Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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I'm Human

     I'm human.  There’s no way around it.  Believe it or not, you're human too.  I’m pretty sure you can’t get around it either.

     You may wonder why this is important.  It’s simple.  In principal, anyway.  Maybe not so much in practice.  Let me explain.

     My nine-year-old daughter passed away, and I mourned for her.  After some months had passed, I thought I had the grief under control.  I reached a turning point where I was able to rest in God’s love, infinite wisdom, and tender mercy.  Then life happened.  A young woman I had known for years fell in love.  She even had the audacity to get engaged.

     What does this have to do with me?  This is where the putting-things-into-practice gets harder than the believing-them-in-principal.

     I couldn't have been happier for the young woman (who probably thinks my referring to her as a “young woman” makes her sound fourteen when she’s really in her mid-20s and well established in the world).  In watching her life, though, I couldn't help but be reminded of all I had lost.

     When you have a child, before that child is even born, you have so many hopes and dreams for that little baby.  Your plans for their future might change as they get older, develop their own personality, and (gasp!) begin to act independently.  The fact remains, though, that you, as the parent, have dreams for your child.

     As the mother of a daughter, I had certain expectations.  I was going to see my little girl grow up, fall in love, get married and have a family of her own.  She wasn't limited in life to just those things, but they were all part of the future I saw for her.

     I love and miss my daughter every day.  Some days, however, have more reminders than others.  It took me a while to figure that out.  Wedding announcements, gift registry notices, and pictures of young happy smiling couples turned out to be especially painful.I hadn't expected that, and I was in no way prepared for it.

     I thought I already had an intimate understanding of grief.  This particular facet, though, blindsided me.  The absolute and utter joy of two people I love became a brutal reminder of all the hopes and dreams for my own daughter that would never come to fruition.

     My reaction, of course, made me feel like a selfish cad.  How could I take their excitement and make it all about me?

     Yet here I am, grieving for what I have lost.  I mourn for everything that could have been, for all that might have happened.  Experiences, adventures, laughs, hugs, and shared secrets that should have been in our future.  

The chance to see her fall in love.  To watch her eyes light up with excitement as she tells me about him.  To see the joy on her face when she shows me the ring.  A chance to make wedding plans and watch her try on dresses.  I will never wear a mother-of-the-bride corsage.

I mourn the never-to-be news of her growing family, the jubilance with which she would have decorated the nursery, her giddiness at the sight of the first ultrasound pictures.  I grieve for her laughter as I most assuredly would have given her crazy name suggestions (just to hear the sound of that laughter, of course).  I will never see her hold her newborn baby for the first time.  For that, too, I grieve.

     As the wedding of this happy young couple approached, I struggled with my reaction.  I looked forward to rejoicing the joining of two beautiful lives into one godly family.  That's something worth celebrating.  Yet, at the same time that I wanted to cheer for them, I felt the weight of their impending wedding crushing me, squeezing away all my breath, and causing an ache so deeply buried within my chest that nobody could hug it away.

     What can I do?  Should I feel badly that it still hurts to think of the loss of my daughter?  Is guilt the right emotion for those days when missing her hurts so much that I can't stop the tears from coming?  I can't think that's right.  God made us with all those emotions that swirl about in our innermost being.  We were made to feel.

     Today is the day I extend grace.  To myself.  I am human, and I'm not going to be able to get around that no matter how hard I try.  My faith is solid, but my heart is still broken.  I know my daughter is in heaven and that I will see her again someday.  There will still be times, though, when something in life happens (like a young couple falling in love and getting married), that reminds me anew of all I lost the day my daughter died.  Those days will occur, and I extend grace to myself for days like that.  It's okay to be taken by surprise and swamped in sadness.  It's okay to cry.  It's okay to grieve for what will never be.

     I will remember this, though:  When those days come and my emotions overwhelm me, I have a choice about what to do with those feelings.  I choose, in the midst of pain worse than I ever imagined possible, to trust everything I know about the character of God.  He is the One I hold onto.  He is the One to whom I cling.  Even when life hurts.


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I lost my 16 year old daughter in a car accident 18 months ago. This summer I attended the wedding of a good friend's daughter. I had EXACTLY the same reaction -- and struggle -- as you describe. I have no words of wisdom, or way to avoid or deal with the onslaught of emotions you so aptly describe. The happy tears (for them) and oh...the sad, sad tears for me...and I know it will not be the last time I feel this way. My only comment is that you aren't alone in your feelings. So many of us mourn the future we can't have with our children.

I can't even begin to comprehend your pain. But I watch my mom struggle to get through life without my dad, and wish she had half the faith you do. I know she'd be able to cope much better if she did.

I am so sorry for your loss. I know just the thought of losing one of my boys breaks my heart so I can imagine how you feel. I wish there was something that I could say to take away the pain, but I know there are no words that can do that. All I can say is I'm sorry for your loss. Just doesn't seem adequate does it?

Having lost a daughter at age 2-1/2 myself, and then more than a decade later, the nephew I'd been raising at age 11, I hear you. We can't possibly understand the reasons why, only accept what is. So many happy times passed without me because I wouldn't attend, not out of resentment but because I was well aware of an air of sadness I carried for years - mostly because just as sadness would pass a fresh loss would occur, reminding me, opening the scars. I do have a relationship with God now, but for years I was SO ANGRY with Him that I ignored Him. Thankfully, He didn't ignore me, nor give up on me.

No words can express what I'd like to say. In theory, I'd like to come over and give you a big hug. I've got two girls (one of them 9 yrs old) and I would not know how to handle a loss like yours. I admire your strength as you take on each day w/out your precious girl. There's a beautiful song and the words are along this line: You're gone now, gone but not forgotten. I can't say this to your face But I know you hear.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Beautifully expressed, Heather. I have two daughters of my own and can only imagine the grief of losing one of them. I am glad you've decided to extend yourself grace. You are not a selfish cad. Your feelings are completely understandable. And you're right to put your faith and trust in God. The rest of our words are comparatively empty and cannot possibly comfort you the way He can.

God bless. I have a handsome son in heaven. They have not died just changed

So bittersweet. I am so sorry you hurt so much, and I'm so grateful that you have a knowledge of God to strengthen you!