Don’t want to talk

These past few weeks have been dark for me.

Since losing Cora, I have had many hard days. I have learned that sometimes grief pops out of nowhere and hits you over the head with heartache that you were just starting to feel like you had come to grips with. I have learned that sometimes I feel guilty for being happy, and I have daily wrestled with the quiet that is still in my home. No tiny person to keep me up at night; no toys and supplies betraying a little human who has taken residence.

And life has gone on. I still get up and go to work every day. I’m teaching again, and I’m planning and hoping. But these past few weeks, I have struggled. I have felt hopeful and hopeless, alone and surrounded. Life as I think that it should be doesn’t exist.

And I become bitter. I compare myself to those around me whose situations I envy and I want to give up. I try to figure out God’s will with my human reason, and I feel even more bitter and upset. I focus on myself.

And I cry, and I hide. And I tell God that I don’t feel like praying right now. I don’t feel like studying my Bible. Being obedient to God and pursuing Him isn’t like shaking a magic eight ball and being told “Yes! Definitely” when I present God with the desires of my heart. He gives me more of Himself, but not exactly what I want Him to give me. And I feel such guilt for telling God that I don’t want to talk to Him.

But, that is prayer in itself, isn’t it? God is not so small as to not be able to handle my emotions. He isn’t surprised when my worn out heart looks at Him and says “I can’t do this for another day. Take it away from me.” As a dear friend listened to me whine last night, she reminded me of another person who asked for His circumstances to be changed if God willed it. The night before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He went to God, His Father, and said:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

He knew what needed to happen. He understood. He knew that on Good Friday, He would be put to death and that in that death, He would pay for my sins and yours so that we could be untied with God upon accepting Christ’s gift.

And I, a frail human, have no idea what will be required of me tomorrow or if today’s cup will pass from me.

But I know that Christ willingly subjected Himself to death and suffering for me. He suffered. He knows my suffering. And I know that on the third day, He rose again.

Easter is coming. Redemption is at hand.

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Move

Another thing that has helped me immensely has been taking the time to focus on my health after losing Cora. Physically, delivering her and dealing with the grief of losing her left me in pain. I needed to spend time resting because I was so exhausted. My time of rest was needed, and I still need to take breaks.

But the time came that I needed to move. I needed to exercise to take care of myself. So I started slowly. (Sometimes I did too much because it was so nice to not sit down.) And I decided to try and exercise. I wanted to be outside as much as I could, so I started a Couch to 5k program. I thought that the shin splint issues that have plagued me since I was a teenager would take me out of the program after a few weeks, but the plan (and app) would help me get started.

So I started. And I really enjoyed it. And it got me outside three times a week. And I’ve kept going, and hit a milestone yesterday. I ran for twenty minutes straight. I have never been able to run that long. I was so proud of myself.

Having an exercise goal has been so good for me. I’ve been physically taking care of myself, I’ve been focusing on a positive goal, and God reminds me that He gives me strength for each day. And exercise makes me feel better.

When a loved one goes through a loss, when the time is right, encourage them to physically take care of themselves through exercising. It’s so easy to get swallowed up in grief and to decide to not care for your physical body, even though God commands us to do that. Exercise is good for their hearts, too. When my emotions are in turmoil, moving helps calm my emotions. It helps me turn my focus from my sadness to God.

So when you go visit someone who’s gone through a loss, ask them if they want to go for a walk. It might help them clear their head a little bit.

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. 

Don’t be Afraid

I’ve found in the past three months that when you lose a baby, people are scared to talk to you about it. They feel like if they bring up your loss that they will break your heart all over again. I feel almost like the elephant in the room, because everyone knows what happens but everyone is scared to broach the subject. I won’t explode if someone bring up miscarriage, stillbirth, or pregnancy around me. I can guarantee that I’ve probably already thought about it that day. I may cry, but that’s part of the grieving process. (Crying isn’t that bad. Crying is actually good for me. It helps me process my grief.)  

I think that this is half the reason that pregnancy and infant loss is obscure in our culture. We don’t ever talk about it, so when someone wants to bring it up, they don’t know how. They don’t know if it’s okay. That’s one of the reasons that I’ve spoken so much about loss in this past month, because if I speak, it might free someone else to speak about their own experience or questions.

But I want to encourage you. If you have a question for me, for instance if you’ve gone through loss and want to know if we’ve felt similar things or if you know someone who is going through a loss now and you want to see what I would have appreciated in that situation, ask me. I appreciate your sensitivity to my grieving process and for my feelings, but it’s okay to ask if you have a question. If you ask a nosey question (where you’re just trying to get all up in my business and we’re not that close), I will most likely tell you that I’m not comfortable talking about your question. But you won’t hurt my feelings. I’m a naturally nosey person myself, so I’m totally okay with you asking and I’m totally okay telling you “no” if that’s what’s needed.

If you love someone who is going through a loss, ask them questions. Don’t be scared to talk about loss around them, as long as you’re careful to be sensitive to who they are and what you know of them. If they ask you to not bring something up, honor their request. But don’t make them feel like the elephant in the room. That only makes them feel alone in their grief.

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. 

Pray

One of the most powerful things that you can do for someone who has experienced loss is to pray for them and let them know that you’re praying for them. It seems simple, but so often it’s forgotten.

This may feel too simple, but really, it is so pivotal.

James 5:16b-18

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

So, if the loss is of a child or of an adult, remember to pray for those who are left behind. And let the person you love know that you’re praying 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. 

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.