Two Lessons in Lament: a story of sorrow and Mike and Ikes

Jul 25 2012

One of my five-year-olds missed out on the entire box of Mike & Ikes last night.

The Mike & Ikes were there, you guys, and then they were suddenly all gone. Vanished. Whoosh! Just like that.

Cai grieved.

And I mean he grieved.


I’m just barely mature enough at age 38-and-three-quarters to understand that I don’t get to pick which things grieve others.

This is the first lesson of lament. I don’t get to pick griefs from a menu or meander down the sad smorgasbord. Nope. Griefs pick us.

It’s a new revelation for me, and I don’t like it much, but since I also don’t get to pick which things are true, I’m trying to put on my big girl pants and take the news graciously.

If you’re like me, maybe you’re a tiny bit controlling, and maybe sorrow makes you feel panicky and lightheaded and dizzy and like you need to put your head between your legs before you pass out in your own vomit.

I want you to know, it’s OK. We’re OK.

Sorrow is hard and painful, and it doesn’t always end when we want it to be over which is usually in approximately 60 minutes if you account for 15 minutes of commercial interruptions.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable sitting in pain – both yours and others’ – and it’s OK to want to find a way out.

It’s also OK to practice the sitting. That’s the bulk of life, right? The choice to keep practicing.


One of my five-year-olds missed out on the entire box of Mike & Ikes last night.

The Mike & Ikes were there, you guys, and then they were suddenly all gone. Vanished. Whoosh! Just like that.

Cai grieved.

And I mean he grieved.

Oh, agony. Torture. Misery. Woe. The Mike and Ikes – those far-better-than-jelly-beans jelly beans – were gone. And Cai was terribly, horribly, awfully sad.

Like any good mama who’s been thinking lately about grief and movie theater shootings and being intentionally present to people in the middle of the muck, I tried to shush him. To quickly soothe him. To drop off a few kisses, drive-by style, on the top of his head so as to miss any of the leaking bits on his face. Anything, really, to hurry his wails along and put his sadness aside because I had stuff last night.

Important work.

Things To Do.

That’s when I remembered in a blinding and brilliant moment of Godly clarity (a moment that sounded a lot like Oh, CRAP!) that I’m practicing sitting in the pain with the people I love.

I sighed dramatically because everyone knows that dramatic, passive-aggressive sighs are the very best way to say I ALWAYS have to do the hard jobs around here and NO ONE ELSE helps EVER and I NEVER get to do ANYTHING I want, and then Jesus rolled his eyes and told me it was chore time anyway, no matter how much I sighed, and that if I didn’t fix my attitude pronto, he’d be happy to give me another chance later to practice doing my jobs cheerfully.

Fine, Jesus. Whatever.

I lifted my pathetic Mike-and-Ikeless baby off the soggy floor, and I folded his long, skinny body into lap origami. We snuggled down deep in the Velveteen Chair, and it’s funny… my smarmy attitude evaporated as soon as his knobby body hit my squishy middle. It felt just like coming home.

Cai and I got our lament on, y’all.

We lamented so hard, my shirt is still lumpy with boogers and soaked with spit and tears.

And while we lamented, we had this conversation…

“Oh, Cai Cai. I’m so sorry you’re sad. You’re lamenting. Do you know what lamenting is?”


“Lamenting is being sad. And we’re lamenting together. Did you know that there are whole, huge parts of the Bible that are all about lamenting?”


“Did you know that God cares to hear our laments and not just our joys?”


“Do you want to pray together and talk to God about your Mike and Ikes lament?”


I can pray for you if it’s too hard for you right now. That’s the good thing about lamenting together. Do you want me to talk to God about your lament?”


“Do you at least want a kleenex for all that snot?”


“Is there anything I can do for you, Cai Cai? Any way I can help make your lament better?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Oh, good, Cai Cai. Because I really want to help you. What can I do for you?”

“Stop talking, Mom.”


“Stop talking, Mom. This isn’t talking time. It’s being sad time.”



Oh, hello, second lesson of lament.