Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 12/04/2012

Three steps toward holiday grace: coping after a child’s death

Gift to self: A reprieve from the pain

I’ve written about holiday survival before, and don’t want to repeat the blog Coping with holidays: Remembering a deceased child, which references pain. There, we explored the difference between honoring a child’s memory and accidentally (or purposefully)  turning other people’s holidays into an unwelcome memorial for your absent child.

Let’s move beyond that discussion now to consider grace, and the possibility of restoring moments of true peace to your holiday experience this year.

tree magesty in missouriGrace is defined by Webster as meaning “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace; a mercy or pardon, a special privilege.

It is an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency; a reprieve. It is an ease, a suppleness of movement or bearing.

Grace is a balm for a desolate or ravaged soul.

Oh, God, why have I forsaken ME?

While conventional belief attributes to God alone the power to bestow Grace, I’m reminded of the story of the person in the flood who, praying for heavenly intercession, turned down the offer of a rescue from disaster workers in a boat. The water rose higher, until it reached the ledge of the uppermost window, when the man then turned away a helicopter rescue, too. The man insisted he had no need of human intercession because he was a person of strong faith, and so he knew (and wanted to prove) that God would snatch him up from the peril.

When the water reached the rooftop and it seemed evident that the man was about to drown from his perch atop the roof, he called out to God in chastisement — he cried out the familiar refrain “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

To which God responded, “What were you waiting for? Who do you think sent the boat and the helicopter!”

Like the man of this parable, we often look past the potential grace offered us by friend sent to help lift us up, or by the family member ready to listen or to host a holiday meal. We confuse a momentary setting down of our grief as a capitulation, as losing our grip on the passion and devotion we hold in our hearts for our child, but it is not a betrayal. It is the rest our soul craves and needs, even when our restless minds and aching  hearts most resist it and most resent the soul for needing it.

Three steps toward grace

1. Open your heart to the possibility of grace. Imagine how it would feel — not to be “normal” again, but to be different — to walk in a state of Grace for even one hour, one full day. Then ask your Higher Power for help to achieve it, and you define “Higher Power” however you are most comfortable. ( I’m not sent to convert, only to witness and then to respect individual choices).

2. Take time out when you are fatigued with people and, whenever possible, seek Grace in quiet moments in nature or with animals. Take a walk in a botanical garden or a dog park to help strengthen your connection to unconditional beauty, love and life.

3. When emotions rise (they will ebb and flow), let the pain flow through you, in and out. Acknowledge it, accept it, and then let it go. Imagine yourself not as a steel post against which waves crash, but like a loosely woven net through which water flows.

You have been sent a boat, my friend. May we help you aboard?

Thanks for joining us at The Watering Hole. Your comments and “Likes” are appreciated. JGP

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