The reporter informed the viewers, “There are families remaining awaiting news of their loved ones.” It was at that moment, at that very moment, my brain processed the reality of what was happening. For a still sacred moment, I was beside you and we sat staring at nothing and every crevice of our bodily form fell prey to the raw numbness that claims those whose heart knows what ears have not yet heard. 

In that brief sacred moment, I was there with you for I, too, was one of “the families awaiting news of their loved one.” I, too, sat for hours staring at nothing and knowing something devastating was about to unfold. 

For me, it was at a firehouse while my brave one’s head lay heavy on my chest. We, you and I, are the nameless “families awaiting news of our loved ones” and yet the reality is our “loved ones” are more than the sterile title intended to protect our anonymity. The “loved ones” are our babies. Our loved ones are the very ones with whom we continue to hold an unspoken bond and who, just hours before the unthinkable, had a lifetime of living and a world of promise stretched before them.  

As the news unfolded, I closed my eyes and I was sitting there with you. My heart broke as you, too, were crowned with a title not expected nor deserved. We are the mamas staring into nothingness and yet somehow we know what is about to unfold has the potential to crush and destroy.  

While we share an unwanted and unwarranted title, our commonality stops there. The grief you are experiencing is uniquely yours. Grief is the response to a relationship halted and a goodbye far too soon and without fair warning. It is a heart shattered and body numb. 

No one has nor will anyone in the future grieve losing a child in the same way you will. You will grieve in a way that is right and true and real for you and you alone. Grief is not a process to be studied or followed and cannot be bundled into a timeline and time frame.

For the moment I bundle and box, I fail to honor that your broken heart is as unique as the young adult, forever your baby, for whom you long. 

While for that still sacred moment, my heart was right there with yours, I will never claim to know the depth and the breadth of the pain that you are now living. I would never be so bold as to claim knowing what is the single thought that will cause you to gasp for air and threaten to crush your lungs, nor will I know the dreams you desperately wish you could have seen fulfilled, nor will claim to understand the very moments, when out of habit, you call their name, only to stop short.  

Sleepless nights and tear stain cheeks, fists pounding on a steering wheel and eyes swollen shut — these moments will surely come and no human can nor will they ever understand the depth and breadth of your pain in them. I will, though, assure you, my sister crowned with the same unwarranted and underserved title, I will pray for you and for what you will encounter in these seemingly endless, exhausting and excruciating heart-wrenching moments. Surely as these moments have the potential to crush and leave you gasping for air, I pray you lay claim to the gentle graces hidden among them, for these are the gentle graces that are yours and yours alone. As I pray for you, in my mind’s eye, I will sit quietly beside you and take your hand in mine and never once utter an “I know.” I will simply bow my head and pray you find a still sacred moment in which you find respite. 

When you are exhausted and at a loss for words, I will go boldly to the throne and fall to my knees and plead on your behalf. Even though your world is dark and you are frozen and numb, I will pray your face be kissed with a soft, gentle breeze. 

I will beg the Father that in that seemingly innate moment, you might know, even if only for a fleeting second, the power and purpose of that gentle breeze.  I pray you know that maybe, just maybe, the breeze that covers you and its gentle warmth, is the flutter of angels’ wings, ministering to your soul and whispering to your heart. 

For surely it is true, surely it can be no other way, for are we not promised, as the mamas who sat staring at nothing and yet somehow our hearts knew? Is it not we to who it is promised: Because we mourn we are blessed? And so to the mama who said goodbye far too soon and without fair warning from this mama who sits beside you, who wears the same unwarranted and underserved crown and who promises to never lay claim: I will pray that you know. ‚äá

Jennifer Hubbard is a spiritual writer living in Newtown, Connecticut. The younger of her two children, Catherine Violet, was a victim of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

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