7 Things I Have Learned Through Grief

I have been keeping a running journal in my head for the last couple of months about little life lessons learned through grief. In my head it’s titled, “Laugh, cry, make inappropriate jokes.” But here, I will keep it simple.

1.       It may come in stages…all at once

When you are pregnant, people kind of expect you to be crazy, laughing one second and crying into a Kleenex in the next. But, when your baby dies, I think laughing weirds some people out. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. I found it kind of confusing that I would be sobbing in wretched pain at the thought of what was happening when a flash of anger so strong would hit me that I couldn’t stand to be around another human for fear of lashing out. Then two minutes later I would say something about my uterus being an inhospitable chamber of doom to any fetus who chose to take up residence and my poor husband would nervously chuckle, not sure if this was another one of my shock value “jokes” or if I was truly ready to launch myself off the nearest cliff. Man, grief is exhausting! But, I think we have finally made it to the final stage- acceptance, mostly intact, ailing reproductive organ humor and all.

 

2.       You are not alone

You know how before you buy a car, you look around and you think, “I’m going to get a Nissan Sentra. It’s a sensible family car and I don’t see 4,000 of them on my commute every day.” Then you buy a Nissan Sentra and you see 5,000 of them on your commute EACH WAY. Or, like me, you thoughtfully choose a traditional, yet UNcommon name for your baby girl and once she is born you meet 5 other babies in your immediate circle with that same name? Grief is like that. Before you go through something terrible, it seems like those things are so horrible and rare. You may even think, “Gosh, how in the world would I cope if that was me?” And then it IS you and all the other grieving folks come out of the woodwork and your eyes are opened to just how common this really is. It’s both sad and comforting to suffer together.

 

3.       People still say cliché things

“Everything happens for a reason, dear.” “God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will bless you with another baby in time. He just needed this one in heaven.” Those are just a few of the gems I have heard, not including scientific reasoning and urgings to just move on. I could write a whole novel of what NOT to say to someone going through a miscarriage or, really, ANY grief. But, I won’t. For the most part, people are well-meaning and loving and just trying to help. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and just know that at one time, YOU were probably the one making trite comments. I know I have been! But, if I take one lesson away from this experience, I hope it is that the only truly sincere, helpful response to a person going through such deep, lonely waters is, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” You can add on, “I will pray the Lord heals your heart,” as long as you truly mean it, but don’t say it and then walk away to forget. I cherished prayers from friends, because in the midst of the pain, my prayers didn’t sound very coherent. The Lord is the best healer and only HE has the correct words. So, rather than stumble around, leave it to the Master.

 

 4.       You don’t have to answer the door

Usually on Sunday mornings I am at church bright and early, but during the miscarriage and for a couple weeks following, I just couldn’t pull myself together to face our church family. So, I stayed home and learned this lesson….just because they knock doesn’t mean I have to answer. I saw them walking up the driveway because the blinds were open and I was sitting alone on the couch watching Dr. Charles Stanley. It was probably too late; I’m sure they saw, but I dashed to the bedroom anyway, frustrated with myself that I hadn’t turned the volume down on Dr. Stanley. They knocked once and my heart raced. I imagined these two suited men standing on my porch, feeling hurt that I was avoiding them because surely they knew I was home. They knocked again and I had to physically restrain my puffy-faced, snot and tear laden self from feeling the conflicted obligation to both open the door for these Mormon brothers because I was home on a Sunday and the distinct fear to, because of course I already go to church….well, not today. But usually. Oh, the snot? Yeah, sorry about that. I promise I’m not a heathen. In the end, they left and I sighed, relieved and guilty. I will have to apologize if they come around again (NOT on a Sunday, of course) but I think at the time I did the right thing.

 

5.       Coffee will SA-A-AAVE your soul

My favorite scene in any Friends episode is always when they come together in Central Perk. Some of the best one-liners are dropped over a cup of joe. I think the same is true in life. Especially in the midst of grief! Although, my hair never looks as good as Jennifer Aniston’s, I learned an entirely new appreciation for a hot mug of java as my closest friends gathered around to comfort me during my grief. Of course, we brought the coffee shop to my house, but there really was nothing better to lift my spirits than a text that said, “I’m stopping at the ‘bucks. What can I get you? I’m coming over.” In the comfort of my own poorly lit living room I could freely cry and giggle and make uncomfortable broken womb/dead baby jokes to those who know my true heart and could cry and giggle right along with me. No judgment. No pity. Just hugs and encouragement and sometimes, complete empathy. Ok, so maybe it’s not the coffee alone that will save you, but the warm trickle down your throat into your cold, dark shell will surely start the process!

 

6.       Kids give two flips about grief

Being sick while taking care of a sick kid is pretty much the absolute worst state of parenting I have personally experienced. Parenting while grieving is like that, except the kid feels fine and still wants to jump on you and run with you and be read to in high pitched, squealy voices. Hfoe, bless his heart, was the most perfect partner during everything because he took over many “mama” duties despite his own pain, so that I could recover. But, there is no substitute for “mama milk” and just when I thought all the life had left me, she would latch and suck out a little more. It reminded me of a saying I saw on a sports motivation poster once, “When you think you’ve given your all, give a little more.”  But, looking down at her sweet, quiet, suckling little face sure did fill my heart with love. Tons and tons of love. And after all, isn’t love the Neosporin to grief?

 

7.       The tears don’t last forever, but the ache might…and that’s ok.

It’s been two months since I started bleeding and I no longer cry every day. In fact, I don’t cry most days and it feels nice. The first day I didn’t feel the lump in my throat I remember clearly. Chuck and I were at the mall one beautiful Saturday morning while her Papa was at work. I just needed to return a couple of things and I decided since she was being a trooper, we would grab lunch while we were there. As we chewed our French fries, I looked over at my beautiful, growing, spunky little girl and I thought about what her sister may have looked like. I thought about how they may have been best buddies and how Chuck would have loved to “help” with the baby. I remember smiling and feeling a little pang in my chest, but no lump rose up in my throat, no tears welled in my eyes. It was nice. I realized at that moment that remembering and honoring our little blueberry didn’t mean I had to live in a state of depression over her. I could still live my beautiful life and love every second of what God has blessed us with. That wasn’t a disservice to her or a neglect of what was. It was actually the best way to honor her memory…with love and joy. And, it is the platform for moving forward. I am thankful for that day.

 

 

 Ultimately, through this grief process I have learned so much about myself and my family, life and love and our heavenly Father above. I appreciate the overwhelming comfort we have received in the way of cards, letters and books to read. People are good. So, so good. And maybe that is the purpose of grief….to remind us of that.

*Sidenote…a book that has been SO comforting to me through this is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for scriptural truth regarding the fate of their child in Heaven.

Comments

  1. This is heart-wrenching. Hope you feel better every day and envelope yourself with the love you have at home already. Loss and grief are a very hard subject to talk or comment about, but I do feel that the more you can put things in words, the more it helps to put things in perspective. Thanks for sharing your experience and how you lived through it.

  2. A beautiful post from a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing the honest moments of your grief with us. Always praying for you and your tender heart.

  3. I truly hope you feel better soon, I so wish I could extend my arms into the monitor and give you a big hug. *hugs*

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