{Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Five Minute Friday. It’s just that my days in the Southern hemisphere are few and my memories and words in this place are many. So I need more than five minutes this week. But the link up for your beautiful five minute moments is below. Link up; I love to read along with you. The prompt this week is LOSS }

My mom died a week after my 18th birthday. She was sick from my 16th. What surprised me was how embarrassing my grief was. I was already awkward in my own skin – tall and gangly with bones where there should have been curves. Add a sick mother to all of this and sometimes a 16-year-old burns with a shy shame she doesn’t know how to put into words.

Sympathy can be awkward because what teenager wants to be put on the spot? There are relatives and well-meaning ladies from church who come over and try to teach you how to cook and keep house when all you want is for the tall blonde boy on the 50cc motorcycle to notice you.

Teachers either try to make excuses for your tardy homework or tell you that your “home problems” are no excuse for your annoying behavior in class. And still the cool girls flip their hair just so and you are tired of hearing about cancer and watching a parade of wigs as your mom’s hair falls out.

How does a daughter feel beautiful when the world she lives in is dying?

When there’s no time for shopping malls, skinny jeans or knee high boots – how does a daughter grow into her own skin when her mother is slowly disappearing out of hers? When people expect tears but consider temper tantrums impolite. How does a daughter find a way to exorcise her pain when punching walls is not something teenage girls are expected to do?

It doesn’t help to point out to them that young girls should smell fresh and beautiful when they’re sweating away their nights and days in a desperate inner wrestling match of worry. The deodorant can’t mask the dying that’s going on inside.

Daughters will grieve whether you give them room to or not and it will likely be un-pretty. They need room to be un-feminine and desperate without being told their choice in clothes, shoes or make up is inappropriate or unfashionable.

Grief comes in strange get ups sometimes.

Give them room to breathe without expectation or added responsibility. Give them a safe place to be sad. And more importantly, give them a safe place to be angry. Give them a father who places his own grief in proper perspective to theirs and manages his pain in a context that doesn’t hurt her.

If you want to offer her counseling be serious about it and find a counselor she is comfortable with. Don’t give up after a first awkward attempt – she needs someone to talk to who’s not you. And when you do try to peel back the layers of what she’s feeling, you will find it much easier going if you leave your own baggage at the door.

She knows you’re sad. She needs to know you’re sad. But she can’t carry your sadness for you.

Don’t try to drown her sorrow in all the books she should read or the Bible verses that should cure her. She’s on her own timetable, not yours. And maybe she needs movie nights and not church sometimes to help her process the cataclysmic shift in her world.

And as time passes, she will need people who remember her mother and share the ins and outs of who she was. Not just the good parts. But the difficult or ugly parts too. She needs a full memory, painted with honesty and sometimes a sense of humor.

She needs you and she doesn’t need you and she mostly hopes you’ll be patient as she figures out the difference.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to grief.

There is only your individual story. This, two countries, a patient husband, two integral brothers, three redemptive children and eighteen years in between has been part of mine.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes {or more if you need them this week} for the prompt:

Loss…


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