The linear journey
There is never closure for the parents of dead children. I was reminded of this again recently as I listened to a traumatic grief counselor in a phone conversation. He used the word journey, a word I have used myself many times but this time I pondered what it really means for me during the Christmas season. I was reminded again of the fact that the road traveled for grieving parents is linear, not circular therefore closure is never possible. I move farther along the path of life after death to the western horizon until the sun sets on my time here on earth. Each day there are a few steps in a path which distances me from the terrible day that began my journey. Death will be the end of my pilgrimage of grief- closure comes when they close my casket. Yes, each day creates distance and the potential for healing but I will walk with a limp and carry many scars until I step foot into my eternal home. On that day I will truly rest in peace.
Jacob of the bible understood the journey ahead upon hearing about the death of his son Joseph. In his deep grief it is said, “All his sons and daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son ,mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:35-36 ESV) Jeremiah also foretold of the lament of Rachel when Herod killed all the children in Bethlehem that were 2 years old and under. “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18 ESV) I understand this, I am living with this and I know my laments for my Jacob will only be silenced when I am buried next to him.
No place for love
There is no combination words that can capture what a grieving parent feels during the Christmas season. This will be at best a feeble and hopefully slightly helpful glimpse into the journey we walk. The following thoughts about my grief journey came to me in this way this past week.
Christian Author Gary Chapman wrote the top selling book, The five love languages. (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/) Many years back I attended his seminar and heard his concepts on the languages of love. The five ways we express love according to Chapman are 1. Words of affirmation, 2. Acts of service, 3. Receiving gifts, 4. Quality time, and 5. Physical touch. I agree with his love language concepts but recently these concepts made me think deeply about my love for my deceased son. My love for Jacob has only deepened since he died, but there is now no way to express my love for him. All five of the languages were expressed to me by Jacob and I reciprocated that love back to him- but now he is dead, and I have no place to pour that love on him. Life without my son is like possessing an empty Coke with a label that reads, “No deposit, no return.” Jacob cannot deposit love into my life and I cannot give him any of the love that overwhelms my soul. Death has separated us but love love remains without a means of expression.
The holidays represent a time when the 5 love languages are to be fully expressed in the family. I have remaining family to love, but loving others and being loved by others brings no relief for the void that remains in my heart. There are no words to express my love. There are no kind acts that I can do to express my love. There is no shopping for that special gift to display my love. There can never be quality time to show him my love. There is never going to be an embrace to affirm my love for him. All the love I desire to pour into him has no outlet, and I will never receive it from him again. There is no deposit and no return. The holidays are a time for family love and love will be expressed to the living. The terrible pain during the holidays for me is that all the love that I have for Jake is retained and the expression of love for him has no outlet. The desire to receive that love never leaves me. Oh that I could hear his voice and feel his embrace for Christmas. It can never be, it never will be. The holidays are the harsh reality that there will again be no deposit and no return. Surviving the holidays is the best I can do. As I walk this journey I expect to heal and to limp my way through life. Someday I will reach the river Jordan and cross over to the land of promise. Until that day I expect my journey to be difficult and the path wet with my tears. There are some sorrows that only death can relieve, making death a strange comfort to me indeed. Not that I desire to die but I desire to truly rest in peace, to see Jesus face to face, and to have him wipe my tears away forever. Joy comes in the morning. The best Christmas morning will be when I wake up and again see my sweet boys face and feel his embrace. On that morning I will get to express all the love I have in my heart for him and I will receive all the love he has for me. Till then….No deposit, no return…..