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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Friday, November 26, 2004

Pregnancy and newborns are still hard. Even just thinking about them gives me that sick feeling. Even now, when my loss is not so fresh and it isn't front and center in my mind all the time, so many things are still connected to it. I guess it's still really close to the surface, even though other things can hold my attention and interest now.

Today just singing in the car with the kids started me down that path. We couldn't remember the words to a song my mom always used to sing to them while changing their diapers, and then I vividly remembered the changing table with them on it. And, of course, I started hurting that Abigail was never on that table and that she should still be needing it instead of it being long gone.

The other day at lunch some coworkers were talking about theirs and their wives' pregnancies. And I just get that sick feeling in my stomach. If ever there is a reason to bring up Abigail, it is a time like that. But it still doesn't feel right.

Part of me wants to interject things that indicate they are complaining about things that are trivial, or that they are too casual about it - that they are lucky things didn't go wrong. Part of me just wants them to stop talking about it altogether. I think part of the feeling is anger, not at them, but anger that they can talk so casually about pregnancy and I can't, that it always elicits such an emotional and physical reaction in me.

I guess the hardest times for me now tend to be when I see or hear others who are just enjoying the mundaneness of pregnancy or babies. They may "complain", but not really, they are really enjoying the excitement of it all. And others are sharing that joy with them. And seeing that just hurts so much! I wanted that, too, and every time I see it, it just reminds me of what I have lost.

I never imagined it would feel this way, and I certainly never imagined it would still feel this way two years later. So I am sure that others don't realize it is like this. When pregnancy or birth is mentioned, the first thing I think of is Abigail and that she died. To me it is like there is a sign on my head.

But it obviously isn't that way for others around me. In fact, for many, they not only don't think about it at all, but even if I mention that it is difficult they often act annoyed that I haven't gotten over it yet - how dare I put a damper on their joy?! (Boy, I'll tell you how to put a damper on your joy....)

I don't wish this on anyone! I don't want to hamper their joy. I just want some of that joy for my baby, and I can't have it. And I just wish that others would understand that and would recognize my feelings and remember my daughter for a few minutes during these times. I think that in itself might help take away that sick feeling.

It is so lonely to feel this way. But I need to remember I am not alone. There are many, many others who feel this way, and we will get through this together, if only in spirit.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Today I told God I understand. Finally. Although this isn't really some big revelation, it sure felt like it to me. The past few days it has been really hitting me how different my life would be if I hadn't lost Abigail. The most obvious is in my role as minister's wife. I see situations in which I now take the lead to comfort and support others where before I would have hung back, afraid.

I just realized how totally differently I am reacting now and how much more my actions are setting an example for others to follow. There is no way I would have been setting any such example without this experience.

And I realized that all of it: my personality, my tendency to analyze everything, my ability to express myself verbally and in writing, and now this experience are all designed to shape me into someone who can serve God in a unique and meaningful way. And it doesn't have to be in a "big" or "formal" way; it can be as simple as how I react to others' suffering and trials.

And so this morning I was totally overwhelmed with emotion at the wisdom and power of God. I told Him that I now understand why it was important for me to experience this. And I was so humbled and honored to be chosen for this task. It moved me to tears when I first thought it, and again when I tried to explain it to C.

And God's work in me has only just begun; what a great and wonderful God we have!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sometimes I feel all drizzly inside. What I mean is, some days are rainy and some are sunny - and on those days you know where you stand. But when it's drizzly, it's not really either, and it just feels blah. I think in my early grief, most of the days were rainy - some just pouring buckets. But now, more of my days are sunny and really very few are rainy. Instead, they seem to be drizzly, where I just feel blah and vaguely sad and I don't know where I stand.

That thought occurred to me this morning on the way to church, when it was - surprise, surprise - drizzly. My son asked me about the dinner last night when I was crying. I told him it was because "Jesus loves me" just makes me miss Abigail. And my husband said it gets to him, too.

Sarah then said her name was Abigail. I asked her why and she said it was so I wouldn't have to miss Abigail because she'd be with me. Wow, my kids are so precious. I don't know if my tears were for Abigail or Sarah or both.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I couldn't take my eyes off Kaitlyn, an adorable 2-year-old. We were at a Thanksgiving dinner with our church, and she was sitting right behind me. When I asked how old she was and her mom replied, 2 years, my heart skipped a beat. I asked her name and then told her that my youngest would have been 2 in August. Well, at least I mentally told her that. It sounded so casual in my head, but I couldn't bring my mouth to say it.

Why not? Why is it so hard to say it? Partly for the same old worry about her reaction when she heard that she died. And partly because she was so cute and her mom was just doting on her, and I didn't want to spoil her innocent enjoyment of that. Why intrude into her bliss with the mention of death that would surely hit her close to home?

Those thoughts, though not fully formed, raced through my mind in the few seconds that I wrestled with that familiar pain in the chest. But I didn't say anything. And I felt the emotion building, almost to tears. So I spent much of the evening feeling kind of melancholy and withdrawn. It wasn't anything like the early days, but it definitely put a damper on the time.

After dinner, our tradition is to get out the hymnals and sing, and I really enjoy that. My mood was lifting as we sang. Various people were requesting songs, then near the end, one little boy requested number 108. As soon as I turned to it and saw that it was "Jesus Loves Me", the tears just welled up. We sang that at Abigail's funeral and the memory of everyone, including all the kids, just singing it out, is vivid in my mind.

I couldn't sing it; I think I've only been able to sing it once since the funeral anyway. So I cried through the song, missing my daughter and wishing she was here with me, bounding around like little Kaitlyn.

It was a bittersweet night. Nathan and some of the other kids were asked to read some poems. It was his first time reading in front of people like that, and he did really well. My kids are growing up, and I'm so proud of them.

One man afterwards was telling me what a nice family we have, that we have 2 really nice kids. What am I supposed to say to that? "Well, actually we have three kids but one is dead?" or "Thank you. Please excuse me as I go burst into tears?" I just settled for "Thank you, they really are gifts from God," with a sigh.

Grief can be so lonely.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I just want it to stop! No more babies dying! It just makes me so sad to see the newly diagnosed parents who are just starting this journey, trying their best to be brave in the face of this tragedy. They are determined to keep their faith in God and to look for the joy in the situation, and they are right to do that.

But still, I just want to cry and cry for them, knowing how awful the grief is. Knowing how much harder it is than anyone can imagine. Seeing their positive attitude makes me hurt because I know how much worse it will become for them.

It is such a terrible, unending rollercoaster that they didn't choose to ride and that they can't get off. I'm so sorry anyone has to ride it.

Man, I've been down lately. Really struggling with the sadness and depression and fatigue. A. is feeling the same way, which, in the same way support groups do, comforts me. I've traveled a long way on this journey, but it's not over yet. Far from it. Yet those around about think we made it through it. Through what? I'm still in it, and still grieving. I hate grief, and I hate that so few understand it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

My "baby" is four and it isn't right. I know that most people feel wistful about their children growing up and becoming school-aged, but this is different. What I mean is that I am only 2 years away from giving birth, but instead of facing toddlerhood, I am way past that already. It just doesn't feel right.

After Abigail's birth and death, my body produced milk because that what it's designed to do after giving birth. For months afterwards, my arms longed to hold a baby because that's what is instinctive. Could it be that now, even 2 years later, that my instincts are telling me something is wrong that there is no toddler around? That it is too soon to be facing school-age, because it hasn't been long enough since I gave birth?

I don't know, but I know that it just seems so amazing that my daughter will be 5 next year and that whole chapter of my life is over so soon.

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