My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15,16

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16a

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bold enough

This is a post I began awhile ago. I just re-read my last post and realized that this one is on the same topic. I guess it is on my heart often so please be patient with me :o)

I have thought a lot about the tears I have cried since Zoe's death. Now a year later, she is still very much part of my identity. Sadly, an invisible part. To many of you, I am just Kiara, Jinaea, Jaron, and Kyler's mom, but you are missing a name. I am Zoe's mom too. I cannot always say that to people and when I don't, I feel guilty for not mentioning her. Like I am not giving her the honor she deserves as my child. How do I make my heart move to the place where I don't feel that anymore? I don't know if I ever will find it.

A few months ago a girl I hadn't seen in a long time came to me a church and after a short time of  catching upon detail of her life, she asked about my kids. She asked about Jinaea and Jaron and said, "This can't possibly be Kyler!! He has gotten so big. Wow, and where is your baby? I can't wait to meet him or her! Did you have a boy or a girl?" I froze. What do I say? How do I tell her? Tears filled my eyes and the smile left her face. I told her that I had a baby girl. I told her a short version of what had transpired. Tears filling her eyes now too, she reached out and hugged me, "I am so very sorry!"

This weekend I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in many months. We were talking about babies and kids and she said, "You have four kids right?" Again, my brain raced, "How do I answer this? Here goes again..." I replied, "Our baby girl was born last summer but she was still born at twenty-two weeks."
A quiet, "Oh," from her, and then awkward silence. 
I will admit I have often had tears spring to my eyes  just from a simple "How are you?" This usually brings about an apology from the person who then feels bad for even asking and "obviously bringing up something that is painful" which then makes me feel bad for making them feel bad. There are times that my tears seem to make others just downright uncomfortable and I wish it was different. Grief is not easy or comfortable for us or for you. No one knows what to say or do. There we stand in that moment, you fidgeting and unsure of what to say now. The tears fall from our eyes and we try to hide them by wiping them away. You have done nothing wrong, your question has just punctures my "I am fine" mask and touched a soft spot in my heart. "How are you?" is an innocent question, in itself very commonplace. Really there are days where almost no matter what a person says, it can bring a flood of tears. Those are the days, I just need a hug, an understanding smile or a prayer. Maybe even all three.  I am not crazy, just hurting in that moment.
Partly the awkwardness is my fault because I too, am uncomfortable and don't know what to say. There have been and are days that I don't even know how to say what I feel. I know, for the most part, people mean well with the things they say.

I know I have some supportive, be-there-through-anything friends and the following things are not true of everyone. Please forgive me if any of this post sounds too presumptuous. I mean no insult. I found some of this list in a pamphlet on helping others through grief. It says what I have not been bold or courageous enough to say in those moments....
  1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak to me about what is going on in my life, and to ask what you can do to help. Even if it means I may shed a few tears.
  2. If I cry or get emotional when we talk about them (the person who has died), I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me.  The fact that I have suffered a loss is what is causing my tears.  You have allowed me to cry, and I thank you.  Crying is healing.
  3. I wish you wouldn’t pretend that nothing is happening to me, because this is a large part of my life.  I need my friends and family by my side.
  4. I will have emotional highs and lows, I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day, my grief is over, or that if I have a bad day, I need psychiatric counseling.
  5. Grieving and what I’m going through is not contagious, so please don't shy away from me.
  6. I wish you knew that all of the “crazy” grief reactions I am having are in fact very normal.  Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and questioning are to be expected during and following what is happening to me.
  7. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over if and when I appear to be smiling or happy.
  8. I wish you would understand the physical reactions to grief.  I may gain weight or lose weight…sleep all the time or not at all…want to surround myself with business or be all alone, all of which may be related to my grief.
  9. Birthdays, anniversaries of  big days, holidays, and the day I found out, are all terrible times for me.  If I get quiet or withdrawn, just know I am doing my best to cope. 
  10. It is normal and good that tough times make us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs throughout this journey.  We will question things we have been taught all our lives, and hopefully come to some new understandings, deeper, strengthened faith and a closer relationship with God. 
  11. I wish you knew the only way I can get through grief is to experience it, and sometimes immerse myself in it.  I have to hurt before I can heal.
  12. I hope you understand that grief and difficult situations change people.  I am not the same person I was before I experienced this nor will I ever be that person again.  If you keep waiting for me to “get back to my old self,” you will be frustrated.  I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, beliefs and goals. Please try and get to know the “new me”…maybe you will still like me.
   And particularly in the situation where a baby has died or a person is having difficulty conceiving:

13.  I wish for those friends and family that are pregnant to understand that we are happy for them. Our sadness / perhaps odd or distant behavior during this time is not personal but just a part of what we are grieving.

14. I hope that you will not avoid or stop calling because you don’t know what to say. Show me that you care and I can lean on you.

15. I wish that you would not judge the times that I am sad or find it hard to deal with things. (like finding out a friend is pregnant and baby showers)

16. I hope that you will try to put yourself in my shoes. Stop for a moment to think about what you would do and how you would feel if you were in my shoes and use that as your guide to support me.

17. Above all (and I know I have asked for this lots!!) Please pray for me to have strength, peace and healing, especially on the days you can see I am having a hard time. I appreciate your prayers so much.

I know that without God's love and His presence through this, I would not be able to make it through and still smile. I believe that something beautiful can be made from even the worst of circumstances and situations. We have seen God's hand in both small and in big ways all through our lives and I thank Him for that everyday.
If you are going through something difficult I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to God, a good friend, or possibly even a support group. Do not try to handle it all on your own. I encourage you to write like I am. It feels great to air out your thoughts and feelings. It does not have to be on a public domain like this, but even just in a journal. I have had many comments and emails from people who have been blessed or encouraged by me sharing my heart. Yes, there have been some negative too, but now I quickly move those in the folder they belong ;o)  You never know whose life you might make a difference in!

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