Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For the Loss Mama

Six years. I can't quite fathom how it can already be six years since we welcomed our second born and almost in the same breath said goodbye. So much is different. Vastly different from those days of constant sadness and tears. Maddox now has 3 younger siblings. Time allows the bleeding to stop and the tenderness of the wound to lessen... But as with any trauma, the scar is still there. It always will be.

I wonder sometimes if people think we're crazy for "still" saying we have 5 kids. Sometimes I even feel like I'm not being truthful and even have to caveat my description of my family. Sometimes it feels easier just to say 4 kids and move on... But on occasion when it happens, it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like I'm doing Maddox justice. Our journey justice. But most importantly, Our Lord justice. His faithfulness. His grace. His mercy. His people. His healing and restoration and redemption. Our story isn't really ours. It's His.

As I hear Scout pray at night and thank The Lord for Maddox and the rest of his siblings ...oh, be still my heart. He doesn't yet know the big story of God's faithfulness to our family, but he knows his big brother by name. He knows he is in Heaven. He knows his picture and can point him out. It's the legacy of The Lord and what He can do with our hearts when things go exactly opposite of our hopes and dreams and prayers. That He is still God and knows us intimately.

I have felt compelled these last few weeks to write down a few of the most important things I would want to share with someone else walking this road.  My hope is that if you know anyone in a similar situation, or you encounter someone in the future, you might be able to be a source of compassion and understanding and support. Those that surrounded us while we were in the depths were often "God in flesh" as the waves swept over.

For the loss mama...

There is no manual for this. There is no time limit for it either. Your grief is your own and while there are healthy and unhealthy ways to process all that is going on, do not let anyone tell you how it MUST be done.

If you are sad, allow yourself to feel it. If you want to spontaneously laugh, do it without reserve. You're afraid that people will think you've forgotten, or are in denial. No one will judge and no one will think you have forgotten your child. I promise.

If you need a good cry, you can do it alone. Or with your spouse. Or best friend. Or do it with your counselor. But like Nike, Just Do It.

Talk about your child. To a journal, to God or to live people.

Remember the joy you felt before the sadness because some days the sadness feels like it might consume you.

Sometimes you will feel like you are drowning. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. It is helpful and necessary.

Tell those around you what you need. No one knows but you.And know that what you need might change. And that is just fine.

Accept help. It's okay to need something today and not tomorrow. It's okay to welcome a question one day and despise it the next.

Give people GRACE. They will say and ask stupid things.

Give YOURSELF grace. You will be irrational sometimes. Fears about your other children. Fears about people judging. Fears about inadequacy.

You might feel like you "just want to get it over with." The grieving that is. It's okay. Just remember it's a process. Life is a process.

You might feel like life is unfair. That everywhere you look people are pregnant and have newborns. The truth is... Life IS unfair and it's okay to feel that way. Just don't steal anyone's joy in your time of sadness.

You can be mad at God. He's big enough to deal with it. He did create you and knows it anyway. BUT Work through it WITH Him.

Do not allow your loss to define who you are. It is a defining moment in your life, but you are not the loss. You are not your grief.

People will fail you. People will disappoint, disappear, not have words or have too many. Whatever your expectations are, people will not meet them. They will fall drastically short. The only one who will truly be there is the Lord. He's the only one who will ALWAYS be there in the hurt.

Make memories in the grief...

Although you feel like you're dying, you are actually still living. And there are living people around you. Don't forget them. They might be what actually keep you going.

You are needed. You are loved. You are beautiful.

Take care of yourself. Your delivery site, your breasts, your emotions, your spirit.

Allow the physical pain to exist because when that goes away the emotional pain will most likely take over.

Get in a hot shower. They might tell you not to. "It will produce more milk." Let me tell you, the milk will come. Hot shower or not. The milk might be the hardest thing about not having your baby. It was for me. Allow the shower's hot water to mingle with your milk and tears. Let it all out. Let it all wash over you. It's an emotional cleansing. Your body, mind and spirit need it.

Love your husband. Be patient. He might not look like he is grieving. HE IS. He wants to be strong. He wants to protect you. He can't let it consume him because he's afraid the whole ship will go down.

Keep moving forward. It might just be to get out of bed today. That's a step forward. Two forward because tomorrow might be one back. Remember. It's a process.

People will disappoint you because they will forget. Not intentionally but they will. They will forget that it's Wednesday and he was born on a Wednesday. They will forget your due date. They will forget the 3 or 6 month mark. Your world has stopped. It's so unfair but theirs have not.

Don't feel guilty. Not about what could have been, should have been or what actually was. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

If you feel despaired, cannot seem to manage your grief, anger, sadness, or hurt, be sure to talk to someone. It is crucial to get the help you need, professional or otherwise, to be able to stand on the other side of your loss.

Free yourself to dream... About that next child, about that dream vacation, about where you will be in a year or five. Envision yourself outside of the grief you are living.

Love yourself. The good, bad and ugly. God can use anyone, anywhere. The Bible is overflowing with stories of grief-filled people that are redeemed and restored as they put their trust in Him. "...The author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

"My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." Job 42:5
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