Monday, October 9, 2017

Tool box for the grieving special needs mom

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

We all have those days, minutes, and hours when the grief and loss is overwhelming. Studies show that the special needs mom has cyclical grieving when a milestone is missed; when the stress of care is overwhelming; when the misses and losses spiral out of control, grieving returns, in some portion or some set of emotions. The grieving returns often, sometimes anticipated, sometimes provoked, mostly out of the blue.

Most recently, when my daughter hit puberty, I had quite a few very difficult days. The “should have beens” and “could have beens” overwhelmed. It should have been a time of celebration, rejoicing in the changes she was going through in body, mind, and spirit. Mostly, it was a time of great loss of what will never be, both in her relationship with me and her relationship with others.  

We special needs moms, have become the world’s biggest experts on how to grieve. But it is essential to get through to the end of grieving each time. Getting stuck in one part of grieving is debilitating. 

God has given me a “tool box,” things I can go to for a return of a little emotional stability.   My tool box is filled with things that He created, and that remind me of His enduring, passionate love for me and my family. My tool box has my “go to” resources, not for “fixing” the grieving, but for moments of relief during the grieving. I would love to share these with you today:
  • Feel what you are feeling, cry if needed. Allow yourself to feel sad. Identify what it is that is causing the feelings. And most especially, as I am learning, do not to mask the feelings with something else, like denial or anger. I have to choose to go ahead and feel sad, feel the loss. Acknowledging it, feeling it, and crying it out is healing, but I have to allow myself to go ahead and do that.
  • Sit still and let music wash over you. It could be classical, pop, country, lullabies, different for different days, different seasons. What matters is that the music is encouraging, not heavy. I have a few go-to songs and ones that my sweet friends add to the list. I believe God gave music as a soothing balm. 
  • Get extra rest. When I am grieving, I physically need more sleep. When the waking hours are filled with sadness, the emotional time is very draining. I focus on getting to bed as soon as the kids do, even attempting to get a nap during those days.
  • Focus on being around people who are “safe.” I recently saw a great saying — “Safe people do 3 things: bring us closer to God, closer to others, and closer to who we were truly made to be.” I call these folks my “foul weather friends,” people who will listen, comfort, pray, and let me cry. The ones who will say “I don’t know how to fix this or what to do, but I love you and I will be with you when you cry.”
  • Do light reading. I love to get lost in a little story from another time or place, God stories, of family, hope, and encouragement. Something very “light,” not heavy emotionally, not strong characters, not explosions or drama or strong heavy words and circumstances. Light reading with gentle characters. My favorite authors for light reading are Jan Karon and LM Montgomery, ladies who have spoken truth to me in story form.
  • Choose carefully to whom you listen. Use discernment to let God show you which people to listen to. Be very careful who you let speak in to your life — only those who speak truth in love. “Turn off” people who speak unkindness, who speak of “self,” who speak in harshness. God has given me an awesome podcast to listen to – Timothy Keller. On a recent podcast he talked about what deep grieving can do to us without a personal relationship with Christ. Another of my favorites is Ann Voskamp. She gets the grieving and the brokenness of life, and encourages truth in love.
  • Ask God to give you Scripture to study, and stand on. He speaks to us through His word. I trust His words. He comforts me and gives me peace through His word. But even more than that, He continues to show me who He is through his word.  He shows me his character – as sovereign, as faithful, as unending in his love and concern and care. 
  • Journal – write it all down, every last bit of it. I pray over that stuff and release it. People can’t handle the hurt that I feel over my girlie. But God can. I write it all down and tell him. He takes it off of me and puts it on himself.
  • Get outside. Nature does speak of who God is and what He has done. The sound of the rain beating on the roof soothes my soul, and lets me know His power is for me. Girlie loves the sound of birds and squirrels as they work around us.
  • Walk, walk walk. When you can’t do anything else, walk it out. Burning off the hurt is a good release. The “first step is the hardest,” the saying goes, especially when grieving leaves you drained. Also, I have to be prepared that some emotions can feel more intense when the endorphins from exercise get flowing, which will sometimes start me crying and then it is released.
  • Be thankful. Circumstances stink. They cause grieving. But God gives me something I can be thankful for in it. It is a very personal thing, these “thankful things.” When I ask Him, he will always show me something. 

I thank God for the tool box He gave me, that He uses to walk me through the grieving process each time. God has used these in my life to keep me from getting “stuck” at some point of the grieving process.

Let’s pray:

Thank you, Lord, for the resources you gave me to get through the times of deep grieving, over the losses associated with having a child with severe physical and mental disability. I thank you for creating a world that points me to you, to your character and love. I pray that you would continue to help me stand on what I know to be true about you. I pray for that grieving mom, that she would see you today. In your name we pray, Amen.

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