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Well, not as many as we had expected.  You see, many if not all of you know that Rachel and I recently spent some time in Texas.  “Texas?” you say.  Well, if you’re not a long timer here at you wouldn’t know that we were trained by the folks at The Center for Relational Care on everything relational/emotional needs.  That’s where we learned so much (read: just about everything) about comfort and keeping others from feeling alone and thus feeling loved in the process.

We were trained in a very experiential way.  We knew that if we were to have some real comfort and to openly, honestly, and (most applicably) vulnerably share what happened when Trey passed it would be down there.  It’s not that there aren’t those up here who have comforted us, just the opposite.  We would not be in 75 pieces (let alone 1) if it were not for all of you giving us comfort through our times of grief.  However, to let someone in on those moments immediately surrounding Trey’s last minutes here on earth (and the subsequent ones when we realized that he was gone) we knew we had to go back to were the experts were the experts and we were not “in charge.”

One of the things that we know is that the primary job of a spouse (or anyone intending to love another in any relationship) is comforting them.  I love the phrase, “Grief without comfort is just pointless.”  It just hurts.  It’s pain and there is no relief.  Some say, “It’s good to get it out.”  Well, yes, but if there is no one there to join you and comfort you?  If anything, the pain is transferred to loneliness.  There is no net gain.  Yet, when you share…share your grief, to a willing loved one who will carry that burden with you the healing is beautiful.  I had wondered then, how can Rachel and I comfort one another if we were both grieving?  Was there such a thing as simultaneous grieving and could there be the ability to comfort at those times?  What I’m saying is that how can I join Rachel in her pain surrounding those moments when I was THERE and experiencing my own pain?  Even (or especially) now how could I attach comfort when not only was I there then, I too was grieving and hurting then?

Thus, we went to Texas to get our “grief on.”  I knew we needed to go.  I was very much confirmed in that belief when Rachel so quickly agreed that we needed to go.  We not only went for ourselves but we wanted to meet with their adolescent/child expert to make sure we were doing right by Joe and Bella as well.  Wouldn’t you know it?  God had different plans for our time there, and it was better than we expected.

Without going into a minute by minute detail of the day we spent at the CRC, we left being much more equipped to love one another than having dumped all of our emotions in one place and moved on.  We spent a lot of time learning what they have learned in the 5+ years since we last visited with them.  Oh don’t worry, for those of you who have grown with us so much through our relating of what we learned the first few times down there years ago.  Many a blog post will be all about those new nuggets we now know (sorry for the stumbled upon alliteration).  In super general terms, I explain to people familiar with “The Five Love Languages” that that book teaches and explains things in a very basic (and overly simplified way).  It’s basically the Roman numerals of an emotional need outline.  What I/we teach is not only the Roman numerals, not only the capitol letters, but the numbers under the letters.  Well, now we’ve learned the small letters under the numbers, and even some shapes and “i, ii’s” under the numbers.  For the science minded, for a while they thought that the atom was the smallest item.  Then came protons, neutrons and electrons.  Whoa, don’t look now but DNA just rolled in and crashed the party.  It’s kind of like that.

So, back to our time at the CRC.  One of the most important and applicable things we learned was being available to share a hurt.  In a given moment, Rachel may be in a place to share a hurt (in general but for example in regards to Trey).  I may not be in “the same place” at that exact time.  However, I am more than equipped to comfort her as she presently grieves.  It gives her an extra added and very necessary measure of security that she will be comforted in her present grief without having to go all in and end up a blubbering mess (if she chooses not to go “there”).  I can comfort her within her grieving comfort zone.  This enables her (well, anyone really) a much greater ability to be vulnerable and yet very honest and real.  She knows that when she needs to be done, we’re done.  The same is true for me.  I may be ready and need to be comforted for my own grief in a moment (intentional or stumbled upon) when Rachel is not grieving as well.  She is free to be all in on my pain without experiencing or ignoring her own (as she is not experiencing it at this time).  If I become uncomfortable or too sad, we stop.  It’s much more natural that way and what is best for both of us (and everyone).  What that is and how that works is all up in the science of the brain and how it processes things.  We learned (errrrr, were taught) that as well during our time there too.

Lastly, in regards to Joe and Bella, we learned that what we are doing is not o.k.   It’s exemplary.  It brought us to tears to know that we had applied God’s knowledge and wisdom, through the folks at the CRC, to Joe and Bella in the best way possible.  We left feeling very equipped to continue to see them through this lifelong process of grief regarding the loss of their brother.  Yes, I will be sharing a lot of that in some future posts as well.

So, we didn’t get to dump all of our emotions on a very trusted relative stranger in Texas.  There were no (ok, a few but not nearly as many as we expected) tears shed there.  Rather, we are ready to continue to love each other in a very real, productive, intimate, and safe way.

As always, thanks for your comfort, prayers, encouragement, and support.


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