March 24, 2018

Susan’s Story: Alone, with No One to Comfort

As imperceptively as grief. Photo by Cate Storymoon

Note from CM: Every once in a while, I receive an email or some other communication from a reader that hits home hard. Susan took the time to write me the other day just to tell her story and express her thanks — she had no idea how what she said blew me away. And she had no idea that I would ask her if I could share it with the Internet Monk community. She graciously agreed, made a few edits, and here it is. This piece caused me to take a good long look in the mirror. For people who follow a Savior who was a “man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief,” many of us sure act like we don’t want anything to do with it.

• • •

Susan’s Story

Hi, Chaplain Mike. My name is Susan. I am a long-time iMonk lurker. I’ve only commented once back in 2010, mostly because I cannot seem to grasp many of the new-to-me ideas expressed here enough to contribute to the discussions. I desperately want to understand…but that’s not the subject of this email.

What I want to say here is, thank you for your posts about depression, lamentation, grief, and mourning, and I hope you will continue to share your insights on these topics. How lucky your patients and their families are to have you as their hospice chaplain!

I am so grateful for the hospice care my mom received as she struggled through the last stages of the illness she had lived with for over a decade (she passed away in December), but our family did not receive the same pastoral care that I am now benefiting from through your posts.

One thing I really need help with is forgiveness—not of my mom or of our past, but of those who did not console me after she died.

My pastor forgot, twice, to include me on the prayer list, so my church as a whole did not know my mom had passed away and, therefore, was not given the chance to offer consolation. My husband and I did personally tell each individual in our respective Sunday school classes, with whom we had shared my experiences with eldercare and from whom I had requested prayer for myself and my mom. Yet, out of all those people who knew my story, only one couple expressed condolences when she died, donating a gift in her memory to the church. One other woman told me—three months later—that she had bought a card for me but had put my address away with her Christmas list and, what with the holidays and all, had not bothered to dig it out so she could send it.

One of my in-laws (who were all also personally told) waited two weeks to email me to say she was sorry about my mom and could I bring a vegetable for dinner on the weekend? Another told me, almost as an afterthought on my way out the door after we had spent an entire evening together, that she was sorry about my mom and hoped we had a safe drive home. And still another did send me a beautiful memorial gift a few weeks later but told me she hadn’t gotten in touch before then because she hadn’t wanted to end up crying.

I received three cards from friends and flowers from a family member, and that was it. No one has called or stopped by to talk or ask how I’m doing or give me a hug. No one. How is that even possible? How can almost an entire community of church, family and friends fail to console someone who has just lost their mom? One or two people, maybe, but nearly everyone? I cannot understand it.

No one among my community is a stranger to loss. They know what might be done to show sympathy to someone who is grieving, because they’ve been shown sympathy themselves, from others and from myself. I have tried to live out my care for the people in my life, and to receive so little care in my time of need…I feel abandoned, rejected, unworthy. I feel like I no longer belong. I feel like a fraud, pretending we are brothers and sisters in Christ when I feel exactly the opposite. I have to force myself to be among them now and do not feel a part of them even when I am with them. I question the depth of every relationship I thought was mutual. I question myself, wondering in what ways I may have hurt others so much that they are okay with hurting me now.

Where is God’s grace in all of this? Where is Christ’s comfort to those who mourn? I know in my head that it’s near, because the Bible says it is, so it must be, right? But I don’t see it, I don’t feel it, I don’t know it in my heart.

What good is hearing the gospel preached every week if we fail each other in such astounding ways—if the gospel message stops with being saved and teaches nothing about the practical humanity of living saved lives? What good is participating in a liturgy I have always loved if the words seem empty to me now? What good is receiving the Sacraments? I don’t even want to go to church anymore.

I feel like, in withholding kindness, those who have not consoled me have denied me a space to mourn. And I don’t know what to do with that. Not only am I grieving for my mom, but now I am grieving for myself as well—and with no clear path for an outward expression of mourning in the context of community.

I don’t want to end up bitter and angry and isolated. But how do I forgive—and what does that look like in everyday terms? How can I ever un-know what I have learned about those I mistakenly believed would surround me at such a time? How do I come to feel I belong to my community again, instead of standing alone outside of it?

And how do I respond in heartfelt honesty to those who seem clueless when it comes to expressing sympathy, but yet expect me, in my grief, to absolve them of their thoughtlessness and resulting guilty feelings by telling them it’s okay that they couldn’t be bothered to look up my address to send me a card (or even hand it to me in person after church) or that they neglected me because they didn’t want to end up crying or that their distant silence for weeks on end was soul-crushing? Because it’s not okay, I’m not okay, and I feel like a liar telling them differently just so they can feel better. How do I respond to them without invalidating what I am going through?

Please continue to teach us, not only how to lament with others who are grieving, but also how to lament for ourselves, how to respond to others when we are the bereaved, and how to forgive those who abandon us in our need.

Thank you for listening and for doing the work that you do.

With blessings,

• • •

Photo by Cate Storymoon at Flickr. Creative Commons License


  1. john barry says:

    Susan, You could not have not opened up to a better person than sharing your grief story with Chaplin Mike. I like you , only know him of course though here but he is real and so comforting and knowledgeable in this area.
    Your concern and CM response to you and others show how important words and actions are to those who are grieving.
    People who are grieving feel alone, isolated and like they are in a different area, there is a barrier between them and the rest of the world whose world has not changed. How important a simple I’m sorry for your lost, God Bless you, I know how sad you are , a hand squeeze and all of the other things people might and should say perhaps awkwardly but sincerely. Your lost is great and severe as your love for your Mother was great and real. How could we not grieve when we lost someone we love so much, it is universal? CM had a great article the other day about the “new” normal that we all will go though.
    I can only say I cannot understand the reaction of your church family other than perhaps they might think their acknowledgement of your grief may length it but really I am like you with a big ? People might have “abandoned” you with their insensitive manners but God never will, as you well know. Moving on to a new church setting may help you or maybe not. I would only say I share your feelings with your Pastor as it may help him n the future be more comforting.
    About 3 months I attended a memorial service, the young in his man in front of me when he got to the grieving family told them very simply, honestly and in his own words “it stinks I want see you Mom at work anymore, I will miss her”, to me how eloquent .
    You will go on to your new normal of this world without your Mom as you have your faith and not one of us will leave this world without experiencing a lost of a loved one. I would just say pray and do what God moves you to do. Thank you for your letter as I personally again have learned something or deepened a thought I have had. I think many people could have written a letter similar to yours and that needs to change. We should comfort our church family and other whenever and however we can. Thanks letter for your honest , touching letter

    • Thank you, John, for your kind response. I feel in your words that you have known deep loss and grief, and I am grateful that you have shared your thoughts with me. I am touched that I may have helped you too. Yes, grief is universal, and I think we are all walking wounded in one way or another. It’s sad that we so often have such trouble recognizing that in each other and offering, as you said, even a hand squeeze. I love how that young man expressed that “it stinks I won’t see your Mom at work anymore, I will miss her.” So much was offered to her family in that one heartfelt sentiment.

  2. Robert F says:

    Because we are strangers, and because I’m not a member of your parish, what I have to say may not mean much to you, or help you in your grief. But as a fellow Christian in the body of Christ with you, and as a fellow member of the human family, I want to express my condolences to you at the loss of your mother, and to pray for God’s peace and love to be with you as you mourn your loss. I also want to ask for your forgiveness for the failure of the Church to be there for you in the immediacy of your loss, and for our failure to love when you needed and need our love; as a member of the Church universal, I can tell you that I am as guilty of that sin of omission as your fellow parishoners. God’s peace and love and grace to you and your family, Susan.


    • Thank you, Robert, for reaching out, though we are strangers. It does mean a lot that you have thought of me and taken the time to express condolences, and so beautifully. I know I, too, have failed to love when I have been needed. My experiences over the last few months have taught me to be more aware of that and to do better for others.

  3. We don’t know how to do death any more.
    In older traditional cultures, they had (and still have) wakes. The whole community would come through and pay their respects, remember old times, cry.
    That is judged too ‘morbid’ in our modern cultures. Death is something we shy away from, a taboo. Something not to be talked about in polite conversation, with the associated euphemisms.

    Once again, where the church could be leading the way and being salt and light, we’re so often just as up to our necks in the surrounding culture as the rest of our neighbours.

    • I have seen this happen in my area, too, Ben. Although the churches I have belonged to have done death well through the liturgy, the wakes (or viewings/visitations) and funerals have not been well attended by the community. People have to work or take their kids to soccer or are otherwise caught up in lives that seems to have no time for death. Also, generally speaking, the connection between the old and the young doesn’t seem to be as strong as in the older traditional cultures.

      My mom was active in her church community, but being 92 when she died, all but one of her peers had already gone before her. And being ill and in care for several years and unable to attend services, she no longer had a connection with the younger families there. So there were few left who remembered old times. I think that would have been a great comfort, to hear the stories and to learn what she had meant to others.

      Thank you for your thoughts here, Ben. I will remember this and remember to tell the stories when I may not know what to say to someone else who is grieving.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > We don’t know how to do death any more.


      And part of our modern thinness is the turning of funerals in to tacky tasteless vapid “celebrations of life”. #ugh

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And their Christianese equivalent, “Homegoing Celebrations” where being Constantly Happy Clappy Joy Joy Victorious is absolutely compulsory.

  4. Losing someone is always hard, and a lot of folks I thought were my friends couldn’t deal.

    But it’s a special kind of wrong when the Body of Christ, a community of people who, we are told, people will recognize by how much they love one another… when they fail to catch those slipping through the cracks in their community, nearly every single one of them.

    Dorothy Day, quoting St Teresa, I think, said that Christ has no hands on this earth but yours. The grace of God comes through his people.

    All that said, there *are* people who understand, who don’t mind weeping with those who weep. It’s hard. It’s counter-cultural. I mentioned her before, but do look up Megan Devine and her work on how we do grief. A good starting place is She’s also written a book on the subject, including words on how to support someone who’s in grief. I know for myself that her words and support and ideas were critical in helping me learn to live with my loss.

    • Richard, I went back to find your recommendation and read your comment. It breaks my heart to know that you wandered alone in your loss and that the love has gone out of your life. I am so sorry. I don’t know if you are a hugger, but I’m sending you a hug just in case.

      Thank you for sharing what has helped you. I will look up Megan Devine’s book and blog.

      • Thank you. I like virtual hugs. 🙂

        Megan has been doing the book tour thing, so she shows up on interview programs, and even got a review in the NYT last month.

  5. senecagriggs says:

    “Genetically, men and women seem identical, but there is a difference in the empathy score which is quite significant. The highest possible score in the EQ test is 80. We saw that men score, on average, 40, and women score, on average, 50.„

    It’s not clear why men have less empathy than women.

    But Warrier suggests that social factors can contribute to a person’s empathy levels, adding that society generally expects female children to be more understanding and in tune with their emotions.

    So it would appear that, in terms of empathy, men and women really are from different planets, but not even scientists can tell us why.”

    Susan, in many situations, I have to work at empathy; I have no explanation for your sisters [ women ].

    I’ve never gotten over the passing of my Mom – who died sweetly in a 3 hour time span in her mid 80s.

    • Thank you, senecagriggs. The fact that you do work at empathy says a lot. You are aware, and you are doing something to do better. I’m sorry you have lost your mom as well. I love how you describe her passing. Sweetly. There is a world of emotion in that one word. My mom had a long and difficult illness, but thanks to hospice and the aides who loved her, her passing was as peaceful and comfortable as possible. I’m glad I could be with her.

  6. Susan I very much relate as I was there a few years ago myself. No idea what this means but I am urged to share with you that Psalm 109 popped up in my daily reading today immediately after reading your story here. Check out David’s similar lament and reaction. People are so self-absorbed and narcissistic these days it seems. But they are not the Body of Christ, the Community of the Church. Are we, by not following their example, to live differently and thus be a true example of what being Christian means then? I don’t know. I tried to look for what that same situation meant in my life, a God lesson of some sort for me? for others through me? Again, I don’t know. Now, a few years down the road, I’m in a different place, don’t know where those unavailable people are anymore. …Something I have figured out though is that while some others do stand with us in our grief and losses, actual grieving is work done alone. I remember when I’d sob over the loss of my mother I was more comfortable doing that by myself and I thought of Jesus crying alone in Gethsemane. Still, don’t know what to say that means but it was my experience and I’ve accommodated the loss as part of who I am now, and hoping that sharing my experience strength and hope might help you a little. Sending hugs and consoling thoughts your way ove the loss of your mother and Blessings to you in your grief.

    • Thank you, Lexiann, for pouring out your experience with such a giving spirit. Your words have comforted me. I am sorry that you had to endure a similar lack of support when you lost your mom. I am asking the same questions now that you were asking then. I don’t know if I will find answers either, but I do hope for healing. “I’m in a different place, don’t know where those unavailable people are anymore” suggests you may have found healing of the pain they caused you. I hope that is the case. Thank you for the hugs, and blessings to you as well.

  7. Susan,
    I hope things work out for you and I’m sorry for the loss of your Mom. God bless you.

  8. Phil Dickens says:

    Your story touched
    me and I just want to express my condolences and prayers for you in this time of loss.

    • Phil, I was a little nervous about being so publicly vulnerable when Chaplain Mike asked if he could run my letter. I’m glad my story touched you. Thank you for telling me that.

  9. Susan I’m so sorry for your loss and I pray that you can feel the arms of Christ wrapped around you.

    There is no excuse for the pain we cause others, we can just ask for forgiveness. And then with humble eyes look for Jesus.

    For those of us who continue to fail…
    Today’s reading and reflection.
    Psalm? ?36:1-9? ?NIV. “I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.
    Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

    Yesterday I did it again. I said words that could not be taken back. I disappointed one of the most important persons in my life by saying something hurtful and unnecessary. I apologized immediately, but the hurt was already done. The church, friends, family, and I will continue to disappoint and fail to meet expectations. We are the first paragraph of this Psalm.

    But we have the God of the second paragraph. One with love bigger than we can imagine. Unfailing love. A God we can take refuge in, and who provides us with his abundant forgiveness and grace.

    I can only hope and pray that my heart of stone will begin to crack. That I seek to follow Jesus’ example of compassion and service throughout my day. That I find words of love to speak.

    Lord forgive me. Cleanse me. Renew me. For with you Lord is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Amen.

    • Linda, thank you for your prayers and for posting something you hope will help me. I have trouble with the Psalms, with the people of the first paragraph. Perhaps I am not at the point of anger in the grieving process, of cursing my enemies and calling out the sins and motives of the wicked. Mostly, I’m bewildered and hurt, and I am at a loss as to how to respond to those who have been insensitive and uncaring. I want to tell them how unhelpful and upsetting they are being, but I don’t know how to do it gracefully. Mostly, I end up mumbling something about it being okay, but I feel like I’m betraying myself every time I do it, because it’s not okay. I want them to stop.

      I know I have disappointed and failed many, and it is agonizing, as you have shared, to know we cannot take back the hurt. So I am glad to be reminded of the God of the second paragraph, the God of unfailing love and faithfulness. He seems far away at the moment, but I hope I will feel Him near very soon. Thank you.

      • Susan you sound like a very gracious person. All your responses show that. I will pray asking the Lord to guide your conversations and meet you in your grief. Blessings. ??

  10. Leila Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and I’m also so very sorry that you and your family were failed by those who should have been a among the first to offer help and comfort, I certainly do know that I’m unfortunately so often to be counted among those who fail and I’m seeking to do better. May you have comfort, grace, and peace as the loss of your beloved Mother will always be with you until our Lord makes and restores all things new and you can hold her again.

    • Thank you for your beautiful prayer for me, Leila. My pastor once said at a funeral that “this isn’t ‘goodbye’, but ‘I’ll see you later’.” I believe that and know I will see both my parents again.

  11. Christiane says:

    Hello Susan A.
    we are not very good at knowing ‘what to do’ when people die . . . . I cook for the people who grieve, that is my way to ‘do something’ ‘for them’ but I know that is also a selfish thing . . . . I don’t know any better than that . . . if wakes were still in fashion, and they were of the Irish kind, there would be laughing and singing and weeping and people getting a bit tipsy maybe and lots of food, kind of like a ‘send-off party’;
    but our present way is gloomier . . .

    I have gone to ‘sit shiva’ with a friend whose husband passed and I remember bringing food (of course) and sitting ‘with’ her . . . it was quiet there, peaceful, punctuated by soft voices and sometimes weeping . . . respectful, yes

    we don’t know ‘what to do’ which explains why so many may avoid doing anything at all . . . it’s not because they don’t care is my thought, but some people are in ‘denial’ by not responding . . . it may not be that they don’t care, so that is a good thing to know

    I would have made you some food: comfort food, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, a cake, some cookies, a great big green salad, a tray of crudites with a dip, and maybe, depending on your religion, a really good bottle of Southern comfort or a nice French wine from northern California. Yep. I’d have cooked. Maybe baked some bread, too. 🙂

    I’m sorry people didn’t respond to your need for comforting. Their time will come. You will know their need as they did not know yours, and you will be able to respond to help them . . . in that way, you will also find comforting and healing . . . strange how that works, but it does.

    God Bless!

    • Oh, Christiane, thank you! I actually laughed out loud at the joyousness of your comment and the memories it brought back. I am of staid English ancestry as far as I know, but I grew up in a largely immigrant population from eastern and southern Europe and the rich cultural heritage that they brought with them. The weddings and wakes were wonderful, so full of life and even, yes, fun! I remember my father teaching me how to dance the polka.

      And the food, yes! I cook, too, for those who are grieving and those who are ill.
      I (Lutheran) am not opposed to a good class of wine, so I would happily partake with you and gladly sit down to the feast you described. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cake…my husband would be in food heaven! Thank you for this virtual care package. You have cheered me greatly today.

      God bless you too.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Hello Susan A.
      we are not very good at knowing ‘what to do’ when people die . . . .

      I tend to “numb out” and withdraw; it’s caused a lot of trouble in my past with dueling expectations.

      That might be a factor is Susan’s experience, but with EVERYBODY in her church doing the same?
      More likely some “Thoughts are Things” superstition where if you pretend it doesn’t exist it won’t happen to YOU.
      As Rick Ro says below, “best keep it hidden, ’cause you don’t know what’ll happen if its let out into the light.”

      Which is why it’s a good idea to be in a LOT of different social milieus (not just Church).
      Less chance of the same Groupthink attitudes in different milieus.

  12. Many years ago, we gave one of our dog’s to my wife’s sister. A year later, the dog died. My wife, thinking she would be protecting our young daughter (pre-K age) from the pain, told her that the dog ran into the woods and was probably living happy. (This was not my idea, by the way…LOL.)

    Break, break…

    Now, several years later, our daughter (now in high school) has told us that THAT was more traumatic than just telling her the truth; she said she had many, many nights worried about our dog living in the woods, cold and alone, fending off predators, etc.

    For many, death is a strange, almost taboo topic. They don’t know how to confront it, they don’t know how to approach others who are dealing with it, they don’t know how to present it to kids, etc., etc. It’s almost viewed like some sort of Pandora’s Box thing: best keep it hidden, ’cause don’t know what’ll happen if it’s let out into the light.

    I tend to give people a break when it comes to how people approach others who are involved in a “death” experience/grieving. I know I’ve blown it in the past, and will likely blow it again. But one thing I’ve learned: the healthiest approach seems to be honestly and openly, and with a simple word of sympathy and mere presence.

    Sorry for your loss, Susan, and for the additional pain caused by your clumsy church community.

    • Rick, in a strange way, I can relate to your daughter’s story. I experienced something similar, only over a destroyed doll when I was pre-K. My parents told me she had gone to live in the woods with the animals, thinking that would comfort me. Oh, how I worried about her, just as your daughter worried about your dog. The whole thing was very traumatic. In hindsight, I know my parents meant well, but I would rather have been told the truth. I’m glad your daughter was able to talk about that with you later on. I don’t think I ever revealed my distress to my parents. Funny, what I am remembering today…

      As far as people not knowing how to confront death, I would agree with you if they had never lost a loved one and perhaps were not socially fluent in dealing with such a loss. But each person I mentioned in my letter has lost at least one parent. I do not like to think of any of them as being so un-self-aware that they don’t remember what that was like for them and what they needed in their grief.

      I suppose it’s possible that someone might want to be left utterly alone and un-thought of in their grief, but I think that must be incredibly rare. Did the people in my life appreciate a phone call, a visit, a card, a meal, a bouquet of flowers, a hug, a quiet presence, a simple “what can I do to help”? Then why not start there? Why not offer a similar act of kindness to someone else in need? I hope this is not a hardness in my heart (and I do not exclude myself from what I am about to say), but it seems to me that, once someone is aware of loss and grief in their own lives, then doing nothing to empathize with it in someone else’s is as much of a conscious choice as doing something is. In a way, it has broken me to realize that so many of those closest to me made that choice to do nothing—and the excuses they have given me tell me that they made it knowingly. So it is hard for me to give them a break. You are very kind to have been so understanding to the people in your life.

      I’m sorry for the long reply, Rick. This is something I acknowledge I need help with—forgiveness. As I mentioned in my letter, I hope Chaplain Mike will continue to address these difficult topics. I have learned so much already, but I know I need to learn more so that I, myself, can do better. I thank you for your thoughts and your expression of sympathy.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        No need to apologize for the length of the reply, Susan. I very much appreciate you taking the time to share further. What I appreciate about your story and even my daughter’s willingness to share HER story (trauma) is that it’ll help me to do better further down the line

  13. Zoe Myers says:

    Susan, may I add my sympathy on the loss of your mom, and especially in the lack of love and compassion from those who should represent the body of Christ in your life. You have written several times that you do not know how to respond to those around you. I would urge you to answer them honestly with as much grace as you can muster. It may cause them some embarrassment or pain, but they should not be encouraged by your silence to think their response was acceptable or their excuses valid. I do not think you are expected to be silent. C.S. Lewis wrote that we are not called to be stoic. Jesus always confronted those who would not step outside their comfortable positions to do show compassion or do right. As you are given opportunities, share your experience. God will lead you, and please don’t feel you have to be silent in the name of politeness. Ask God for grace, wisdom and strength. I will be praying for you. I lost my mother 25 years ago, and I still miss her. Love to you, sister-in- Christ.

    • I so appreciate your thoughts, Zoe. Your encouragement has touched me deeply. “In the name of politeness…” Boy, does that bring to the surface a lot of the “good girl” expectations I was brought up with! I can see that I have been operating from that place of fear (of doing or saying the “unladylike” thing). I am glad you will be praying for me. Thank you.

      Love to you, too, in your loss. I imagine we will both be missing our moms for the rest of our lives.

  14. Dana Ames says:

    Dear Susan,
    thank you for sharing with Ch Mike and giving him permission to share with us. I am complicit, too, in spite of having grown up as a Christian and the daughter of funeral directors… For a time, under the spell of the culture and some bad theology, I fell prey to the notion that grief and all that comes with it should be avoided, not only for myself, but in the name of comforting others. Thankfully, I recovered my senses regarding what Christiane described as a good wake, and a good funeral – definitely with stories and food involved 🙂

    May Our Lord himself comfort you; he was acquainted with grief and death even before the Cross, and surely grieved the loss of his foster father Joseph, and other kin- and village-folk. It has been 40 years since my father died and nearly 15 years since my mother died, and I still miss them. The older I get, the more the Resurrection means to me – working its way into the very depths of my being. A monk I know says there is no good reason to be a Christian except for this crazy idea that we will be resurrected…

    If people do ask how you are, you can be honest without being accusatory (“I miss my mother a lot and I’m feeling very lonely; I know all is well with her, but I am still grieving.” etc.).

    Fr Stephen Freeman shared a prayer for the in-between time when you know you should forgive but aren’t at the place of forgiveness yet: “Lord, in the day of judgment do not hold this thing against them on my account.” I have found this to be very useful; hope it can be for you, too.


    • You’re welcome, Dana, and thank you for your compassion. I have been so uplifted today by everyone’s kindness and openness. My father died 34 years ago, my mother miscarried three babies before I was born, and I miscarried one. It is of immeasurable solace to know I will see my parents again and meet my siblings and child when we are all resurrected. You understand this.

      You have been of great help to me. I have not been feeling the Lord’s comfort, but your words have gently nudged me to look more to His stories. He is certainly no stranger to grief and death.

      I am grateful to you for sharing Father Freeman’s prayer. I will keep that one close and say it often. I’ve been having difficulty praying. This helps.

  15. Heather Angus says:

    Susan, your letter is so touching and heartbreaking. Yes, the body of Christ very often fails. And we have no excuse. Even the often-blamed Job’s comforters got it right for a few days; “11 When Job’s three friends… heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

    When CS Lewis’ wife died, he wrote (in A Grief Observed) something like this: “I don’t want to talk to anyone. But I don’t want to be alone either. I wish people would just come over and sit with me and maybe they could talk to each other.” Exactly.

    When my mother died, a couple of people asked how I was doing, but I coldly fended them off. I’m sure you did nothing like this, but that was me and that was the kind of family I came from: don’t trust, don’t talk, don’t feel. I didn’t know how to cry in anyone’s presence. I didn’t know how to “share my experience,” as Zoe says. Her advice is the best. God will give you the grace to talk about your feelings — and I would suggest starting with the hurt and anger you so rightly feel. By doing so you may give other hurting people the courage to speak their own truth, and you may give the church the prophetic words they need to hear.

    There is seldom anything so painful as the death of a parent. I would give anything for another day with my mom. May God bless you and keep you in His love and care.

    • Heather, I am sad that you, too, have lost your mom. Yes, that that can be a very profound kind of pain, especially given that mother-daughter relationships can be so complex, even when they are loving and close. Thank you for sharing with me a bit of what you went through. I hope you have people in your life now who have encouraged you to tell your stories more comfortably. I appreciate that you support Zoe’s advice. I have taken that to heart and will pray for the grace to express myself kindly, even when I am upset.

      May God bless you and keep you as well.

  16. Susan Dumbrell says:

    Please accept my sympathy at your loss. The loss of a parent is very difficult. My mother died 37 years ago. My father 16 years ago. My father pined for his childhood sweetheart. He never came to grips with being alone. I was their only child so the responsibility to care for him physically and emotionally fell to me and my husband and children. Grief is not something you get over. My father just lived with it daily.
    As my grandchildren grow up I so wish I could share them with my parents. Some of my friends still have parents in their 90’s.
    I still think when something interesting happens, Oh I must tell Mum. The memories don’t leave you of the things you had in common and loved to share. Keep hold of your memories.
    Little consolation I know but just the remembrance of the bond shared is precious.
    I send you a hug from Australia, we are good at hugs.
    May you be blessed with Christ’s love.

    from another

    • Thank you, Susan, for your kind sympathy and for sharing a bit of your own experience with me. I know from other comments of yours that you are involved in the caregiving of your husband, but I did not know about your father. Caregiving is loving work, but it is also incredibly hard work. It doesn’t matter if the person needing care lives in their own home, your home, or a care home. It’s hard work. And it’s an area, at least in my experience, that is fraught with a terrible amount of judgment from others who have made or would make different choices, they are certain, if they were in your shoes. That’s hard too. My heart goes out to you and I send you a hug right back. I’m good at them too.