Death is never an easy topic to deal with. When it comes to a young mother, the pain it brings is magnified beyond comprehension. We are dealing with that loss in our home today and the pain it is creating is heartbreaking for me.
A role model in my daughter’s life died in a car accident, leaving behind a husband and three children – all close in age to my own child. She is grief-stricken at the loss – and horrified at how someone so young and so special – could be taken. Words to comfort her are hard to find. How do you explain the loss of a mother dedicated to faith and family? What is the reason for calling short the life of someone who served the youth in our church; teaching selflessness, giving and sacrifice by example?
Through the tears and hugs of tender consolation, my child and I talked about how to pay tribute to the work and teachings modeled by this amazing woman. She doesn’t have the ability to grasp death completely. I don’t want her to have to think about what it would mean to experience such profound loss just yet; her innocence is too sacred at ten. But as we talked about how to honor what her girls’ group leader has modeled, we discussed how to carry on her mission to helping others. How to let her live on by taking that special trait and adopting it forever.
We decided that after a reasonable time for tears, we would find our way to help others in need in her memory. We decided to take money we could spend on flowers and use it for canned goods to take to the food pantry at church, in the hope that we could help feed a few hungry families for Thanksgiving. A simple gesture that will allow my daughter to live — out loud — the very character traits this incredible lady worked so hard to instill.
Yes, like ripples on the pond, we can take the pain and emotion of the day and chose to cast good or sorrow. My daughter started her day wanting to spend it in bed, curled in a ball in silent tears; sad ripples sending bigger and bigger rings of sorrow would not have been the tribute this lady would have wished to inspire.
Instead, there are now ripples of hope. She is hopeful that the pain she feels today will somehow be less intense tomorrow. She is excited about the prospect of collecting food items that can help others and give back in the memory of someone she loves and has tremendous respect for. And she knows that beyond her comprehension, God has a plan and that her role model earned a place in heaven. It doesn’t stop the tears, but she tells me that they are not all tears of sorrow.
It is so hard when tragedy comes. Not all is meant for us to understand or grasp in our simple, earthly minds. But what we can control is how, in our humanness, we react to the hurt and the pain we feel. Do we send out ripples of pain, or ripples of hope, when we cast our pebbles upon the pond of life?
An outrageous life isn’t always an easy one. Sometimes we stumble and fall, and sometimes we grieve. But the ripples we cast upon the pond? Those, we always choose.