Walking With You is an outreach of Sufficient Grace Ministries, led by Kelly Gerken. We are a group of mothers who have lost a baby or child. We gather together from different places on our journey, each month to share our stories, to encourage, and pray for one another as we walk this path together. Our hope is that you will be comforted when you join us here...and maybe that we can offer some grace for the journey as we look to the Lord for comfort and strength.
This chapter is about depression, guilt, and fear.
"As no two crystal goblets shatter in exactly the same pattern, no two people grieve in the same manner. This too, can be a source of loneliness as we seek out others for comfort. Even those with similar experiences may not be able to relate to our loss."
The above statement is so true. We all grieve differently according to what is best for us individually. I feel sometimes we as grieving parents are often times judged and tried to be placed into this mold that others feel we should fit into. That can make us feel unaccepted and in turn makes us feel even more alone. Or the reminder that "we have to keep going" as we are acutely aware that the world keeps on turning, and we do not need to be so constantly reminded.
I have turned to several individuals who have been great supporters (you know who you are) one of course being my husband Jim. Mostly, I turn to God and He lifts me up. I will listen to some Christian music and will feel uplifted or turn to scripture and be reminded that He is there and He is a constant support in these new shoes I am learning to walk in. I stumble, and sometimes I fall, but He is there always to catch me and guide me. The song that has been uplifting me recently is "You Deliver Me" by the Christian group Selah.
I can say the failure and lack of support has come from those who expect me to fit into how they picture grief to be like. Which is disappointing because then I feel judged and criticized, neither of which make me feel loved or supported. Mostly I get frustrated when those who are watching us go through our grief tell us it is HARD on THEM and they feel helpless as they stand by and watch our suffering. I do understand where they are coming from, but forgive me when I say this is not about them and their inability in being able to help us. I have to learn to live in a world changed from this life altering experience of losing a child. This is a 24/7 battle, and one day I will get better at it. However, the pain of it all will NEVER go away. They say they can't imagine, that's fine and completely acceptable.
I recently was getting so frustrated because I just wanted to feel accepted in the way I grieved. I've painfully realized that this will never happen. I accept myself and who I am today and I am not going to apologize for who I am. I will grieve forever and not according to anyone's schedule or guidelines. For those who can not or will not accept that I will distance myself from. I'm not going to apologize for this being HARD on THEM. Frankly, I feel its rather selfish but they are entitled to their opinions and feelings as I am so I will not begrudge them for it.
I feel the physical signs of my grieving may be my eating habits. I am working on that as I have been eating more and more on a daily basis. I have recently come to the realization that I can continue to eat for myself as well as for Lilly. Let me elaborate; after we found out Lilly had anencephaly I made the decision to eat everything I could for her from candies, to cupcakes, to all my favorite foods and a few that were not even close to my favorite foods. Whatever I craved, I ate for her. So I can continue to do that and its a great reminder of her so I think it will really help me.
Though I know that what happened to Lilly was an anomaly and very much out of my control, I still can not stop myself from sometimes feeling guilty. I am working on handing my guilt to God as blaming myself will do no one any good least of all myself. It was just that, out of my control.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. - I Pet 5:8
I have always felt the devil works hardest when we are at our best. Yes, I am sad that Lilly is not with us, but I can not be sad that she is in Heaven with our Lord. For that I rejoice and hope to one day be reunited with Lilly. My hope keeps me happy even in the midst of my storm and I feel that the devil works his hardest to steal that happiness. I feel it angers him if we do not turn from God even though we may have every reason too. The fact that we remain vigilant and constant in our faith is when he works his hardest to tear that from us.
My greatest fear has been lived. I have feared the loss of a child. The fear I now have is of course losing another child. There have been times I've felt anxious when I am away from my living children. The blinders are completely off and I am so acutely aware of what can happen. Although this fear is constantly in the back of my mind, I calm my anxiety by continuing to live my life the way we did while Lilly was here. Besides picking out a funeral home and giving them a heads up to our situation we did not plan Lilly's funeral until the day after she passed away. We made the decision to enjoy her as long as we could and live life as normal as possible so that she would have that experience, how little that may have been. Keeping that mentality is very difficult now, but I am reminded as I look back on our time with Lilly that it was full of happiness and love. We refused to mourn her while she was still alive, it just made no sense to us. And we felt she could hear us (as I feel all my children were capable of hearing us in the womb), we didn't want her to feel like we were giving up on her. And though I find it difficult I feel we are doing her no justice if we lose that now. If I lose that now. I know things can go wrong as I've lived it, but allowing myself to be consumed by those thoughts will make trying to "move forward" more difficult than it already is. I can not allow fear to stop me from living my life.
I wanted to explicate that how we chose to spend our time with Lilly was a personal decision for us and that I am in no way passing judgment on any other families who chose differently. This is just how my husband and I chose to deal with Lilly's diagnosis. I did have some moments during my pregnancy with Lilly where I cried uncontrollably, and I felt guilty about those times. I am very hard on myself and feel so guilty at times that I did not want to feel guilt while I was pregnant with Lilly. I did not want her to know that emotion, as I myself have felt the power of it far too often. Nor did I want to look back and feel guilty about how I spent my time with her and I knew that if we had chosen differently I would be beating myself up hard for it.