September… Silence, Light & Hope (part 3)

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This “new normal” includes a persistent awareness … dark & light.  silence & sound.  death & life… with prevailing Hope. 

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. 

The deeper the grief, the closer is God.” 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment

Leaning in close to the Only One Good grants grief a lens to life… And even in its presence… Pulsing fresh delight… joining ancient prayers.  These prayers mingle promises… a past redeemed, our present Help and a future flowing with  persistent Hope and enduring joy.”Where there is darkness, let me sow light.”  (St. Francis of Assisi)

As with any symphony, several key elements must come together with practice, precision … and a certain unleashing emotion.  So, too with learning to lean into tough space, we learn to bridle difficulties & grief into useable energy to shine, to sing, to love, to live.

Make my life a prayer to you
I wanna do what you want me to
No empty words and no white lies
No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light you gave
Through your son you sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know you’re really there

[Chorus]
Well I wanna thank you know
For being patient with me
Oh it’s so hard to see
When my eyes are on me
I guess I’ll have to trust
And just believe what you say
Oh you’re coming again
Coming to take me away

I wanna die and let you give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope you gave me
The love that set me free

I wanna tell the world out there
You’re not some fable or fairy tale
That I’ve made up inside my head
You’re God the son and you’ve risen from the dead

[Chorus]

I wanna die and let you give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope you gave me
The love that set me free

written by Melody Green & sung by Keith Green
That vibrant living isn’t a bygone whim, but a reality … that is actually beyond us. Yes, just beyond our reach.  Our hearts long for it.  Our minds strategize for it.  And our souls know deep within deep living doesn’t happen alone.  !Viva abundante!   Beyond us…Yet, vibrant living is also for us… but not for us exclusively.  Meaning?  Once we arrive at a place where we recognize our own breath is still circulating… we whisper a prayer of thanks.
Not a cliche’ thanks to the clouds that pretends away the pain of the past or lacks direction… but a weak thanks to our Creator Who has sustained through darkness & revealed He alone is the Light of the World.  We thank Him in the midst of our trying times because we know His Character isn’t short-sited.  His plan?  Mysterious to us in many ways, but ultimately … Always Prevailing.  Hope Personified.
And He chooses us to pour out pure & gritty Hope.  Gritty?  Yes, we’re still here – a world coiling & recoiling …  attempting to taint, to smear that which is Good… to lessen the Mighty with the grime of resignation, apathy, envy, discontent, discouragement and rivalry.  While the tension is real, it is not new.  History reminds us chaotic darkness dares to dim His Glory.

“The most powerful evangel is the glory of God dwelling in the midst of His people.” 

Ravi Zacharias Is There Not a Cause? Part 4/4  (Nehemiah)

 I think sometimes we expect it all to look different, to feel different… we want the song without the weight of silence, we want the light without the framing darkness, and we want our difficulties and even our energy to be manageable.
Living Hope… is beyond us… as a song to Him, reflecting His Light in the crevices of our weaknesses… and it is binding us… together.
written by Heidi L. Paulec
September:  Suicide Prevention Month 2016
children-of-the-light

September… Silence, Light & Hope (part 2)

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Light… The visual reverberations jolting us awake… awake to life again.  This time… the contrasts – louder… darker.  As much as we long to return to our naiveté, we both strain and squint… the presence… an absence.

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark.  If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find darkness is required.  The stars neither require it nor demand it.”

Annie Dillard Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

So much surrounding Jamie’s death etched a surreal inking on my soul.  Such vitality… secreting volume… volleying sense of violence, vice and sacred virtue.  However, as much as I remember… vivid pockets stole away from me.  I remember so many random details from our drive from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado for the funeral… memorial service… whatever you call it.   But, on the way home… even the leaving, I don’t remember anything.

Maybe the heavy veil shrouds darker etchings of loss as mourning maneuvers -however unwelcome or unready we may be- back to the mundane routine… that is forever changed.  That proverbial “new normal.”  Routines do help some.  I certainly won’t argue against that, but when are we grievers ready for routine?

I remember returning to familiar territory.  My large high school.  Academics.  Dance team.  Church youth group.  I remember hearing caddy chatter all around me… signs of life-taken-for-granted…  I remember trying to study & reason through my studies.  Suddenly, for the first time… this type A driven student wondered if any of it was really relevant, really worth on ounce of time and cognition.

Pioneering paths into the familiar?  Illuminating… hovering shadows pulse & prance… irritating and exacting… All the familiar… seemed muted and smeared.  A heavy haze.

He discoverth deep things out of darkness, and bringth out to light the shadows of death.”           Job 12:22 KJV

Yet even in this space… what I do remember… is Light.  I remember morning sunrises.  Sunrays cutting through trees as I ran to escape the quiet clatter clinched in my head.  I remember music, movement, and nature  beckoning… daring me to dance within the contrasts.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”     John 1:5

How profoundly generous and personal!

“When tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own agony, when courage flies out the window and the world seems to be a hostile menacing place, it is the hour of our Gethsemane.  No word, however sincere, offers any comfort or consolation.  The night is bad.  Our minds are numb, our hearts vacant, our nerves shattered.  How will we make it through the night?  The God of our lonely journey is silent.

And yet, it may happen in these most desperate trials of our human existence that beyond rational explanation, we may feel a nail-scarred hand clutching ours… We make it through the night and darkness gives way to the light of morning.  The tragedy radically alters the direction of our lives, but in our vulnerability and defenselessness we experience the power of Jesus in His present risenness.”

Brennan Manning Abba’s Child pg. 105-106

Seriously… I had never sensed death’s nearness like this.  Have you seen the movie, “Meet Joe Black” starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins?  Similar nearness; however, much darker realness.  I remember feeling so tired.  I wanted to sleep innocently again.  What do I mean by innocently?  I mean… I wanted to dream in the light again.  My dreams dripped with shadows, groans, crowds & utter isolation.

“If the night is bad and our nerves are shattered and darkness comes and pain is all around and the Holy One is conspicuous by his absence and we want to know the true feelings of the inscrutable God toward us, we must turn and look at Jesus.”

Brennan Manning Ruthless Trust pg. 91

I longed for it all to make sense.  I felt the clash, but longed for harmonious synergy… oh to find the poise to live, to walk, to dance, to see… and to sing again.  But where is the rest?  Where are the words?

Nicole Nordeman’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

Interestingly, a couple songs surface… First,  one we sang at Jamie’s funeral… also a summer camp anthem of my childhood:

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That’s how it is with God’s Love,
Once you’ve experienced it,
Your spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.

What a wondrous time is spring,
When all the tress are budding
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming;
That’s how it is with God’s love,
Once you’ve experienced it.
You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring,
You want to pass it on.

I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I’ve found;
You can depend on God
It matters not where you’re bound,
I’ll shout it from the mountain top – PRAISE GOD!
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on.

I’ll shout it from the mountain top – PRAISE GOD!
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on.

Pass It On  written by Kurt Kaiser

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”    Matthew 5:14-16

Please be clear…  I struggled, wrestled… with this “new normal” largely because I wanted the Light back…alone.  Set apart.  Not the Light framed by darkness. Yes, the Light may have been dimmer without the contrast, but I wanted an “either/or.”

My journey… led me to accept the “both/and” aspect of Life & Light.  A tension I don’t pretend to fully comprehend- even still.  But the mere warmth … of the Light … stirs my  soul.  “The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”    Psalm 118: 27

The brilliant power and faithfulness of an all-powerful Creator, who is simultaneously mighty and tender, grants us dawn and dusk every day – illuminating the abounding contrasts.  Yet, how many times in our darkness & disappointments do we slip into slumping postures and sleeping habits that block out the wonder & fragility of the days we breathe?  While we think we yearn for the Light, we nest into the dank and desolate.

In this space… the tension tight, contrast steady…prayer & praise became more than a whimsical wish list or shallow gratitude journal.

“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

 Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.”

  Psalm 80:1-3

Slowly, tenderly… mightily He warmed & relaxed my soul with wonder in His world & His Word … breathing Light & Life… even into my pen.  “ But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”     II Timothy 4:17

This “new normal” includes a persistent awareness … dark & light.  silence & sound.  death & life… with prevailing Hope.  “The darker the night, the brighter the stars.  The deeper the grief, the closer is God.”  Fyodor Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment

Pulsing fresh delight… joining ancient prayers…”Where there is darkness, let me sow light.”  (St. Francis of Assisi)

by Heidi L. Paulec

Dialogue: Breaking Silence

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Join us September 10th at  9pm eastern as we “Dialogue”

this tough & tender topic.

Edit: Join us on Shadows Presence facebook page.

the Live recording … here’s link: Dialogue: Breaking Silence … Perspectives with Alex & Heidi

January 18, 1992:  The day death clenched my family.  Not an accident.  Not an elderly relative…not even a fit of rage.

Rather, a seventeen year old young man whose abilities amazed, whose potential inspired, whose kindness encouraged, whose efforts focused on others… but whose hand dared… and successfully silenced his own heartbeat.

The first piece I ever wrote on this subject, He Stopped Laughing (follow link to read in entirety), has received heavy traffic as well as feedback from readers world-wide.

In his silence, questions screamed in me.  The “what-ifs,” the “who’s fault,” the “‘what did I say-or-not-say’ or ‘do-or-not-do’ that could have…would have convinced him otherwise?”

At first I couldn’t even put words to the whirling questions and emotions.  I scoured libraries first.  Evidentially, my search led me back to my own family.  Who, despite generational stigmas in the realm of suicide, opened up to me their Perspectives regarding Jamie’s death and their own subsequent grief.

We do not speak as professionals.  We’re grateful for those who serve in the frontlines of crisis and counseling, so we encourage all to seek the helpful resources available.

We speak from a more raw and personal place.  We speak honestly, but hopefully as well.  Tender space, indeed.  Those who grieve will likely find a voice or two that speaks clearly to their journey.  And the feedback we’re receiving is that our hope & prayer to share is encouraging families beyond our wildest dreams.

We look forward to sharing more of our journey with you.  We welcome you to shadowspresence.com.  Come on in & read around our story.  You’re welcome to leave comments, questions, etc.  Although this is over two decades of research & writing, we began sharing publicly in January 2016.

My husband Alex & I will be dialoguing this evening on the Perspectives portion of this project.  We’d love for you to join us on Shadows Presence  (click this link to find us:  Living Hope ~ Connect ).

Here’s to Living Hope Together~

Heidi  (founder & writer of Shadows Presence)

“Light the path that I must walk. 
I don’t care how many hurdles are in the way, how many pits I must jump over or climb out of, or how many thorns I must step through. 
Guide me on the right path…
Just show me which path is Yours,
dear God, so I can walk it.”

~ Nabeel Qureshi
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

“…God has woven a beautiful nest out of the ‘twigs’ of my life.”

~ Alice von Hildebrand
Memoirs of a Happy Failure

 

Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 4)

Grandpa Ken

On January 16, 1992, our youngest daughter Kathy (Jamie’s Mom) along with her younger two children (Michael and Holly) came to visit us for the long weekend.  Jamie opted to attend a winter retreat with his church youth group.

Although we were a bit disappointed, we certainly understood.  And, I think, a little hopeful he was making some good friends after the difficult couple years.  Also, some suspected his interest in spiritual matters had dwindled in recent months.   So, his initiative to go an such a retreat was a welcome option.

The evening of January 18, 1992 – the phone rang.  I answered it.  The voice on the other end?  Our son-in-law (and Kathy’s husband), Carlton.  He spoke directly.

Matter of fact:  “Jamie killed himself.”  Initially, I could not believe he would joke about something like that.  But within moments, I knew this wasn’t a joke.

Jamie’s gone.  Shock set in immediately.

I numbly told Phyllis and Kathy.  Their tears… The screams… shook the street, I think.

Then, hearing the commotion, Michael and Holly rushed in…  “What’s wrong?”  I think they asked… By now, I’m not even sure what explanation they received.  A total blur in my memory.

I remember Phyllis flew with Kathy and the kids while I drove from Kansas City to Denver the next day.  The blur continued.  I do not remember any part of that drive.  Numb, I suppose.

As the family gathered for the funeral, we shared sorrow and loss.  Jamie’s gone.  We proceeded through the customary funeral preparations.  Trips to the funeral home and cemetery.  No dress rehearsal.  Nothing prepares you for all the formal finalities.

One thing I really regret now is that I viewed the body.  While I’d been to several funerals in my life, seen the bodies and it didn’t trouble me.  However, Jamie’s body… in a coffin … That’s different for me.  Very hard to see.  I wish I’d never seen it.  And I can’t seem to forget it either.

I want to remember the young gentleman from Thanksgiving instead.  Sure, he had concerns.  But, he also seemed to be handling them with grace and peace… maturity beyond his years.

Remembering Jamie… some memories- I just want to be fresh again.  Others … just sad.  What could I have done differently that may have impacted his decision?  Or, if in fact, did I do anything that contributed to his decision? … That troubles me some still.

I hurt for Kathy and Carlton and the family.  If it were possible, I would have done just about anything to take that pain away.  We cannot walk in another man’s shoes- even though we sure would like to sometimes.

Recalling memories of his childhood with Phyllis and Kathy eases grief’s sting, I think.  I remember the time he placed his foot in a tub of hot water on the back porch – he was just a toddler.  He pulled his foot out fast and said, “Dumb Kid!”  When he got excited as a toddler, he bent his elbows, clenched his fists, and then swing his arms back and forth.

The countless rides on the tractor or combine.  His laugh…  and Heidi’s, too… laughs that I hushed.  And what a proud big brother.  A good brother, too.

Photographs around the house remind us of Jamie’s life.  His death is hard, but the manner of death is the hardest part.  I think general knowledge of Scripture and trusting that God’s children cannot be lost… That brings  a great deal of comfort… despite what Jamie did.

Prior to Jamie’s death, I remember a childhood friend losing his life to his own hand.  We never knew if it was an accident or on purpose.  But, you think about these things even if no one talks about them.  Back when we were younger, you just didn’t speak of such things.

Although I’ve not spoken about all Jamie’s death that much, I’d be open to sharing with another going through a similar situation.  We deal with any death.  It takes time.  But, this kind of death has its own sharp, deep pain, too.

I think it is important to know that time does take the edge off.  Accepting the absence of a grandson, first-born grandson, is not easy.  But, I am thankful God gives us memories.  We’ve got some real good ones with Jamie and the rest of the family, too.

God also gives us Hope.  Hope in Jesus. “…When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace...”   Hope that leads us to Heaven one day… And I look forward to seeing Jamie there one day.

He reached out to me… and I remember.

 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain:  On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain

-Edward Mote

written by Heidi L. Paulec

____________________________________________________

Follow the family…Grandpa Ken married Grandma Phyllis… patios & picnics (part 1).

 

Grandpa Ken … He Reached Out to Me (part 3)

Grandpa Ken

…. Jamie explained, when he attempted to seek explanation, he said he was silenced without reason.

In such a situation, I see how a young man’s self-respect could easily erode.

Yet, I certainly never imagined Jamie was in the process of giving up on living… He spoke so clearly.  Calmly… Compassionately, he really didn’t want to burden others with the conflict.

I think he hoped we’d help.

“Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.”

Job 8:8-9

In addition to this conflict, Jamie’s dream of playing football deflated as he did not get to play in any games in yet another season.  In his big city high school, his slighter build in a sea of larger athletes hid his ability to strategize the game better than many men I know.  Yet, he’d hoped the smaller school, smaller team would offer a different outcome.

I’m told he practiced with drive and determination.  Eagerness… and asthma.  He even practiced through asthma attacks pleading to be deemed worthy in the coaches’ eyes.  The harsh words, and probably that physical, health weakness, nearly ripped away his love for the sport.

Instead of gaining physical strength during the season, Jamie’s health actually depleted.  He lost weight.  His asthma did not allow him to persevere and progress as hard as his will pushed.  He was hospitalized at least once for his health directly related to these practices.  I suppose altitude may have been a factor, too.

The coaches didn’t play him.  But, I don’t blame the coaches.  He really hadn’t been there long enough for them to know how serious or not-so-serious his asthma may have been.  But, I certainly do feel for him.  He loved football.  He could throw the ball.  And his thinking game…Bright.  In the end… just so sad, really.

“Because he talked so little, his words had a peculiar force, they were not worn dull from constant use.”

Willa Cather  My Antonia pg.55

Our talk, that day, didn’t last all that long.  Jamie didn’t belabor his points.  He just wanted us to know what he thought.  I am still not sure why he chose to share.  Maybe seeking our help… not sure we managed to do that… but, I am thankful for that talk that day… that memory.

Our little Jamie… a young gentleman, indeed.

continued… Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 4)

September … Silence, Light & Hope (part 1)

Silence, Light & Hope…

Silence… When death silenced Jamie, I fell silent, too.  A silence… I didn’t understand.  A silent intrusion… felt both foreign & serene.  (He Stopped Laughing)

Some silence quiets questions.  Some silence calms chaos.   Some silence honors the sacred.  And some silence screams shame.  Complicated Shame.

Shame?   Shame on me because I didn’t know how hopeless he felt.  (Not all of our family felt shame.  In fact, Grandma Wanda never did.)  But some of us did.

Some silence is welcome.  Quieting questions, calming chaos, and honoring the sacred…

The Breaking Silence …

… for the one suffering with hopelessness in its various forms, we acknowledge your anguish.  You are NOT alone.  If loved ones reach in, please don’t shut them out.  We urge you to reach out.  Don’t know exactly what to say?  Maybe a simple, honest start… “I need help!”?   If family and friends are unsure how to help, keep reaching out.  Counselors, teachers, clergy, doctors… all prepared to embrace you with help.

We thank educators, the medical, mental health professionals  & so many others who work and advocate on your behalf.  We thank groups like RemedyLive who are available to you in moments of crisis.  Their commitment, work & availability make asking for help more and more accessible.  Please reach out for help.

… for those of us who’ve lost someone who maybe never felt hopeless before… yet, struggle with the silenced voice.  We may attempt to silence the ever-spinning world to hear that silenced voice again.

How many of us have wrestled with dark shadows in silent shadows?  You’re the heart why we’re not remaining silent with our family loss.  Testimonies… persevering… gathering… sharing.  There is a Living Hope.  This Hope anchors our souls with compassion for all you’re facing… whether your grief is fresh or a few years deep already… we know we share something hard… and deep.  And we learn to live aware of the daunting shadows of death.  But we’re not locked in… in paralyzing fear, doubts, or sadness, either.  Living Hope.

And finally…

… for those who long to love on your hurting people lavishly.  Thank you for seeing & hearing our hurt.  And thank you for overcoming the awkward… And enduring with us.  These are Defining Times.  How do we “Rejoice with those who rejoice.  Mourn with those who mourn?”

We have to move in close…You know exactly how to celebrate the graduations, the weddings, the baby showers.  However, these darker times require a different kind of Breaking Silence.  Some times the quieter the voice… the louder the love.  Your presence means so much… even if we can’t properly thank you… please lean in & learn to listen… even to the silence.

written by Heidi L. Paulec

 

 

Remembering – a reading


Remembering Jamie on his birthday (the fb Live)

Candles, Cakes, & Crossed Arms (writing by Heidi with photo, too)

THANK YOU, your response to our first fbLive
delights & a-mazes us.
You showed up, submitted excellent feedback as well as truly encouraged us…

YOU are exactly why we’re meticulously & vulnerably sharing.
THANK YOU to all
who joined us Live (or watched later) as my family remembered Jamie’s life…
The one whose silence
Unleashed Grief
like we’d never known.
Yet, his death also lifted a veil to the
Daring & Daunting
Community,
Eternal Joy, &
Living Hope.

He’s why started this journey,
but YOU are the reason we write on…
Yes, we share some sad places;
Yet, we also hear Hope’s whisper &
feel His embrace. And we’re learning how to extend compassion as well.

Now, we’d like to honor you by remembering your loved ones by name as well.
🔹We invite you to submit a handwritten note with your loved one’s name & dates & anything else you’d like to share. Snap a photo & add in comments. We welcome a photo of your loved one as well.

Here… We remember to remember.
We pause & process.
We pray & persevere.
Shadows of death are real;
yet, comfort & rest
grow courage & compassion in the
Shadow of the Almighty.

Living Hope.
Again, Thank YOU for being among us.
Alex & Heidi Paulec

https://shadowspresence.com/about/

Perspectives | Shadows Presence
https://shadowspresence.com/perspectives/

Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 2)

Grandpa Ken

Teenagers don’t often seek out time with their ol’ grandpa.  Jamie did that day.  The night before he left our home for the last time.

Heidi asked me to describe my relationship with Jamie.  My response, “Oh, I suppose we had an average grandfather-grandson relationship.”  He did live on our homeplace the first five years of his life.  As a farmer, I worked the land from dawn to dusk six days a week.  Whether in my workshop, chicken house, Quonset, barn or coming in from the fields… Hearing & seeing Jamie and Heidi, too… just part of it.  Those two… couldn’t have been any closer, I don’t suppose.

After Carlton and Kathy moved off the farm, I remember Jamie (Michael and little Holly, too) growing up so fast between our visits.  From what I heard, he was quite a good student.  Active little guy.  I remember him wresting for the school.  He read a lot.  He sure seemed to enjoy learning… came easy to him, I think.

As he aged into a teenager, I remember noting I never saw him upset or agitated.  His ability to articulate- clear.  His ability to pass a football – exceptional.  And his self-control was admirable beyond his age.    Always in control of himself.  Mature.  And well-spoken.  Bright.  Very bright.

Struggles for Jamie surfaced during his freshman year.  First, I remember he had to get glasses.  He had dreams of being a military pilot.  Like his Dad, he loved planes.  And the corrective lenses meant he was physically disqualified already.  I flew planes during the war (WWII), so I understood the draw to fly… And the turbulence that sticks with you years after war’s end.

Additional external struggles picked at him, too at a large public school near Denver, Colorado where he lived with his parents by that time. He endured difficulties during football season.  (Later we learned coaches and students were directly part of this.)  Evidently, the struggles worsened over the school year.  According to his mom (my daughter) his anxiety grew.   By spring and summer, his grades began to slip, and he begged to not go back to that school.  For a kid, who rarely complained, this surprised me.  But, I figured he and his folks would figure it out.

Honoring authority can be a curious thing to navigate particularly in cases when authority is misused.

From my understanding, the family thought Jamie’s social needs outweighed his living with immediate family.  The decision:  he’d live with his uncle (our eldest son) deep in the mountains. This way Jamie could have a fresh start and attend a smaller school.

My son’s own daughters lived with their mother in the city.  However, his house in the mountains was already home to several young people.  Those residing in the home at the time consisted of he and his wife, a step-daughter, a girl friend of hers as well as a boy friend of hers.  This is what Jamie joined.  Some thought this would serve as an ideal answer to the social friction of the big city school.  Instant social circle right there in the home.  They all went to the same high school where Jamie again joined the football team.  This move offered hope of a new beginning.  Evidently, it played out with far less optimism than Jamie had banked on.

The eventual inconsistencies of this family structure is exactly what he wanted to talk to us about that Thanksgiving weekend.

We made our way down the stairs and sat down together.  Jamie spoke calmly.  He outlined unfair treatment he though he received while living there that fall.  (He’d return to his parents’ home to live before Christmas.)    Characteristically Jamie, he spoke clearly.  I didn’t sense bitterness.  In fact, I sensed his desire… peaceful resolution.  But, again, he felt that was unfairly beyond reach.  He did not lambaste anyone…he simply shared.

“The thorough integration of strength and sensitivity, of firmness and feeling, is rare.”

Eugene Peterson Run with the Horses pg. 56

From the details (which aren’t necessary to share here), he shared I certainly understood his concern.  In general, Jamie said he carried the heaviest weight of chore responsibility within the home while the other teens either didn’t have chores or got away easily without doing them.  Also, Jamie explained that all the teens in the home were at least 16 years old, licensed drivers; however, Jamie was the only one not allowed to drive.  When he attempted to seek explanation, he said he was silenced without reason.

In such a situation, I see how a young man’s self-respect could easily erode.  Yet, I certainly never imagined Jamie was in the process of giving up on living… He spoke clearly.  Calmly… Compassionately, he really didn’t want to burden others with the conflict.  I think he hoped we’d help.

continued… Grandpa Ken … He Reached Out to Me (part 3)

Living Hope ~ Connect

You are Welcome.  We invite you…Join our Shadows Presence FB Community Page. If you know someone in fresh grief who you’re walking alongside or if you’re grieving a loved one, we encourage you to join us.  

We’re not here to get stuck in unending, all-compassing sadness.  But stepping through the dark, hard times is part of the journey.  

As we hear each other’s story, we find words to process our own journey.  

We’re here to remember. Recognize the darkness. Process. Present Joys, past sorrows… & the existing (sometimes taunt) tension.   See & steep in the Light. Sharing & Living Hope.

You’re participation may be quiet, notes behind the scenes, or you may be more ready to add your voice.  Somewhere along the way, you may also invite family & friends.

We welcome you wherever you are.    Here’s to Living Hope…together.

Heidi 

Shadows Presence Founder, Educator & Writer

Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 1)

Grandpa Ken

Reconciling Memories of a Child Turned Young Man… Pride, Pain, Regret & Rest … Grandpa Ken

PERSPECTIVES:  We can learn so much from one another as we sojourn horizons that both beckon and daunt us.  While our general experiences may have general connections, the specificity of our experiences depends on our position, our perception, and how we filter it all.  What is this all About?

This grief journey led me back to our family.  How do you navigate such a loss?  When I nervously asked if they were willing, several vulnerably shared distinctly personal elements of grief, sadness, struggle through this heavy darkness.  Each generation recognizing the varying social stigmas of suicide as well as the responses of their closest friends.  I am supremely grateful for their honesty.  While we share common relationships, every memory is profoundly unique to those who cycle through them; yet, our family’s openness to sharing weaved threads of bravery within me.

“While they spoke, I penned their words…and processed my own.”

– Heidi L. Paulec

When invited to participate in this perspective endeavor reflecting on Jamie’s life and subsequent suicide, most family members offered openness to share their story.   However, most did not feel either capable or comfortable to write their own perspectives.  Therefore, I sent surveys and conducted subsequent oral interviews from their responses.  These were used to establish primary source material from which to write on their behalf in the first person.  In each perspective, you can expect “Reflections on the Interview” and “Brief History.”  Both sections are written in the third person.  Then, the voice will shift to first person for their Perspective.

We welcome you here.  This remains tender space for us.  So join us accordingly.  Know you’re also welcome.  We invite you  to subscribe to receive emails as we publish pieces here.

Reflections on the Interview:

This original interview was one of my early interviews  conducted on  July 4, 1997.  Grandpa Ken welcomed me (Heidi) , thoughtfully participated, answered my questions, and commended me for taking on this project to honor Jamie’s memory, help others facing similar loss, and ultimately share hope.  He sat quietly at times throughout the interview.  And while he had already come to grips with Jamie’s absence and reassured by enduring faith, Grandpa Ken acknowledged sadness remains.

Brief History:

Grandpa Ken grew up  farming on his family homestead on the plains of southeast Wyoming. This small community was settled by our ancestors who were Swedish immigrants.  Third born (second son) to Harry and Carrie Lundberg. Grandpa Ken, a content, hard-working, ever-studying man.

Farming the Great Plains …  hardy endeavor for any soul.  Short summers.  Long winters.  Rooting faith seemed the only required element for endurance.  As a young man, our Grandpa Ken learned how to work diligently, grow things, sing harmony, write poetry… and he loved basketball.

Somewhere in his junior high years, his Dad needed extra help and hands on the farm, so Grandpa Ken had to work instead of go to school for an entire school year.  When he went back to school, the public district acknowledged his maturity and capability, so he skipped the grade he missed and moved up with his original class.  (Side note from Heidi … His hand-writing, grammar, and logic… exceptional to read as I prepared for all this.)

As a member of The Greatest Generation, he served in the Army Air Corps- specifically he served primarily as a cargo pilot over “The Hump.”  For more details, please read Grandpa Ken’s World War II bio.  Upon his return from service, he met and married our Grandma Phyllis… patios & picnics (part 1).  They had four children.  First, a son.  Next, Karen (Heidi’s Mom).  Then, Kathy (Jamie, Michael, and Holly’s Mom).  Finally, another son.  Grandpa Ken and Grandma Phyllis raised their family on the farm where Ken grew up.  He took over the farming operation from his Dad.

Ken excelled in carpentry as well.  He constructed photo frames, quilt racks, tables, etc.  He tackled larger projects as well.  As the family grew with grandchildren, he added onto their farmhouse several times.  Large windows framed exquisite views summer sunrises and sunsets as well as whistling blizzard in the winter.

On an autumn day in 1982, their home of 40 years burnt to the ground.  A couple years of crops freezing in the ground along with this loss opened our grandparents to move east for a season.  They moved to Leavenworth, Kansas where Grandpa learned and worked in the oil business.  During their time there, Grandpa Ken especially delighted to serve military families in church  and in the community.

Eventually, Grandpa Ken and Grandma Phyllis moved back to the Wyoming homestead community and  lived out their final nine years on the family farm homesteaded by Grandpa Ken’s grandparents Peter and Sophie Lundberg.

written, researched & edited by Heidi L. Paulec

Perspective:

“Grandpa, can I talk with you and Grandma a bit in the basement?”

I remember Jamie asking of me and his Grandma Phyllis, my bride, on his last visit to our home.  It was Thanksgiving 1991.  He had traveled with Tim, Karen, and Heidi to our home- joining our youngest son and his family who arrived earlier.

During the days prior to his conversation request, we enjoyed the preparations, the celebration of Thanksgiving, and the hours of college football that followed.  The house brims and brews when the kids and grandkids gather.  The table expands, so we can all circle around it together for three square meals.  At breakfast – just after eating, while still sipping on coffee- we’d read the Bible, Our Daily Bread, and pray together.

Then, we’d all find something do.  A project here.  An errand there.  Working together where we can and around each other otherwise.

As much as the hem and hum of activity warms our home, a few extra quieter moments are always welcome to me.  But, this invitation from our eldest grandson serves as a special memory to me.  Teenagers don’t often seek out time with their ol’ grandpa.  But, Jamie did that day.  The night before he left our home for the last time.

continued… Grandpa Ken… He Reached Out to Me (part 2)