12 November 2010


I spent a considerable portion of this rainy Thursday afternoon at what is quickly becoming my favorite local coffeeshop. Though pricier than Starbucks, I like the coffee better (gasp!); the ambience and decidedly local flavor appeals to me more. Though I'm a straight-up soy latte type of gal, I appreciate that the chocolate that is stirred into James' mochas is as homemade as the pastries underneath the glass case by the cash register.

I've become more drawn into reading and writing during the free spots in my days now. I find coffeeshops the perfect place to do this. When I'm at home, it's too easy to be distracted by laundry or Facebook, or to give into the urge to rearrange the piles of things that have collected on the dining room table. For awhile, I avoided reading any of the growing stack of books on loss and grieving I've been given and lent not because I thought I would find them invaluable, but because I wanted to navigate my own way through loss and develop my own thoughts about it without the temptation of being influenced or guided by another's experience. When I wrote, I wanted (and still want) everything to come from my heart and my experience, no matter how unpolished. I wanted to struggle to find my own words, rather than look for someone else to frame my experience with words from their own.

Some books have had me nodding throughout because they resonate so deeply. They are honest and raw in their emotion, and hopeful in the truth offered without dismissing the deep mysteries that continue to loom close and heavy. Others are dissonant to me, written in a tone that would be better suited to a cookbook. They seem to want to make grief simple.

When it comes to reading what other people have written, I find that I care a lot not only about content, but about how it is delivered. It seems that in writing about grief and loss, the language should fit the subject matter. I don't want to be told about someone's personal experience of grief as if he were taking me on a guided tour of Disneyland. I don't want to be preached at, or read sentences that mimic a Dick and Jane book in their structure. And I don't want the author to make me feel as though grief is something that can be neatly packaged or succinctly explained.

When reading what others have written about how they navigated through grief, I want to feel their tears and anger. I want to hear their wails and the screams echoing in my ears before they ever give me a Bible verse or ask me pointedly if I'm ready to surrender all my hopes and dreams for a plan that is not my own. I want to hear the fists pounding, the nails raking, the sobs and gasping for air. I want them to acknowledge that for all the perfect theology they can deliver, and all the intellectual ways it can be explained, grief by its very nature is intensely emotional. It is unpredictable and chaotic at times; it isn't linear. It is devastating. I want them to write in a way that convinces me that they know this.

And then they can tell me what they know about hope and about the truth. Then they can reach into the dark with one hand to grab mine, and point to the light with the other. They can tell me the verses, talk to me about surrender, about peace, about how they held on to faith in the dark. They can tell me because they first showed me that they know. 

That is the book I want to read.


Karmen M. said...

maybe that is the book that you are to write.

I pray for you and James that there is peace for you even in the rawness even in the crying out and gasping for air that underneath that and through that and after that, that God gives you peace and that he wipes your tears and strokes your hair and that he whispers softly to your hearts and that he gives you rest.

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Kirsten, I applaud your intuition/desire/knowledge that you need to find your own way. I so badly wanted a road map..
Can I ask if you'll share your reading list with us? I have some recommendations if you'd be interested at any point..
(Our youngest son Seth had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, he passed away at 6 months of age, after his GLenn, 2 years ago).

Big hugs!

qwertycris said...

I don't know if this series of articles will affect you, but I found them compelling (and honest) when they were originally published: http://www.slate.com/id/2211257/entry/2211256/


Erin Marie said...

Very true ... when I lost my daughter my grandmother (who is Native American) let me know about keening ... it's best way I can describe the way you are feeling ... it's just letting it all go and like you I would love to find a book where it would seem okay to just let it all go and feel like you don't have to navigate through it like an actual process ... because it sure doesn't feel like an actual process it feels like an uncontrolable processing of things ...

Your blogs are always so honest and I commend you for your bravery!!

Anonymous said...

Kirsten- I just now realized that Ewan's birthday is the same as my older brother's. His name is Troy. He passed away from SIDS when he was 5 days old. My mother still struggles on days especially around his birthday. But God has done something wonderful, my 2nd daughter was born on the 21st of September, right in the middle of my brother's birthday and the day he died. I know it is not the same as her child, but it is her grandchild. It helps ease the pain that every September brings. It gives my mother hope. So, that is exactly what her name is- Hope! Praying for you. Trista

Anonymous said...

"An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination" is my recommendation. Love and light to you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment. Maybe it's the book you are to write. In fact, you may have already begun writing that book right here.
I applaude your strength in this decision to experience all of this to the fullest.
Remain strong and courageous, as God has instructed.

Shannon said...

I agree with some of the others...maybe it's your book to write. I feel, see, hear all of those things you're looking for in your writing. You have the ability to draw people in with your words... Maybe someday you can takes posts from this blog and make it into THAT book that someone else is looking for.

Praying, praying!

PS You must have found one incredible coffee shop to beat Starbucks! :)

terri said...

did you ever read "the problem of pain" by c.s. lewis? he wrote it before he met and lost his wife. a very different read than "a grief observed". i'll take the second book any day of the week.

see you later. love you.

Papillon Sky said...

I agree with the first comment as well. What you have written on this blog has been so honest and beautifully written that it would be perfect for a book. Think of all of the others who could benefit from your words.
And think of how it would help you to keep writing. You have so many breathtaking photos to include as well.
Big hugs to you. I've been thinking about you a lot!

Heather said...

Well, I can't agree more with what others have already said ... I think it is "your book" you are looking to read. You have mentioned several times about the "purpose" Ewan served and continues to serve. Maybe you are meant to write and publish this very book you speak of! Although I have not experienced the grief you have, my brother was murdered 5 years ago and I continue to struggle with it. I find comfort in your blog and your faith and would be in line to purchase the book you "might" publish! Would love to have a personal signed copy too!!! <3

Anonymous said...

I think that is "your book" as well, Kirsten. You are a phenomenal writer and your heart, well, your heart is the most honest one I've met. I think, given the thousands you've touched with your words already, there would be hundreds of thousands more who would welcome such a book from you.


Andi said...

I've been following your journey since shortly after Ewan was born when a friend posted a prayer request on Facebook. I haven't commented yet -- it seemed silly to have you hear from someone you've never met -- but today, I'm feeling compelled to write and echo what others have already said. Please, for the sake of others who will follow you, do write this book!

I have two boys, the youngest born in June -- I've never gone through anything near what your are living through now, and I can't imagine how I would do it. A close friend (actually, the mother of a friend who I've also become close with) lost her adult son just over a year ago, and I've sent her links to a few of your posts as they seem to articulate and resonate with her own experiences. I'm sure there are many others who would say the same. I especially appreciated the post about integrating the grief rather than getting over it -- it resonated with my friend and helped me understand more how to talk with and help those in the midst of grief.

So perhaps not today or tomorrow, but in your own time, I hope you do write this book! And enjoy plenty of local coffee in the process :)

Megan said...

I'm here for you... as a friend who still feels the fresh and recent tinge of devistation...

And you can't be more right... but although you may not feel like it at times (I know I don't) you are doing beautifully, given...

All my love and prayers,
Megan@ A story unfolding

(Thinking of sweet Ewan today and always)

Rebecca said...

I think you are that author. We're reading that book.

You have a profound gift, Kirsten, of expressing yourself. No, deeper than that, of knowing yourself and being able to express it. I read your posts in awe because I have rarely met someone who understands their own soul as much as you do.

I imagine sitting in that coffee shop (sounds amazing!) and watching you pour through this stack of books. I imagine watching the emotions flicker across your face as you jump from sentence to sentence, finally landing on one that strikes your heart. I see a weary, excited, broken, whole, angry, surrendered and always beautiful mother sitting there. I wish I could sit there with you.

Anonymous said...

Write it sister!

The Hands said...

Very well put. I have felt this same way at times.

Teresa said...

I hope you feel my love and prayers. My heart breaks with you. My newest blog post has a really pretty picture of a mommy handing her baby over to an angel. I tried to forward it to you but I am so dumb with computers. Even though it made me cry I think it sums up a mothers feelings at the loss of a child perfectly. If you want to look at it my blog is www.tolmanfamilyblog.blogspot.com

Sending you hugs
Love Teresa

Shay said...

I agree...I think you should write a book...I would read it! :)

I pray for you and think of you and James daily...Ewan has deeply affected me and I have enjoyed getting to know him through all the photos and what you have written...you are an inspiration to me and I am honored and blessed to pray for you.

love, hugs, and prayers...Shay

Nancy said...

I KNOW! I should have written my book and I still may someday. You should write yours now...don't wait 30 years like me.

Leslie said...

Yes. We need to speak about the dark so people can see the reality of the light we offer. As Betsy Ten Boom said to her sister just before she died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, "They will believe us, because we were here. There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

23 degrees said...

Kirsten, although I have not made many comments on your blogs, I have been following your path through this difficult journey and praying with you, crying with you, wanting God's peace to garrison your heart and your husband's heart as well.

Thank you for sharing your story, your life, your thoughts and deepest emotions. "Holding onto faith in the dark"—this is it, you are doing it.

I believe Ewan's story has changed me and so many others because you have had the courage to tell it. I know now what it means to be the light of the world.

christianne said...

My friend, it has been several days since you wrote this post, and only now am I able to hold what you've shared here and respond. (The last few days have kept me away from blogland a bit.)

I love that I know exactly what coffee shop you are talking about and that I can see where you probably sat down. :)

Like everyone else already echoed here, you are indeed the person to write such a book. I think the book you write on grief and your experience would have the substance and flavor of those that have become the most trusted books available on the subject, the ones that speak the language of grief in the way someone living through it most needs.

I love the way Rebecca put it: "We are reading that book." So true! And I know there is so much more you can and will say.

Your writing never fails to amaze me. I love that I can still stand in awe of you, after all these years.


Anonymous said...

Family of Ewan,

Kristen once again I feel like you looked inside my heart and soul and expressed how I am feeling better than I can. You truly have a gift.


not2brightGRAM said...

You must write the book that no one ever wants to need to read. You are (tragically) most qualified.

Anonymous said...

I echo all the previous sentiments. I've been following your blog for a few months and have often thought, "This chick needs to write at book!" You have such a gift in expressing yourself. I'd be among the first to buy your buy!
I love to read your blog. It has helped me to help a friend in my community that is dealing with grief from losing an infant very recently.
I'm so sad for your loss and so amazed at how the short life of your precious, precious son is touching lives far away even now. A book would be another means for Ewan, via his mommy, to continue to reach lives of others for years and years to come and for you to share what REAL grief is. Grief is not a neat little package!
If not now, maybe someday. It's definitely a book that needs to be on the shelf.

Unknown said...

I wonder if you will feel called to do this. To write the book.

prayers and love


Forzest said...

Very nice blog..glad to read this.