Lessons of Grief From A Clay Cup

Loss can be mysterious and unexpected. In this case, I learned lessons of grief from a clay cup. Click here for audio version. 

It wasn’t just any cup. My 23-year old son who moved out to Seattle two years before gave me this treasured gift. The unglazed belly of the clay cup made my coffee vibrant with flavor. The handle fit my hand perfectly along with indention for my thumb at just the right angle. 

The artisan-crafted clay cup held depth of meaning in ways I didn’t realize.

It was a daily ritual to write in my prayer journal drinking from my clay cup with a lighted candle by my side. While on my front porch rocking chair these tangible items helped me meditate and pray. My heavenly Father and my long-distance son were invisible, yet present. I felt close to both.

At the time, my younger son was getting married and my daughter and granddaughter had just moved across the country.

Adult children moving or getting married is not an easy transition for any mom. Click To Tweet

And then, while in the kitchen, the unexpected happened. I was totally caught off guard. It was like a slow motion movie clip when each frame passed by in focused terror! My beloved cup fell off the crowded countertop and shattered onto the wood floor; gone in an instant. The shock made time stand still.

A nauseous pit in my stomach screamed out. An uncontrollable floodgate poured out of my red splotchy face. My husband picked up the pieces to assess it’s fixability.

Nothing could be done.

My tears wouldn’t stop.

I woke the next morning missing my cup. The uncontrollable tears and gut-wrenching feelings came in waves like an ocean tide. It lingered for several days.

This is crazy, I thought. It was just a clay cup. Why am I reacting like this? What is wrong?

I scheduled a counseling appointment with my therapist.

She encouraged me to make a mosaic out of the shattered pieces. Although I’d never be able to drink out of it, I could make it a piece of art; something new and beautiful. 

My therapist helped me identify the meanings I attached to that clay cup. She helped me gain focus to my loss. I became more aware of what I was really grieving.   

Here’s what I’m learning about grief.

  1. Grief is universal and unique. We all experience loss and we are all affected by it. Loss is not only the death of a loved one. It’s the death of a relationship, a season of life, a dream, or an attachment.
  2. Grief is meant to be felt. Willingness to feel the sadness and cry the tears makes us more whole as human beings. Feeling depth of loss gives us capacity to live and feel fullness of joy. Click To Tweet
  3. Grief is necessary. It tunes us into the value of our relationships. It gives us clarity. It helps us let go and make something beautiful where sorrow existed.
  4. Grief has meaning. When we take time to face our loss and pain, we gain clarity. We appreciate others more. We’re able to hold the preciousness of “now”.

It’s been three years since the initial sting of my shattered cup. Waves of grief settled and joy came back. I can live in the “now” and embrace the emerging adulthood of my children. I enjoy this “empty nest” stage of life with my husband. It feels free and full.

My husband and I make our trips across the country visiting my long-distance children, cherishing the time we have. Tears still flow with our “good-byes.”

I now drink from another clay cup with more awareness. Whether it’s loved ones, relationships, seasons, or dreams; all are meant to transition and grow. Be thankful for now.

Questions to Ponder

What are you learning about grief?

What are things that hold meaning for you?

How has a loss become something new and beautiful?


Mother's Day

Mother’s Day Highs and Lows

As we all celebrate Mother’s Day, let us pay attention to the high’s and low’s we experience as moms. May we be compassionate toward those who have unknown stories.

It can be a difficult day or just another day.

Regret, sadness, and secrecy hidden among the smiles and pleasantries. The stress of single parenting or the long-term resentful marriage make Mother’s Day a challenge for some. It shows up as an aching heart that seems as physical as a stopped up drain in the throat.

All we see is the outward appearance. We turn away from those who don’t smile back and totally misinterpret another’s stern face.

We don’t know the journey of another.

  • Mothers who lost their babies through abortion, miscarriage, still birth, or sudden infant death.
  • Mothers who’ve placed their newborns for adoption.
  • Mothers who experience rejection, unforgiveness, and estrangement from adult children.
  • Mothers whose child has an addiction, or whose children are torn from divorce.
  • Mothers whose children died through accident, suicide, or sickness.
  • Daughters whose mothers have passed on leaving a void no one else can fill.
  • Grandmothers who aren’t allowed relationship with grandchildren.

We see and relate or avoid and judge.

There’s a unknown story. Or there’s made up stories in our heads about others and ourselves.

We judge by our own limited understanding.

I recently re-read “Carry On Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton who’s become my hero and role model on several levels. She writes about the power of embracing your messy, beautiful life. Her term, brutiful  describes how our lives can be both brutal and beautiful.

I resonate with her as a writer, a mother, a wife, and a courageous woman speaking truth in love. She’s one of the most authentic authors I’ve read. Even a second reading (audio listening) of her book brought tears to my eyes. She encourages me to listen to my soul and recognize God’s spirit in others.

How her story makes sense to me. 

  1. We’re all beloved by God and our substance is divine.
  2. Some of her stories shed light on my own judgmental attitudes. I’ve had to repent of my boldness at confronting others and unknowingingly wounding them.
  3. I’m still working on listening and being open. It’s a life-long journey for me.

Whether joyful or dreadful on this day of celebration, let’s honor the untold stories of all mothers. Their lives matter. They’re life-givers, nurturers, and lovers. They’re wounded, guilt-ridden, and downtrodden. They’re worthy and lovable no matter what category they’re in.

Here’s my message to all mothers

You are a woman of dignity
You’re worthy to be loved and celebrated
You’re an overcomer
Your story matters

Carry On Warrior. Life is brutal and beautiful – as Glennon would say, brutiful.

Questions to Ponder

Who in your life honors your story?

What is one brave thing you can do to affirm your dignity?

Your Next Step: Get “Beyond Messy Relationships”