Sharing Shadows (part 2)

shadows at dawn

“…in this way…”

In an era of endless information, I am surprised that so many of you have been surprised enough to ask me, “Why a blog and not a book?”

My short answer: “Why not BOTH?”

In Sharing Shadows (part 1), I shared the vision, the strategy, even the stockpiles of writing…and the courage collapse.  I’ll share more in the final part of this piece “… at this time.”

But, let me address a bit on why I chose this venue for our initial “release,” and let me also share some of the surprises and possibilities arising already from this space.

So, I did not deal well with subsequent rejection.  I mean, my Grandma loved my writing.  She even talked a church secretary into printing (before she had my permission) my “Hunger Honesty at the Lord’s Supper” piece on the back of a bulletin once.  She did receive a  lot of encouraging feedback which she shared proudly with me.  My parents praise most of my writings.  My husband’s response is usually, “Well, I wouldn’t say it like that.”  My children are accustom to my less-than-common vocabulary choices, and remind me no one ever says it that way.  My cousins tease me about my word-y ways.  And my friends accept … my differences, we’ll say.

Why did I say “subsequent rejection?”  One of the aftershocks of suicide- for those of us left behind- is the profound sense of rejection.  Our friendship, our relationship, our efforts, our past or our future just was not enough to keep hope for another day.   While some of us process this quickly with the recognition of the difficulties faced by our lost loved one, some handle this rejection by choosing cautious distance in relationships for years to come.  Others of us recognize the rejection we feel and often overcompensate by reaching out to others because we don’t ever want anyone to wrestle the feelings of rejection.

So why unleash one of our families’ most vulnerable, painful experiences via social media where viewers are hungry for smile-worthy sound-bites, happy stories, and the occasional “funniest home video” mishaps?  Is this like going Goth to an afternoon seaside wedding?

Whether anyone thought we’d be welcome to be honest, I hold tightly to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  No one likes a Negative Nelly.  I get that.  Too many times we push aside real life authenticity because at first glance it feels negative or uncomfortable.  “Let’s leave that alone until all can be positive again.”

Over-positivism stifles true compassion.  Every rose may have a thorn while every cloud has a silver lining; however, neither is obvious immediately.  Positivism tries to pushes half of our human experiences into the category “behind closed doors.”  Please don’t get me wrong… a reality television crew has no business following around families grieving.  We all need legit time to grieve.  However, the unspoken expectation dictates when and where we chat about the depths of difficulties presented by death.  Funeral Home, sure.  Church, sure.  Confessional Closet, sure.  Maybe even over coffee with a very, very close and inquisitive friend… but, the blog-es-sphere?

For me personally, I knew the time had come.  And I also knew, without an agent, I am just tender enough that another “rejection” might send all the pages to a fire pit…so, why not give a blog a try.

Another hurdle to overcome for an aesthetic connoisseur like myself is the design, layout, personal, yet professional… well, I just picked the first template I saw.   Loaded sentimental photos.  And just started copy/pasting, editing.  I wouldn’t let myself think about how it might reflect me; rather, this project can stand alone.

However, I’ve been wrong one significant front.  We’re not alone.  This venue has been the perfect space for silent survivors to come, cozy in, and connect.  So many of us.  Silent in the shadows.   From general grievers…military families… survivors of murdered family members… individuals contemplating their own demise.   You’ve welcomed our vulnerability.  You’ve joined our journey.  And many of you correspond with us.  A prevailing theme from all of you?  Thanking us for giving voice to this deeply confusing, sometimes paralyzing space of grief.

“…in this way…”  Our fraternity is finding we are not alone.  Sharing Shadows.  Our connection.   Your encouragement.  Truly, inspire me daily.  As you can imagine, this is difficult every time I sit down to ponder or even edit.  Our point in sharing is not to “lick wounds.”  No, we ache for what losses are going poorly grieved in shadows some never leave.  No, our Living Hope drives us past our pain to share in this process with you.  And the possibilities?  The possibilities are still unfolding.

Am I or are we available in person – out of the cyber shadows?  This is actually nothing I anticipated, so I’m still feeling out what this might look like at this season.  So many of you remain most comfortable messaging in, but I keep dreaming of us circling up together in person.  Retreating for a weekend, maybe?

While this has been 20 years in the making for me, I also know so many of you are fresh in grief’s grip.  I long to reassure you.  Life lives.  Keep seeing the colors and textures.  And for those of you who long to leave that part of your life in a quiet, private place.  I get that, too.   Sharing shadows?

For now, “… in this way…”