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.

2016-02-08 08.15.10

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Six Months

A lot of life can pass in the space of six months.

You can be the only teacher of your own class.

Your office can move to the other side of campus and you can gain epic window views. (Evidence below.)

You can pay off your debt except your house. Which is entirely because of the grace of God.

You can spend every minute missing a baby that you never knew outside of your stomach, too.

It’s been six months and one day since Cora died. We’ve been to grief counseling with a therapist four times. I’ve been to the doctor more times than I’ll count, and have had blood drawn more times than that. I’ve cried what feels like an infinite number of tears.

And life has kept going. The moment that I found out that she was gone, I felt like time stopped. The days following when labor was induced and she was delivered were so saturated with pain and grief that they felt like years. Coming home from the hospital with only two big people in the car and no tiny people felt like it took a year.

And time has kept the same pace. God has continued to provide, despite my struggles and complaints. When you grieve, it seems like time should slow down to let you sit with your pain. But it doesn’t.

Time marches on, and our lives have continued. Today, my grief feels heavier than some days for no particular reason.

If you find yourself in grief after a significant period,  you’re not alone. God is still good, even when you feel like a tattered teddy bear being pulled along by time.

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Psalm 34

1I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

4I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Emotions Lie

Hi, internets. I’m here. I’m alive. I’ve been hiding. I’m way late in my 31 day series, but sometimes, we have to set our to-do lists aside and deal with ourselves in private.

My due date was November 4th. Many of the babies who were due around Cora’s due date have been born, and my heart has been struggling with the Lord.

New waves of grief have swept over me daily as I’ve been shown images of fat, healthy babies born in the last few days; as I’ve heard the names that have been given to them that speak life over the years that we pray that the Lord grants us with them. I’m so thankful for the healthy babies that the Lord has given those that I love. I’m so grateful that He’s granted their mothers health and safety through their delivery.

But I wrestle with myself. I wrestle with God as I fight my emotions that don’t tell the truth. My emotions tell me that I’ve been cheated of the physical discomfort of late pregnancy. My emotions tell me that I’ve been cheated of a happy, expectant stay in the hospital waiting for a live baby to be born instead of wishing that I’ll wake up from a nightmare and still be pregnant. My emotions tell me that anxiety is normal, and that because the worst case scenario has happened, it will always happen. My emotions tell me that I’ve been cheated of joy around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My emotions don’t tell me the truth. They tell me that God can’t be good because my heart is still in pieces inside me as the weather turns cool. They tell me that God can’t be good because we don’t know what happened or if I should try to become pregnant again. They tell me that pain is bad so God cannot be good because He has allowed me to experience immense pain.

These things are not true, and that has to be my inner dialogue. God is good. God has not abandoned me, nor does He when my emotions boil over. God’s nature has not changed. He knows my pain, and feels it with me. When Lazarss died, even though Jesus knew that He would raise him from the dead, Jesus wept. He mourned him.

As you help those that you love through loss, help them recognize when their emotions are not true; when they should resist them. Encourage them to take their emotions to the foot of the cross every day, praying continually and reminding themselves of God’s goodness daily.

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. 

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.