Walking With You

Walking With You--The Sea of Grief

I don't even know where to begin this post. My grief started the day we found out that we might not get to keep her, two weeks before Raelyn went home. I first grieved for the loss of the dreams. I didn't know whether the nursery would be pink or blue. I didn't know whether I would be trick-or-treating with a superhero or a princess. I didn't know whether we would be buying a gown or renting a tux for senior prom. I am a planner--any interaction I have has been meticulously planned out in my head (complete with expected responses) before it comes out of my mouth. To find out in the same breath that you are having a daughter AND that she will not live is absolutely horrifying. This is not what I had planned. Those first days were about the intangibles. It wasn't that she wasn't real to me--I was the only one she was real to--but I had never felt a kick or real movement before. I had talked to her but I was just talking to my belly. It took a few days for it all to hit me and it wasn't until she was born that I was truly consumed.

I naively thought that since I knew that she would be going to Heaven to live happy and healed that it wouldn't hurt so badly. I thought that since I knew she was going to be gone, the actual death wouldn't affect me that much. I thought I had already cried all my tears. It was like watching an instructional video of a surgery and subsequent recovery. All of the action, all of the suspense, all of the blood, all of the technicalities and skill, all of the pain, all of the rehab, and then finally a few weeks later the guy on the table is walking and smiling again. There were very clear definitions of what I was going to experience, what I was going to do, and how long it was all going to take. However, when I got in there to perform my first surgery nothing happened like that video told me it would. Turns out I was not the surgeon, I was the guy on the table and I'm pretty sure the surgeon used a rusty hacksaw instead of a scalpel.

I found out very quickly after I got home from the hospital that I couldn't stay at home with my own thoughts bouncing around in my head. I went back to work two days after I was discharged and then I considered myself lucky that my desk faces a wall because I could sit there and cry and no one would know. A few people expressed sympathy, a few said nothing, and a few gave me harsh looks. (I work in the pharmacy in the same hospital where I delivered Raelyn and every time I received medication, the people in my department knew about it.) It was there at work that I discovered this world, that I was not alone in this grief. One day the following week, I looked up and realized that life had moved on without me and there was no way I was ever going to catch up. We had no memorial service because at the time, we thought that it would only cause more pain and prolong the process of grief. Little did we know...

I felt forsaken by God and then slowly I began to belive that it was my fault that I was forsaken. There are so many things that I have done and not done, said and not said and I felt like I had hit my quota of forgiveness. I had used it all up. I struggled with guilt and regrets on top of the grief. There were a few people in my life who cried with me--my husband, someone who has been there, someone who has no children by choice but who has the tenderest heart--but there were so many others who I thought would be there for me but were conspicuously absent. Pillars of leadership in my church who had lead public battles through infertility and miscarriage said nothing to me--not even a word of sympathy. My husband and I were very involved in the Praise and Worship team and our worship pastor told us during that first week, "Never let the congregation see you broken." Looking back, I realize that I should have just stepped down, but I came and I was there every service trying in vain to lead people to worship the God that I felt had left me in the pit. I cried through every service--sometimes with the tears rolling down my face, sometimes locked away in the depths of my soul--but I cried, and no one said a word.

This only added to my grief and confusion because now not only was I living (barely) through the loss of my only child and the destruction of the dreams I had for our future, but I was also trying to deal with my own salvation and faith with absolutely no support from the ones who should have been lifting me up. I know now that there was a bigger issue (an abuse of trust) behind the silence and I have forgiven those to whom I felt so much anger, but I don't think I can face them again without asking why. I cannot fathom how anyone who has walked this road can remain silent when another couple, one so close that they can touch them, is thrown into this valley.

For a very long time, I struggled alone under the weight of anger and bitterness and the sheer exhaustion of pretending that I was okay. I am only now beginning to release some of it and it surprises people when I mention Raelyn or my pregnancy. I am starting to bring her out of the deep place in my heart where I had hidden her away for safekeeping and integrate her back into my everyday life. The God of Grace still waits for me as I claw my way back to the surface and I have learned that He can handle my anger. He can handle any bitterness I can fling at Him. He gave me the ability to experience a full range of emotions and for me to fully trust in Him, I have to believe that He can handle the worst of them along with the best. I have to believe that He would rather have me honest than not at all.

Psalm 22
A psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.


Jennifer Ross said...

It must have been so hard to find out that you were having a little girl and that she would not make it. I can't believe that you had harsh comments out of some people. How could they do such a thing?! I'm so sorry.

Much Love,

Henninger Family said...

I am so happy you are talking about her to people more often - I believe it helps to make our children more real. It's sad to say, but I am sure before I experience this I would have been like the rest of the world; just ignoring. Amazing how in one split second your opinion is drastically changed forever. I am so thankful for you and for being in this group - it has truly helped me in grieving.

Love, Kimberly

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Dana...I am so sorry that you were treated this way. There are so many hurts as I look back at the way some people treated us, as well. I am struggling not to feel anger at the words from you worship pastor. My husband and I are part of praise and worship at our church as well. I cannot imagine someone saying that. Our worship leader walked through cancer and shared about his journey a couple times, tearing up. You know we are not to be held up as perfect...what does that speak to people? How does that glorify our God or show the depth of His love and mercy? Christians who send the message that we are supposed to always have it together and show no weakness are really missing it, you know? I felt that too at times and God showed me that isn't who He is or something He lays on us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. It's not about how well we can perform. It's about resting in the arms of the One who carries us through.

Sorry to get on my soap box, but I just struggle with those wrong attitudes that say we should keep all of our feelings and struggles bottled up. There is beauty in watching the Lord work. We should be sharing one another's burdens and taking each other to the Lord in prayer...reaching out in love and support. Not ignoring one who is broken hearted among us.

Thank you for sharing this...I think that unfortunately you are not alone in experiencing this. Sometimes the very people who should be willing to come along side of us in the valley turn their backs.

Continuing to pray for both of you...for His comfort and sufficient grace as He wraps His loving arms around you...

I can't remember if I've already offered or sent you a Dreams of You Memory Book (I've been talking to a lot of moms lately on blogs and email.) If I have, just disregard this...but if I haven't and you would like one, please email me: sufficientgraceministries@gmail.com. When you were talking about the dreams you had and lost for Raelyn, it reminded me of my Dreams of You Poem that's in the memory book.

Love to you,

Holly said...

It's through trials like this we find out who really has our backs-who is willing to suffer along with us. It can be very eye-opening. The people who should have been there supporting you weren't, and for that I am sorry. Talking about Raelyn is good.

Franchesca Cox said...

I am sorry the people that should have offered support were not there. I am glad that God has brought you farther along and you are getting to know what He can handle. I like how you said that. He really can. I am also glad that you are chosing to talk about your daughter. You can speak for her since she can't! =)