A boy passed away on Monday at the age of one and a half years old. He was a precious little boy gone too soon!
Such a heart wrenching story...born with an illness, grim prognosis, volatile up's and down's, times of beating all odds and finally hopes dashed of survival.
For most of my life I have worked in health care. In my last business, it was looking after seniors in nursing homes. I did that for nineteen long years. Having seen so many people die and to be apart of their families was an honour but was also desensitizing. The aged folks were far closer to death, further than they knew perhaps. But I knew. And although I was directly involved, I was internally removed from it all.
I bring this up today because when I heard of this sweet child's passing, I was less impacted than I thought I should have been. I was disconnected.
And now I wonder, why did such a tragic event affect me the way it did?
I have realized, especially in the last few days, how my past has influenced me;my heart had grown cold and distant to the passing of a human life.
Death had became a statistic.
But it shouldn't be! Death is a permanent ending to one's life for goodness sake! When did this emotional heart attack occur?
If my emotional response was not in proportion to the situation at hand, then my benchmark needed to adjust.
How do we recognize when something so precious like a life lost affects us in a negligible way? How do we know what is appropriate?
I suppose it starts in a world where grief is associated with Charlie Brown's assertion;
Oh, Good Grief!
It's a picture of playful discontent.
But grief is so much more than an exclamation, grief is deep sorrow and loss.
Hmm, grief... deep sorrow, loss - these are the clearly defined feelings. The question is what do we do with them.
My answer is to lament.
For some, lament is a word we may overlook - in fact it could be one we've rarely heard of or ever used.
Lament is a passionate expression of grief and the truth is we NEED to lament because it's crucial for our well being.
I heard Dr. Eric Ortlund teach on lament some time ago. He was a professor and a scholar and he helped me get some understanding to this topic. Today I can apply it.
In this young boy's tragic passing, I recognized three things that typically happen to one who loses someone;
1. They feel abandoned.
2. They fall apart internally.
3. Then, they fall apart relationally.
I'm broken as I write this. It's like textbook lamentation. I'm feeling bloody abandoned. I'm falling apart at the mere idea of losing a child. And now, my next thought is to cut myself off from others and forget - and to forget as soon as possible.
This is how I always coped, and now I realize that I'd be most remiss if I didn't take time to pause and reflect. In fact, if I do not take the time necessary to reflect, then I am guilty of being neglectful to myself for matters of this magnitude.
In a world with an aversion to focus on the negative, there are vital keys to ensuring appropriate times of lament. The following are three that swayed me;
X. Lamenting and the time needed to consider grief or sorrow are always TEMPORARY. So, why not give it some attention. Emotions arise for a reason; acknowledging and exploring the feeling and paying close attention to how one’s own reactions affect others is an effective way of emoting.
Y. The process of lamenting leads to a healthy and appropriate OUTLOOK on life. The sweet isn't as sweet without the sour. Lean into your discomfort to truly find comfort. Dr. Travis Bradberry suggests rather than avoiding a feeling, your goal should be to move toward the emotion, into it, and eventually through it.
Z. We often find our CALLING in the darkness. Take writing, for me, I lamented over not being useful. All the years of experience and with whom to share it with? Finally, I felt led to write. My calling? Well, we'll have to see... ;)
I've realized that it is important and maybe paramount to commit to experiencing uncomfortable feelings in order to fully understand them.
So take the time. (That's the advice I'm giving and I'm taking!)
Take the time to be present where you're at.
Be available. Be encouraged because times of lament are always temporary and yielding to them will profit you much.
It's a good day, as I sit here in a small cafe in Regina, Saskatchewan. With these salty tears streaming down my face, I'm a picture of health as I process the recent events of life. I'm actually crying as I write this because I'm flooded with emotions. However, on this day, instead of feeling abandoned I'm trusting the process and I feel whole doing so. I'm powerful to face this young boy's death head on. I'm not falling apart, I'm understanding, as Dr. Bradberry suggests, that moving toward the emotion, provides freedom and reality.
I'm going to call my friends today, tell them what I'm feeling and lament to them. I'll bet, they will do the same after my leading.
I choose to embrace this gift of what life is about. Birth, struggle, joy, struggle, perseverance, struggle, elation, struggle until finally death.
I choose to quit treating my feelings as good or bad. I will, instead, fully immerse myself in them, accepting them for what they are.
The paralysing and consuming power over me is broken. I am free to grieve.
Jim Rohn said;
Jim has it, and from that I can augment to choose to feel accepted, not abandoned. To choose to to write, talk, emote - anything but the deep inner chasm of falling apart. To choose to lean on others and seek help, to trust your heart to another, not falling apart relationally by seclusion.
We are created with emotions, traumatized to emote them, then raised to stifle and mask them. No more.
I am sad. Damn sad. This was a baby. An infant. A precious gift.
Well today, I'm going to grieve.
I'm going to turn off my phone.
I'm going to set down my agenda.
And I'm going to live. Like this child can no longer do.
I'm going to be present because my soul needs to Lament.
I'm indebted to you precious boy, for in your death, I will live differently.
David J. D'Silva