I love trees! THEY refresh me and soothe my soul. They provide shade from the heat, shelter from the rain, and a place to hide, climb, or build a tree house. When transition is thrust on them through the seasons, they adapt. Trees mature in summer and change colors and drop leaves in fall. They know when to shut down to survive winter and when to sprout new beginnings in springtime. Some trees, like the sequoias in northern California, grow in clusters. Their roots web together, enabling them to withstand strong, blustery winds.
Like trees, you will need to endure different seasons in your grief. There will be times when you will need to be rooted in a support system of relationships. Often through the years and in my grief journey I have felt guilty and uncaring about not maintaining friendships the way I thought I should. My list of expectations included remembering birthdays, meeting regularly, sharing meaningful conversation, and writing or calling often.
I was freed from my slavery of expectations when I heard a friend share about the seasons of friendship. She told me that it is normal to have different friends through different seasons of one's life. Some are with you through childhood, singleness, and college. Others come alongside of you when you start your career, marriage, or family. Some friends spend a season with you to help you grow spiritually or support you through a change or crisis. And some are friends with you through your grief.
That's how God used Dottie in my life--to mentor me and be a friend through my season of loss and grief. Several years ago, I walked through Dottie's miscarriage and her baby's death. Throughout the months of her pregnancy and through the birth and death of her daughter, Elizabeth, our friendship grew. A move separated us. Our friendship entered the winter season and was "shut down," but I always felt a kindred spirit with Dottie. Years later when I discovered that my baby would die with the same birth defect as hers, I knew I could make it through because she had. Her friendship had given me courage.
When we reconnected after my son's death, I felt as if we were experiencing springtime in our friendship. She shared new insights about grief with me and what to expect in my months and years ahead. She empathized with my fear of having another child. She is praying for me as I write this book. Only God knows how many seasons Dottie and I will journey on as friends. For now, God has connected us through our grief, and I am grateful.
Jesus wants us to make the most of our seasons of friendship. He met people in the season of life when they needed Him most. Picture the paralytic, the leper, the blind man. The twelve disciples needed Jesus' friendship to teach them, and Jesus knew they would need each other's. Jesus is your caring, faithful friend during this season of your life when you need Him most. He will never leave you nor forsake you and will be your friend for all seasons. He has provided others to support you during this time in your life. Your "Jesus-with-skin-on" friends understand your pain and are tangible reminders of His love and concern for you. In time, you'll be able to support others who need a friend for a season. Stay close to Jesus. He will guide you. (Kathe Wunnenberg)
And on another note of friendship...
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" Gal 6:2The law of Christ is to love--even when it is difficult or uncomfortable...It's easy to become caught up in our own lives and not look out for each other. The truth is, a five-minute phone call or a short note in the mail may be all that a desperate lonely person needs that day to keep them from utter despair.
Why do we so quickly, easily, close off from others? Why do we forget that when someone is in the midst of difficulty and pain, survival becomes all-consuming? During those times, we can hardly see the dark cloud that surrounds us. We become incapable of dealing with our own needs. That's when we need true friends to be there for us, emotionally and in practical ways. A small offer of love is all it takes to communicate, "You're special. You're important. You're worth taking the time for...." (Bernadette Keaggy)
I love this chapter from one of the books that I read. I know I've lost track of a few friendships over the last nine months and it makes me sad. Reading this chapter made me realize that when dealing with grief this is normal. I seclude myself/protect myself because it is how I have survived. How I am surviving. There are very few people who have dealt with exactly what I am dealing with. Few people know my pain. Know my loss. I am dealing with infertility (and the emotional baggage of IVF), the loss of my beautiful twin daughters Alayna and Ella, and miscarrying Luke...the lil guy who should have been my Rainbow baby. I know that I am not the only one hurting. That I am not the only one suffering. But right now it seems like I am. So here I sit in my own little world. So please be patient with me. Please try to understand me. And please try to be sensitive towards me. And know that I love ALL my seasons of friends...each and every single one of you!!!
A friend loves at all times... Proverbs 17:17