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Who Better Equipped?

There's a down side to losing your child. Besides the obvious, obviously. But that's losing people you thought would be in your corner, holding you up. Or at least holding up a box of Kleenex while you tear through them.

See, we get sucked into this idea that we know who has our back. And this really goes for any tragedy: child dying, spouse dying, debilitating illness diagnosis, divorce, job loss, losing every single piece of who you are and where you came from in a house fire. We think, naively, before the bad things actually happen, that we could write a list of who loves us the most and who would always be there for us through thick and thin and that list would actually be truth.

But it isn't.

Because sometimes it just isn't.

And I've read over and over people filled with anger because they thought their mom or their cousin or their aunt or their brother, their best friend or whoever else was on their list, would've, could've, should've but didn't and it's like salt being poured on an open wound. How could they dare desert you like that?

And, here's where I burst your bubble because this is exactly where I had to burst mine:
It doesn't matter who you've named on your list,
some people are not equipped to support others through grief.

And, ladies and gentlemen, that's okay.

Because if you walked up to me right now and said you desperately needed me to change the tire on your car because your baby's sick and needs to get to the doctor and then you needed to use that car to pick up your great aunt Edna who's been sitting at the airport for eleven hours waiting on you, I couldn't do it. No matter how much I would want to be your Knight in Shining Armor, the truth is I am not equipped to handle changing that tire. But I can step aside and let my friend Korey do it because he's really the one you need right now.

And if you walked up to me begging to make you a dinner in less than thirty minutes for your boss who is going to decide whether or not you should get an 80% pay raise and a corner office with a view of the skyline - I couldn't help you. I'd want to. But I wouldn't know how. I'd freeze. Go numb. Struggle to remember how to heat up a hot dog in a microwave because the only thought coursing through my mind would be what the hell do I know about this? But hopefully I'd snap out of it quick enough to realize I'm in the way and the best thing for me to do is step aside so Maria or Sue, two of the best cooks I know, could step in and whip you up a dinner you would be proud of and your boss would talk about for months afterwards.

And if my daughter came to me saying Mommy, I need you to teach me this calculus! The big test is tomorrow and I won't pass without learning this! I need you, Mommy! I need you! I'd be forced to look her straight in the eyes and confess I can't help you. I just can't do this. Because the truth is my mind is not designed to understand whatever calculus even is. Readers, I took consumer math as a senior and barely made it through. I still struggle balancing my checkbook. My daughter is my world to me, but that doesn't mean I can do the math. As much as I would want to help her - I couldn't. I simply could not. But Tom could. He's the one she would need.

See, some people have that natural design to understand number calculations, or how certain foods mixed with certain spices is going to taste incredible, or the way mechanical things work just like some people are going to have that natural design to understand what to do when they see someone hurting a hurt so big and deep you could get lost in it.

And don't give me this but if they really loved me they would know what I needed.


Sweet thing. Sweet, sweet hurting child - we don't even know what we need.

It isn't about how much they love. They can love you more than words could ever explain... but that love for you doesn't mean they are equipped for you. Let them step aside. Let them make room for the ones who know how to hold up aching arms, how to dry unending tears.

Because let me tell you what will happen if you try to force the ill-equipped people on your list to try to hold you up: you'll have a flat tire, a burnt dinner and you won't be able to make sense of a thing.

And if you stop being so angry about who isn't helping you and open your eyes to the ones who want to.... you might just open your door to woman you hadn't spoken to in years, holding a tray of sandwiches because somehow, without you even realizing it, she knew that was exactly the thing you would be needing.


Oh my gosh! This is so darn true!!!!!!! Thank you for this awesome post!
Marie Fleisner said…
True words of wisdom. We each have our own special gifts and talents. You're right...sometimes we can't help someone else, no matter how much we love that person. Thank you for this post.
Cindy Bultema said…
I've read and reread this post a number of times today. What amazing, profound wisdom. I had a major "aha" moment today. Thank you for sharing!!!!

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