Monday, December 23, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year, or is it?

Last Monday I talked with several parents who are facing Christmas after the death of a child, the last few weeks I can't stop thinking about my Omi (grandma) who is facing her first Christmas without her eldest son, this weekend a young lady that I went to high school with lost her life after a long battle, days ago my husband's coworker suddenly died, today I walked past the emergency department at the hospital where my surgery center is located and heard the wail of a mother who just found out that her child died, my heart is heavy. I keep hearing songs touting this as the most wonderful time of the year, but I can't help thinking that for many it isn't. For many this season brings sadness, pain even, they can't find it in themselves to celebrate every snowflake and jingle bell, in fact some can barely find it in themselves to face the next day full of carols and shiny balls. There are many out there who are just praying that they can make it through this season with their heart and sanity intact, because there is only so much that egg nog and Christmas cookies can fix. When you look around your community or family gathering over the coming days, will you look past the tinsel and presents to find the broken hearts? Will you offer a hug, smile, card, greeting, listening ear, or compassion to someone who can't find the cheer in the season? Will you be the light that they can't see on their own?

Monday, October 14, 2013

[don't] Lean on me

I've long felt that it is important to turn to others who have been in your shoes when it comes to miscarriage, stillbirth, or really any death; that can be a support group, online message board, counselor, or even just a friend or family member who understands and can support you. Many times people look to their spouse for support, it seems logical because you love each other and are facing the same tragedy, unfortunately your spouse is rarely a strong source of support as they, too, are grieving. When you are both grieving, when you are both falling apart, it is nearly impossible for you to carry each other through your grief, though you may look to each other for support, you may not find what you want or need. With that in mind, it isn't surprising that so many relationships and marriages fall apart following the death of a child, the inability to support and comfort each other in grief becomes a major source of contention and drives a wedge in the relationship, which puts far too many relationships on the rocks or, unfortunately, ends them. While it is incredibly important for couples to keep the lines of communication open following the death of a child, it is also important that they don't place unrealistic expectations on each other, expectations that are far too high to place on a person who is grieving and feeling as if they can barely hold their own life together. It is important that couples give each other compassion and understanding, that they give each other grace and time, that they realize they will grieve differently, and will experience different emotions at different times. There will be good days and there will be bad days, and unfortunately you and your partner may not experience those days on the same day, which is why it is crucial to establish a support system to turn to when those days don't line up, when you and your partner can't seem to hold  your own selves together, let alone hold each other up. Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, there are many resources for grieving parents, like Facebook groups, online message boards, support groups, grief counselors, clergymen, even friends or family who have been in your shoes, and on the days that you feel lost and alone, when you feel like you couldn't possibly muster the energy to move forward while carrying your partner, you will have the comfort of knowing that there is SOMEONE out there who can help carry you through.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I have heard this saying many times, in fact my mom cross stitched it for me on a small picture so I see it daily, but today I am overwhelmingly struck by its truth. When my son, MJ, was born and opened his eyes, he saw nurses, a doctor, flashing lights, machines, his daddy, and eventually me, his mommy; the world around him felt cold I'm sure; without the buffer of my body I can imagine this new place he entered seemed loud and disruptive; and considering the mode of his entrance into this world I'm sure the whole experience seemed quite cruel. On the other hand, when my angel, Sparrow, first opened her eyes she got to behold Jesus, she saw streets of pure gold, gates of pearl, she looked upon a literal paradise, she felt warmth, and heard the voices of generations of worshippers singing to their Mighty King; there was no cruelty in this birth, in entering this new world, there was only peace and perfection. My heart feels great joy and peace at this thought, today I am overwhelmingly struck by this truth!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day

As I near my third Mother's Day (one without a child), I still find myself feeling a little bit of dread as Sunday approaches; As thankful as I am to be able to celebrate with my rainbow baby, there is still part of me that aches to celebrate with two children. That slight dread has me thinking back to my first Mother's Day after my miscarriage, the Mother's Day that I knew I couldn't bear to see the other moms at church receive flowers, the Mother's Day I knew I couldn't hear "Happy Mother's Day" due to my noticeable belly, but not for the baby I had lost, the Mother's Day where I literally had to get out of town to stay sane and protect my own heart. Yes! You read that right, my hubby literally took me out of town for the weekend to get away from it all because I wasn't sure I could handle it, and if you need to do the same, that is OKAY! But maybe heading to a big city for the weekend isn't a possibility for you, maybe you just stay home, pig out, watch movies, and just be with your significant other; maybe you spend the day in a secluded park or beach; maybe you spend the weekend camping; maybe you plan a day with those who you know will be understanding of what you are feeling; maybe you plan a celebration with other baby loss Mamma's; maybe you spend the day planting a memorial garden for your lost child; maybe you spend the day doing something or anything special in memory of your angel. Mother's Day will no doubt be painful, but it is okay to take steps to guard your own heart, to know the limits of what you can emotionally handle that day and be firm in that, and most importantly it is okay to cry.

 And to those of you who know someone who has lost a child, one of those moms who experience pain on Mother's Day instead of a joyful celebrations of motherhood, acknowledge her and her child; Send a card, a special note, flowers, or even a memorial gift in honor of her baby (my hubby bought me a ring with our babes name on it, and that is one of my most precious gifts). Holidays are incredibly painful, and Mother's Day can be one of the worst after the loss of her child, your thoughtfulness in remembering your loved one will mean the world to her and ease some of the pain she is inevitably feeling.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Battle

While I have been pretty open discussing my grief and many painful aspects of my personal journey to healing, there is one area I am very reluctant to share, I have always feared looking weak or crazy, but I approached the point where keeping this struggle a secret became quite detrimental. When I took the step in sharing I found that not only did I receive the support I needed, but that I wasn't alone in my struggle, that I wasn't alone in my depression. The earliest I remember this battle was high school, I noticed a pattern with the changing seasons, gave myself the diagnosis of "Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)," went to the tanning bed a few times a week and found that the boost in vitamin D proved to be helpful. As time went on, and the stressors in my life become more intense, I began to use bulimia as a means of trying to gain some sort of control, to have some sort of physical release to the emotions I didn't always feel I could handle. When my husband (fiance at the time) returned from Iraq we started premarital counseling, which turned out to be more intensive than either of us imagined, we dealt with my eating disorder during a few sessions, and I felt empowered, but as the seasons began to change again, I found myself in the same place I was every winter. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, that was the day I swore off my eating disorder, knowing I had a higher reason for keeping myself healthy. While I have not forced myself to throw up for several years, know that it is a constant struggle, just like an alcoholic has triggers, so does a person with an eating disorder and it is a conscience effort to stay away from the places and things I know I cannot handle. After I miscarried our first baby, I was grieving and the depression was natural, and after I had our first child, I expected Post Partum Depression (PPD), but as my son got older and the depression intensified I began to think that maybe things weren't normal anymore. I found myself with this constant and underlying rage, I found myself angry at the littlest things, I found myself blowing up at my son and husband for things that weren't important or intentional, I felt sad, and anxious, and dare I say a little hopeless, I felt isolated and unconnected to the people around me. I began to hate who I was, I saw this person spiraling out of control, but didn't feel like I had the power to stop her, I longed to have peace in my heart and in my life, but I just didn't know how to get it. It wasn't until I reached out to a few friends for prayer, that I got what I needed, I received words of comfort, assuring me that I wasn't alone and that I didn't need to fight this battle alone. I also received the encouragement I needed to talk to my doctor, something I had said I was going to do for years, and just never did because I was too embarrassed. As a nurse I see people on antidepressants all of the time, I hand them out almost daily, but the thought of being on one myself seemed like a soft option to me, but I have to say taking that first step in asking my doctor about them was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. In the doctor's office I was comforted by the nurse who shared that she battled the same thing, and the doctor who assured me that I wasn't alone that he sees this frequently. It has been a month and a half now that I have been taking medication for my depression and while my doctor told me I wouldn't see much of a change, I have! I feel calmer, I am the peaceful mom that I want to be, I am an easier wife to live with (at least I think so!!); I truly believe it is the combination of reaching out for help, receiving support, and the medication. I tell you all of this not because I want to, in fact I hate being this transparent, I tell you all of this because if I am not transparent, how will others ever know that they aren't alone? Many Christian's don't talk about depression because there is the stigma that if you have enough faith you won't be depressed, that if you have the joy of Christ in your life you won't feel depressed, that if you are living the righteous life you won't feel depressed, but this isn't true, and I want other Christians to know this isn't the truth and it is okay to admit that you are depressed. I struggled for so many years by myself, fighting a battle I wasn't equipped for, and I don't want others to think they have to do the same. I want you to know that whether it is SAD or PPD or grief or anxiety or depression that lasts all year long, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Their are others fighting the same battles, others who are lost in the struggle, others who hate who they are, others who don't know how to stop the rage, others who don't know how to control the blow ups, others who don't know how to handle the anxiety, others who don't know how to rise from the crippling sadness, others who don't know why they are feeling crippling sadness. If you have read this and you understand all too well the things I am saying, please don't do what I did, please don't waste another moment trying to handle the depression on your own; find a friend, family member, pastor, counselor, or doctor (heck e-mail me if you need to) and tell them you need help, tell them you don't have the strength to fight one more day on your own, it might be the hardest thing you do, but you will never be sorry that you did

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter, or Spring, or Winter...

The flip flopping between the warmth of spring and the chill of winter over the last few weeks, has really been so symbolic of grief to me. The confusion of everything covered in ice, lying dormant, dreary even and within days waking up to a refreshing and renewing rain, seeing green and the signs of life. How often do we feel like this in our grief? How often do we have days where we feel as if we are walking on thin ice just waiting for it to crack and submerge us in freezing winter waters, and wake up the next day feeling as if that ice has been melted allowing us submersion in the renewing warmth of a spring soak? And then, before we know it we are standing on the dawn of a winter day covered in frost, hoping and praying that Spring will come along and bring a promise of new life. Some days the wait between Winter and Spring can be brief, and then other days that wait can often seem endless and excruciating, but no matter how long the wait is or feels we hold on to the promise that "there is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:18)." Even on the most hopeless Winter days, when we feel numb from the cold, and disheartened by the grey around us, we can hold on to the hope of Spring, of the blooming of new life, of the sun emerging to melt the ice that has encased our hearts.