I am hastened into facing another day.
Woken by the onslaught of my mourning.
It is a struggle to keep the sorrow at bay,
as it strikes me without warning.
The terror impacts me the instant I wake.
But I must keep fighting for sanity’s sake.
Through the relentless oppression of laughter and song.
To the constant regression as the war rages on.
No source of shelter offers any relief,
my only protection is the Armor of grief.

In the daily battle with my emotions, I often feel overwhelmed. I find myself wallowing in the murky trenches of grief, at a loss for words, run down and utterly defeated. I am always fighting back the tears or retreating to engage my own internal struggles.

Despite my tremendous loss and clearly diminished state, surrender is beneath me.

So, to combat the oppressive forces of sorrow, I have developed some tools to fortify my position.

One of the ways I protect myself is by buckling down and hammering out the layers of my contention. Identifying my points of weakness prevents things from so quickly getting under my skin. Combined with a readiness to face events that are easy to anticipate, I am able to fend off the despair that strikes me unexpectedly.

I think we can all benefit from equipping ourselves in emotional armor. But let’s not use armor that is overly confining or rigid. Because, it is critical that we maintain our ability to be flexible and engaging.

The armor of grief is unique in that it not only provides a source of outward protection, it’s facade of strength also enables us to hold things in. The thick skin helps us maintain our composure as we face mounting days and fleeting expectations.

The helmet is narrow enough to keep us focused in a forward direction while at the same time, its reflective properties make it easy to look back. The conical shape keeps our heads high even when everything around us appears to be collapsing. The thickness of the steel acts as a filter to minimize the impact of ambient sounds that constantly bombard us.

The breastplate protects our fragile hearts from the barrage of implications that so deeply impact our lives. It is forged from bonds that can never be broken. It is refined and polished to reflect the brilliance of love, and gilded with a faith that everything hinges on. It is cold and heavy, but that is perfectly fitting as it contains all the elements of sorrow, and the tremendous burden of countless lamentations.

The shield deflects the volley of painful reminders that are constantly hurled in our direction. It blocks ignorance, and guards against any inconsiderate bashing. It is a symbol of our unyielding devotion and clearly reflects our stance. Not only does it provide some space and shelter, it enables us to slowly push ahead.

The sword is the point of our sadness. It is short and blunt, yet incredibly poignant. Drawn from a glimmering past, it shines even brighter in life’s darkest moments. It can never be tarnished, dulled or degraded. But, it is not for lashing out. It is used for countering thoughtless banter and cutting through the chains of thought that are hurled with good intentions.

Lastly, the shoes are extremely important. They allow us to make great strides in a positive direction. They instill us with a sense of stability and keep us from stumbling into the depths of self pity. They not only enable us to trudge through the depression, they empower us take a stand that will leave a lasting impression.

Because preparation is such an essential prelude to battle, spending the morning bracing ourselves is indeed a victory. But, if we can push the pain aside and extend ourselves to others, then we have truly conquered the day.

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John French

John French

My name is John French. I was born in January of 1968. I own and operate a small remodeling company in Highland, MI. My wife Michelle and I married very young and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2009. We had two amazing children: Veronica, who is 20, and Brandon, who was 17. We worked very hard to build a life that would afford us the luxury of giving them all the things we never had, including a stable home, committed loving parents and every material thing imaginable (within the means of a middle class family, I should add). Over the last few years, it seemed we had finally arrived, and living was easy. Then Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts. Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling. Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

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