Capture Your Grief–Day 19. Give

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Tonight I’ll be taking a meal to a friend who had a death in her family this week. It’s something new for me  to do. Now, I’ve taken meals to others before,but it’s always been part of a group effort. Someone organized  a meal rotation and I took part.  But this time, I took initiative. I didn’t wait for a sign up sheet before I gave. For me, this is a big step. I don’t like going out on my own. But I have learned that part of the way we can comfort the grieving is to voluntarily provide for their needs. Don’t wait, just do it.

I didn’t realize that by volunteering to help them, I would be opening myself  to pain. It was through recalling our first  week after Cora’s death that I realized this friend needed some help. I remember the sheer exhaustion of grieving. I remember almost burning myself on a pot of boiling water. I remember how helpless I felt to  control anything and how grateful I was for those meals. My thoughts were consumed with what I needed  to do in the next few moments; I couldn’t plan even hours ahead. Nothing seemed to matter now that my baby was gone.

It was painful to watch them at church this morning. Attending church was difficult for me after both my losses. While the promise of heaven gives us hope, hearing references to heaven just  reminded me that I was here and my baby was there. It was hard.  And this morning I was again aware of all the references we casually make to life, death and heaven. But in the words from one of my favorite songs,”Pain’s the path to blessing.” Because of the  pain I feel, I can bless others. My pain does have a purpose. Cora’s legacy lives on.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

 

Capture Your Grief–Day 18. Gratitude

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Grief is really about focusing on what you don’t have. We cry because we no longer have that person we love with us. And  I think it’s normal and healthy to grieve. But God doesn’t want us to stay in the shadow of grief. The object of our grief shouldn’t become our life’s focus. Since “every good and perfect gift is from above,” today I will focus on the gifts God gives me each day. Some are serious, some not so much. Here’s an incomplete list, in random order.

1. My children

2.  My husband

3. Family living in town

4. Staying home

5. Being able to read

6. Listening to music

7. Coffee maker

8.  Internet access

9. Kid DVDs

10. A camera

11. Indoor plumbing

12. An insulated house

13. Hygiene products

14. Libraries

15. City, State and National Parks

16. Radar

17. Hospitals

18. Christian doctors

19. Soft bed

20. BSF

21. Flowers

22. Freedom to go to church

23. Electricity

24. my Bible

25. Medicines

26. Baby dolls, stuffed animals, and watching my children mother them

27. Owning a piano

28. Variety in weather

29. Changing seasons

30. A car

31. Mercies new every morning

Capture Your Grief–Day 15. Community

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Today we’re supposed to talk about how we feel about the community of bereaved parents. Carly Marie asks, “Where would you be without it?” My first thought was, it’s not the shared experience of pregnancy loss that has helped me wade through grief.  It was the Holy Spirit’s ministering through those women who understood. It was the Holy Spirit’s ministering through those who didn’t understand what I was going through. It was the Holy Spirit moving through the prayers of those who didn’t get to hug my neck. It was the community of believers who helped us.

Satan so wants us (or is it just me) to believe that we can’t minister to others if we haven’t experienced what they have. But God can use you if you’re willing. I think of the support from my childless friend, the couple we only see at church once a week, the women who bought us meals, the Facebook messages. Cherished memories of loving support. God wants to use all of us to help each other, period. There are no conditions.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;bearing with one another…. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Col. 3:12-14

Tonight at 7 p.m. in local time zones all around the world, families will be burning a candle in memory of their child. It’s called a Wave of Light and means a continuous light burning for 24 hours in remembrance of pregnancy and infant loss.

I bought a small pink candle and I’ll burn it next to her picture.

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But as I burn it, I won’t just be thinking of Cora. I’ll be thinking of others’ lights, who shone God’s love and grace when we needed it most, but whose lights are still a dim reflection of the Light of the World.

 

Capture Your Grief–Day 14. Dark/Light

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The dark side of grief:

Nobody to hold, at least not the one you’re longing for. And particularly in pregnancy loss, a deep feeling of emptiness. Your body, no longer full of life. Either wishful thinking or a mind numb with grief, but I remember feeling her move inside me for days after the birth. Such a cruel sensation. To be startled into thinking She’s not there. You doubt your sanity. And you cry again. And you cry because your two-year old asks “You sad?” every time you’re still and quiet for a few minutes. Was I that busy and talkative before? I am a sloth now. I can tell I’m moving in slow motion. And I can’t seem to find motivation to do anything besides basic life functions. Nothing to do now. Your current life focus is removed and replaced with nothing. She was snatched and can never be replaced.

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The light side of grief:

Empty hands waiting to receive God’s grace. And it came. And He filled them to overflowing. Filled them with strength. With deeper love for my children, my husband, family, friends I didn’t know I had.  A fuller understanding of what I do possess.

“...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the [m]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” 

Empty hands, acknowledging His ways (which I’ll never understand.) I like to think that God allowed her early death as a way to protect her. He alone knows what the future could have held for her. Since death was permitted, then her earthly life would not have been worth living. Her death probably had nothing to do with me. Life is not about me.  It’s a relief not to be in control. I don’t have to worry about what ifs. God can do anything and if He had a plan for her on this earth, nothing I could have done would have stopped Him. No guilt to hold. Sovereignty removed it.

Dark and light. Hell and Heaven. Here and There.

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” –Charlotte Bronte

Capture Your Grief–Day 13. Season

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This picture speaks to me in many ways about Cora and death. Like the tree is bent, grief can weigh you down. Snow hides the ground from sight, just like the casket hid Cora. But with the rising sun, the snow won’t last. My separation from Cora won’t last either.  I most associate Cora with the changing from winter to spring, and that’s because of the song Every Season by Nichole Nordeman. Just like the grass hidden beneath will emerge again, there is hope for Cora’s resurrection. There is hope for your future resurrection as well.

Here’s the lyrics and link to the song.

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours

And I notice you in children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside

Still I notice you when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under Heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath

And still I notice you when branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, you open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
And what was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green

So it is with you and how you make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be as you are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring