Because I Remember

Pain demands to be felt.

And yes, that means I saw Fault In Our Stars recently. But I’ve had this post in my drafts for ages. Because I’ve wanted to share, but haven’t known the words to say. That’s the thing about loss, about death … there don’t seem to be any right words.

Every situation is different; every relationship unique. Whether it’s expected, or sudden or hidden – loss hurts deeply. And as much as I always want to say the right thing, the words that will bring light and hope and remembrance, I’ve yet to find them.

“I’m sorry” seems trite. “I’m praying for you” seems obvious. “It will get better” is a lie, because that’s just relative. I usually find myself penning a mix of it all, maybe adding a Scripture or an extra “xo” at the end. No words fully explain or perfectly describe my sympathy, but saying nothing seems worse of all. I send a card or gift not because I want to bring attention to the pain, but because I want my grieving friend to know that I remember. I’m not feeling what they feel and I don’t have a fix, but I remember. And I hope that it’s enough.

In the last year, my circle has seen loss too many times, once is truly too much, but it keeps coming again and again – miscarriage, a father accidentally killed before meeting his first child, sick children, painful diseases. The worst surprises where our only peace comes from knowing there is no more pain and that this earthly home is not eternal.

Those are the things we know. Not necessarily how we feel though. The feelings are deep and raw and mean and painful. They’re encompassing and nothing takes it away. For me, honoring and remembering helps. Not greatly, but in a tiny way.

My initial reaction to loss is to give food. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who have a voracious appetite for home cooked meals and baked goods when under the stress of loss. So, instead, I’ve turned to these three memorial gifts as ways to show I care; that I remember too and hold them deeply in my heart as they feel their pain.

gifts for those experiencing loss

Two years ago a dear friend of mine miscarried one of her twins during her second pregnancy. It broke her heart in ways I can’t imagine and even now, I know she thinks often of her lost son. Especially since she seems a daily reminder in her living twin’s boisterous antics and sweet smile. Every day she knows she is the mother of three boys, two on earth and one in heaven. I gifted her a nest necklace with three little eggs to honor her role as mama to each of her boys.  

This article speaks directly to caring for mama’s who have endured loss of their children.

nest necklace 700wPhoto used by permission from LCS Photography

I first purchased a glassybaby candle votive as a birth candle. I light it for each of my mama friends when their labor begins so I’m reminded to send prayers and well wishes for a swift and safe birth. Lately though, glassybabys have served as beautiful memorial gifts too. They name each of their candles and often times “brother” or “fertile” fit perfectly with the situation of the intended recipient.

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 11.26.04 PM
Last, but not least, and my most favorite is the print I commissioned from My Little Buffalo. One of Dominic’s childhood friends and a groomsmen in our wedding was tragically killed in a work accident last Fall. Just a few weeks before he and his wife had found out they were expecting. At the end of June, their baby arrived earth side and was named after his father – the man he’ll grow to love and admire because we’ll all be here sharing the stories, joy and laughter of who is Daddy was.

memorial sketch 700w
See what I mean? No words seem right to honor these lives. It just hurts. Tears just come. Life just keeps going and sometimes all we can do is remember.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.  But this is also the good news.  They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.  And you come through.  It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” — Anne Lamott

“An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth. Then whispered as she closed the book “too beautiful for earth.” — author unknown

“We have suffered, but we have survived; We are hurting, but we are enduring.” — Ben Van Vechten

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  1. says

    Jesus with skin… that's what the preK teacher called it. It's beautiful. <3

  2. Erika says

    Beautifully said Gretchen. I love all three of your gift ideas. So well thought out and appropriate for the loved ones to remember they are thought of. Love the precious family portrait. Hugs and tears!

  3. Andrea says

    The family picture is wonderful.

    When I got pregnant with my daughter? my mum bought me a small carved statue of a pregnant woman. After I gave birth, she gave us another statue of parents with their baby. When I miscarried my second pregnancy last month, my husband bought me two carved angels from the same collection. The doctor suspects my embryo tried to split after implanting, which would have caused siamese twins, but my body rejected everything. It’s a comfort to have that reminder. It’s true; it’s not a loss I will ever get over. I will learn to live with it, but I will always have a space in my heart to hold my little angels.