This is Part VI in a mini-series honoring our heaven-baby, begin by reading Part I, Longing for Baby #5 here.
"Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy."
This has been maybe the most difficult of all the posts to write...
I would like to paint it better than it was, but in truth, I am humbled by how weak and fragile this loss revealed I am. In sharing, I hope to set others free. Free from shame, guilt and torment, thinking something is wrong with them, that they are alone or that they will never feel truly "themselves" again.
In grieving, I felt SOOO weak. I dreaded conversations with people. I was too sad to pretend that I had not been robbed. Violated by death. My baby stolen. I felt I could not smile, and if I did, it felt empty and fake. I did not want to leave my house, and felt I needed to stay ‘safe’... surrounded by my close circle of people, in an atmosphere I could trust. I was deeply exhausted. I would wake up tired and I felt a terrible heaviness on me as I knew I had to drudge through another long day before I could lay down again.
When the tears subsided, it scared me that I would forget her if I did not feel the overwhelming pain of losing her. I journaled, reflecting on all the complex, layered emotions I was feeling...
"It feels like if I let go of grief, I am letting go of her somehow... Other times I am fearful that I won't ever be the same again - joyful, carefree, expectant & hopeful... laughing and free."
Through processing with the Lord and dear friends, I came to see that her life is a MILLION times more than her passing from here to heaven. Her death was not the biggest part of her life… for all of eternity I will get to enjoy her and know her. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives a heavenly perspective of grieving and loss.
Shame was another sticky trap that tried to grip me.
Our enemy, the devil, is described accurately as the "accuser of the brethren" who accuses us before the Lord day and night (Revelation 12:10). I could feel the shame from his cunning accusations weigh on me. "You lost. You couldn't save your baby. You are weak. Your faith wasn't strong enough..."
Beautiful friends, whatever lies and accusations the devil is throwing at you, you can just throw it right in the garbage. John 8:44 attests,
"He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
If the voice you are hearing in your ear is not life-giving, encouraging, Word-based whispers... they are not worth listening to. Fill yourself up with the Truth and this is where my support team really shone.
Part of the shame factor was the terrible feeling that there were people who had known we were pregnant that we now had to tell the news. We had already clued many of them in as we contended all day on Tuesday and I am so grateful for their prayers... but when our struggle to hold on to our baby ended in defeat... :(
The conversations I was dreading, notifying those pockets of friends who had known we were expecting, turned out to be sooo helpful and healing. I needed those people to pray for me, encourage and love on our little family, send us flowers, bring us dinner, take my other kids for a couple hours and extend the life-giving hugs, smiles and listening ears.
When we don't see the desired result from our faith... it is tempting to retreat in unbelief, shame or fear.
I would sing to Jesus in my kitchen, out of the deep pain I felt.
The Holy Spirit was so faithful in ministering to me, walking me through this heartbreak and even still, helping guide my heart toward the light, freeing me from the darkness.
I took a long pause before resuming my normal schedule and routine. For a while it was hard to imagine how could I continue on with everyday life when my baby had died. Thanksgiving was right around the corner and Michael took me up to Michigan to be surrounded by our family... it was so good to rest, be cared for and see all their aunts, uncles and grandparents love on the kids (and Michael and I) especially when I felt so emotionally spent.
I am painting it as raw as I possibly can to avoid any possible pretense of "having it all together".
Grieving is an interesting thing. Thankfully I haven’t had to do much of it, but in my short life and limited experience, I found it helpful to do something.
Michael’s heart cry came out in song.
Mine was voiced through poetry.
We arranged a zoom memorial service where we honored her life.
It helped me to put together a slideshow of pictures remembering precious moments our family enjoyed together (while she was hidden, secret in my tummy).
Our whole family had to process the loss and each kid had their own way of walking through the grief. Some cried. Others offered hugs. Processing the hurt and pain, some of my kids said some uncomfortable things to other people or acted real sassy. We talked and they asked lots of questions. We read scriptures and made it a point to steward each of our children's hearts as best we could alongside grieving ourselves. Again, give yourself (and your children) LOTS of grace... the Holy Spirit will help you all process and heal and come out a stronger, more close-knit family leaning on your Beloved Jesus!
Kenley drew pictures of Maranatha as a little tiny blueberry, doing activities with our family.
Shayley would talk about "baby Natha Worth" throughout the day, voicing her anticipation for heaven!
I made compiled a list of things I did personally that seemed to help... these were not premeditated or googled... they just organically happened and it all helped me process...
Make a picture “album” captioning the weeks pregnant and special things we did as a family while baby was with us in the womb
Ask the Lord for a dream/vision/name/word about baby
Take time off work/normal routine
Talk about it (with the special few)
Make a memorial of some kind - a visual representation in the home (a picture, little booties, music box, whatever would remind you of your baby)
Name your baby
Have a memorial service in your home as a family
Sing how you feel when you’re alone.
Talk to Jesus out load
Read the Psalms
In conclusion, I want to tell you there is SOOO much hope for you! You are not alone. God has made you intricately complex and He will help you heal... there will be a day where you feel like you can genuinely smile. Just keep leaning on Jesus and trust the process. If we follow His lead, there WILL be a day, where you will emerge from the dark valley, just keep close to your Good Shepherd.
Look for Part VII, When Your Friend Loses a Baby tomorrow...
Read my previous blog, Part V, Where Did Baby Go?