Her fear was that going to that young man's funeral would take her back to that horrible place just after the death of her own son. As we talked on the phone, I could hear the heartache and fear in her voice and she kept saying "I should go, I should go, but I don't think I can!"
Listening to her anguish was heartbreaking and I understood her fears and concerns about going to the funeral. Though she wanted to support and comfort his mom, she was afraid that she couldn't handle going somehow.
As we ended our conversatio, I said "You don't have to go to the funeral, but, if you do, remember that it's not your son, you've already buried your child, this is not happening to you again - this is someone else's son and grief. Not your's."
Knowing her as I do, I knew that she would muster up the compassion and courage that she needed to attend the funeral and offer her sympathy to the family. She did go to the funeral and she told me later that it helped for me to remind her that it wasn't her son's funeral - that was behind her and it was important for her to be present to this grieving mom new in her loss.
No one can understand another's journey in this life, whether it be similar or completely different. Each person's journey is their own and it's not for anyone else. In companioning with many hurting moms over the past 14 years, since Kevin's death and during the 10 years that I was the co-founding director of the ministry Mothers LIke Me, I often had to remind myself that I didn't need to fully understand another mom's pain and sorrow or journey, but rather simply be present to them. I did find it challenging, however, to not return to "that place of pain" that I had once experienced, but I did come to realize that I didn't have to go back to that place where my journey through grief began, I have passed through the "valley of the shadow of death," and I don't have to re-live that everytime I come alongside someone who is grieving.
Another important lesson I learned was that I shouldn't expect anyone, even those who have suffered the loss of someone they love to understand my journey - my journey is my own and it is not intended "for them."
With Faith, Hope and Love,
Angie "a mom like you"