Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grief

Grief is an interesting emotion. You can be moving along, feeling well, and BOOM! It comes on you seemingly out of nowhere. This happened to me this week.

I was reading a book in which one of the characters was dealing with infertility and miscarriage. All of a sudden, I got the strongest memory of sitting in a recovery room after my D&C procedure. I could remember sitting there alone. And I remember feeling like I had never been as alone in my entire life. And wondering if I would always be alone. I could remember wrapping my arms as tight as I could around my stomach, as if somehow that could keep my sweet baby inside me, where he belonged. It was just a brief flash of a moment from my past, but oh, how it made my heart ache all over again. Then more memories surrounding that time came to me.

I thought about the weeks and months following the miscarriage. I remember going back to school and having to teach a classroom full of boys and girls and wondering why my child would never be able to go to school. Why did these children get to live and mine didn't? I remember going to two baby showers...oh, those were so hard. At the first one, I had to leave after the first present was opened. I could not stay longer. I could not smile and pass around the precious bibs and onesies and ooh and ahh and congratulate. I excused myself as politely as I could with tears streaming down my face. I did better at the second attempt for a shower. I stayed almost through the whole thing and made it to my car before I burst into tears. I remember putting my head on my steering wheel and sobbing.  I can remember sitting at the little round table in my breakfast room with my Bible open just begging God to show me something....anything that would bring me comfort. I remember laying in my bed crying and never wanting to get up. I remember sitting in the floor of what would have been the baby's nursery and just staring at the crib we had set up.

I remember the well-meaning comments that did not sit well with me. I remember having to smile and nod, saying things I didn't believe. Things like, "Yes, I'm sure it was for the best." "Yes, you're right...we probably were, in fact, trying too hard." "True, we can always try again. I'm sure the next baby will be a perfect replacement for this one." "That's right, I am young. I have many more years to get over this? Be sad about this? Try for another one?" "I probably should have been taking your Aunt Sue's herbal supplement. Thanks for implying this was all my fault." "Wow...I didn't know your cousin's roommate's brother finally had a baby the day after they adopted a child. I should try that...what a great suggestion!" "At least I know I can get pregnant. Who cares I couldn't stay that way...at least I can get there." "Yes, great point...at least now we won't have to deal with those pesky diapers and inconvenient middle of the night feedings. I am so sorry parenthood is so tough for you." "Yes, there probably would have been something wrong with him. Isn't that so great how nature can weed out those undesirable kids? Because there would be absolutely no way I could have loved a less than perfect baby." UGH! That was by far my least favorite comment....implying that I got lucky somehow that my baby died because quite possibly there would have been something wrong with him. {By the way, I didn't say ALL of these comments out loud...some I just screamed in my head.} I remember having to pretend these comments didn't bother me, then wait until later to cry.

Looking back, I wonder why I was so opposed to anyone seeing me cry? Surely people understood I was grieving.  And if they didn't understand, who cares?! It wasn't about them. But I guess I just didn't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. Or let anyone know just how crazy it was making me.

And it was making me crazy. I remember crying. A lot. And questioning a lot. Why? I knew God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), but I just couldn't figure out what could be good in this. How could this work for good for anyone? Also questioning myself. What did I do wrong? Did I eat something I shouldn't have? Did God know I would have been a terrible mother and decided to save this sweet baby from me? Is this a punishment for some past sin I had committed? Would I every be able to get pregnant again? Would I ever be able to carry a baby to full term? Will I ever be a mom? Will I ever feel normal again? I could literally, physically feel my heart breaking. I didn't think this raw pain would ever subside.

So, in the middle of reading of this book, this whole flood of memories is swirling in my head. I sat in my living room crying like it had just happened. And I went to bed and told Eddie, crying again.

And then, I felt guilty for not feeling this sad more often. I feel like I am betraying my first child by loving and enjoying my other four children as much as I do. I should think about my first baby more often. I remember thinking I would never go a day without remembering...but I rarely do. I thought that every year on the day I lost the baby and on what should have been my due date that I would remember. Any loving mother would remember that forever, right? I don't. In fact, if I didn't have those dates written down, I would have no clue.

Here is a paragraph from the book I was reading that really struck me: "Gina said she understood exactly what I was going through. And quite probably she did, except that it was all behind her now. I could tell her memories were rose-colored because of the happy ending. You'd think I would have been inspired by her - she was a success story. She'd traveled across the infertility minefield and got safely to the other side. But I found her patronizing. It's easy to think the minefield wasn't that bad once you're safely watching other people get blown up.  She couldn't imagine her children not existing. They were too real, filling up her mind." (What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, p. 188)

I guess this is why I don't feel sad more....I made it through the minefield. And the majority of the time, my memories are rose-colored. And I'm thankful I made it through. But it makes me wonder what well-meaning comments I have made to those who are still in the minefield that have come off as patronizing. I will for sure try to watch what I say more carefully. I know one thing that I prayed through my battle was that God wouldn't let it happen without a purpose. I wanted Him to use it, and I have been able to talk to a lot of women who are having infertility issues. But I need to make sure I am listening and being compassionate more than I am advising and directing.

And, the way God often does, as I was contemplating this post, I heard this song this morning in the car. Again, I was crying...and I think this can apply to anyone who has a hurt that they don't quite understand. One day, we will understand...one day, we will be healed!!

"The Hurt & The Healer"
by: Mercy Me

Why?
The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Breathe
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here 
 
Even though I am on the other side of the minefield, I want to pray for you if this is something you are struggling with. My prayer is that God will take your heart and breathe it back to life. If you want to share your story with me or would give me the honor of praying for you, please email me at cardigansandcrayons[at]gmail[dot]com.

6 comments:

Allison said...

Great post, with much honesty, and allowing the Lord to work in your life to help others who have/or had similar walks is awesome. God bless.

Laurie said...

Indeed, I agree.

I've never lost a child and often when confronted with a situation of someone suffering a loss I have no idea what to say. I feel like I have no right to say anything at all. When I say "I'm sorry" it seems to fall so flat and so far from the mark. They ring out as hollow words. I think I suffer from terminal foot-in-mouth disease because I always manage to say the wrong things. I usually wind up just wishing I could take their pain away, even for a minute, so that they can catch their breath.

Bless you.

Tesha said...

I am in that minefield now, and so appreciate this post it has so blessed me. One of the hardest parts of grief is loneliness, maybe it is thoughtless comments that so many say...I have had my fair share. Maybe it's because God wants us draw close to him and if we had unending support we would not...I don't know but it's hard. I understand about dates I am so bad at anniversary (I have forgotten my wedding anniversary for the last 3 years) I hope I never forget Jonathan's dates but I know that it is mot the measure of your love for him. Have you ever heard of walking with you, they have a blog link up for mom's that have lost babies. They just did one for the things people say You could put this in. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this I am so blessed to have read it!

Melanie said...

I've never walked in these shoes, but I wanted to give you some *hugs* This is a great reminder to even those who haven't walked there, to be careful what we speak to others. Is what we are speaking edifying in their place?

Thanks!

Kathryn said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Marci J said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post. Read this right when I needed to!