Today, a crowd gathered at Sage Hills Church for a memorial. It was a poignant and emotional goodbye for a fantastic friend of my son, who is gone too soon. Kyle Bowman was kind, funny, thoughtful, respectful, smart, adventurous, faithful, and loyal. Snow peacefully fell from the sky today and spread a blanket of snow on the mountains Kyle loved to play in. It was a farewell that no parent should have to plan.
I have thought much about grief, and the despair and heartbreak felt by those who are navigating the loss of a loved one. When my sister was killed in a car accident just days before her 19th birthday, the tragedy was devastating. So many people expressed love and sympathy. It was a quiet day soon after that I sat in my sister’s closet and read many notes and cards aloud, just so I could talk to her.
I watched my parents suffer at the loss of their oldest daughter. Andrea was often left out in high school and shed many a tear with my mom after school. At college she had found new friends, a great boyfriend, and she was happy and progressing in life. To see that life and future taken away was heartbreaking for my parents. At the time of the accident and funeral there were many who expressed love, sympathy and compassion. It was many months after that I remember my mom’s friend, Gwen, stopping by with some garlic bread and a hug. That was so meaningful. While the world around us seemed to forget our tragedy, my parents were still treading the waters of grief. Sweet Gwen thought of my family and brought love and compassion in the form of a loaf.
Recently I listened to Ally Isom who shared her journey through grief after the loss of her 21 year old daughter. She described the resulting sorrow as a “cold, predatory darkness that was all encompassing.” Ally plead with God, ” I know you have watched your children suffer and die. I need you to tell me how to navigate this darkness and grief.”
Ally describes her journey overcoming the hopelessness of her loss; She found the antidote in connection. “I learned that even in the times of deepest distress, connection is this lifeline that helps navigate grief and even learn to thrive. No one wants to choose a casket for their own child, but there we were, in a showroom of of caskets. Wood or metallic? What color lining? My brain could not comprehend my reality. No one wants to plan their daughter’s funeral. No one wants to open their daughter’s casket for the last time. You try to memorize everything, but your brain is screaming you don’t want that memory at all.”
Three ways Ally used to navigate the debilitating darkness of grief stood out to me:
Seek Light Look to God. He knows death. He witnessed His own Son die. God will not leave us comfortless. His promised Savior provides peace beyond understanding.
Be Gentle with Yourself This is a new normal. Be as patient with yourself as you would with a child learning to walk. Death makes you question everything. Give yourself space and time.
Watch for Symbols Parenting doesn’t end at death. Your loved one is near. When you pay attention God provides sacred symbols in a song, a flower, an image, an impression of overwhelming love. Seek connection with heaven.
For my friends who are experiencing the fresh sting of loss, may you be blessed with peace and comfort from Christ, who promised, “My peace I give unto you.“¹ May your friends continue to rally around you to lift and support in times when you can’t make it alone. Mourn with those that mourn, that they may be comforted. Make that phone call. Bring the brownies. Send the note. Most of all, when the world seems to have forgotten their sweet son, remember him, and celebrate every good attribute. I can promise you that those who have lost will never forget. They should never be alone.
Sending special prayers of love, peace, and comfort to Chad and Wendy, Olivia and Emily.
In faith and love,
¹ John 14:27