Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent: Yes, It's Hard

I haven't written anything at all about Advent this year.

I don't know whether I will or not.

For three years, I keep a bog entitled Praying Advent Through Darkness.  This year, I find that I feel more neutral, and more capable of self-restraint.  A few nights ago Musical Friend and I went to a Taize service, and then we spent an hour sitting in the car discussing our experiences of loss, of her husband and my son.  At this point, three and one-half years having passed, we see that few other people are interested in hearing about the deepest realities of our lives.

I do notice that, among my blogging friends, some of the bereaved moms are letting some of the sadness seep out.  And for one, a new loss in her closest circle of friends has rocked her world, while another marks the second anniversary of her beautiful daughter's death in a few days.

Maybe I'll have more to say; maybe not.  In the meantime, what follows is something that I wrote three years ago, three months after Josh died.  It still applies.


I have, as a consequence of my son's death, received what I think must be some of the most extraordinary missives ever written. Emails, cards, letters -- the form of transmission doesn't matter. The words do. Some are about my son, some about those of us left behind, some about God. There is apparently something about magnitude of loss that drives ordinary people to eloquence.

I literally carry some of this writing around with me. There are moments, many of them, when I think that I will not make it to the next one, and then I read what people have sent me. I read them as prayers, regardless of how they were intended. I look for what God might be saying, in a phrase or a paragraph, and sometimes I see them, small clues to the mystery that binds us together, whether the people who articulated them knew what they were doing or not.

If you have a friend who is longing for someone else this Advent, especially someone who died in the last year or two, sit down this week-end and write a note, or send an email. It might be the most important thing you do this month.


  1. I thought about you this past week as I led a Blue Christmas service. There were lots of people for this first foray into such a worship time. But the ones who came in part way through and came in in pieces were people who recently lost a loved one to suicide. I had not written my homily- I decided to preach from the moment. That message which I barely remember was all from God, and as I led that service I thought about what led me to offer it. A profound desire to reach those who are walking in darkness- not sure there is a great light, or any light at all. To walk with them and pray with them as we then together walk toward the faint but still present light of Christ. As I have now approached 5 yrs since a profound loss it has been one of the most humbling but moving experiences to meet those longing and really connect. Your profound words have done this for me. Thank you for your witness and may God bless and keep you in God's peace. - Law & Gospel

  2. Yes, it's hard. Today I wore my son's jacket...wanting so much to feel him near me. I miss him so much. I know you feel the same about Josh.
    All my love, Karen East

  3. Yes. I, too, carried many of the letters and cards I received with me. They helped me move to the next moments of time as well. They came when Erin was initially diagnosed (ironically Dec 15 five years ago - the date of this post), they came when she relapsed and they flooded my mailbox and inbox when she passed away two years ago.

    Over the last few days, I have again received some extraordinary pieces. Some are from my contemporaries, and others from young women who were friends of Erin. I read and reread them and I'm carrying the recent ones with me now as I work hard to breathe my way through the heartbreaking memories.

    I hope many of your readers follow through with the advice in your last paragraph. If they all only knew how much it means to those of us on "this" side...
    ((hugs)) to you, robin

  4. God bless you. I wish with all my heart that mere words could heal your pain. I am sending you love, many hugs, and prayers.

  5. Thank you for the encouragement. One person I know who mourns very deeply is my husband, and there is nothing I can do to help him.

    Please, pray for him.