The Path to Healing: My Grief Journal

I am continuing this journal in blog format so from this point forward the NEWEST entries will be at the TOP.

Use the links at left for the older entries:
Month 21 = May 2004,
Month 22 = June 2004, etc.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tonight Sarah was playing with her dinosaurs - they're a family, everything with her is a family. And she was saying that one was going to have a baby and another would be a big sister. And when I walked in she asked me if Abigail was going to come back alive later.

I told her that no, we live one life then we go to heaven if we believe in Jesus, so she'll stay in heaven and won't be coming back. And she said, "then I'll go up there and take that sickness out of her and throw it in the trashcan!"

And I felt that lump in my throat as I told her, "I wish you could, sweetie, I wish you could."

Monday, June 28, 2004

Lately I have been feeling my grief a little bit more. It is so, so much less than it used to be. But it's as if I haven't been thinking about it and it is coming to mind more lately, along with the sadness and melancholy.

Maybe it's the grief that T. and P. at church are going through - that I am trying to support them. Maybe it's the time of year - remembering the diagnosis, etc and approaching second birthday. But even those things are so much more low-key and in the back of my mind instead of in the front. It is totally different than before. But I have just become more aware lately.

I am honored and excited to see how God is working in our congregation, partially due to what He had taught me through Abigail's loss. Of course, I am so glad to be able to support T. and P. in their grief, without being uncomfortable. But it is so neat to see how others are supporting them as well. I don't at all feel like I am their sole support, but that others are really reaching out, too. Perhaps seeing my pain through my grief, then sharing what God taught me, and my example now are having some positive influence. Hopefully the support will continue as more time passes - that will be the real test.

I have been wondering more and more if I want to stay in a staff role on the T18 site. I don't know why - I am just much more focused on other things. And I haven't been putting much time in on the site lately anyway, so it isn't a feeling of needing more time. Maybe it's just freedom from having the responsibility? Of course, Steve and I would continue on the Board of Directors and I would continue to support people on the site. I'm just wondering if I want to do this in addition to my full-time job.

Given the choice, I might choose to work with the site full-time instead of my current job. But that's not an option right now, and I am starting to feel like I can't put in the time and energy and commitment to do it volunteer for the long-term. As I write, I'm not sure I really would want to do it full-time now. Wow!

I also know I don't want to keep working here as long as things continue down their current path. Things are so hopeless here; our attitudes are terrible and morale is really low. And there's no sign of anything changing. But doing this sort of job is kind of interesting.

And the thought still rolling around in the back of my mind is the counseling aspect. I had thought before about maybe getting some training to do counseling. It makes sense as a support to Steve's ministry as well.

It seems like the rubber is meeting the road. Number 1 has to be God and serving Him. Next has to be our family. Finally, it appears that I will need to keep working at some sort of job. I'm just not seeing where the T18 board fits in. I had thought it was going to replace my job, but it is taking a lot longer than I am able to absorb, and now I'm less and less sure I want it to, anyway!

I am realizing that supporting those in our situation is very important, but more important is the spiritual aspect - helping them grow closer to God. And I am able to do that better through Abigail's website and of course in our congregation. I guess I need to stop trying to figure things out and let God show me what He wants. I really thought he was leading me to the board, but now I see something more obvious and fruitful that He is showing me.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

It has been very enjoyable with the kids lately. Last night it was rather cool for June, so we made a fire at the bottom of the hill in the backyard and roasted marshmallows. Then the kids hunted for lightning bugs again. It was so peaceful and nice. As we sat looking at the fire, I thought about how nice it is that we can simply tell the kids to stay back and they do. If we had an almost-2-year-old as Abigail would have been, we would have had to watch her like a hawk. Sigh.

This morning we all went to Nathan's soccer game. Once again, I am really into focusing on the kids. But at these things, I am surrounded by pregnant women, new babies, and toddlers. Although I know that will be the case, it still catches me by surprise somehow and is difficult at times.

I was telling Steve about it afterwards, that it just brings on a wistful, melancholy feeling, and he said that certain things bring her to mind like that. Thursday night he took the kids to VBS at a neighboring congregation, and the visiting preacher who was teaching the adult class had his family there. His oldest daughter was 3 and his youngest was about 7 months old. And he said the baby's name is Abigail. That gave me chills. That's the first time I've come across another baby named Abigail I guess. I'm really glad I wasn't there - it would have been hard.

So this morning, at the playground after Nathan's soccer game, I felt the tears welling up again. It has really been a while since that happened, and it didn't last long. But it's still there. It is still hard to see all the other families enjoying their babies - I just want to say, "I have another daughter, too!" But it's not nearly as bad as it was before. It is more of a passing sadness that doesn't take over as it did before.

Friday, June 25, 2004

I have been feeling very irritated lately - I don't want to focus on solving problems at work or on the T18 site. Not that I don't want to do anything - I am enjoying working on the css and seo stuff for this site. I am enjoying working on the training and organizing of our new interns here at work. I just don't want to deal with the stupid stuff - mainly arguing about money and how to do things with duct tape and bailing wire. I'm tired of that!

The other night the kids and I went outside with bug nets and caught lightning bugs. We put them in a little bug cage Steve had bought. They had SO MUCH FUN chasing them around the yard and catching them. And I did, too. Such a simple thing, but so joyful. THAT'S what it's all about.

This morning on the way in to work I was thinking about how sometimes I just get angry about the fact that we whose babies had trisomy 18 or similar problems are so thankful for any time we have with them. We go on and on about the 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 days we had, or the pictures we took. It just saddens and angers me that we have to be thankful for that, instead of what we should have had.

Another wistful moment this morning: Sarah had a friend sleep over last night. And this morning I asked Steve where the girls were. And as I said it, I got that wistful, melancholy, ironic feeling and thought that I should be saying that about Sarah and Abigail. It doesn't make me fall apart like it used to, but it still hurts in a dull, achy sort of way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

This afternoon, A. and her kids left. They had been here since Monday mid-day, and we had a great time. The kids of course had fun together, but a few things stood out to me as significant about this visit. I realized that our discussion this time was about much more than our losses. In fact, it was mostly NOT about our losses, but a lot about raising our other kids.

We did talk some about what this journey has taught us; how it has changed us - for the better. How all the grief work, which we both approached in a similar manner, has strengthened us, and that is why we have both been able to help others with more recent losses without crumbling ourselves. The grief work has borne fruit. How rewarding it is to say that!

And we talked about how we are feeling ready to move on and that it feels good to be interested in other things. The grief is now more acute instead of chronic. It comes, more often related to specific events, but then it runs its course and leaves again much more quickly. And how many things still connect us with our babies, but it is much more of a wistful, melancholy feeling or thought, than the deep pain of before. And how everything is just more bittersweet, and more intense, and therefore more wonderful.

The other thing we realized is just how different we really are. Our personalities and interests and abilities are quite different. We approached grief the same way, and that's what brought us together. And now our differences are not driving us apart but are helping us really learn about and appreciate those things much more. It is really neat.

I am happy with how our friendship is progressing. I really enjoyed her visit, but it wasn't as euphoric as before, nor was leaving as emotional as before. I think it is changing to just good, close friends who really understand each other and appreciate each other, not that we need each other so desperately as we did before.

Their visit did have some excitement - we had a power outage most of the first night, and Steve got the generator going so we could take baths and keep the fans going. The kids enjoyed playing with the glow sticks in the house and in the bath tub. Tuesday we went out in the boat and a thunderstorm developed. We had to race back to the marina, huddling under the roof in the pouring rain while lightning flashed around us. It was scary, although we got back safely. And the whole time we had to keep detouring around flooded areas and places where the road has been washed out because of all the rain. We told A. she wasn't going to want to come visit us out in the country anymore!

Today on the way out of town, we stopped at the cemetery so A. could see Abigail's stone. Then we went to Abigail's playground so A. could see the bench we added in Marie's memory. She took photos of her kids on the bench. Actually, visiting those memorials was probably the most time we spent directly on the babies. And there were no tears; it was basically a joyful time.

We really have come a long, long way. Thank you, Lord. It feels good.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sarah has really been focusing on Abigail a lot lately. It is kind of strange - she was really too young to have many real memories herself, but it seems that Abigail is taking on a greater importance lately. She frequently opens my locket to look at Abigail's picture, kisses her, and hugs her (I love it when she does that!).

And the other day she said she wished baby Abigail was still here because she wanted to hold her and take care of her. She still isn't overly sad about it - it's just a fact that she is now in heaven. But I think she's becoming a little more aware of what she has missed out on.

It is nice to remember Abigail with her - with more wistfulness and resignation than pure sadness and pain. Last night we were at the local dairy bar to get ice cream and there was a little can there with a picture on it collecting money. The baby on it was "running" for the fireman's festival cutest baby or some such contest. And each penny put in was a vote for the baby. And it said he would be two in August. It just struck me that Abigail would have been two in August also, so I looked closer at the picture to see what she would be like now. I almost mentioned it to Steve, but didn't. It's just still there, but more wistful than painful, usually.

Then last night during the kids' bath we were remembering how funny it was when Abigail pooped on grandma after her bath. And Nathan remembered it - Sarah just laughed at the thought. I guess we should keep playing the video for her once in a while to build those memories.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Got an email this morning at work that my boss's boss and his wife just had their third baby. Along with the email, got that sick feeling in my stomach. What makes this even harder is that he is one of those people who's a workaholic who's rarely home and acts like work is a higher priority than his family - the only time he talks about his kids is to complain.

Why does he get three healthy kids? This is one of those times it is so difficult to bear.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'm not still on the roller coaster of emotions I was a year ago, but it's still up and down. I was doing really well, having a very good day. Someone at church even mentioned how nice it was to see me smiling.

Then after church, I went over to see L.'s baby. And he is looking around and smiling sometimes. And I got that pain in the chest again. It's not nearly as sharp as it used to be - it's now kind of painful and crushing, but bearable, not like before. Now I can get distracted from it. It's still an unpleasant feeling, but not incapacitating like before.

I just feel drawn to him. And so I stood there looking at him, and he at me. And I got teary-eyed. And I just stood there, feeling that chest pain, and paying attention to the emotion. I just felt I needed to. I felt the urge to walk away one time as I felt the tears coming. But I fought the urge, and the tears subsided.

Healing. Not healed. But healing.

More and more lately I have been wondering if I should back off on the Lexapro. It's been six months and I need to go back in to see the doctor and talk about it with her. I truly am feeling good and like being able to joke around and not take everything so seriously. But that laissez-faire attitude is maybe going a little too far in some areas, and maybe I don't need quite so much help with the chemistry anymore.

I mean, I've gained a little weight and can't stop biting my nails. In the past, when I decided to, I could do these things, but now it's like, who cares? And the very thing that made me effective at work (my compulsion to think through and work out all the details) is what the Lexapro is affecting. Now I just say, don't worry about it. I think that to some extent, that is good, but maybe I need just a little less of it.

Maybe I should back off on the dose and see what happens. If I start tearing my hair out at work, then maybe I DO need it!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

On Monday, as we drove home, the kids started talking about Abigail. I really like it when they do that; I kind of stop and listen really hard, eager to hear someone talking about her. And they talked a lot about what she would look like: mommy, daddy, Nathan or Sarah. And how big she is. They talked as if she is still growing up. I got a strange feeling, though, like the sadness is peeking out and ready to show itself. But it didn't quite arrive.

Hearing them talk about Abigail is very bittersweet. But everything about Abigail is bittersweet. Overall I am doing very well, but it's still very sad that she's not here. Although it's more ironic and wistful and less intensely painful than it used to be. Healing, but not forgetting. Never forgetting.

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