Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

There is a pain that comes with grief. It is to be expected but most also believe the old adage -- time heals all wounds. Its a lie. I can only speak from experience and I can say time does not heal the wound left when your child dies. There is nothing natural about it. You think ahead and you think you'll bury your parents and at some point one spouse will bury the other but you never think it will be your child.

The pain you feel afterwards manifests itself in a million ways and like a snake it rears its head and strikes when you least expect it. Our boys were born (stillborn) on December 21st -- four days before Christmas. I remember leaving the hospital and feeling like something wasn't right but the truth was I was still numb to what had happened. My husband's family had a tradition of attending a midnight Christmas Eve service. I'll never know what part of me thought that was a good idea that year. I don't remember much about the service. What I do remember, quite vividly, is the feeling that I was drowning, the feeling that I was fighting to keep my head above water, and my air supply was running out. It was the last midnight Christmas Eve service I've attended.

Seven more Christmas Eves have passed and I've heard all the well meaning messages -- "it'll get easier," "at least you have your daughter now," "you need to move on." People have the best of intentions, they just have no clue what to say. The truth is it does not get easier. Every day is hard. Some are harder. Seven years may have passed but there are still nights when I cry myself to sleep. I lay there and try to imagine what their sweet faces would look like or how their little personalities would have developed.

I do have my daughter and she is my ray of sunshine but she does not replace her brothers. She does not make up for their death. She is a blessing completely independent of them.

As far as moving on, it does not happen. It was a life, a piece of you, and in my case two little people I felt move inside of me. You cannot "move on" but you can move along. I take life one day at a time and I strive to keep their memory alive in our home. (If you ever meet my daughter, just ask her about her brothers.)

As the holidays come around each year, the waters rise and some days seem unbearable. My grief often comes out in the form of panic and anxiety and it is ugly and it is draining physically and emotionally. There is a tired that comes from a panic attack unlike any other. I said before that grief can strike at any moment. During the holidays, I may have  panic attack because of a Christmas carol, because I thought about my boys (which makes sense), or, like last year, because I pulled into a grocery store parking lot (which makes no sense at all). Grief is a mean monster.

Why do I write all this?

Somewhere sits a mom (or dad) who has lost a child. Maybe the wound is fresh. She likely feels all alone and wonders how she will crawl out of her hole. She may be telling herself that she's crazy. I remember thinking something must be wrong with me.

Dear Mom (or dad): Please know your pain is valid. Oh, how I wish someone would have said those words to me. It is ok to cry, to be sad, to feel.... whether it has been 10 days or 10 years.

If your loss was due to stillbirth or miscarriage, it was still a baby. Do not let someone feed you the lie that "it was a fetus." After my first miscarriage, my doctor patted my knee, looked me in the eyes and told me "Whether you were pregnant one day or nine months, it was a baby."

Keep your child's memory alive. I don't know how that will look for you. For me, I would love to tell you about the meaning behind their names or how we saw their personalities develop even through ultrasounds. it also means that each year on their birthday we take baby blankets to the NICU. Their birthday is one of my happiest days each year.

Find your "person" (or people). While I wish we had not suffered this loss, I thank God that Matt is my husband, that he was and is by my side and is my "person." In the days after, he was just enough. I never felt like he did too little and I was in need nor did I feel suffocated. He remains my rock. All I have to say is "It's a bad day" and he knows -- knows that I may be irrational, irritable, sad or a multitude of other emotions. I also have my best friend. She gets far too many texts that probably seem to go on forever. She listens patiently. She loves me and she reminds me that God loves me. Find your people. You'll need them.

Know that I pray for you. Know that I have asked God to comfort you and to help you find peace and to help you on the days when you get so angry you feel like you'll explode. Prayer is a power thing. I now not a day goes by that daddy does not pray for me. On the days that seem too hard to bear, I have often wondered if it was my daddy's prayers that got me through it. Was it his interceding on my behalf that helped me face that particular day? Know I pray you feel God's love.

If you're reading this and haven't lost a child, I can assure you that you know someone who has. Miscarriage alone affects one in four women. Share this post with them and show them love.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It doesn't do me any good.

I complain. I complain a lot. I often hear my grandmother's voice in the back of my head...usually once a day. I hear what I call "Grandma-isms." In this case I hear, "I can't complain. It doesn't do me any good." I get it. What's the point of complaining because we know I don't complain about what I do. Nope, I complain about what others do or didn't do. I can't control them but I am definitely in control of myself. I don't realize or catch myself complaining while I'm doing it but soon afterward the Holy Spirit is quick to convict me. I need to do better. 

I read a blog recently where a mom challenged herself to stop yelling at her kids. It's a good read and you can find it here. Driving tonight, I had the thought that I should do the same. I need to challenge myself to stop complaining. I'm sure it would help my attitude and would make the lives of my husband and best friend easier since they're the two I complain to the most. So here it is... January 4, 2014 and I'm challenging myself to not complain for the rest of the year. 

Hold me accountable, ok? 

Monday, December 30, 2013

A good read...

My husband I have struggled with infertility since we got married more than 6 years ago. Here is an excellent read on ministering to those who struggle with infertility. It's well worth your time.

If at first you don't succeed, try again.

I'm 31 years old and I've had numerous chances to read The Bible in a year.... NUMEROUS! I've started several times and I've failed every single time. Aaaahhh! I've failed every single time I've tried! Not this year! Starting New Year's day, I'll star the Eat This Book reading plan. I'm looking forward to doing it with family this time. Accountability is good for me and helps me to be successful. I've printed out the plan and the intro to Genesis and Exodus to get me through January. I'm hoping you'll help keep me accountable or maybe you want to read along with us. That would be great!

If you're looking for a Bible reading plan, check out Justin Taylor's list here.

May there's something you've tried over and over again and have yet to succeed. For me I also need to keep at it with weight lost... I'm down 25 lbs and have a long way to go but I'm making progress and that's another day's post. What do you need to finish? I need to do this. I need to finish. I'm prepared and ready!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A place to call home...

For a while our family was part of a church plant in Spartanburg. We were a close group since the church was still small and we both served and were served. It was great and we truly did life together with the families there. Then, the church dissolved and we had already felt God calling us to worship closer to home. Fast forward a few years and we are not a part of Fellowship Greenville on Hwy. 14 in Greenville. We are part of a small group and for the first time in years feel as though we are at home. One thing that was fundamental in our search for a new church family was teaching Scripture verse by verse. Today we finished Hebrews at church. I challenge you to listen to the sermons if you're interested or feel like your faith needs to be challenged. Our teaching pastors are Godly men who desire to see you grow in your faith and help you to understand what's in the Bible. So check out the website and under resources you will find the sermon audio. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

To Santa or not to Santa?

Christmas is over. I've already taken down the tree and put the decorations away. The only tree that remains is in my two-year-old's room simply because I don't have the heart to take it down just yet. She smiles with joy when she looks at it, so I let her enjoy it for a few more days.

So my daughter is two (25 months if you want to get exact). Since the day she was born when Christmas comes up I am torn. Do we believe in Santa or not? I always go through the same arguments in my head. My husband and I both had Santa and well, I think we turned out ok. But then I start thinking of the spiritual aspects of believing in Santa. I never want her to believe that the holiday is because of Santa. No, the holiday is ONLY because of God's gift to mankind, His Son. I want her to understand that and this year we talked a lot about Baby Jesus and when we prayed we thanked God for Baby Jesus but let's be honest, when you're two at Christmas you're inundated with Santa Claus.

I know many parents who don't teach any Santa at all and they only teach Christ's birth. I know some who teach St. Nick (the original) and how generous he was and combine the two. Its so frustrating trying to discern what is best. So last night I started Raising Great Kids: Parenting with Grace and Truth. (I quickly decided that much more would be learned from the book in a group setting instead of individually. Any takers?) But as I'm reading and thinking how I want my daughter to understand truth and to grow in character so that the values we teach now are still with her when she's 12 and 22 and then when she teaches her own children.

So there has to be an answer a right or wrong... right? Or maybe its what's right for my family and what's right for yours? I don't think we taught anything this year that will stick if we choose to not do Santa or if we choose to do Santa.

I'd love to hear what your family does and why you do it that way. That part is important. So leave a comment and let me know.