Day 5, “Empathy”-
Sometimes empathy comes in the form of a succulent.
Empathy doesn’t mean having the right words. As a matter of fact, words can often trip up a well -meaning attempt at empathy.
This succulent was delivered to my doorstep the morning after the one year anniversary of my son’s death. It came with chocolates and a hug from a friend who had also showed up in year before to help hold me together as I planned my son’s funeral. Empathy had guided this friends actions for an entire year. She knew when to show up, she knew what to do, she knew what to say and what not to say. She knew.
True empathy is rare and beautiful. There have been many beautiful, empathetic gestures over this past year. Some out of the blue and unsuspected. Some a steady and faithful stream. All appreciated. All reminders that I am not alone.
Empathy is not doing or saying what makes the giver feel better. Empathy is looking deeply, placing yourself (even momentarily) in that deep, dark place long enough to say to yourself, “Loosing a child is my deepest fear. It is unspeakably painful to even think about. If I were facing such deep loss, I would need _________.”
That is empathy. Empathy is hard work. If you yearn to walk in true empathy for others, give out words very carefully and be intentional with your actions.
Show up. Be kind. Love well.
Day 6, “Books”-
For years books have been my friends. If you understand my love for words, it certainly makes sense that reading the flow of a beautiful penned story makes me happy.
Imagine my dismay, when I discovered that grief had robbed me of my ability to read. I would sit with a book in my lap for an hour only to discover that I had read the same page over and over, yet still had no idea what it said.
I connected first with “Rare Bird” by @annawhistondonaldson. I found a friend as the words danced across my mind. I can’t remember a time that I have ever felt more grateful for the gift of words and the bravery of a human soul.
I broke the ice and reminded my brain how to work by reading the Giver trilogy by Lois Lowrey- yes, I needed a good dose of junior high fiction.
And then the others rolled along to meet my heart, each in unique ways. Shauna Niequist, Nadia Boltz-Weber, C.S. Lewis, Anne Lamott, Glennon Melton (not shown because I loaned it out), Eben Alexander, and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Each book with a different message for a part of my journey these past 13 months.
Grateful today for words, for stories, and for those who are brave enough to share their journey.
Day 7- “Memory”
This is my son Matthias Samuel Loux. This image reflects his very essence. He was love, joy and peace all wrapped up into one beautiful gift.
This moment was captured on our one and only family vacation, just one month before he died.
Memory to me is slowly becoming not simply what was, not just a vision or feeling from the past. Memory is becoming a welcome friend to the Present.
I’m slowly learning to allow Memories of Mattie to meet me in my Moments of Today. Sometimes the memories invoke sadness, how could they not? But I’m experiencing something new as well, those beautiful moments when Memory joins the Present and enriches it.
Day 8, “Wish List”-
I stand today at the window looking out across this journey called grief, playing back dark days, hopeless days, empty days, and the days my very heart and soul were crushed under a weight that no mother should bare.
And I realize that old wishes, ones like “I wish I could have…”, “I wish I would have…”, “I wish he…”‘, “If only I had…”‘ are not really wishes, but merely regret. Things I cannot change. And I have chosen to let them go lest they break me.
Wishes, wishes are dreams that when captured have the ability to come true.
So today, I wish, and more than wish, I choose to grab hold of these wishes and walk with them. Own them.
I wish to be a woman whose journey inspires and encourages others and allows the lonely, broken heart to feel understood.
I wish to create a life where the memory of my son’s beautiful journey is a living reality of hope and love extended to others. Part of him, in me.
I wish to rise up stronger, braver, and more loving than I was when death stepped in.
I wish for beauty to rise out of the ashes.
Day 9, “Family”-
It goes without saying that the closest people to me in this year of grief have been my husband and my children. We have walked through this past year holding each other up in every possible way. No one walked alone.
But next in line are our nurses and other medical professionals. They celebrated every milestone, laughed at every silly face, and fell in love with the boy who was love itself. They advocated for him, knew him inside and out, worked long shifts, and made sure we took care of ourselves too.
The men and women in this photo are a representation of many.
Some showed up the night he died. Even then, they were the first responders. They knew what to do, and they did it.
These amazing ones, we call family. They mourn with us. They remember with us. They honor our son with us.
Always and forever they are part of The Family of Matthias Samuel Loux.
Day 10, “Words”-
“Grief. It surrounds you. Touches you continually.
Sometimes with peace, and you float in the stillness. But still it is there, touching you, even holding your body in place.
You breathe and are so aware of the presence of it, yet you are able to float, looking to the sky, marveling at the beauty around you.
You feel your heart beat, you are aware of the rise and fall of your chest as you surrender to the crystal earth below you.
The sunsets, you smile. You allow warmth to cover you, as the water gently suspends you above the depths.
The song of birds serenades you. You give thanks.
But the depths are just a breath away.
Sometimes you feel the stir of the waves beginning to start and you brace your heart for the turmoil.
This is when grief forces you to focus only on staying afloat, you can’t look at the clouds; the gentle song of birds is unheard.
It’s just you and the waves, enduring the tossing and turning.
It’s the reality that you’ve been floating in, but it is slapping at your skin, pressing you down, even filling your mouth with the salty taste of it.
And then the times when without warning an intense wave comes out of nowhere and crushes you beneath its weight.
Filling your lungs with the salty sting. You gasp for air and fight for it.
You are pressed under and wrapped in it. Every fiber of your being feels it.
You are capable of containing nothing else.
And the waves come.
And then they go, and you find your rhythm and catch your breath and surrender to the peace of floating.
You rest in the moments of rest and joy and strength.
You are thankful for the things that surround your life with strength and beauty.
You soak in life.
Until the next wave…..
And you are ever grateful that the One who created you is with you in the ocean, or surely you would drown.”
Day 11, “Glow in the Woods”-
There are gifts on this journey- people, books, blogs, or organizations that reach out in the darkness and offer light. The light of understanding and compassion. A hand extended, a word at just the right moment, a “Glow in the Woods”.
Glowing brightly for me have been dear ones like my husband John who has stood in the woods with me without relent, a dear friend who came for just a few hours and shined glowing light onto my path at exactly the right moment, authors like my friend Anna Whiston Donaldson who walks ahead of me, and our counselor at Solace House.
Seeking care for the heart, reaching out for help when the pain is deep, is hard yet vital. We are so grateful for the work of Solace House here in Kansas City. They have provide a true Glow in the Woods along our journey.
For more information about the Capture Your Grief project please visit Carly Marie at Project Heal.