ann-Marie--her dad died when she was in college--who wrote me an encouraging note. Like Jamie--her dad died a number of years ago--who IM'd me from Switzerland just to say she was praying for me. Like Anna--her mom died five years ago--who said, "The weeks after the funeral are the worst. Call me day or night if you want to talk." And especially like Sarah who told me, "Oh, Alice. When my mom died, I couldn't even say the words 'my mom' for about five years without crying." They're a lot like Job's friends (before they started giving advice) when they just came along and sat down in the dirt and cried with him.

This post today is for my girls to read when they grow up...for Lucy who comes in and sits down next to me on the bed while I'm watching the slide show from my mom's memorial for the nth time and says, "Let's watch it again." For Elaine who looks up at me while I'm reading through my saved emails from 2003 that my mom wrote and says, "Why are there those tears in your eyes, Mom? Will you put this dress on Polly for me?" To them I say, "I think it's natural to feel this way. Life hurts so bad sometimes, and there's nothing that can fix it. Keep reading your Bible even if you don't feel like it. If you can't pray, just tell Him you don't know what words to say right now. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Hit the replay on 'Little Bird' as much as you want (or Supertramp's 'Take the Long Way Home'--that's another good one). Sad is normal. Sad is OK for now."

And to my dear friends, those I mentioned in this post and lots of others I haven't, thanks for sitting down next to me at Sad Park.


Chris Brauns said...

This is such a profound post. I am thankful for it. I pray others will read it.

Shannon said...

Alice, I wish I could sit in Sadville with you for a while... I'm sending this to another friend who's been there for a while. Thanks for your honesty and transparency.

Laura Brown said...

This is a very moving post, Alice. I've been thinking of you and wondering how you were doing. I think you've been incredibly strong through this whole experience, and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us so honestly.

Katie said...

Oh Alice, my friend, once again, you are blazing a trail that I know I will be on before I want to be. Thank you for walking the sadness path with faith, honesty and openness. I'll be praying for you more earnestly having read this.

Vitamin Z said...

It is always so much more refreshing to hear someone be honest about grief than those who simply slap on a fake smile and bury their pain under the guise of "God is good, everything will be ok!" Seems like there is quite a disconnect between that kind of response and the pictures of grief we see in the Bible. The Psalm are very raw. Jesus was raw. The Bible is real. We should be too.

Thanks for being real. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Alice, thank you so much for this post and being so honest. I just lost my 36 year old son June 18th and that is the day my life changed forever. It was very sudden-a motorcycle accident that left us all in shock. And now I find the journey of grief to be a very lonely one. I think of the children's book entitled "We're Going On a Bear Hunt" which keeps repeating we can't go under it, we can't go over it, we have to go through it. And that's how it is-I want to get past it, I want to wake up and it's not real but a bad dream. What I have found most helpful is knowing there are people out there like you that have the same feelings I do and Iam not going crazy, yet anyway.

Melanie said...

You are such a wonderful, inspiring person & it comes through in everything you write. I believe we honor those we've lost by acknowledging it all - feel everything and write as much as you can. Write those random memories that spring to mind - write like you have here about your frustrations, sadness, love, doubt, anger...just keep writing and keep feeling whatever & however you are. Love to you!

Kacie said...

Yeah, it's a very honest post, and I appreciate you not making it a falsely happy post.

Juliet said...


There are so many things we never know till we go through the "sad" things.

When my husband died, Ann-Marie made the comment later, "I felt like I had lost my mother." In a way she did. I wasn't that happy go-lucky person she knew before. Now I was responsible for working full-time and taking care of the bills. And YES a lot of sadness.

Grieving is good. We just don't realize that we need to give ourselves the time to do just that.

Praying for you and especially your father. God grant your whole family HIS grace.

Anonymous said...

Alice, I am deeply moved by what you wrote and will pray as you have to go through it, though I wish you could go around it. Thank you for your honesty.