“Why do so many things have to remind me of her?” she asks with silvery pools rimming her cobalt eyes.
In her short decade, my daughter has experienced more loss than most adults I know.
Abigail perches herself beside me and sinks into the down comforter. She tucks her knees into her chest, then rests her chin in the crook formed between them.
I sigh while my heart seeks God in search of comforting words. I wish I could kiss away her pain like I used to.
“Because you love her,” I answer.
It’s been nearly two years since Christmas lights first cast a shadow over our hearts. Two long years since merriment mixed with mourning and the season of joy became a season of bittersweet struggle.
I’ve learned to appreciate the mourning. Deep grief is a sign you have deeply loved.
I once suffered an anaphylactic reaction. In an instant the air I’d taken in effortlessly hung out of reach. I gasped and wheezed with swollen effort. In that moment, I knew desperation.
Grief is like anaphylaxis of the soul. Love that once flowed freely is choked off. Grief’s long-reaching fingers clench your heart so hard you wonder if you’ll ever come out from under the weight of your own skin. If you’ll breathe again.
The red-lettered words you’ve believed for so long seem to buckle under immense sorrow. The promises that were so real and alive, feel distant and far off―no matter how desperately you cling to them.
You want nothing more than to rewind the clock and rewrite the story.
Even years later, the scent of freshly baked gingerbread or ring of candle-lit carols cinch your soul. Grief presses down with renewed vigor as if the clock’s hands remain perpetually stuck in sadness.
Even when you know God is there. Even when you see He is doing good things. There are days when you feel like you’re drowning but can’t see the water.
So you hold on to those red-lettered words like your life depends on it, because it does. And you carry on, because others are depending on you.
A friend wraps your hand in hers until one day, you find the wheezing has eased. The tears still fall, but you smile for a moment before you cry. You talk about it, and it’s okay.
You choose to trust God, and stop struggling to understand. Your lungs fill. Your lips praise. And it’s not just okay, it’s good.
Before long, you’re the one lacing fingers through a friend’s grief. The one sharing tears. The calm in her storm.
She believes you. And together, you believe Him. She holds on to you because she’s witnessed your heartbreak. You discover you’re capable of real, raw love like never before.
You marvel at what God has done. And you think this must be what it means to be blessed.
I want to whisper all these things into the hurting heart curled up beside me. The one that seems far too young to carry this burden.
I want to explain the inexplicable. To put words to it all. I long to help her understand deep loss prepares the way for great love. To help her see her pain has value.
I want her to know she is being equipped to love like Christ loves her. She will be a greater blessing in the lives she was created to touch because of her heartache.
But I can’t form the words.
“I’m sorry you’re hurting, honey. I love you.”
It doesn’t feel like enough. I press my lips against the line where dark strands meet fair skin.
“How about an ABC prayer? You go first.”
She nods, then rests her head beside mine. She wraps her fingers around my palm. “A. Thank you God for apples.” She starts, tucking her bottom lip between her teeth.
My turn. “B. Thank you God for breath.”
Abigail turns her face toward mine. I reach out and smooth a cool tear across a handful of freckles. The corners of her mouth curve upward.
She’s catching her breath. It’s going to be okay.
We’re going to be okay.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
My heart aches for your little one – too young to bear so much grief. But, I have a vision of her grief molding a heart that is filled with compassion for others. She will be able to empathize and sympathize because she has been there. She will lace her fingers through those of others who are grieving and she will be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. She will have the confidence in knowing that no matter what happens in life, that God is ALWAYS faithful and sees us through our trials. She will know that the waters will not sweep over her because the ever lasting arms have got her. These are all gifts born of pain and suffering….examples of how God brings beauty from ashes and good from what others meant for harm. I see a beautiful woman of God who has been coached by her loving momma to cast her cares on God and continue to praise Him through the pain. She will be a blessing to many. Thank you so much for sharing….and God bless you and your little one.
Heather, what a beautiful daughter you have. Thanks for sharing this story. Bev, what a thoughtful reply and I can’t agree with you more. Such beautiful words from both Heather and Bev.
Blessings to all…
Thank you, Kathleen. She is beautiful inside and out. Many blessings to you this Christmas season.
Thank you for your encouraging words, Bev. I know The Lord will use these difficult times, as well as the good for His glory. Have a blessed Christmas.
So beautifully written and expressed. Thank you!
Thank you, Tara.
Val Buick says
Wow…you have captured the feelings of grief using words. Thank you for sharing your heart. As one experiencing the struggle to breathe due to grief this Christmas, I am touched by your story.
Blessings to you and your young one.
God Is good. All the time. Even when it’s hard.
Yes, He is Val. He has shown this to be true over and over in my life. I pray you will be filled with His peace and strength. Much love.
Michele Morin says
Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry that you and your daughter have to walk the sad path of grief.
But you are doing it so beautifully. That idea of an ABC prayer is golden — and what a great way to pull the focus back where it belongs.
Thank you, Michelle. We love the abc prayer. I first heard of it in a message given by Max Lucado. It works beautifully when one of our little ones is afraid at night too. 🙂
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
I’m so sorry that your daughter and your family are journeying through grief. I want to send a hug and a thank you for sharing this today. I’m hurting and gasping for air. It’s the second Christmas without my mom, her birthday is also in December, and the second anniv of her arrival into heaven is in January. I haven’t slept a full night since December began. I’m grateful for a lot- but there is a deep ache. Your words touched me today and gave a glimpse of hope.
Oh Kathleen, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. You must be hurting deeply. How much I wish I could take away your pain! I’m praying that your hope will grow and you will find peace in your struggle. All my love to you and your family.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Heather, thank you so very much. I so appreciate your prayers-they will keep me going.
Tiana Franca says
Kathleen, i’m so very sorry for the loss of your mom. I will keep you in my prayers this holiday season <3
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Tiana, thank you so very much. I will be praying for you as well. <3
We just lost our sweet daughter in law suddenly in August….my son and my precious 12yr old grandson are hurting so. Thank you for these words today….God’s loving arms will sustain us. He is so faithful!
I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Susan. You are right, He will sustain us. Your family is in my prayers.
Thank you, Heather, so very much.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Susan, I’m so sorry for your sudden loss. And especially for your grandson. I will be keeping you all in my prayers. Sending a gentle hug.
Thank you, Kathleen, for remembering us in your prayers…especially Ethan. We receive your sweet hug!
Tiana Franca says
I’m so very sorry for your loss, Susan. I will be praying for you and your family <3
Thank you, Tiana,very much.
Missy Robinson says
Beautifully expressed – thank you.
Thank you, Missy. 🙂
Thank you,Heather, for your beautifully written words. I can relate so well and understand the pain of grief that literally takes your breath away with its intensity. Today marks a decade of Christmases without my mom. Christmas was such a special time of year for her, rich with meaning and tradition. Over the years I’ve carried on many of the traditions and at Christmas time more than ever, I feel such a closeness to her, and can almost hear her laughter and see her sparkling eyes.
I’m grateful for the memories that hold her near. Grateful that I had such a wonderful mom to love and who loved me! And grateful that she is and always will be a huge part of my life!!
Blessings to you and your family, Heather. As you navigate through this season and griefs emotional roller coaster, may the peace and love of Christ be your closest companions. May your hearts be filled with hope knowing that He will turn your mourning into joy and make beauty out of the ashes. Oh, has He done so for me! Hugs ❤️
Beautiful Lori. Blessings to you and your family. Xoxo ❤
Thank you, Stephanie!!
Thank you for your kindness, Lori. Your words are truly a blessing and an encouragement. Much love.
Heather, praying for you and your kind hearted daughter. May God bless you both with comfort and peace. Amen ❤
Thank you, Stephanie. I truly appreciate it.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It will be two years for us on Jan 23rd. I to spend a lot of time with our daughter (4years old) walking these waters of grief. She misses her big brother so very much. I love your ABC prayer. Something I will start too. What better place to be than a thankful one…even…especially when we are broken.
Oh Iris, my heart breaks for your loss. I can’t take credit for the abc prayer. I saw Max Lucado use it in a message once, but I can testify that it works. It works when your heart is broken, when you’re afraid or angry. And it has been a source of great comfort and healing for our children. I hope your family will experience the same. I am praying for you and your sweet little girl. ((Hugs))
Susan Shipe says
Heather, I don’t know what your pain is but I felt it deeply. Our family has been through much tumultuous grief over the years – and it is exactly as you describe ‘choking to death’.
You are a living example of 2 Corinthians 1.3-4 and one day your daughter will be also.
Heartfelt prayers for you this Christmas season. xo
Thank you so much, Susan. I truly never knew how much a broken heart could hurt until I lived through deep grief, yet I’ve seen God transform that pain into a blessing for others. God is good, even when it’s hard and we don’t understand. Much love.
Beautifully written, and a testament to the fact that He is Emmanuel, God with us, however unimaginable our grief. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Lora. He is with us always. ❤️
Thank you for this encouragement. I could never find the right words to describe my feelings of grief until I read this. This is how I feel about my situation. It is a grieving process and I know God is with me and will guide me through it.
I’m so glad you found this encouraging, Felicia. It was my hope and prayer as I wrote these words that God would use our heartache to encourage others. Thanks for sharing, it means a lot to me. I’ll be praying for you.
Theresa Little says
Thank you for sharing. 2016 has been a hard year with the passing of my father, my husband’s step-father, other deaths of those we’ve known, my 13 year old’s struggle with depression, and other trials. It has been a hard year, but God has seen us through. Looking forward to what He will do in 2017.
Theresa, I’m sorry this has been a hard year for you and your family. Depression is a difficult battle indeed. I am praying for you and your child. May 2017 be a year of peace and hope for you all. ((Hugs))
Thank-you for your thoughtfully written post. I’m sorry your daughter is going through this at such a young age. Despite her pain you sound like a real blessing to her. I’ll pray that pain eases away.
Blessings to you both,
Thank you for your prayers, Penny. They make all the difference and I truly appreciate it. ❤️
Jayne Smith says
All the comments…what to add, “Then sings my soul”. God is our LOVE.
How great He is, Jayne! May He send a special blessing your way today.
Christina Hubbard says
Heather, you captured the part of grief that we can’t control and the part of healing that helps most: being with. Such great honesty and tenderness in your words. Thank you for sharing your story, dear friend!
Thank you, Christina. I’m so thankful that we are never on this journey alone. Your encouragement means a lot to me. Much love. ❤️
Heather, may our Lord be praised for this beautiful sharing of the heart. I am so sorry that your daughter and you have to journey through this time of grief. Yet there is such wisdom already being grown from this in seeing how God uses this for good, molding this broken into new life within you both in compassion, mercy, and love so that you may comfort with the comfort you have been given. What blessed grace to hear this comfort here, to see your humility, and His healing 🙂 May our Lord continue to bring His great love and healing to you both this Christmas 🙂
Thank you, An. He is worthy to be praised! I never cease to be amazed by the depths of His love and compassion. In our darkest moments, He is by our side. May the Lord bless you greatly today and always.
As i lay another night staring at the ceiling in grief too deep for words, i grabbed my cell to read these words: Deep pain is a sign you have deeply loved. AND BEEN LOVED I might add. This is the 3rd Christmas without my only 2 sons. My heart continues to bleed as if poked full of holes with a knife. God’s increduble grace soothes me thru another night. Thank you God for your everlasting love.
So true, Nan. We are deeply loved. I’m so sorry you have suffered such a deep and painful loss. I’m praying God will wrap you in His comforting arms even at this moment. ((Hugs))
I almost didn’t read this story as I have a hard enough time during Christmas. But I did and I just had to say thank you. So many of us see all the joy around us and it can make this time of year that much harder. The grief and sorrow can be so deep it’s hard not to be angry at others joy. Your statement deep grief means deep love is one of the most comforting I’ve heard in a long time. Thank you and may God bless you and bring your daughter peace.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and share your thoughts, Barb. I’m so glad you found it comforting. The hurt and loss in our lives seems to amplify at Christmas time for me. It helps to know that I’m not alone in my struggle. I’m praying God will bring you peace and hope this holiday season. Much love. ❤️
Beth Williams says
So sorry your little one has to bear such grief. God will use that grief and heal her. Over time the pain and grief will ease. God never promised us we wouldn’t have trials & troubles down here. But the trial will help her to empathize with others. She will be able to help others going through such trials. She has a good momma who knows how to sit quietly with her daughter and just let her cry. Now she will be able to do the same with her friends.
Have a blessed Christmas! 🙂
Thank you , Beth. You’re words are very encouraging to this momma’s heart. My daughter is a tender-hearted soul and I am so thankful to have her in my life. Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season.
You have stated beautifully what grief can do to you and be like – during the holidays. It can sneak up on you at the most in opportune times…it doesn’t care a whit if you’re supposed to be fa-la-la happy. It can rise up over you like some kind of rogue wave on an open sea. I absolutely have to cling to God’s promises when those times come along and threaten to drag me under. May God bless you.
Beautifully said, Lynette. Thank you and may the Lord bless you this new year and always.