Lord God, Your unfailing love and compassion for me are amazing. Even when I rail against You, You love me just as much. Show me how to have Your compassion for others. Amen. 
This came from a recent GriefShare e-mail.  It made me think about my own compassion for others.  Has the grief I've encountered over these last 10 months changed me for the better?

In some ways, it has.  I am much more aware of the difficult anniversaries that those who remain on earth have to face, and I do my best to let those who have lost loved ones know that I am thinking of them, that I am remembering with them.  Until you've been down that road yourself, I don't know that you can fully understand how hard it can be to face dates that remind of your loved one.  It's painful to think about your baby's milestones that will never be.  Or that it's been so many months since you heard your mom's laugh.

A dear friend, though she has not experienced the death of a child, dared to step into my world and remember those anniversary dates early on.  She knew the 7th and the 17th of those first months were emotional days for me.  She knew that Sundays were difficult for months, and she faithfully let me know that she was thinking of me.  It didn't take away the pain I was feeling, but it let me know that I wasn't as alone as I felt.  I knew that I wasn't the only one remembering Kristen.

There's another side to that compassion that I am struggling with now.  It's the side that takes me right back to the PICU at Children's Mercy Hospital.  It's the side that remembers how it feels to sit helplessly in a hospital room, unable to do anything to change the circumstances.  I heard just a couple of days ago about an 8 year-old girl in NC named Ellie Potvin.  She lost her battle with cancer today, and I wept aloud as I read the CaringBridge entry in which her mother shared that her sweet daughter had breathed her last breath on this earth.  I had never heard of the Potvin family before this week, yet I have been touched so deeply by their loss.

A cousin on my husband's dad's side of the family had surgery last Friday and never regained consciousness.  We just got word this evening that she passed away.  My heart has been with the family throughout the last few days as they have waited for test results.  I remember waiting for test results.  I remember looking for those small signs that Kristen was going to be fine.  I remember.  And it hurts to remember.  And my heart breaks for Ann's family.

Could the memories of such a painful experience be useful?  I expect they can and will.  Perhaps one day God will use me to reassure someone else that, despite their circumstances, God is still in control and God is still good.  Because He is.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28


Romans 12:12 is a verse that God planted firmly in my mind many weeks before Kristen was even born.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
During those uncertain weeks as we waited for news on the mass in Kristen's chest, after each sonogram and specialist visit, I did my best to be "joyful in hope" and "faithful in prayer."  It wasn't always easy.  There were times I would leave the doctor's office and cry the whole way home.  I wanted  someone to tell me my baby would be fine, that the mass they had found was shrinking.  There were times that I did hear that, only to hear something very different from another doctor.  Those many weeks in early 2009 were a very literal roller coaster ride.

As difficult as those weeks were, they were completely overshadowed by the pure joy of Kristen's safe arrival in May.  My faithful prayers of asking God to give me the strength to deal with whatever might lie ahead were followed by grateful prayers of thanksgiving.  Little did I know that the middle part of the verse that I had written on a sticky note and placed on my side of the bedroom mirror would one day call out to me.  "Patient in affliction" began to call out to me quite loudly last fall.

This season of grief has stirred up some strong emotions in me.  Patience hasn't really been one of the qualities that has come about as a result.  I've lacked a patience with friends, with my family, and with myself.  Perhaps I've hidden it well, but I've been anything but content and without complaint.

I know I don't have to like what's transpired since last August (and I don't), but I do have to continue to trust that God knows what He's doing (and I do).

Right now, I'm asking God for patience.  And if you're in a season of grief and not feeling especially patient, either, I pray that He grants you an extra measure of patience, too.  May we learn to be patient with those around us who say the wrong things (or don't say anything).  May we learn to be patient with those closest to us, realizing that each day is a gift to be treasured.  May we learn to be patient with ourselves, understanding that grief knows no time line and our journey through it is as unique and different as each one of us.

I've since replaced the sticky note with a more permanent version.
(Love the Cricut vinyl!)