Category Archives: grief and trauma

moving forward. always.

It’s all a mess, of course.
We run into it knowing that we have a plan
We run into it knowing that we have the knowledge
to fix it
to solve it
to make it better
We burn to fix it, to solve it, to make it better
So the fact the we have the change to
put the plan into action
and use our knowledge to make it better
must mean that all will be well
because
we are ready
to make it well.

But then,
we wake up to the news of
all gone wrong.
all unexpected.
all that is against all we’d hoped for
worked for
longed for
waited for
prayed for.

It’s in that moment
of course,
that we realize it’s all a mess
and we begin to wonder if plans and knowledge
and we begin to wonder if the burn to solve it, to fix it
are an existential mocking of sorts.

And yet
even waking up to the news of
loss
death
murder
backward
pointlessness

we can’t help but rub our eyes and
do our best to face forward
and look upward
and work to put our plans and knowledge
back to work
knowing that we may not actually ever get what we hope for
but knowing even more that
we are not willing to hope for less.
Even in the mess.
So we move
forward.

always.

and so we are bold to pray.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

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Remembering Sam Bomar today

In remembering the life and legacy of Sam Bomar today, even as just a few days ago multiple scholarships were given from the Sam Bomar Scholarship Fund, special thanks again and as usual to Rayna Bomar for her important and thoughtful words.

Originally posted April 2, 2012 as a guest post by Rayna Bomar, that post and its subsequent comments can be found HERE.

rayna bomar guest posts

This is the first guest post here on mosthopeful.com, and I couldn’t be more convinced of its appropriateness. Hugh and Rayna Bomar have become friends of mine these last few years, and their ongoing journey of remembering their son Sam has had an impact in my own life. I hope you glean from Rayna’s words about what has helped and what has not helped as she has been on her own very personal journey with grief. 

In August 2009, as my son Sam started his senior year of high school, I happened upon an essay by a woman named Mimi Swartz entitled “Empty Nest: In a Week He’ll Be Gone – And I Can’t Stand It.”  Her son, also named Sam, was leaving for college a year before my Sam would leave, and I read her words to prepare for what, I thought, I would be experiencing the following August. And, the following August, I did share some of the life changes described by Swartz – dinner for three became dinner for two, my schedule no longer revolved around the school calendar, and the “mundane rituals of child rearing,” just as Swartz had predicted, were gone.  But my role as a mother changed for a reason not anticipated. My Sam didn’t leave for college. Instead, he died on May 4, 2010, ten days before graduation.

There are many things that I could say about the past almost 23 months, but what I would like to do now is share some of the ways that others have helped us get through those months – and a few things that have hindered us.

My husband Hugh and I quickly realized that all grief is personal. What you have experienced losing a loved one, even a child, is not the same as what I have experienced losing Sam. My experience is not the same as Hugh’s experience. Therefore, things that I mention that have helped (or hindered) us may not help (or hinder) you.  I am an expert only about my own grief.

We have been most touched by the kindnesses that have been shown by Sam’s friends. We are in awe of the young men and women who are so naturally compassionate and who have put aside their own grief to help us with ours. They have taken us out to eat on Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, visited on holidays, designed t-shirts and bumper stickers in Sam’s memory, mowed our yard, shared stories about Sam (what we love the most), written letters and sent cards, laughed with us and cried with us, helped with chores, preserved Sam’s spot in the high school parking lot, invited us to their celebrations- I could go on and on.  We are greeted with open arms and a hug. Sometimes we get more than one hug. They tell us that they love us. They share their lives with us and allow us to be part of their future. Their actions are drops of water on parched ground.

What they don’t do is, perhaps, more important. They don’t tell us that it’s almost two years since the accident and it’s time to “move on.” They don’t give us any advice.  They understand that our world changed when Sam died and that we will never be the same. They don’t expect us to be the same because they will never be the same after losing their friend. They don’t try to “fix” us. They don’t make any demands on us. If we feel like a visit, that’s great. If we don’t, they understand, and they don’t take it personally.

Maybe because of their relatively young ages (late teens to early twenties) they don’t have any preconceived ideas about how we should act or feel. Therefore, they don’t think they know what’s best for us, and they don’t try to impose their own feelings on us or try to dictate what is appropriate behavior.

Instead of trying to make us be who they think we should be, they already know who we are. We are Sam’s parents, and we always will be. That’s good enough for them, and it’s good enough for us.

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” Robert Benchley.

One of the upcoming ways you can join the Bomars in remembering Sam is by attending the 3rd annual Sam Bomar Night at the Jackson Generals. Half of each ticket pre-ordered with the promo code SamBomar goes to the Sam Bomar Scholarship Fund.

For other most hopeful posts on grief, loss, trauma and resilience, CLICK HERE.

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I am alive.

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I’m not sure if it comes from my stomach, or maybe from my lungs, or if it actually originates in my throat itself. The language, though, is quite apt that it chokes me up suddenly. I may be speaking about something that feels important but only distantly related to me, and I feel it clench in my throat and somehow trigger the possibility of tears. I may be accidentally thinking of visiting someone who is no longer here to visit. I may be caught by surprise remembering rhythms that no longer exist. It may be the newness of new lives, new relationships, new opportunities, new challenges that do it.

Whatever it is, it comes seemingly out of nowhere and reminds me, ultimately, that I am alive.

I am alive.

If it’s singing at volumes and octaves that I would never sing in front of someone else, it’s the reminder of being alive. If it’s weeping suddenly because life is more confusing than anyone ever said it would be, it’s the reminder that I’m alive. If it’s a ten-second gap with a client where something happens and all of both of us comes crashing into a single pregnant and powerful moment and we sit in silence knowing that something beyond us has happened, it’s the reminder that I’m alive. A dance with the dogs. A drive with the windows down. A game with a child. Laughter with friends. Tears in startling places. Thin space with students or friends or clients or coworkers.

We are alive.

There’s the challenge, of course. Even when longing to freeze the moment because it feels like it’s perfect enough and true enough and thick enough to rest in it forever, I can’t because life doesn’t freeze that way. Even when longing to make the moment disappear because it feels like it’s too empty and ugly and sticky and deathly to be worth existing in, I can’t because life doesn’t erase that way.

But in the space between wanting to make something last forever and wanting to make something never have happened at all, I remember that I am alive. And being alive itself is worth savoring and leaning into with all the goodness and all the crap of it, trusting that in leaning into both the goodness and the crap, we lean more into our true selves.

And we are alive.

djordan
Pine Tree

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the threat and the challenge

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The threat, of course,
is that the present moment might be choked out
by worry
by anxiety
by busyness
by fear.

But the challenge, of course,
is that we are to allow the present moment to be overcome
by anticipation
by generosity
by hospitality
by forgiveness
by peace.

The empire sings the songs of death
and chants the mantra of anxiety;
We have been trained to move with fear
and choose based on scarcity and greed and paranoia.

But you,
who won’t leave us be–
even when we’ve asked you to–
You call us to a state over overcomeness

And we accept.
We accept even though, at this moment,
the threat is very real.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

returning to the rhythm

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For the first morning,
since chaos crashed into the scene
and scattered normalcy
even from places I was unaware it existed,
I woke up
and returned to the rhythm
changed, of course,
but returned.

The new normal includes
much of the old normal.
A run.
The news.
Email.
Reading words on a page.
Laundry thrown in the washer.
Dog food crackling into the ceramic bowls.
Even the alarm on the phone
suggests there’s
work and
people and
tasks and
hopes and
fears and
weather and
chores to wake up to.
A return to life.

It’s no surprise that the
life of the church
has been built around the calendar
for hundreds and hundreds of years.
It pulls us,
willing or not,
to return to the rhythm
and let it guide us back to
work and
people and
tasks and
hopes and
fears and
weather and
chores to wake up to.
We are challenged to
return back to life.

Today, for the first morning,
returning to the rhythm,
felt like the first act of worship
I’ve done outside
worship through grieving
in nearly two weeks.

djordan
Pine Tree

more than our sorrow

we-are-more-than-our-sorrow
He sat down at the table with me briefly while I ate and he waited on food to go from the cafe. Since he knew of the chaos raging, not much had to be said. I looked up and tried to squint in the way we try to squint when working to hold back tears that we are tired of.

The same way we squint that usually fails when someone knows of the raging chaos.

As tears began to crack and run down the edge of my runny nose, he said, “It’s like a bomb got dropped in the backyard.”

More tears. Nods. Then conversation about weather, salads, and other things neither of us cared about.

I’ve noticed a sense of being caught between surveying the damage and trying to move. The quote housed about my desk that refrains often in my own mind and heart when things seems unbelievably devastating felt a little out of reach at this point. To quote it, even to myself, felt like cheating the grief and confusion and fury and loss that was gripping everything inside of me:

We fill the craters left by the bombs
And once again we sing
And once again we sow
Because life never surrenders. 

– Anonymous Vietnamese poem

I could not imagine myself filling the craters yet, much less singing and sowing because I could not yet fathom or feel the extent of the damage, I could not sense the size of the crater left by the bomb in our backyards. I could only survey the damage. And with every glance, its complexity became deeper and harder to wrap my hands around. I would find myself staring into the crater and disappearing in my thoughts. I was beginning even to have trouble remembering what used to be in it’s place. All I could sense and see was a crater. Impossible to fill.

But somewhere, a sense that we, in community, always fill the craters, kept me from jumping in completely to the loss. Phone calls to friends and mentors. Visits to kitchen counters and living room floors. Weeping and asking and not answering.

And then, somewhere, even while still surveying the damage left by the bombs, something somewhere insists that we are our sorrow, but we are also more than our sorrow. We are also our hopes and dreams and work and errands and children and families and lives and friends and promises of the future. “We are more than our sorrow” Thich Nhat Hanh says, and so we enter into the reality that is the only thing stranger than the reality of the chaos. We enter into the reality that we are all of these things at once, in our humanity, and we must be all of them at once to find a way to move.

And so we move.
Because we are more than our sorrow, even as real as the sorrow may be.

djordan
Michigan Ave, Chicago

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