You Just Never Know

The Mourning Parents

(cc) Alex Birkett – Flickr

Sometimes, you just don’t have any idea what other people are going through.

I recently received a couple of Facebook messages about my book, Living With a Broken Heart, that blew me away. Perry and Shirley Elkins are dear friends with whom Susan and I worshiped at the College Street Church of Christ years ago.

First, Perry posted this:

Reading LIVING WITH A BROKEN HEART by Paul O’Rear has been a life changing experience. I would recommend this to any age person.

My initial thought was, “Wow! Life-changing experience? Surely that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But I appreciate his kind words!”

Then I found this post from Shirley:

I’m reading Paul’s book. It’s helping me understand that I’m still grieving for our little boy after 42 years and that’s really normal.

I never knew that Perry and Shirley had lost a baby boy all those years ago. My heart was filled with sadness for them, but at the same time I was astonished and humbled to know that my book was helping Shirley finally come to peace with feelings and emotions that had haunted and baffled her for so long. Shirley’s post also gave me a glimpse into the meaning behind Perry’s “life changing experience” comment.

I sent Shirley a private message asking her for permission to share her comments, because I thought they might help others understand that they are not alone when they find themselves still grieving after a long time. She granted permission, and shared further.

A couple of years ago, one of our young couples at church had a beautiful baby boy. I found myself staring at him and imagining he was ours. I would come home from church, go into our bedroom, pick up a teddy bear that I keep on our bed, and hug it like it was a baby and cry for just a minute or two. Then I would be OK. Paul, I didn’t understand why I was suddenly doing that after 40 years. Seeing that precious baby boy had opened up the scarred-over wound. Your words helped me see that. I don’t do that anymore, but it was a relief to read your words regarding grieving. My grief is my own and will take its own path even after so many years. I imagine others will read your book and realize that some odd behavior they’ve experienced isn’t odd at all. It’s what they needed to do at the time. Thank you for helping me.

I am grateful that Shirley was willing to bare her soul and share her experience. I hope it will help others who, like her, find themselves still experiencing tangible feelings of grief and loss even after many years have passed. I hope it will help them realize that there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, there is something incredibly right about a love so strong that it cannot be diminished by the passing of time.

As someone once said

Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.

Paul O'Rear Signature

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