This blog is my record of my journey with my son who had a rare, and eventually fatal metabolic illness. It is the story of the last year and a half of his life, his death, and after. I have shared this journey this in the hopes that is will not only help me come to terms with the realities, but also that someone along the way may find it helpful, as they face a similar journey.

This is my place to comment on events, blow off steam, encourage myself (and maybe you), share frustrations, show my love, grieve my losses, express my hopes, and if I am lucky, maybe figure out some of this crazy place we call life on earth.

The content might sometimes get a little heavy. As an understatement..


People who are grieving may write sad or difficult things and bring you down. This blog may not be for the faint of stomach or of heart. Read with caution and at your own risk.

If you are new to this blog, I suggest reading it from oldest to newest. It isn't necessary, as what I write is complete in itself. But this blog is sort of the result of the "journey" I'm going on, and I think it sort of "flows" better from oldest to newest.

I do hope that in the end you will find, in spite of all the difficult and heartbreaking things, things that are worth contemplating.

Welcome along!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Handle it

I didn't want to write this blog, I was afraid that I might hurt some well meaning person, but now I really feel I must. Believe me when I say that I know that I myself am not perfect, and if we counted my verbal "screw ups" you'd have a whole cashier's ribbon roll of them. I just have to say this and no offense is meant. So please understand my heart when I let this all out. ....

(deep breath)

Please, everyone, go into the "drawers" of your mind and empty out all those musty, overused platitudes and expressions. You don't have to say anything to those of us who grieve, we just need you to listen. That is a much better gift than a stale, worn out expression.

And let me tell you which of those horrid "moldy oldies" in particular I am talking about...

This last Sunday a very kind and well meaning lady said to me "God won't give you anything you can't handle." I know she meant it well, and she had tears in her eyes. I was not angry at her, but the words really are like a classroom full of chalkboards and fingernails meeting in a jarring, jagged dance.

And truly, it is not just me. Funny co-incidence, a friend emailed me a day later about how she hates that expression, and she brought it up first. Among us mothers of dying children, I have heard it particularly mentioned a few times.

Let me explain to you why I personally find it not only dubious in its' veracity, but even hurtful to my heart. (yes, I know that it is not meant to be hurtful. I know that. But it still hurts)

I must question two parts of the proposition for accuracy. It seems to me to be very problematic to say that God "gave" Joel's illness to me. Or maybe I should say that if God wouldn't give me something I can't handle, He couldn't have given Joel this illness. It has to be one or the other!

Because I am sure that I can't handle this. In fact, you will find an auditorium of people in any major city who don't "handle" tragedies, unless your definition of handling something means that they end up on medication for depression or that they have a nervous breakdown, or they develop a myriad of health problems from the stress.

A wise pastor pointed out, in fact, that God doesn't EXPECT US to handle anything. He wants us to ask Him for help in handling these things. Do I think God will help me "handle" things? Yes, in the long run. That doesn't mean that I might not also need some meds for depression or sleep, some respite to get away and rest, a long soak in a very hot tub, maybe even a therapist or two and a large group of supportive and forgiving friends.

You see, the big problem for me is this: If you believe in God enough to SAY that, why don't you believe in Him enough to see that His way of helping me to handle it WAS TO SEND YOU!!!

When you tell me I can handle it, cause God said so, you just put all the burden back on me. If I fail, if it is too much for me to bear, it is my fault, for surely God wouldn't have "given" it to me if I couldn't do it. Do you see why this is hurtful??? It just means that when I am depressed, broken, or even hospitalized, I don't just feel the terrible grief, now I also feel guilt and failure cause I couldn't "handle" it. You meant well, but you only added a large stick to an already broken camel's back.

When I tell you my life is in shambles, when I say that things are so hard I want to quit, when there are tears in my eyes and tears in my voice:

I NEED TO HEAR THESE WORDS FROM YOU: "You will not be alone. God has given you my friendship, and I am here to help you handle all these terrible things that have come your way."

When we, the broken hearted, hear these words from you, life will seem a little more bearable. They are words of healing...

1 comment:

  1. That's one of those cliches that I have come to challenge when I hear it. I think people base it on the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 talking about God not allowing us to be tempted above what we are able to bear, but applying it to physical suffering is not really a very good interpretation of it. I think the verse is talking about the temptation to sin.

    I have sometimes replied that I think God actually does gives us more than we can handle so that we will understand that we are not in control of all things, and that we are but human beings, weak in ourselves. In my own life, I have tried to respond to the circumstances which were beyond my ability to handle as an opportunity to cast myself on Him in surrender, and to express my trust in Him, knowing that I am helpless to do anything to change some things about my situation. And I still fail at times to do that, exposing my weakness in that area (but I AM learning).

    At my age I have come to understand myself well enough to know that if God hadn't allowed certain undesirable circumstances in my life I would be a very shallow, selfish and proud person (more so than I am now, anyways). He has used these things to show me where my own weaknesses lie. He knows what is required to conform me into the image of His Son, and since I have made the commitment to follow Him, this gives Him the permission allow whatever it will take to accomplish this in my life.

    I think God ALLOWS us to go through more than we can handle so that we will cast ourselves on Him. He doesn't allow these things because He wants to destroy us, but rather to test and purify us. BUT that doesn't mean that there are some days I want to yell out, "will you quit purifying me already!!".

    I am reminded of Job's situation and the response of his friends which really were not helpful to him. And yet Job ended up saying, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" and "when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold." These are not words verses we should use in passing when someone is suffering and in need of comfort, but rather we can use them to comfort and reassure ourselves in times of adversity, and as an expression of our faith in Him.

    People mean well when they say some of these things, but then again, maybe people who are suffering can help educate those who are not by challenging some of these cliches and explaining some of these things to them. When faced with these types of statements I try to make that a part of my testimony about what God is teaching me through the suffering.

    Another way I have tried to look at it is that being honest with people about my pain, my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, my inability to "handle" things allows them the opportunity to put into practice gifts God has given them within the body of Christ to minister to me in my time of need. Do they always come through, no, but it could end up being a learning experience for them too.

    With all that being said, (sorry for rambling on), I send you my hugs and prayers. Wish I could do more for you. Thank you for sharing this. It is important to share these things with others who know little about it. We are commanded to bear one another's burdens, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We cannot do that for each other if we are not honest about our joys and struggles.

    So happy for you to hear that Joel's hearing test was good and that Steve has a regular job again.

    Blessings to you and yours!