You Make Me Brave

How do you let children grieve? The same way you do adults—by letting them feel what they need and work through it as the unique people God created them to be.

It was time. The weight of this task has rested heavy on me. Since planning Kraig’s funeral and deciding on cremation, the task of scattering his ashes has stood in my mind as an unwanted chore on my to-do list—never being crossed off, never vanishing. No one could decide how to do this for me. Friends had offered to help me or to simply scatter his remains without me if it was too painful. But no. This was a task I needed to complete.

As the anniversary of his death looms large on my calendar, I realized this should be done now. This activity could then lay inside The Year of Firsts, the year of grief, as another thing we survived, another terrible thing we had to do and lived through. Another thing behind us.

Months and months ago I decided that a cemetery plot was not the right choice. The kids would never want to visit it again. It was costly and cold, something Kraig wouldn’t have wanted. And in this transient world, there was no guarantee that we’d live near a cemetery here forever. No. We would scatter his ashes in the beautiful places where we had so many memories of him.

A song has played in my mind over the last few weeks: You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music. “You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shores into the waves.” I would be brave and tackle another fearsome thing.

I brought it up on the drive home from school when they were all trapped in the van and had to listen. Most had said they didn’t want to participate but this time, the answer was different and unified. They wanted to come. Jarod even had a brilliant idea of where to go. They didn’t want a spot we had loved going with him for fear it would ruin that location forever. But Jarod had an idea that was perfect. We had a plan.

You make me brave.

stones

One stone for each kid to remember dad. Engraving to come later.

Lucy was most excited about something I’d thought of as so much better than a gravestone. The kids would each get to pick a stone at a rock shop in Hill City suitable for engraving. We’d keep it in our garden. They could get anything they wanted carved on it. They could view it, touch it, visit it anytime they wanted to remember Dad. When they grew up, I told them, they could take it to their new homes if they wanted or leave it with me.

This was personal. This was customized to each. This was good.

You make me brave.

The night before, my sweet friend Kellie messaged me. She knew what our plans were for Saturday. She invited us afterward to join her family on a lake for pontoon boating and tubing. Perfect. Something, again, to look past the inescapable with anticipation.

You make me brave.

The search for the perfect stones was made easier by a nice lady at The Rock Shop. She’d helped many people do this. She was kind. Each child found the perfect stone. We’d decide on the engraving later. There were no tears. It was a good search.

You make me brave.

We found the perfect spot—off an established trail head near the campground where we’d spent our last weekend with him. It was secluded. We’d never been there with him. We found a landmark that would stand the test of time. I explained to the kids that while the thought of returning here now seems unfathomable, someday they might want to come back. This was a place they could find again. We all agreed this was the spot.

You make me brave.

I reminded them (mostly for Ryan’s and Lucy’s benefit) that Dad was in heaven. This was not him. It was only the remnants of his earthly body. I read from Romans 8:38-39 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19. I let them feel the weight of the bag. Kati chose the exact spot, placing at it a cross she’d fashioned from twigs and yarn. She laid a tiny, smooth piece of white quartz at the base.

You make me brave.

None of them wanted to say anything. But they did want a moment to spread out and take in the view and be still. Lucy wanted to touch the ash. At her tender age of six maybe the tactile experience was what she needed. She promised to just use the tip of one finger. I smiled and let her. Ryan headed down the trail first, followed soon by Jarod taking Lucy by the hand. It was a sweet image. I let Kati take all the time she needed, promising her we could come back if she wanted. She nodded.

You make me brave.

And just like that, the task was done. It weighed no more on my mind or my heart. They all seemed quiet and peace-filled. It was not nearly as bad as the funeral. Probably the passing of time had made this easier.

We headed off to join Kellie at the lake and the drive between allowed the somber mood to slowly lift like a fog being burned off by sunrise. Kellie understood. She lost a baby a decade ago. Her hug was tear-filled, her smile understanding.

The afternoon became exciting. The kids had never been on a pontoon. They’d never been tubing or jet skiing. There were smiles as they stood and let the wind and spray batter them. There was laughing and normal bickering of whose turn it was to do what next. There was sunshine and freezing water. There was a race to the dock to beat the oncoming storm. Kellie’s family’s gift was the perfect end to this day.

You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shores into the waves. You make me brave. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the promises You made.

I let my children grieve on this day in their own unique ways. I let the events of the day unfold on their own. I let myself feel what I needed to feel and surprisingly there were few tears. We accomplished a task that could have held the weight of another funeral but instead held the peace of God and calm. God makes me brave and I pray they see that in me each day.

 

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