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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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tonight in church was awful. We had a member preach instead of Steve, as is our tradition on the fifth Sunday of the month. And he preached about abortion, and it really got to me. I do not support abortion, and it makes me queasy thinking about people terminating healthy pregnancies. But as he kept talking about abortion, and reading scriptures about life in the womb, and giving statistics, I got more and more uncomfortable until I was crying pretty hard.

I really don't know exactly why. Obviously, it made me think so much about Abigail and how much we wanted her yet others are aborting healthy babies. And it hurt to hear him use some of the terms that the pro-choice people use to refer to fetuses. At one point I just wanted to run out of there and I just said, "stop it!" as he read more statistics.

And part of me was thinking about those other moms, who, in my shoes, had chosen termination. And who were and are really suffering, just as I am. And I guess it hurt to have him coming down on them so mercilessly when I know how much they hurt. I hope they do turn to God for forgiveness and healing, but hearing a sermon like that certainly won't lead them that way.

So I guess I'm just conflicted. Our experience with Abigail has shown me that right is still right and wrong is still wrong. But it has also shown me that things are not quite as black and white as many would believe (including me previously). And it has made me a little more understanding and a little more merciful toward those who make bad choices because I understand more about why they would make those choices. And so I don't see the value in alienating them; instead I want to offer them forgiveness and healing.

I am feeling a lot better now, which in itself is a testimony to the healing that has occurred in my life. But I am kind of surprised by my reaction - the anger and the emotion. I guess grief will keep surprising me.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Is life about learning to adjust to loss? I am wondering. I finally developed some really wonderful, close friendships because of my experience with Abigail. I treasure these friendships, and they have enriched my life. But it is beginning to look like two of them may be changing significantly, that is, we may not be seeing each regularly due to changes in their and my lives.

And that makes me sad. I feel as if I am facing another loss, and in a way I am. The loss of the closeness, both in emotion and proximity. The companionship, and the earned trust and love. These relationships were hard-won, and were strengthened significantly by the hardships we have gone through together.

Perhaps it is time to move on, not to abandon the friendships, just the immediacy and the urgency felt before. I don't want to, but is fighting it just holding us back from who we will become? Is God preparing us all for more and better things? Is the very act of dealing with this change helping us grow?

And I have fear. Fear that I will go back to who I used to be. Fear that I don't know how to develop friendships like that outside of crisis. Fear that I won't develop friendships like that again. Fear that I will again be satisfied with the superficial friendships that fail to become meaningful.

But I need to trust God and realize that life is about loss, and change, and growth. And I need to put more effort into building friendships like that, that I value so deeply, BEFORE the crisis occurs. Maybe that is the lesson to learn from this.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Today we attended a memorial service for those who have lost babies. It was through the hospital where Abigail was born. It was a very nice service, and the nurse who was in charge of it was one of the ones who had spent a lot of time caring for Abigail. She had asked Steve and me to speak about God and grief during the service.

In some ways, it was very strange for me. I realized that right now I am in a very different place than I was when the grief was fresher. I am enjoying life again, and joking and happy more often than not. When they lit the candles for each baby, Sarah and I went forward to do it. I felt very little emotion, while others around us felt a great deal.

Perhaps it was because I had to speak later and I didn't want to "participate" emotionally and lose my composure at that time. Perhaps it is, as J. had told me in counseling last year, that my emotions have been "used up" with all the grieving I have done over the past two years.

Or perhaps it was how joyful and honored I felt to hear that so many people still remember Abigail with love. Several of the nurses there told us how much Abigail's life has influenced them since that time, that they all remember and think of her often, as they care for others in similar situations. Some of them we had never even met before, but they said they felt as if they knew us, because they knew so much of our time there with Abigail. That is so humbling, and yet so thrilling, to know that Abigail is remembered in that way.

So in any event, I was very detached emotionally the entire afternoon, even while I spoke. My MIL told me I should have smiled more while speaking, but I was so aware of the grief in the room that it didn't seem appropriate. (I just think too much, I should have just followed my instincts and smiled when it was right). And afterwards, I just drank in the things they said about Abigail; it is so wonderful to hear others speak of her, and so I was on a "high".

However, after leaving, as I "processed" the afternoon's events, I felt the emotion coming. Like - I just realized that the reason I was there is that my daughter DIED, and that is really sad! Things like this are not without emotion; sometimes it is just delayed. I predicted that this evening I would break down in tears, but after going back to church in the evening, I don't feel so connected with the events of the afternoon.

I think that had we not gone back to church, I would have broken down and cried - and that's ok. But with the "distraction" of church, that feeling has changed. My MIL took a lot of pictures and video; when I look at them, the emotion may return, but right now I'm not feeling that need.

I am continually amazed by all of the emotions, and how sometimes they feel so familiar and intense. But even then, they are much more brief and I can get distracted from them and focus on other things without really "trying". I guess the emotions just run their course more quickly than they used to. And that is much different from how it used to be.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I cried more this week than I have in a long time. I don't know why L.'s pregnancy is hitting me so hard right now. Maybe because it's their third and that's too much like what we should have had?

Anyway, Monday and Tuesday were pretty rough - I even cried at work, which I haven't done in a long, long time. I think PMS was playing a part in intensifying things, though. I am on a much more even keel now, although the waves of sadness have hit me today, too, just not as sharply and no tears.

Maybe it's also because Steve and I are speaking Sunday at a memorial service the hospital is having for the babies who died. I have been working on what I'm going to say, and maybe that focus is bringing it closer to home, too.

But all this makes me realize that as far as I've come, there's still a wound there that's not fully healed. The pain is not nearly like it was, but it's still there.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I'm missing Abigail a lot today. Another family at church, expecting their third child, is joking about how 3 will be plenty. And I am so jealous. I remember when we were right where they were. And I so wish we were there again.

All I want is to have those "problems" they are joking about. I just want things to be "normal", how they were supposed to be. Is that too much to ask, to have what everyone else has, what we all assume we are entitled to? Instead, I have that sick feeling in my stomach (but at least that awful, sharp pain in the chest isn't so bad anymore).

So I cried tonight. And I think I might not be finished yet. Then my other daughter Sarah came up, tired and whiny and needy, and I brushed her aside. I am grieving for Abigail, and I'm not caring for Sarah! That guilt hits me a lot - I can't even handle one daughter... but then I don't go there anymore. It's not that simple.

It's very complicated. And it stinks that I also have to deal with the guilt of whether I am "worthy" on top of the grief. Yes, yes, yes I am thankful for how I have changed and what I now know, blah, blah, blah. But every time we do anything as the "four of us" her absence is glaring.

I really miss my daughter.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The emptiness is still there. At church this evening, someone started joking about a family with a 2 year old and an infant - that when mom is working, dad has his hands full with the two of them - and "poor dad, what will he do when they have their third?"

And my first thought was, "yeah, I'm so lucky because my third died and I don't have that problem."

I still get that yucky feeling, that sadness about new babies. Not all the time, but certain times. Like when I first hear about a new pregnancy. When people talk from the "experience" of having three or more kids. When the newborn is first out in public and everyone is oohing and ahhing. And certain other times, that it just hits me that its not fair.

There is one big change, though. I felt this way at church tonight, and decided to journal. By the time I was half way home (about 15 minutes) the feeling had totally gone and my thoughts were onto other things. So it is much, much more brief than before.

But I still hate it that I still feel this way at times.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I had an interesting role reversal last night. I was going to a Third Day concert with some teens and singles from our church. I was really looking forward to it.

Well, this past week, a well-loved teacher committed suicide. Both of the girls riding with me were deeply affected by his death. One was even currently in his class.

And so, as we traveled the 2 hour trip to the concert, I had to fight the urge to talk about the concert and other light things because I didn't want to "ruin my fun". Instead, I realized how much grief they were experiencing at such a young age, and how hard it was for them to deal with it.

And so, the conversation was more subdued as I asked them questions about how they were feeling, what they had done in his memory, etc. And I encouraged them to share those poignant moments that seem almost insignificant to those who are not grieving but are so meaningful and understood by those who are.

I encouraged them to keep talking about their feelings with others who were grieving, too. And I suggested that whenever they felt like it, whether soon or later, to write down memories of him. And then to send a card to his parents after some months and include those memories. That may help both them and his parents to heal.

I am thankful that I am no longer afraid of grief. I am thankful that I know that silence after talking a little doesn't mean "I'm done" but "don't change the subject, I want to say more." And so I stayed silent, and let the next thoughts come out.

And so the drive wasn't the fun, pre-concert time I expected. But I remember when it was all I could do to simply go to the concert, much less have fun. And so I tried to support them in their grief. And I hope it helped them a little bit.

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