Thursday, January 28, 2010

Survival

This morning as I fed Hope her breakfast, I chatted with a friend who was looking for words to say to a couple who has just lost their sweet baby. I have been there, in that place, that deep dark place, TWICE, and yet I still find myself at a loss for words when it comes to this. Perhaps it is because there just are NO words. NONE. Not one single word changes anything. When you were hoping for a bassinet and you get a tiny casket or urn, there are no words that make that better. It sucks. Plain. Simple. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. It is just not the natural order of things.

It breaks my heart each time I hear of another family, so cruelly being inducted into this "club". I am all too aware of all of the platitudes and Bible verses that are tossed around, and though they are all said with good intentions, they do nothing to help and are likely to just irritate an already emotionally spent couple. I, myself, try so hard to avoid such phrases, and yet sometimes, like word vomit, they spill out despite my clenched lips. We all want to have the words to help someone who is hurting so deeply.

As I have spent time in prayer this morning for this couple, and for my friend who will perform the memorial service for this sweet child, I am taken back to the day Isaac was born. The world just didn't make sense. I had been on the fence about God prior to this and was sure that if this unimaginable pain was coming from Him, I wanted nothing to do with a God like that. I remember lying in that hospital bed on that rainy July day, filled with anger and consumed with sadness. The days that followed were a fog for me. I had reached my melting point and had just checked out. I went through the motions all the while the anger was eating away at me. Howard was the only one with a window to the rage I felt. I hid it as well as I could but took it out on the one I loved the most.

I carried that guilt and anger for far too long. I held onto it as if it were the last thing I had to grasp after losing so much. I was confronted with the idea that a very large percentage of marriages will crack under the kind of tragedy we faced and Howard and I made a pact to survive. Nothing more, nothing less. Just survival. That was it. It wasn't the fairy tale we had hoped for, but our minds could not think far enough ahead to imagine joy again and yet we did not want to have to endure anymore pain so we decided from that day forward we would survive together. That meant him understanding my incessant need to talk about Isaac constantly even to strangers and my understanding his need not to. We dealt with things differently, I worked through my anger and he held on tight. We picked up the slack of the other when the grief had consumed one of us and we retreated to bed. It was a team effort for sure.

In the days and weeks following the death of Isaac, we experienced God's love, in a tangible way. Many people we barely knew acted as the hands and feet of Jesus and poured their love out upon us and my bitter heart began to soften. It is a long process and one that is different for everyone, but as I sit here today, praying for this couple, I am reminded of our decision to survive. For now that is all you can do and really it is enough. God will take care of the rest.

It is crazy to look back to those days where my grief was so thick I could barely get out of bed. They seem like forever ago and yet they seem like just yesterday. I have come a long way from that place. I am far from "all better" but I am changed. I have found joy, and yet I still feel the sorrow, I am a better mom, wife, daughter and woman of God. I still miss my boys each and every day, but I am with God's grace, able to each day put one foot in front of the other and keep on keepin' on, but back then, back on that rainy July day, it never seemed possible. It felt like that anger, bitterness and sorrow had taken up residency and there was no room for anything else EVER. I have since learned that letting go of the anger and bitterness doesn't mean forgetting or letting go of my boys, it has allowed me to fully embrace the gift of each of my children and praise God with every breath.

I would be honored today if you would pray with me about how God would have me reach out to this hurting family. I have not walked their personal journey but do know the agony of losing a child (twice). My heart breaks for them and I pray God would use me however He sees fit. I want them to feel the comfort that God had so graciously extended to us in our times of great need. I want them to survive.

and in the words of Gloria Gaynor...." I will SURVIVE!" (LAME-O but I could not resist)



18 comments:

Laurie in Ca. said...

Kristy, after our chat this morning and now reading this post, please prayerfully consider printing it out for this couple to read at a later time in their journey they have just begun. I feel it came straight from above for them. It says what you are at a loss to do for them. Hugs to you and I am praying for all. I love you.

Love and Hugs, Laurie

Mommato2miracles said...

I will be joining you in prayer. Lord may your hands of strenght comfort, may your heart of love heal, may your grace, and hope fill them. May they rest in You as they walk through this terrible loss. May they be surrounded by your people, and may they be carried in their times of weakness.
In Your Name I pray...

Heather said...

So well said.

* said...

Praying for that family. My sister just lost a baby last Spring. No words do fit..

Trisha Larson said...

I too know what it feels like however most people ran AWAY from me. We needed so much support and love but people were too afraid to "go there" for whatever reason. I hope and pray that everyone from far and wide will RUN TO this family and help them with their grief. They don't have to say the right thing (there really isn't a right thing) but they just have to BE THERE in tangible ways. Show them that they are loved in every way imaginable so that they don't ever have to wonder if anyone cares. This is exactly what prompted me to start my blog. I have a whole list of things that were helpful to us. I wanted people to know how to help someone so that they aren't alone in that dark pit.

Hugs,
Trisha

Trennia said...

i agree...i'm praying

mrsrubly said...

continued prayers for ya'll and the family that is talked about in your post!

The Pittsburgh Hites said...

Praying for this family Kristy. I understand this dilemma, I face it all too often. Thank you for reminding me that there is nothing I can really say, as I always wonder. I always talk with God on the way home from meeting these families, and just ask him to keep them in his hands.
You know you're always in my thoughts. Thinking of you over the coming weeks. Hug those babies for me.

Christinie said...

In our circle,
we noticed that the temptation can exist
for Christians to sugarcoat everything
and act like bad things are really good things in disguise.
"Gifts come in all kinds of packages," someone said to me recently
in reference to the painful things we face in life.
I don't think I will ever reach a place
where I could consider [my son] Seth's death a "gift"
any more than I consider rape or child abductions,
terrorist attacks, murder, genocide, or famine "gifts."
While it is true that the strength or the insight we gain from God
to get through these times could be considered as gifts,
the event itself is not,
and I believe that God grieves just as much as we do.
Why can't we just admit that painful things are painful?
Why can't we just sit down with people
and cry along with them
as we admit that what happened is cause for tears?
We don't need people to rush in
and frantically try to wrap it all up pretty with a bow,
like it is something we should savor.
In time, we may see goodness that seeped out of badness,
but we should leave it to God to show us that,
when our eyes are not so full of tears
and we can see more clearly.






-- Elizabeth A. Price, in "Helping the Bereaved: A Few Basic Rules"

**someone gave me this after I lost my third child........my minister said I'm sorry it sucks its more awful than I have words for. Everyone else said the awful things and awful verses..praying for you.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Kristy,

This is a wonderful post! Having walked this path myself, twice, I could relate to much of what you said. I have a ministry today for families who have lost a baby...and in the moment of someone's raw grief, I too struggle with what to say. Truthfully, there are NO words...and all of my attempts just seem worthless in the face of their pain.


Sometimes...I too make a lame attempt and spout forth my words, knowing they will not/can not help. We just want to do something, you know. Perhaps that's why so many people say the wrong thing.

Thank you for what you shared about marriage, as well. Having walked through loss twice and then struggling through a subsequent pregnancy, our marriage felt the strain. But, we also made the vow to endure...to survive. And sometimes that was really hard. We respected each other's need to grieve differently. He respected my need to talk about our babies and our experience...and I respected his need not to. I encourage others who come to me with marriage concerns to find a way to survive and respect each other's need to grieve differently as well. I suppose saying it is much easier than walking it. As a matter of fact, I know that to be true. And, I know you know that as well.

God does increase and restore our joy. Although, we are forever changed, as you well know. But, in that moment of thick, foggy, gut-wrenching, heart-ripping, heavy grief...none of that matters. All we can see in that moment is our pain. And maybe, like Job's friends (before they started talking and messed it all up) the best thing to do is just to sit with those who have grieving hearts. Weeping with those who weep, so to speak...just being there...and letting them "just be". I think those were the people who comforted me the most.

Praying for you...

Kenzie said...

No words girl... no words! Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your journey- one that's not often talked about. I love you friend and will lift up this family!

stephanie said...

I think your post is the answer to your prayer. As your friend said in the first comment. I think you should consider printing it out for them.

Kelly L said...

I will pray for this family and their loss - I too have lost a child and yes, you are right the good intention words were very irritating - the friends that did not know what to say - hid... that hurt too. I think the best words I got were - a friend came over gave me a hug and a kiss and just sat there with me.. holding my hand when I cried... the only words she really said was I'm so sorry and I love you... that was what I needed..
Thank you for your post.
Love to you.
Kelly

Vanessa said...

for me it helped to just have some one who knew my pain just be there. Maybe that's all they need. But like another lady on here said, being alone at this time is even more horrific.
And me and my husband have DEFINITELY felt the strin and we just keep telling wach other it's just a phase of pain, not b/c we don't love each other.

Mary said...

I would definitely pray. I find so much of what you say to be similar to my journey. Somedays all God wants of us it to walk, keep moving, one foot in front of the other. And eventually, we wind up in an entirely different place. Walk. Walk.

Holly said...

You're right, there are no words for something like this. I think a hug says it all.

Rebekah said...

I never seem to have the words either.

You're right about the decision to survive- I remember thinking of all the bitter people that had crossed my path and I made a very conscious effort to not become that way... and yet, now I understand more of the pain they've carried that has made them that way.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Hey, Kristy...we're giving away a free ticket to the upcoming Women of Faith Conference on my blog if you're interested! =)