My retreat

Maart 1, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Was an absolutely AWESOME experience. (Now, I don’t spice my daily conversation with words like awesome, so if I say awesome that is exactly what I mean.) It was the first of it’s kind presented by LEEF magazine, a Christian magazine for women. I have been freelancing for them since the very first issue 5 years ago, and they were kind enough to invite me to this retreat to help me deal with losing my mom and dad in the space of 15 months.

There we were, 40 people each with his or her own sad story of a beloved that died. In most of the cases, the death was an untimely (from a human point of view), unexpected, tragic death. Many people lost their children: Marileen lost a baby girl of 23 weeks to Turner’s syndrome, Erika lost her son while he was on the way back to re-write an exam at university. Hermie and Lillian, two friends from Vanderbijlpark, both lost their 19-year old children (Hermie a son and Lillian a daughter) in two seperate car accidents four days apart. Sarel and Melani lost their 18 month old daughter today exactly a year ago. Anette’s alcoholic ex-husband committed suicide after losing everything in life. Chante and Jan lost their little 18 month old boy. Another couple their 11 year old son. Another woman found her son 10 minutes after he hung himself. Etcetera, etcetera.

The presenter/retreat leader was Lizette Murray, who’s son Henri was killed by a shark 5 years ago at Miller’s Point in Cape Town. Lizette is a MAGNIFICENT person – she shared her own sadness with us, but mostly, what grief and sadness and losing a child taught her. How it brought her closer to God. How it stripped her life of all the unecessary things. And mostly, that one still has a life to live even after tragedy struck. That there is always hope and joy to be found. (She wrote a book on the whole process called Henri Stap Aan.)

What did I learn?

That my own cross was still the one I preferred. Listening to their stories, my own pain looked insignificant.

That it is normal to grieve, even for a Christian. Some people think that a Christian doesn’t feel hurt like the rest of us. That believing in God somehow gives you immunity against feelings of loss, sadness and anger. It’s not true, and it is okay to grieve over someone who died, even if you know he or she was a child of God and better off where they are now.

Two of the things that Lizette shared springs out of my notes:

“Questions without answers should be asked very slowly.” (From Fugitive Pieces

and

“We are here on earth to learn to live the kind of life that will make us live forever.” (Lizette Murray)

(I’ll share more of what I learnt this weekend in later posts. But now I must work!)

7 antwoorde op My retreat

  1. That was the nice part. Anette said yesterday morning that she has finally made peace on Saturday with her husband’s suicide after battling with it for 7 years. And I think it helped tremendously to hear that the grieve that you feel (for instance over losing a child) is the same with other parents. It most certainly helps to know you’re not the only one literally losing your memory because of sadness.

  2. Sundancer het gesê op Maart 1, 2010

    It does help to know that other people feel much the same as you do and that you are not unique or odd. I found writing my blogs helped me a lot.

  3. Sundancer het gesê op Maart 1, 2010

    It does help to know that other people feel much the same as you do and that you are not unique or odd. I found writing my blogs helped me a lot.

  4. I understand about losing a parent and the feelings involved. But it is expected to lose one’s parents. Losing a child is that much more difficult, I imagine. I don’t know, as I haven’t lost one. You don’t expect that, unless the child has some serious condition that cannot be remedied.

  5. I agree with you. It is not part of the natural process of life and death for a parent to bury a child. I felt small in the presence of their overwhelming sadness. Yet, after this weekend, I know they will be okay.

  6. inadk het gesê op Maart 1, 2010

    My Saturday was spent with a friend slowly dying of amyloidis. No words to describe the day, sitting next to her bed, with the angels waiting on the other side. God SO close not only to be with them, but also give me strength. A very special day to remember forever. Thanks for sharing your day – it gives me something too!

  7. Ai Ina, strongs! I promise you I could see my dad’s eyes following something above his bed on his last day. It was pre-morphine, and whatever he saw made him reaching out with his arms. There were definitely angels in that room. Your friend is not going to go alone. That was probably the bit I could contribute to the retreat, because many of the parents were left with the question of their child’s last few breaths. Was he or she alone, or scared?
    I believe not. I believe God sends angels to accompany His child to the other side.

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