I cringe at the thought of the many times I may have hurt someone by speaking thoughtlessly. I’ve learned that often the best response to others’ grief is quiet sympathy (not empathy which implies I know how they feel). I might say something like “I’ve had similar experiences if you’d ever like to talk about it.”
There is one aspect of my life that is very difficult for me to talk about – parenthood (and grandparenthood). One of my grandchildren is adopted. She doesn’t live with my daughter, her birthmom. She lives with a couple in another part of the country. A couple who, when the adoption went off track gave up hope. Because I believed (and still believe) that God knows best and I was obeying the message I was hearing – I continued to work with both birth-parents to facilitate resolution. I cried rivers of tears during those dark days. Eventually the adoption was back on track. The adoptive Mom stayed with us for a few days, the last days that we saw and held our precious granddaughter. Even though the plan was to maintain an open adoption, the adoptive parents have since changed their minds and we’ve not held our granddaughter for 2 1/2 years. I’m grateful that they send pictures and we’ve stayed somewhat in touch over e-mail.
A year and a half ago my daughter and her oldest child, our grandson, came to stay with us. She was in trouble with the law, creditors, CPS… it’s still hard to think about some aspects of that time. She was not effectively parenting our grandson and that was obvious. The week before Christmas she announced she was taking our grandson to live with his aunt (the father’s sister). She drove halfway across the country to drop him off (they met at a fastfood restaurant halfway between our place and his new home). Another river of tears flowed. I’m crying now. It’s hard not to mourn. We do stay in touch – after all, they’re extended members of our family. We visited them before Christmas. We talk on the phone and over skype (we love skype!). But it’s not the same as being together and it’s certainly not “traditional”.
My daughter is getting her life together, finally, but I don’t know that she’ll be ready to parent any time soon. By the time she is, well, I’m trusting God to help us work through what will be a difficult conversation. Our grandson is doing so well with his new Mom. My daughter is not his Mom.
So…needless to say sometimes this topic is a little touchy for me. It can be awkward trying to explain the whereabouts of my grandchildren. And no, I don’t think anyone can tell me they know how I feel. I do know that everything happens for a reason and I trust God. That’s all we need to hear when we’re lost in a mournful situation.