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Lament from a Distance ~ Life:Unmasked

I was a wreck in August and much of September, and I couldn’t understand why. I remember a conversation in which friends were comparing notes on mental health and medications and they described themselves with official-sounding labels. All I know is the med I’m taking. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I cried in Sri Lanka and I cried on a writing retreat and maybe I cried all the tears I have for this year because even though it’s October, the month we lost Elli, I’m numb and distant.

As I write this, I think back on the year we’ve had and understanding is like the gray dawn of October creeping through the orange trees. This is a year I will bid farewell on New Year’s Eve by saying, “Thank you God that it’s over.”

Of course I’m shell-shocked. If life is war, I’ve just been through a hell of a fight. My daughter is dead, my friends and I were attacked by our own people, and we’ve been abandoned, cast off. I’m bleeding from wounds new and old, but the guy next me had a leg blown off by one of the traitor’s grenades. I wear numbness like a flak jacket and noise-canceling headphones, a necessary self-preservation for a feeler who has felt too much but must keep going. I breathe out “God help us” as I hold pressure on his severed artery and my husband gives him sips of water.

We mourn anew. Grief upon grief. Loss upon loss. Pain compounded.

This is not something I can control. Grief has seasons all its own, and it follows no calendar that I can find. To fight it is to spit into a hurricane – you just end up with a face full of your own saliva. You cannot tell yourself, “I should feel this way” or “I shouldn’t be numb right now.” There is no should in grief. Grief is. All we can do is ride it, hang on tight as it takes us through the weeping, the rage, the betrayal, and the distant numbness. All we can do is keep going.


On Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is welltake off their mask, and write nakedWhen we’re brave enough to be real about both the good and the bad days, we can offer real encouragement to those who in one of those bad days. Stop pretending life is perfect. It isn’t, and you just make the people around feel worse about their bad days when they think they are alone.

If you’ve written anything unmasked, link up below! Please link back to this post (here’s the link: http://wp.me/p2n5xv-Cd ) so your readers can learn and maybe join in too, and then make sure to visit at least two others and leave them encouraging comments.

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I generally post 1-2 times per week. You will only receive an email from me if I have posted something new. I hate spam and promise never to send it to you.


  1. I totally get the numbness….I dont fully understand yours, as I have not lost a child or been betrayed deeply by those nearest me. However, I have been numb from the grief of friends dying in darkness, wallowing in seeming hopelessness, just trying to survive from sun up till sundown. I’ve walked the deep cavern of depression, and find myself teetering on the edge of it more often than I care to realize. Having said that, the post I linked up may seem the whole “I’ve got it together” but it is so the opposite of that. It is the loving hand of my Father gently stroking my cheek and loving me in a way that is so tender, and so badly needed by this weary soul.

  2. Brian Jonson says:

    Joy – thank you. Your writing is just outstanding.

    And…I’m with you. As you know, this year has sucked for me too. And, I’m not emerging through very well this time. Things have changed in me.


  3. I understand the numbness, the betrayal, especially this year. And I will raise a glass to it being over and finished and new things, but it doesn’t take away the wrecking 2012 hasn’t taken on me. Praying for you, dear friend.

  4. I’m sitting with you in the silence and the grey, and sending you much love.

  5. Michele-Lyn says:

    After reading your words here I am even more grateful for the time you took to reply to me and to share the posts you did. I am so very grateful. Thank you. My woes seem so small in comparison to what you have shared here, and you still give?

    I am blessed to have connected with you. I am going to take some time to catch up on reading your story. Thank you, again.

  6. Joy, this is my first time here and I’ve enjoyed looking into all the rooms of your blogging house and learning a bit about you. I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard year and pray you find redemption through the difficulty. I’m just not sure how people live this life without our Saviour. Peace to you.

  7. Consider this comment me, throwing my arms around you. I have no words to say to cheer you up or make you feel better. But I’m sitting by your side…there for you.

    In all actuality, I’d be cleaning your house, doing dishes, or running errands for you…cause you know how I don’t like all that mushy stuff. ; )

  8. uncanny timing for you to mention feeling numb. last night, i hurt my finger. and as i sat on the chair w/ it nestled in frozen green beans, i kept rotating the bag b/c it wasn’t cold! and finally, it dawned on me that my finger was numb. numb from the trauma. and as silly as it sounds, i was so frustrated at my finger for being numb. b/c i wanted to feel the cold! and that whole stream of thoughts instantly translated to my emotional journey & prompted a flood of tears (including feeling frustrated at myself for being so fragile).
    so thank you for this, joy — for the “permission” to feel numb, at times.

  9. I hate that you get this but you do and you nailed it:
    “There is no should in grief. Grief is. All we can do is ride it, hang on tight as it takes us through the weeping, the rage, the betrayal, and the distant numbness. All we can do is keep going.”

    Keep going, friend. I’m here for whatever you need along the way.

  10. Ah, Joy. I am so sorry for the pain of this last year, whatever its source. Some of it you’ve alluded to here, but I have a hunch none but your closest circle really knows what you’ve been through. But I do know that numb exhaustion. And it’s not fun. But it is necessary. And, in a way, it’s helpful sometimes. After suffering repeated poundings, sometimes it’s a good thing to not feel so much. I’m fairly confident you will spring leaks in that cocoon and that, too, will be good. And necessary. You are right. Grief is not a thing to be escaped, it is a journey to travel, wherever it takes us. Prayers and virtual hugs from California.

  11. Grief is also very singular – one of the aspects about it I hate most. It’s not to say support is necessary or wanted. It is, and it’s a lifeline and a joy and a hearth fire on a winter’s day.

    But no one can grieve for you. No one can speed up the time and the work it takes to heal.

    Still, you have my heart, friend. I will fight for you.

  12. Grief is. What a terrible reality. You’re doing so well at keepin on, babe. Praying for new layers of grief to unfold, if only because of the self-discovery that is hidden in them. xoxo

  13. Joy, I really needed this right now:

    “You cannot tell yourself, ‘I should feel this way’ or ‘I shouldn’t be numb right now.’ There is no should in grief. Grief is.”

    Too often, I try to justify or explain away what I’m feeling, when what I really need to do is respect what I’m feeling, even when I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. Thank you, as always, for your openness and honesty.

  14. Thank you for your raw honesty…I just found out my grandbaby went from my daughters womb…into the arms of Jesus. It just hurts even through my head knows she will be ok…that the baby gets the best life…it just hurts. so glad I “happened here”…I will be back to link up soon…no blogging with week.

  15. Debra Seiling says:

    I am so impressed with the honesty that you share with your readers. I especially like “There is no should in grief. Grief is. All we can do is ride it, hang on tight as it takes us through the weeping, the rage, the betrayal, and the distant numbness. All we can do is keep going.”

    I think that reading this comment is a very freeing statement for those who are actively invovled in the grief process. I pray that God gives you and all those who grieve The Peace Which Passes All Understanding that only Jesus can give to get you through these horrendous experiences. This is how He’s gotten me some very devasting situations. Debbie Seiling http://bible-passages.blogspot.com and http://christian-overeaters.blogspot.com

    • It seems strange to reply to my own comment, but here goes…Reading this post has been on my mind so much since I read it yesterday. It was on my mind the first thing this morning, and often, the thoughts like that on my mind are ones that God wants me to share. I had said that I’m praying that God gives you The Peaces Which Passes All Understanding, which I continue to do. The thought on my mind this morning was that God has already given that to you.

      I was thinking about that, because I didn’t understand. Then, I remembered some devastating experiences in my life, although they were no where as horrendous as what you experienced, and remembered some things. I remember thinking, “Why am I so calm? This is strange, because a situation of this magnitude would have normally caused some extreme reactions/emotions and I wasn’t responding as I normally would have.” At those times, that’s when God gave me the feeling that the calm feeling, despite the terrible things going on, was The Peace Which Passes All Understanding that He had given me to get through this terrible situation.

      Anyway, when I woke up with all these thoughts in my mind, it made me realize that the numb feeling you are experincing right now, may be The Peace Which Passes All Understanding, in that you have this calm/numb response to things, gettthing through day by day, which although all of this is horrendous, God’s getting you through it a little at a time. I apologize if anything I have said is offensive, because it surely isn’t meant to be so. I debated whether to share this, but then thought that if I didn’t, and I was supposed to, I would be negligent as a Christian in sharing the insight that God gave me to share. Thinking of you, Debbie Seiling http://bible-passages.blogspot.com

      • Debra, I’m glad that you added this. I have been talking with my husband and a counselor about this, and they confirm what you said here. It’s actually a healthy thing that I’m not an emotional wreck this year. This is healing and a product of taking better care of myself. Every year will be different, but I don’t need to worry about this one being less dark. I’m actually going to write a little more about this later this week. 🙂

  16. Courage Joy.


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