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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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This summer I am coaching Sarah's T-Ball team. The youngest ones on the team aren't quite 5 yet: only a couple of months older than Abigail would have been. When I realized that, it surprised me. She wouldn't be toddling around anymore; she'd be running around with her ball glove on the wrong hand trying to hit the ball and run the bases!

The thing that amazed me most about realizing this is that there was no sadness with that thought, just amazement. I have no "mixed emotions" or sadness in working with these kids; just enjoyment.

I have done a lot of healing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Newborns still bother me. We just had two births at church, and I just avoid the babies as much as possible. It seems that once they reach a certain age, around 9 months or so, suddenly I find them so irresistable and have to go hold them. Very odd, when I've totally avoided them until that time. So we'll see if that will hold true for these two newborns as well.

I've been very down lately - irritable, unable to cope with pressure and overreacting to things, and I just have no energy. Talking with K. about it she pointed out that there have been two new births lately. I knew that, but I told her I hadn't consciously connected it with my feelings lately. And it's coming up on Abigail's anniversaries again, which is always a yucky time for me.

Could it be that there is more grief involved in my moods than I realize? I tend to overlook that as a primary factor in things anymore, except on a few occasions when Abigail is in the forefront. My continued involvement with the Trisomy 18 Foundation may be driving that home; seeing all the new families dealing with this and remembering the intensity of the early grief may make me consider myself "healed" because it's so much better now. But as K. pointed out, it's not even been 5 years, which is really not all that long, and I have completely overlooked that.

I don't make an effort to journal anymore; maybe I should (hence my being here now). And therefore I don't "pursue" how I'm feeling and maybe I'm not gettting to the real root of the issue. Do I need to take some time right now because of these new births to focus on Abigail for a while? Do I need to cry and let it out, instead of letting it simmer secretly under the surface?

We'll see. I have a feeling I'll be back - the upcoming months are usually hard for me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I hadn't connected my irritability with grief. I just thought it was stress before the holidays - so much to do and not enough time. But that's just a symptom; that's not really the problem. I was commenting to V. how I couldn't figure out why I was so irritable lately and that it was the same last year and how we were also getting ready to launch a new software program then as we are now. So I was thinking it was work pressures. But then she said that Christmas is still hard for us.

And that's when I realized that's what it was. I can't believe I didn't connect it! I get this same irritability and vague sadness around Abigail's birthday, why not at Christmas as well? It is probably more pronounced because of the contrast to the happiness of the season.

I realized I have been irritated about having to buy gifts for people who really don't need anything, burdened about decorating, baking, etc. because I've been so busy. But that's not the whole story. I've been so busy because I don't WANT to do these Christmasy things. I've been running from the sadness by ignoring the fact that Christmas is coming. Maybe if I pretend it's not happening, I can just skip the whole thing and it'll be January.

So the result is that I am rather depressed and melancholy. I don't have any energy and I don't feel like doing anything. But it doesn't feel directly related to Abigail, which is what is so strange. I mean, I don't feel this need to decorate her grave or buy things in her memory or anything. And I don't consciously feel like I miss her so much. But the sadness is definitely related to her.

So I don't what to do. We are going to be visiting relatives for the holiday and I don't know what I should do for her. If I don't do anything, I think I'll really feel bad, but I don't know what to do. And I feel like whatever I do is an afterthought because I haven't put any effort into it. But I think I haven't done anything because I don't want to think about the sadness.

OK, I just decided that tonight the kids and I will talk about what we want to do and then do it. I think that's why I'm so down - I need a plan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The tears came today. This morning I was so irritable and angry and I wasn't sure why. Then I noticed the date and realized that 3 years ago today we had my daughter's funeral. And I cried as I remembered how exhilarating it was to be able to share her with everyone - "her" day. And as I remembered the little kindnesses: helping me make a picture collage and commenting about which pictures were their favorites, colleagues coming from hours away to attend, the incredible amount of food at the luncheon, the RN who had helped us bathe Abigail coming and bringing more pictures, the ladies of our congregation giving me a locket that I still wear today.

And I cried as I remembered my son in his suit at his sister's funeral, at the kids singing "Jesus Loves Me", at the numbness I felt at the time. I cried as I remembered how I didn't yet know how awful and dark the grief would become, and at how naive I still was about the whole journey. I cried for that poor person who didn't know what was ahead, that the journey wasn't over but was really just beginning.

And I cried as I remembered the next night reading on the eScribe board that A. would be induced the next morning, and asking my husband to pray for their family with me. And my preacher husband's prayer was simply, "Have mercy on them."

And I cried that so many of us have had to go through something that no one should have to go through.

I am so sorry that any of us have to go through this experience. May God have mercy on us.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Abigail's third birthday just passed. As this journey continues, things change and yet stay the same. I feel Abigail's influence on my life all the time, in that our entire lifestyle has changed dramatically, and she has had a part in that.

This year, as has been the pattern, as soon as Sarah's birthday passed earlier this month, the vague melancholy, irritable feeling returned, as the calendar caught up to me. Then we went out to Indiana to visit with my parents and see our newborn niece. It was not good timing; I still have a lot of trouble with newborn girls and being there watching her be the center of attention for 3 days was not what I call a relaxing vacation. I was very glad to get home.

I hadn't planned anything for Abigail's birthday. The kids wanted to make a cake, but I decided I didn't feel like it. And for the first time I didn't feel a need to relive the time she was with us: no looking at scrapbooks or videos or even getting out her things. I didn't want to dredge up the emotions. I was just irritable and restless, yet without energy, a little depressed I guess, and just wanted the day to be over. It was rainy, and it cleared up enough for us to briefly go to the cemetery and then out to eat. Eating out is a big treat for us now that I am not working, and we decided that it would be a good way to celebrate Abigail's birthday. After spending a few minutes at the cemetery, my restlessness left and I really enjoyed our birthday dinner.

And if the pattern from years past holds, that feeling of melancholy and irritability will continue until at least mid-September, when the anniversaries are finished. I am finally learning not to let this surprise me and to be ready for anything during this time: sadness, numbness, irritability, depression. But I am also learning that things will go back to where they were when I get past this period.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I don't feel like talking about her anymore. I don't mean not ever, just not most of the time. I never thought I would feel like this.

We had a gathering last weekend at our house with a lot of distant relatives I had never met. And I have some pictures of Abigail up with our other children, and my mother-in-law was telling them about her. And I was glad she did, because I just didn't feel like it. I remember A. saying quite a while ago that she didn't want to deal with others' emotions about Marie. And maybe that's it. I don't want to be sad about her right now.

But I talked at length about the Trisomy 18 Foundation and our work and what T18 is. It's as if I don't want to talk about the sadness of losing her but I do want to talk about what is good and exciting in my life now, partly because of her. I'm not leaving her out, I'm just leaving behind the sadness and enjoying the goodness from her life.

I don't feel the need to "relive" her life most of the time, and I don't feel the need to mention her most of the time, either. But I still feel strange around newborns and pregnancies, but now it's just strange, not that intensely painful feeling.

I know there will be days when I will want and need to get out her things, and watch her video and remember the days when she was here. But right now, today, I just want to be thankful for the life I have right now. And I thank God for using Abigail's life and death to help me make the changes in my life that needed to be made.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

You don't have a sister. I actually said that. I sure have come a long way.

The other day Sarah was talking about not having parents, and I asked who would take care of her and Nathan if she didn't have parents. She replied, "sister". And I said, "You don't have a sister." Unspoken was the rest of the sentence, "who can take care of you." And when I said it, I realized that, but I didn't feel guilty or have to "finish" the sentence in my head. I just observed that I said it, what I meant by it, and that I have really come a long way.

Today we are finishing up our move to our new house. Most things are here now; today we have to go pick up the last "junk" and clean (yuck). And a lot of friends came over last night to help. I was telling them that a big reason we are moving here, that I am staying home with the kids, and that our life is changing so much for the better right now is because of Abigail. Her brief life and her death changed my outlook on things, made my priorities much clearer, and has changed the whole fabric of our family. What a legacy!

I don't consciously think of her every day now, and I don't feel sad so often anymore. But she is in every moment of my life, because of the changes we have made because of her life. One other interesting change I have noticed is that I am not overprotective of my other kids but in many ways am being less protective than I was before. I think it's because I realize that life really isn't in my hands anyway, it's in God's, and so I need to trust Him. I need to enjoy each moment I have with the ones I love and not worry about when those moments will end. God has taken care of my family up to this point, and He will continue to do so. What a freeing thought that is! And I don't fear losing them as I used to, because if I do, I know I will survive.

One of the families that came over last night has a little red-headed girl about 6 weeks younger than Abigail. I don't see her that often, and it was particularly joyful to pull out baby dolls from Sarah's boxes for her to play with. She so enjoyed it and surprised me with how advanced she is right now. So of course I imagined what Abigail would be like if she had been healthy. And when I got my big hug from her, it made me smile, not feel sad.

However, birth is still weird for me. Another family at church just had their third child, a little girl. Thankfully that stabbing pain in the chest and sick feeling aren't there anymore. But I find that I am still uncomfortable with the pregnancy / newborn thing and that I just wanted to avoid the baby when she first brought her to church. I don't feel any of that urge to oooh and aaah over the baby or talk about her. I'm just not interested right now. Maybe I'm afraid of the emotion that might be dredged up so I am just trying not to deal with it. But it is certainly better than the reaction I used to have.

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