cupcakes and carrier pigeons: talking to the grieved

 

Engraving of "carrier pigeons" (actu...
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One of our church pastors lost his mom to cancer last week. For the last Wednesday Family Night this year, the kids made sympathy cards for him.

 

There’s nothing a child can say that’s insensitive when we lose a loved one. A few of the cards read, “I hope your family is all right.”

Another card read, “God blesses you.” Not “bless” but “blesses” because he’s already done it. Other kids wrote “Happy Thanksgiving” with pictures of turkeys because they didn’t know what to write, which is also perfectly okay.

It’s when we reach adulthood we feel we have to have the most perfectly chosen words to say to someone suffering a huge loss. I have that problem too even though I lost a brother myself. I can talk to children, though. Words come a little easier when comforting kids.

As our pastor read the cards, one girl who lost her dad 2 years ago held him crying. I requested a hug from her. And then I felt like her daddy embracing her. As we shared tears, I said, “Your daddy is SO proud of you.”

The thing is, I never knew her dad. He passed away shortly after I started attending this church. I wasn’t sure how he passed away, I knew it was fast like my brother’s passing from a brain aneurysm.

Grief is God’s way of making us remember. If we had no grief, we’d lose the memories of those who’ve passed on. If we fight the sadness then it’s just like closing the door or forming a wall around these people. If there’s a way for me to keep those doors open and avoid the bricks and mortar, then I’ll do it. Consider me a carrier pigeon.

Another girl walked up to us and wanted to know why the girl I embraced was crying. I said, “Because she misses her daddy.”

The girl asked, “Why are you crying?”

I said, “Because I know how much she misses her daddy.”

Our senior pastor lost his son to murder last year. I never knew what to say to him in person. I knew how to form his words into poetry, but never knew what to say in person. Until Wednesday night, I only managed “Hello.”

This time, I had an excuse to talk to him. I grabbed a few trays of cupcakes I brought for the kids and walked into his classroom where he was about to teach his adult class. I peeked in and asked, “We have way too many of these things for the kids, it’s too much sugar. Would your class like them?”

“Sure,” he said.

Maybe it wasn’t exactly what I thought I’d say. Instead of saying, “I’m so sorry your son left this earth this way. If he were here, I know he’d tell you how proud he is of you of not only carrying on with your work as a church pastor, but standing upright. He’d say you’re a great example to everyone out there who suffers such horrible losses,” it came out as, “Um, do you want a cupcake?”

Not quite his son’s carrier pigeon message, but still, I broke the silence.

After the class I came and picked up the treats, all seven trays of cupcakes under my chin, feeling victorious for finally breaking the ice and falling through.

 

 

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