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, September 28, 2004

Grief is so strange. Even when I am doing so well, it peeks back out. Overall, I am feeling good about life, my family, everything. And I am feeling very blessed by my experience with Abigail, having received so much insight and closeness to God as a result.

But I still miss her!

It is such a conflicted feeling. I am so thankful for the way I've changed. I don't want to be who I was before or who I would have been. Yet, I still feel cheated and kind of jealous of those who are living blissfully innocent lives with all their children alive.

And I have realized that one of the reasons I am doing as well as I am, that I am healing, is because of my involvement with grief. It is the things I still do, for this website, on the Trisomy 18 Support site, supporting the grieving at church, that help me heal. The fact that I spend energy and time learning and teaching about grief and trisomy 18 is why I can appear so "normal" at other times.

I think this a healthy way to deal with it - and I do need to keep the focus on it at this point in my healing.

But I have seen how my journey is changing. I think I can definitely say I'm in the foothills now (see The Journey). I find that I am busier now, involved in things that I find interesting. And so I'm not "in touch" with the board, or this site, as frequently. I can go several days with little or no interaction, then several with a lot. A year ago I couldn't say that.

And so I wonder where my journey will lead me in the future. Will my interaction with this site become pretty infrequent? Previously, seeing a memorial site for a child who died several years ago, I would observe that the site owner was not that active on it any more. And it made me sad because I thought it meant they were forgetting their child.

But now I see my interests changing and I realize that's not the case. The reality is that they're healing. I can see it in that I am starting to think about adding a page on this site for how our family is right now, what we are doing. And that is good: I'm healing!

And I hope that others who see this can be encouraged by the healing and realize that they, too, will someday heal.

Healing, yes, but forgetting, no. Never forgetting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tonight we went to the county fair. I am getting less and less bothered by pregnancy; more of a wistfulness now and a desire to tell them to savor the pregnancy and the "normalcy" of it all.

But tonight one pregnant woman was smoking. That just brought up the anger. She has no idea what she's doing, how precious life is and how "easy" it is to lose it. She's one of the ones who is blissfully ignorant of all that can and does happen. She just assumes her baby will be fine.

It's not fair. Life's not fair. I know that, but it still stinks.

Last week I was getting my hair cut. There was a man in there with his two children, a boy and a girl. The girl was adorable, and she was playing peek-a-boo with me as she hid behind the chairs. He mentioned that she will be two in October. As usual, I felt drawn to her, being around Abigail's age.

The stylist and I had been talking about my son's school, and then she asked if I had any other children besides him. Aaaahh, the QUESTION. The one I both hope for and dread.

Although the heart doesn't pound as badly and the mind doesn't race so much now, it is still a difficult question. And so, while mentioning Nathan and Sarah, I was, of course, trying to figure out how to answer.

And I said, "Nathan is 6, Sarah is 4, and our youngest, Abigail, is in heaven."
Then after a short pause, I said, "She would have been about the same age as that little one over there. I'm always fascinated by those who are about the same age as she would have been."

I said it in an upbeat sort of way, and she didn't say anything. And that was really OK. I'm not hunting for the "I'm so sorry" response; I just want to talk about her.

But the significant thing for me is that the physical reaction was much less severe; I could still think pretty straight. And that the overwhelming thought in my mind wasn't, "how is she going to react?"

It is so freeing to be able to talk about her without all the baggage. I have come a long, long way.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I have been wanting to journal for a few days now, but extreme busyness and computer troubles have prevented it. Lately I have been reflecting on how different I have been feeling. Or rather, how similar I have been feeling to when I was on the Lexapro, even though I am not on it anymore.

My whole life I have been very compulsive, needing to know every detail, planning things out. I have totally not been spontaneous and whenever things are left "hanging" it has stressed me out until I had it figured out or organized.

Well, one of the things that the Lexapro did was to help me lighten up. I just didn't get so concerned about things and I was able much more easily to go with the flow.

It helped me get a much better perspective on things, that those things are just not that important and are just not worth worrying about. Whatever will happen, will happen.

And now that I have gone off the Lexapro, I am amazed to find that I still feel that way. A prime example is that yesterday we had a problem with our well pump and had no water. So we got to play "Frontier House" for a couple of days. I was surprised that I wasn't stressed about it in the afternoon, last night when we took our stuff to the church house to bathe and shower, or this morning getting ready for work.

Granted, it was only a couple of days (they got it resolved early this evening) but in the past I would have been obsessed with getting it fixed. And I had credited this to the Lexapro, but I think credit more properly should go to God who has brought me through my grief over losing Abigail.

Maybe the Lexapro just gave me enough space to cope with things so I could learn the lesson God had for me. Maybe I had to do that to realize that these things really aren't that important. Wow, I was that dense that it took losing my child to learn that!?

Tonight is gorgeous. The county fair is just starting and as I drove past it on the way home, I recalled the night 2 years ago when we went to the fair. It was also a Monday night, two days after Abigail's funeral. We went to try to get out and do something with the kids.

It was surreal; it felt so strange to be there without my baby: no one knowing I should have her with me. I was just so sad and tired, and my back was still hurting so I had to keep stopping to stretch it. I felt like a zombie, watching other people laughing and having fun.

And to add to the melancholy tone, I knew that that day A. was being induced. I didn't find out until later that while we were at the fair, she was giving birth to Marie, and then saying goodbye to her. A life-altering event, while we were at the fair.

I think that realization has hit me harder the past two years than it did that night. Now that the shock has worn off, now that I understand the journey, now that A. and Marie have become so dear to me and such an important part of my life, I remember.

Opening night of the fair.

I am still in awe of what God has done in my life: what I have learned from my grief, from him. How happy I am lately, how content. How much I am enjoying the simple things of life. I never imagined I would feel so good.

Yesterday at church, Steve mentioned that with his upcoming birthday this week (44), he thinks a lot about his dad, who died at age 45. I used to think a lot about that, too, and I used to really fear losing Steve.

But yesterday, when he said that, I felt much peace. Because I hope I don't lose him, but I no longer fear it. I know I can survive it, with God's help. How freeing that is!

I feel like I have been given access to the secret of life that enables me to experience joy and love in a deep, wonderful way. And it helps me discover what is really important, and helps me stop wasting my time with things that aren't.

It helps me understand and minister to others in a way I never could have before. I no longer fear grief or pain or hardship. I treasure the mundane, day to day things of life.

I feel like crying out of intense joy that Abigail is in heaven, that I am growing so much closer to God, and that I am learning how to do meaningful things in this life. I am overflowing with many blessings.

I certainly have my sad moments, but overall I just feel good. And it feels so good.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

It is 9/11. So many memorials, articles in the paper, signs, interviews, etc. It kind of rubs me wrong. It's not because I think they should "get over it" and move on. No way! It's because everyone who has lost a child or a loved one has their own 9/11, but they don't get the memorials, the articles, the interviews.

In fact, most people don't even remember our 9/11's. And that hurts. And if we happen to mention them ourselves, people often act like we should get over it and move on. So why do they think it's ok to think about those who died on 9/11 three years later but not about our loved ones several months later? Is it because the scope, the immensity, the sheer volume of 9/11 touched everyone in some way, but our losses of a single person didn't?

Our individual losses are no less significant than theirs. And in fact, if we were to simply count the number of infants lost in a year, it would far outnumber those lost on 9/11. And that is a large magnitude. However, it's not considered the same way.

So I don't begrudge them the remembrance, far from it; I just wonder where are they when I want to talk about my daughter.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What an enjoyable holiday weekend! And what a contrast with last year. On Monday, as we sat eating pizza on Marie's bench at Abigail's playground, I realized that last year on Labor Day was when Steve built that bench. It seems like so long ago - I am in such a different place from then.

Saturday we went to Idlewild Park in PA with some members of our church, as we had last year. And I thought of Abigail quite a bit, especially when the one family's little red-headed niece was there. I often have some trouble seeing her, since she's only a few weeks younger than Abigail. But it was more of a matter-of-fact thing this time, not all of the sadness. And the kids had a thoroughly great time.

We spent the night there (see my Confirmation numbers post in my Stream of Consciousness blog for the story of the motel) and then went to church in town the next day. We had lunch with the minister and his wife and it was very enjoyable. With all the talk about families, I never mentioned Abigail, and I didn't really feel the need to. Of course, I would have if it "fit", but it didn't so I didn't. I thought of her, but I was fine not talking about her. That is a LONG way from last year.

We spent the afternoon at Fort Ligonier, from the French and Indian War era. Nathan is into the Revolutionary War, and this was just a few years prior so the weaponry, lifestyle, etc. was the same. And George Washington had served there in the British Army in his early twenties, so Nathan was suitably thrilled. I really enjoyed our time there.

We came home and then yesterday made it out onto the boat that we were going to do on Abigail's birthday. Of course, it was a little more crowded on the lake on Labor Day. But we got to swim from the boat and fish (and nap!). I don't remember when I have had such an enjoyable holiday weekend.

And, strangely(?), I attribute a lot of it to Abigail. Loving her has taught me to cherish all the moments with my family. And it's as if when I am enjoying myself, she is making it more joyful. I'm not explaining it right, but the enjoyment is greater for having had Abigail in my life.

And today, back to work (uuggghhh!). A stressful day, and I felt the irritability rising, but squelched it. I really think that I did learn while taking the Lexapro. I learned that all those things really don't matter, and so I think I've started to change my reaction to them, even without needing to take it. I hope that turns out to be true - I haven't taken any since Thursday, and that was a half-dose.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I've really been doing well since Abigail's birthday. Wednesday was the anniversary of her homegoing day. I got a couple of cards and A. sent me 2 pink roses at work. Funny, she said she planned that before she saw that's what I did for her birthday. It was just wonderful to see those roses and think of Abigail and know that others were thinking of her on her day, too.

Since the anniversaries are over and I am still doing well, I decided to stop taking the Lexapro. So yesterday was my first day without it. It feels good to feel good enough to stop taking it (although I can always start again if I need it).

Now I am starting to think more seriously of what I want to do to remember Marie's birthday, which is September 16. As usual, I have several ideas, but I can't ever seem to solidify them until the last minute.

Today we are getting ready to head to Idlewild Park - east of Pittsburgh, then spend the night and do some sightseeing at some historical forts in the area after church on Sunday. The family is looking forward to it - and the weather looks like it will be great.

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