Offer

When someone that you love has experienced a loss, offer to help. And when I say “help”, I mean ask them if they need anything at all. And if it’s possible, do what that person asks, even if they ask you to not come to see them right away.

Right after I got home from the hospital after we lost Cora and Momma went home, my siblings came down to see me. My sister asked if I need anything, and I asked her to buy me a betta fish. Sound strange? Maybe it was. But it was what I needed at the time. My old betta fish had died right before Cora died, and I was so sad to not even have a tiny little fish to take care of after I had given birth. So my sister bought me a fish, and we named him f-Swimee. And I’m picky about my fish, and I only trusted her to pick out the perfect fish.

While I sat upstairs with my sister, my brothers helped Husbandman fix a broken bed support in the basement. He needed people to be with him, and I needed time alone.

After I’d been home for a while and Husbandman had gone back to work, my friends from work would drop food off every day for over a week, and people would spend a few minutes sitting with me and talking to me if I needed it. They really helped keep me from going crazy from being alone with my thoughts too long while I was home alone.

So, when someone that you love loses someone, listen to what they tell you when you ask them what they need. If they can’t figure out what they need, offer something specific, like food or doing laundry. Ask if they need someone to clean their house or if they need you to take them out to get their nails done. Ask if they need to be alone or if they don’t need to be alone. And if they need to be alone for the time being, send them a card or flowers or a sweet gift and then ask them if they’re ready for company next week.

And hear them. And do your best to care for them. ❤

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Tired. Like a half-done lunch meat sandwich

Tired

I’m so tired. Husbandman is exhausted, too. It doesn’t help that he started a master’s degree less than a month after Cora died. It doesn’t help that we’ve started attending a new Bible study, are both back at work full time, are working our butts off to get out of debt (Dave Ramsey style), or that I’ve gotten a dream opportunity to teach a class for undergraduate students to help them build their professional skills before they graduate.

All of these things are good, excellent even, but let’s be real. How you feel emotionally has physical manifestations. Case in point: I’ve been having trouble waking up this week. As in, my eyes are majorly glued shut when 6:30 AM rolls around because all of the stress that I’ve been carrying around has been keeping me up at night. So, Husbandman has been making my lunch, which is very sweet of him. (He also works five minutes from the house instead of twenty-five, so he leaves later than I do.)

Today, I opened the container that housed my “sandwich”:

Tired. Like a half-done lunch meat sandwich

Tired. Like half-done lunch meat sandwich tired.

The poor man had forgotten the top piece of bread.

After I laughed out loud, I texted Husbandman the following: “I think we need more sleep.”

When someone that you love who is mourning is tired, encourage them to rest. Encourage them to put Facebook up at night and close eyes. Encourage them to take quiet time when their lives get hectic. Ask them to do things with you that involve rest. Don’t be offended if they tell you that they’re “too tired” to do something with you, because this grief thing is physically difficult.

May we encourage one another to rest in Christ and cease our striving whether we’re tired because of grief or another cause.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Cry

The last three months, I have cried more than I thought possible. This is no mean feat. Psalm 56:8 says “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”, I really feel like God has buckets for me.

When we found out that Cora had died, I cried so much that my head hurt until we went to the hospital for an induction and I got hooked up to an IV. I’m pretty sure that that feeling is what being hung over feels like. (I’ve never been hung over. But my eyes felt sandy, my head throbbed, lights hurt, and my stomach felt twisted up.)

I cried a lot when we got home from the hospital, and the tears have come a little slower every day. I no longer choke every time I have to tell someone that Cora died. I no long cry every time I see the car seat my sister bought her.

I cried this week when I drove past Penn Station, because I craved their french fries even when I was going through morning sickness. I cried when I realized that I’m just two weeks from her due date.

When someone that you love loses someone, or when you lose someone, let crying happen if it needs to. Don’t feel bad if I cry when I’m talking to you. Don’t feel bad if you case a crying fit. Also, don’t feel bad if you don’t have a whole lot of tears. Do what feels natural to you as you work through your grief.

(And if you’re supporting someone who has gone through a loss, it’s okay if you cry, too. Don’t emotionally vomit on them, but cry with them if you have that sort of relationship with them.)

What do you think about tears in mourning? Are you a crying? Are you not a cryer?

Let me know.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Say Her Name

In keeping with the theme yesterday, today I want to talk about another, very important word. This word is short, but so important to me, and to many of the women that I know that have lost children if they were able to name them. 

Please, say her name. Her name was Cora. She wasn’t just a fetus that didn’t make it. She wasn’t just “the baby” that was lost. Her name was Cora. She kicked hard when it stormed outside. She wiggled when she heard bluegrass music. She refused to be still for most of her ultrasounds.

When you speak with me, please say her name. It’s okay to talk about her. I want to talk about her, even if it makes me cry sometimes. The tears are healing, and it’s healing to talk about her.

Now, I won’t talk about her all the time. But, I will talk about her. Ask me if I’d like to. Ask those that you love if they’d like to talk about their loved one. Don’t get upset if they say “no”, but if they’d like to, let them talk. It is a precious gift to hear a bereaved person’s memories.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Watch Your Words

Before I get into this post, I want to be very clear about my intentions. I am not mad at anyone, and I in no way want to shame someone who has said something that might have found me in a bad place to receive it. Please don’t comb through our past conversations to try and figure out if you said something offensive. If you hurt my feelings, I’ve said something to you and forgiven you. Grief is a difficult thing to go through, and it leaves those grieving in a hard place emotionally, struggling to have grace, and those brave enough to offer comfort groping for something appropriate to say. What I’m trying offer is a little insight into some commonly used phrases that hurt me unintentionally, and to offer some alternatives.

When someone that you love is going through a loss, please be careful about your “comforting phrases”, and your words in general. We have so many phrases in our language that are meant well, but that hurt. Someone who has gone through a loss is in a really tender place, and we don’t have a whole ton of patience, with ourselves or anyone else. (And please remember that all grief is unique. These phrases are those that I’ve found to be hard to deal with, but the person that you love that has been through loss may not be bothered by them.) 

  1. “You’ll get pregnant again.”- Although I know what you mean by this phrase, there are no guarantees. And if I get pregnant again, another baby will not replace the one I lost. I will mourn Cora’s loss until the day I’m reunited with her in heaven. When you say this, I feel like you’re telling me that another baby will replace my Cora. I know that you’re trying to tell me that there is hope that I will have a baby in my arms at the end of a future pregnancy, but it hurts right now. 
  2. “I just want you to be happy again.”- There is a time for sadness, and I need you to allow me to be sad. Encourage me to see positivity, but this phrase feels like you’re pressuring me to “feel happy”. That is very likely to make me feel a need to “act happy” around you, and to limit my ability to be real with you today. I will be happy some days, but other days, I won’t be. Please let me be real. 
  3. “Time heals all wounds.” Not true. Time makes infected wounds much, much worse. Time with Jesus heals all wounds. We’re still left with a scar even when a wound is healed.
  4. “Aren’t you over this already?” I don’t want to “get over” this. To me, getting over her would be forgetting her. I won’t forget her. My pain will lesson, and I will grow accustomed to living without her, but I will not forget.

Phrases that you could use instead:

  1. “You’re still a mother even though she’s not here. I know you loved her, and that nothing can take her place in her heart.”
  2. “It’s okay for you to tell me that you’re sad. I do plan on encouraging you to practice being positive sometimes when it seems like you’re in a very dark place. Is that okay?”
  3. “I’ll be here with you as you go through this.”
  4. “I know that grief lasts a long time.”

It’s okay if you’ve gone through loss and don’t agree with me.

It’s okay if you want to say something and don’t know what to say. But, please. Please, please, please say something. I would personally rather have someone say something that I take the wrong way than have someone be silent and not say anything. Silence makes it feel like we’re pretending that they didn’t exist. And that hurts the worst of all

If you don’t know what to say, you can say that. “There are no words” is so powerful when it’s spoken in honesty. Not much is going to make me feel better, and you’re not responsible for my comfort. God is. You are responsible for helping support me as part of my community, but my happiness and joy does not hinge on you. And if you hurt my feelings and I ask you to not say something, or if you’ve said something listed above, don’t carry hurt feelings or guilt for a long time. We’re all human. I’ve said some really, really stupid things, and I’ve carried regret for them for such a long time. Apologize, and then forgive yourself.

Do you disagree with me? Do you agree with me? I’m interested to hear your thoughts. 

May we all have grace with each other as we mourn and try to comfort those who mourn. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Share Your Joy

In recent months, I feel like like my friends and love ones have been tiptoeing around me a little bit. I feel like when I walk into a room that’s bright and light, full of laughter and joy, people’s eyes go to the floor. They stifle their laughter and put on their mourning faces.

Although there is a time for mourning, those who mourn need joy too. We need joy. We need lightness in our lives, to remind us that joy really does exist in the world. I have been so thankful for one of my dear friends that asks me tell me as many good things as you just told me bad things.

I will be frank. I want to know that you’re expecting. I don’t want you to hide it from me. I want to celebrate that with you. I may go home and cry when I find out, or I may cry my eyes out in the car or in the bathroom, but it’s not because I’m not happy for you. It’s because I ache for myself.

Please don’t leave me out of your joy. Please don’t decide that I can’t handle your joy. I may have trouble handling it. I may not be able to come to showers, or I may need a long time to think about if I’m in a good mental place to hold your newborn baby on a particular day. I may “unfollow” you on Facebook, because I don’t know how a post about your pregnancy will hit me in the middle of the day. I mean, I cried because I saw a Penn Station today (it reminded me of a pregnancy craving). But I want to share your joy. I want to rejoice with you.

When you’re with those who mourn, please don’t hide your joy. I appreciate your sensitivity to my mourning, but please give me the option to participate. If I tell you that I just can’t handle it right now, please have grace with me. But, please, don’t forget to share your joy with me.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

I am 1 in 4

It is estimated (stats from March of Dimes and WomensHealth.gov) that 1 in 10 women will lose a baby to miscarriage if they know they’re pregnant (other agencies estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage). 1 in 10 women struggle with infertility. 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. 

There is so much stigma associated with loss or infertility. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We struggle with guilt and wonder what we’ve done wrong. We wonder if God is punishing us for some sin, remembered by us or forgotten.

When I joined the 25% with my loss, I was shocked at the number of women that I know who have experienced loss or infertility. Some I had spoken with about their experiences before I lost Cora, and some I had no idea that they had experienced loss.

Everyone mourns differently. Some people speak, and others don’t. I have chosen to speak, which you might find odd if you know me in real life. I’m an introvert. I’m a pretty private person. But I wanted to share her story. I wanted to acknowledge her existence and share it with the world, so that I didn’t just lost “a baby”. The baby I lost was wanted and had a personality and a name. There are things that I will not share with the world. There are things that I will not speak of, and that you will never see. I am still her mother, and her father and I have decided to keep the pictures we have of her secret. We have other mementos and memories that we will not share, because we don’t feel comfortable with it.

I wanted to speak so that others could feel free to speak. So that a conversation could happen about dealing with loss, about supporting people who have walked through loss. I know that some women don’t want to speak, and I honor that. I know that some do want to speak and don’t feel free to.

I plan on continuing to speak about her life, and am glad to speak about her. For the rest of the month, I want to walk with you all through the emotions that came through my loss and the kind of support I needed and still need after losing her. At first glance, that feels SO selfish to write. But, as I said before, everyone mourns differently; what was good for me might not be good for someone else. I don’t know what someone else may want or need, but I’ll include questions to help you think through how best to support someone you love that’s going through loss, or yourself if you are going through it.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Why worship?

I’ve spent the past several days posting worship songs, and I didn’t explain why. I just told you “music speaks to me. I leaned on music when my heart was shattered.”

Music is more than a coping mechanism when we’re broken. Music is a form of worship when everything comes crashing down. I will tell you, I did not and often do not feel like worshipping God much of the time in light of Cora’s death. And yet. I was led time and again, through encouragement by old friends, scripture, and countless other sources, to put my energy into worshipping God.

When Husbandman and I have experienced has been very, very difficult. So difficult that I know that I could not have gone through it without my faith. And the examples I have in my Bible are of people reminding themselves in hardship to worship God. After Job lost everything, his livestock, all of his kids, he said:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Job worshiped God. Job did not go before God and say “You took this from me. You did this to me. You slighted me. You’ve hurt me.” Job recognized that his world didn’t revolve around himself. He realized that his world revolved around God, and that’s where he kept his focus.

That’s been my goal: to focus on God and to thank Him for His goodness. That’s what worship is. It reminds us who God is. It keeps us focused on Him, and when we’re focused on Him, our pain is lessened. I still hurt. I still fight anxiety and worry about “why”, “how”, and “what next”. But when I worship God, I remember His goodness. I remind my heart of His goodness. And in the light of His goodness, I remember to cast my cares on Him. He doesn’t answer all of my questions with “yes”, “no”, or “this is why I allowed this to happen”. He answers my questions with “I am here”. And He is enough. May He be enough for you. May you recognize that He is sufficient for you in whatever situation you find yourself.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Torn Asunder

This is the last worship song that I’ll be sharing this month, and it’s the one that touched me the most. I still have no words to express how this song has spoken to my heart.

When my Heart is Asunder

When my heart
Is torn asunder
And my world
Just falls apart
Lord You put
Me back together
And lift me up
To where You are

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

You have turned
Mourning to dancing
You have covered me with grace
The struggle here
May last a moment
But life with You
Will last always

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

When the age
Of death is over
And this world
Has been reborn
I’ll be there
Beside my Savior
This is our GREAT
And rich reward

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Pregnancy Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day. This one day of they year, we pause to remember children who are lost and the families that mourn them still. I can imagine, so close to my loss, that I will still feel the loss of my daughter for the rest of my life, although my grief will change as time goes on.

For those of you who have lost children, in the 6th or the 41st week, I pray for your today. I pray that the Lord would give you comfort and peace. I do not know your exact pain, just as you do not know mine, but I am thankful that we are able to support one another as we walk a road of pain together. Something that people safe often in regards to grief is “time heals all wounds”. This phrase is not true. Wounds that are not treated correctly do not heal with time, they often get worse. In our Griefshare meeting yesterday, another phrase was offered. Time spent with Jesus heals. Spend time with Jesus. Bring your confusion and pain to Him. Choose to trust Him with your pain, even if you don’t feel like it.

For those who love someone who’s lost a baby, support them. Feel free to grieve their loss yourself, but be careful to think about them and pray for them. Offer your support. Don’t forget. Even years after, don’t forget.

“13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media.