My husband and I sat on the bed a while back, discussing how hard it’s been since Jason died to find a church to attend where we fit. We belonged to one of the largest church in the Pacific Northwest when Jason died. Although we really loved the church and its youthful energy, because we had existing, extensive connections to Christian homeschool and church friends and activities, we didn’t get terribly connected there.
After Jason died, it was really hard to go back. For a long time, when I walked in the sanctuary for services, I could picture the photographs of Jason we used for his memorial service up on the big screens on either side of the stage . The church’s youthful, energetic, joyful vibe contrasted sharply with the deep grief I felt, and many times we left during the service. Sometimes it was just too loud for me; I became extremely sound sensitive after Jason died. I felt antsy and trapped at times. It was just hard to be there all the way around.
We had designated the church’s computer school for contributions in Jason’s honor. The computer school taught computer classes to anyone in the community for a minimal cost. Jason, our computer science student. We felt like he would appreciate it and it would be a good way to honor one of his interests. With the contributions they received, they were able to purchase some necessary equipment so they could continue their ministry.
Although the support we received from the church before and during Jason’s memorial service was incredible, we basically fell off the radar not long afterwards. The youth pastor’s wife left a message for Jenna once, but then never called back. I don’t remember hearing from anyone else. I think they felt we had adequate support elsewhere. If only they knew nothing could be farther from the truth.
We haven’t found a church that’s a fit for us since then. Not that we haven’t tried; we really, truly have. As the “new people,” fitting into an already-existing group is hard enough, but the death of a child makes it even harder and we – I guess I should say “I” – just don’t even have the energy or desire to try. I still feel antsy and trapped at times. I also recognize the fact that I just don’t trust Christians with my broken heart any more; I have too many scars from the way Christian people have treated us. And I don’t want to be pitied or to be treated like a project to try to fix. I’m not really sure how to explain it to a person who has not lost a child…or even to a bereaved parent whose church, friends and family adequately supported them when their child died.
Part of the problem is that so many of the same, old church patterns and/or programs no longer seem relevant. The music or message or platitudes a lot of times haven’t felt like the balm to our broken hearts and lives that we have desperately craved. I miss the days when church felt like a safe place, when it felt like home, a place to love and be loved. It just seems like we just don’t fit anywhere any more, and I’m not sure how to fix it.
© 2018 Rebecca R. Carney