Welcome to My Club by Nancy Hamlin
I spend most of my time making decisions about things I control. Everything from what I want to buy at the grocery store, to what I want to wear today, to when I am going to get a new car, to who I am going out to dinner with tonight, to who I feel like talking to, to who I want to email…..you get the picture. Most of us spend our time making our own decisions about our own lives, sometimes consulting with others, often not.
When death comes rushing into our lives, it is like a tidal wave washing over us. All of a sudden we are furiously treading water, swimming, trying to get our head above the waves just to catch our breath. My problem with this image is that I didn’t get to choose to jump into the water. I didn’t ask to have a tidal wave wash over my life. I am spending all of my energy, all of my survival skills on something that I never, ever wanted in my life. What is going on? I do not want to be here. I do not want to improve my swimming skills or my treading water skills. I want to be on dry land.
Once I experienced a major death in my life, I became a very unwillingly member of the “survivor of a death” club. I did not choose to be a part of this club. I do not want to be part of this club. Again, I keep coming back to having no choice in the matter. But here I am and I have to live in this. I need to try and figure out what being in this club means.
While being in this club has many things about it I do not like, I have to admit it has totally changed my attitude towards life and death, and providing comfort and care to others going thru this similar journey. Before my mother died, I had no idea what it felt like to lose someone I loved; to experience the depth of the pain, and the incredible heaviness of the feelings. I didn’t know the length of time it took to get on dry land again. Now I “get” it. Before, I didn’t.
Now, because I “get” what it is like to experience a death, I can be a completely different type of support system for my family and friends. Being “in the club” allows me to offer empathy, love, care, appropriate support, and words and actions that were totally foreign to me before joining the club. I didn’t know how to treat someone walking through a death before I walked through my own experience.
Am I a better friend? YES. Am I am a better boss? YES. Am I a better family member? YES.
And maybe that makes being in this club not so bad sometimes. I try to remember this when I can reach out and truly comfort someone who trusts my care…because I have been there; when I can talk and just listen, and not fix someone who is hurting…because I have been there; when I can hug someone without being asked…because I have been there; when I can just be there… because I have been there.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NLT)
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