It was an intentional photo and writing project to address topics with grief. It was super helpful to me to have topics to share about and process about, and it was a very long and tiring month. Here’s the compilation of them.
In the midst of it, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has NOT overcome it. (John 1:5)
It was dark for a long while. Last year, after losing our first baby, I remember finally truly understanding- for the first time in my life- why people would turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, work, etc. to numb themselves. Grief hurts so bad, but heals best when dealt with honestly and with the comfort of God. And some days it’s still so overcast, I feel like the sun can’t break through. But God is always there, always steadfast and shining truth into my life.
Today is about what people should and shouldn’t do for grieving parents. We’re lucky ones, with so much support and love. I don’t need to make a list of shoulds and shouldn’ts, because you guys already know. So here’s a thank you. To the people who supported us in SO many ways before Clive was born, throughout our hospital stay, after his passing. People who still call, text, write, and email. Those that understand that I might need space, or not; that I might be grumpy, or not; that I might be sad, or not; that I most definitely will be tired. Those that brought meals (or still do). Those that pray for us still–I know so many of you do! I’m so thankful for that. Thank you for saying his name, remembering him with us, loving on us, and encouraging us. Thank you for not rushing us along the path of grief, for understanding that this is a permanent loss that we will always feel for our whole lives, for remembering important days, for letting us share him with you. Thank you for understanding that the blessing of another baby someday will not replace our Clive. Thank you for understanding that Sam and I are both grieving– even if it looks different. Thank you for all of it.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
– Clive Staples Lewis
I haven’t even read too many lately, but these have been some good ones in the past few months.
Jesus Calling, Hinds Feet on High Places, Holding on to Hope, I Will Carry You, Streams in the Desert, A Grief Observed, and the Bible. Looking forward to some more that I have in a stack in our living room!
I love reading bits and pieces from blogs from moms I now know and love, like Lexi @scribblesandcrumbs and so many others. I love enjoying the God-given gift of written word from so many I know.
Oh, boy. There are so many wonderful memories to choose from. My favorites were seeing Sam hold Clive and holding him myself. The best was kangarooing with him. Look at him. Long fingers, sweetest face. So warm. Strong neck that he would lift his head and turn it by himself. So much love for that sweet boy. 7 days old here. I loved nuzzling him close, smelling him. And getting to do regular stuff like change diapers and work on bottles. I loved all his facial expressions. He really smiled so much, and I’m so grateful for that.
I wish I could mother Clive longer. Give him all the love and snuggles and kisses and baths and butt-wipes.
As I walk this after-journey, though, I have lots of hopes.
Hopes seem more real than wishes.
I hope to be honest and real with myself, and others, and God. I hope to be better, not bitter. I hope to seek truth and grow in faith. I hope to continue to remember well and always cherish Clive’s little (yet BIG) life. I hope to encourage others in some way through this. I hope to turn this sadness and loss into something beautiful. I hope to always cherish my future children– in their smiles, and tantrums, and cries, and blow-outs. I hope to fight for rights of little unborn babies that deserve life and love. I hope and long for Heaven.
Been listening to Lisa Gungor a bunch this week. I’m not even sure when the CD came out, but I’ve had it for a long while and just started re-listening to it. Spoke to me so much right now. Beautiful and perfect.
When You Come by Lisa Gungor:
This rugged ground is looking towards
restoration’s sweeter song.
Come, Salvation ever true.
Make me believe things can be new.
Looking for Your Kingdom now
in earth and ordinary lives.
In my Lover’s tender eyes
I see the goodness peeking out.
Heaven is here in little ways,
but I can’t wait for the day when You come
My heavy heart is aching for
a home that I’ve not fully known
A life that’s far beyond this one,
and a Father saying “It is done.”
I’m holding on, but I hope and pray
and can’t wait for the day
when You come.
When you come,
O what joy will fill my heart.
Peace will fill the earth
when you come.
When you come,
my longing heart will finally find rest
When you come
I see the dark and hate it all
The wounded hand and broken child
Surely, now You hear their call
Surely, God, You feel it all.
listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPqMPu690q4
Day 9: Family
This is my beautiful little family. It will be bigger someday. And Clive will always be a part of it. It’s hard knowing that we won’t ever get to have Clive with us in future family pictures. Sure, we could have a representation of him. But not him.
But I’m thankful for this little family. I’m thankful for Clive’s life and all that he taught us. I’m thankful for Sam and his love and friendship. The last 2 years have been so hard on our marriage, and we really have to work at it. It feels like work sometimes. Sitting and talking it out is so tiring and not restful. But it’s good, and so beautiful.
Day 10: Words
We had a full and wonderful day yesterday– a memorial walk, gardening, a hike, a picnic, and a bonfire. I think I was outside for more than 12 hours! I didn’t get to posting, but I thought about this a while yesterday.
There’s no words to capture it, obviously. And words don’t really just come when I want them to. I’ve nearly filled a journal since our time in the PICU. Lots of thoughts and prayers and verses. I spent some time looking through it the other day and I was encouraged by the reminders. Funny that my June and July self can encourage my October self, but I’ll take it. I wrote this on the day Clive passed, or maybe a day or two after. I thought it a lot during our hospital stay and I’ve thought it since. If you’ve been in a situation beyond your control, I’m sure you can relate.
We got two encouraging messages from friends today. I know many of you are praying, and it means so much when you tell us and share with us. Your words are so helpful. I reread encouraging notes sometimes and I’m reminded by all the love and support we have. So great.
They’ll be lots more words to come, but that’s what I have today.
Day 11: Glow in the Woods
Who is my ‘Glow in the Woods’? My tribe, my people, my light while navigating this path.
We’ve got a SUCH good tribe. Our family, our friends that our like family, our church family.The people that have held our hands through all of this. Some of them have been there. Some haven’t, but they’ve entered into it in a way that has been so beautiful and helpful and healing. We’ve had so much help in tangible ways, and even more in the intangible. There’s not really words to capture how much we appreciate it all.
And we have this new tribe, too. People we’ve met who have also lost little ones. These communities that I didn’t know existed a couple years ago–and many of them online. A friend told me that it’s like I’ve been given a passport to a different world. One that I didn’t even really know existed. And let me say: Although I wish none of us were navigating this path, I’ve met such loving, caring, beautiful hearts. I’ve really never been much for online friends (surprise! haha), but some of these friends I’ve met have also lost their sweet babies this year and it is so very helpful to walk through it with other moms. So much love for them!
For me, some of the specific things I’ve experienced with grief are being tired and having less capacity for interactions with people. I know it will get better, but it’s where I’m at for now. For me, entering into grief and really thinking on it and processing through it has been so helpful and healthy. I’m not obsessing about it, and there’s no reason for concern from others. And I promise I won’t fill your feed with this stuff all the time. It’s just what I need right now.
Capture Your Grief // Day 13: Regrets and Triggers.
I don’t have too many regrets, but I have a bunch of negative triggers. Thankfully, I have lots of things that remind me of Clive in a positive way, too. The negative triggers are SO hard and overwhelming. A lot of them involve medical stuff and the trauma we experienced. For me, it’s all too personal to share and not helpful for me to hash out. I’d rather not give those negative triggers any more of my time of day, so today I just chose to pray them off and to remember some of the good things.
I have so many things to say… I’ve been thinking about this topic a bit and decided to write about it. It’s not eloquent, and not a complete thought yet, but it’s honest.
Day 15: wave of light
joined with others to remember tonight… ❤ ❤ ❤ thanks for all those who lit candles for our babies.
Oct. 15 is Miscarriage and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We celebrated at a service at Sunset Funeral Home.
There has been something very healing about creating. Growing and nurturing flowers and plants, writing, art journaling, painting, making a memory book for Clive. These are things I’ve always appreciated but seldom took time for. I have such much more I want to make. It’s been so helpful to me. I’m looking forward to doing this with others, too, and have some ideas for that…
Day 17: Secondary Losses
Heavy griefwork going on with this topic. There are so many secondary losses after losing Clive. Loss of the rest of his life and all the precious future moments with him. Loss of joy–while not a complete loss, joy looks very different. Loss of a part of my personality that I wish I could get back. I’ve never been especially carefree or optimistic, and this has been heightened. More realism, pessimism; even more careful, if that’s possible. More anxiety– especially socially, or in any new situation. Sometimes even grocery shopping brings on anxiety. It’s hard to go from being a very capable, independent person to finding myself somewhat crippled and overwhelmed.
The biggest loss for me is the loss of innocence. I’ve always been a realist. Very aware of risks and very careful about risks. I knew people who had lost babies and children, and knew that it could happen to me. I never thought I was immune from it. After our first loss, I suppose a small part of me thought that the bad thing that was going to happen had happened. And then we lost Clive. And I don’t really have the words to capture how that felt.
A friend shared this quotation after we lost Clive, and it captures some feelings I’ve had:
“I am convinced that we are giving Satan far too much credit for having some semblance of heart. Please understand, Satan has no heart. We find a strange and deceptive comfort in imagining that Satan would draw the line at certain limits and act appropriately… Satan is an opportunist. Would he come after you while you are down? In a heartbeat.. if he had a heart.” -Beth Moore
It was another level of a loss of innocence. Future pregnancies will be really hard. I know I’ll have joy and happiness, but there will be many other feelings intermingled. There are no guarantees in this life. But there’s hope. It’s important, and it’s hard to cling to, and it’s worth wrestling for.
It’s hard to look at this picture and see that joy that I had. I want to go back and tell that girl to be more prepared, to count each moment as a blessing, to cherish. I know I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but there’s still this desire to go back to that blissful time.
With the losses, there are gains. At breakfast this morning Sam said something like that and I gave him a super skeptical look. Seriously, you’re going to tell me that after I tell you about how I feel about these additional losses? But he’s right. And I thought on that a bit… More appreciation. More sympathy. More understanding. A deep and painful beautiful.
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -Romans 5:3-5
Day 20: Forgiveness
This was a hard/heavy one to think about. Some of these thoughts came from a talk with Sam. Forgiveness is hard when there’s no amends that can be made. Nothing can be “made right” about death, because it’s irreversible. (Yes, I know, heaven, but death feels pretty real here and now.) So we’re left to forgive. Ourselves & anyone involved in Clive‘s care. Those are honestly (and thankfully) fairly easy for me. I know we all did everything we could have.
Then there’s forgiving others who somehow hurt us throughout all this. I think of something a friend said to me: “trust their hearts.” People don’t always say or do the right stuff, but they mean to love. (Well, unless they don’t. But generally they do.) They mean to care and we just have to trust that they do care even if it’s not the way we feel cared for. I suppose I’m discovering forgiveness has to do a lot with trust. And then there’s forgiving God. Not that He needs anything from me as far as forgiveness goes. But trusting Him and trusting His Heart even though it doesn’t make sense to my mind or my heart. Some days that trust comes easily, and other days I wonder how it came so easily just hours before.
I haven’t had any good dreams I can remember, and the really awful dreams have let up… As far as rituals/celebrations/remembrance, I am so excited to do some things to celebrate Clive’s life on his birthdays. But don’t quite feel like sharing the ideas (yet) in case his birthday rolls around and I don’t want to do anything with people.
There is something so healing in written word. I spent some time writing a letter today. I won’t share it, but it was very special.
Day 24: Choose Your Breath
This topic is about conscious grief and reflecting on the grieving process. Grief is so normal and healthy, and tiring and hard. To me, it’s an important part of healing. I think it’s an important part of anyone’s healthy healing, but it can be much more private for some people. As I reflect on grief a bit, I think about C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed.” It wasn’t the most practical or helpful grief book, but he did capture some parts of loss and grieving in ways that were very helpful. I’ll share this quotation: “I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I’ve already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn’t repeat.” There are so many days that I find myself in a tough place, a place I thought I’d gotten past and then WHAM I’m back. It’s a process.
Day 27: Self Portrait
See my post on this here:
Day 28 : Reach Out
Here’s our tree for the Festival of Trees. The theme this year is Miracle on Main St., and we did NICU Miracles. They are all miracles–the fighters, survivors, and those gone too soon. Huge thanks those that put their hearts into this tree–Courtney, Dawn, and Erin– and made it so special. There are pictures of a bunch of little miracle boys and girls on there–thanks to all of you that sent pictures.
For me, reaching out means having compassion for others and loving them in the midst of their mess. Connecting and caring for other people in my life, whether their situation is similar to mine or whether they have a difficulty I have no experience with. I love reaching out with little notes, texts, and prayers. It’s been so helpful to me to try to think of others during this grieving process. I’ve struggled with that, and not done it a much as I’d like, but it’s so helpful when I do.
I also love reaching out by advocating for things I care about–babies, grieving parents, hospitalized kiddos, adoption… This tree is a part of that. It’s a way to add purpose and meaning to something trivial (I mean that kindly, but yes, although I love them, decorations are pretty trivial). It’s so special and meaningful to me.
This topic is about taking the question of why (which will never be understood this side of heaven) and changing it to W.H.Y. (What Heals You?). I guess for now, I’m discovering that what heals me is a myriad of things. God is healing my heart and the process of that healing is very painful. Above all, He is present.
I’m healed by reading, and creating, growing things and enjoying nature, serving and loving. Some days, I’m healed by being alone and other days it’s by being in community. Some days, it’s sharing and other days it’s keeping thoughts private. Some days it’s embracing pain, other days it’s watching a movie to distract.
Today, it was so painful and healing to go to the visitation of another little one. To meet her mom for the first time and hug her and cry with her. To say some things, and nothing, and to understand things that can’t be said. It hurts so much to know that others are going through this, and through that a part of me hopes to be some source of encouragement and yet honest with the sorrow and pain.