Monday, February 15, 2010

Maturing grief....

Some days I cannot see it, because I'm standing in the midst of it, that my grief is growing and changing, and maturing.

It's still there. Ever present.

But now, instead of a blistering pain, it's a nagging throb that flares up from time to time.

It's no longer the blinding hurt, the aftermath of a severing, but rather it's an arthritic ache.

I'm no longer hysterical and unable to think through it.

Function and thought have returned to me.

As has the ability to process.

I'm still grieving, but I've found may way out of the thick of it, and I have gained some perspective which makes coping with our loss and the subsequent emotions easier. Thank God that time has numbed the pain and cleared my eyes and I am now in a place where I can fully recall and appreciate Everett's life without falling to pieces and having to start all over again.

My son has been dead now for two years, two months, one week and one day. I can't break that time down and tell you what months were the hardest, and when improvement started to happen. I can't tell you when it got easier, or when I started to feel like I was coping better. I can't pin point it for you, or for me. But in May of 2008, I opened my heart to the comfort and love of God, and I felt better. That was a turning point, and perhaps the only one I can give a date to. In May of 2008 I found an outlet for my grief and confusion, I found someone to call out to at any hour of the night, and that was an undeniable aid in my walk through grief.

And sometime between Everett's death and right now, friends of mine lost children of their own. Some through very similar circumstances, and my heart went out to them and my focus shifted to their grief rather then my own, and that too helped mature my grief. I was able to step out of my own situation into someone elses, and in some cases, offer up comfort, and I gained perspective.

Once or twice Elvis and I raised money in honor of Everett. We fixed our hearts and minds on improving the lives and experiences of other parent's and children, and again, stepped outside our own hurts to honor our son. And I believe each and every time we did that, we shifted out of hopeless grief into productive grief, and stepped one more baby step out of the darkness that encompassed us the day our son died.

Of course I believe that God intervened along the way, placing people and events in our paths that would both build on our experience and distract from it. All with his perfect and divine purpose, he gave us obstacles and blessings that would help us process our grief, and other issues that needed our attention, so we could heal and grow.

Meet Xavier Everett B.

My nephew and truly a gift to our family from God. A healing baby. Born on October 15th 2008, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Born in a fury of fear and activity, and a miracle in himself, for he was nearly lost in the process of being born. I believe that Xavier was placed in our lives to soften and sooth our aching hearts, like salve to a wound, and how he did succeed. No baby ever had more perfect timing, and God's timing is always perfect. Xavier's name honors Everett, but his presence honors our entire family, his simple existence is demonstrative our how our family bound together in our collective grief and overcame with our collective love. Xavier is a miracle, and I will love him like my own because he was as much a gift to me as he was to my sister and Ken. I hope I'll make him feel that way when he's older, cherished and loved and a part of much grander plot in life then we're aware of on the day to day.

If you could look through my your computer screen and past mine, and see me now, you'd see me blubbering away as I type and you might wonder if my grief is as healed as I'd like to think it is, but I assure you, these tears are different. I'm pleased to be able to just cry, without the presence of a crippling emotional pain. I can just cry. Just release the feelings without completely overwhelming my system and shutting down entirely. I'm sad, and happy, and grateful and confused all at the same time, but I can process those feelings separately now, and handle them appropriately, a sure sign of my maturity on this path.

One more sign that comforts and assures me.

I'm not angry anymore.

I'm not looking to blame anymore.

I'm not wondering what our lives would look like now if something had been done differently (well, maybe I do wonder this every now and then, but I don't dwell).

I'm not outraged. That sounds weird to say, because a part of me wonders still, shouldn't I be outraged that my baby died?

Should I be raging against the loss of him?

Shouldn't I be rallying all my resources to find out why he wasn't cured and set out on a conquest to make sure that all future babies with similar afflictions are cured?

No. Not that research is bad. Not that supporting cures for heart defects is bad. Not that investigation into the cause of his death is bad, sometimes a little knowledge can really settle and restless heart. What I should not do is rage. What I should not do is feel wronged. What I should not do is feel indignant.

Because I cannot feel rage and insult and indignation and at the same time trust that God's will is perfect. The two are mutually exclusive in my eyes. I cannot be angry about the course of my life and of Everett's life and trust that God knows what he's doing. It's one or the other.

I can't wrap my head around how Everett came to be so sick.

I can't believe my boys had just 6 days together after birth and were permanently separated at just 20 days after birth.

I can't fathom how Everett was born with such a broken heart.

I can't believe there was no treatment that could fix him.

I can't understand how he fought so hard.

I can't comprehend how I had the strength to walk out of that hospital without him on the day he died.

It doesn't make sense to me.

All the knowledge that little human me can gather and absorb won't make a bit of difference. I won't ever understand why God took Everett from us. But God does. He had a plan and it's playing out before us every minute of every day. And it is my goal now to just trust that plan and follow it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says.... 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

In the early days of our loss, when our grief was raw and hot and raging, we believed whole heartily that God had made a grave mistake. He had blundered, most certainly, by taking our baby from us. And some days I believed that God was cruel, or non existent, for what God, who if he existed and was all powerful, would deny frightened parents their miracle? What God who was all good and all loving would let our baby die if it was in his power to fix him?

I had my dark days.

I had my turn in the pits of despair.

I cried my share of tears and then some.

I spent countless nights in physical pain because of my emotional pain.

But now the sun is rising on my grief. Finally. Not to say I won't still feel it. Not to say that one day a tidal wave of hurt and loss won't crash upon my shores and remind me of the old days when I was drowning in it. I feel fairly certain that this will happen. Because time has taught me that grief comes in waves. And time thank God, has taught me to swim and ride those waves. I'll flounder less the next time. Thank God.

God's word has given me something to hold on to when I'm hurting and struggling.

Everett's life was not an accident.

His heart defects were not a mistake.

His death was not in error.

It was all for a purpose.

His purpose.

God knew long before Everett was conceived that his life would be a special but brief mission. God knew that he would have just 20 days with us and in those 20 days he would set into action a domino effect that would last the remainder of our days. God knew that it would take only 20 days for Everett to leave a legacy of love and change and strength that some never achieve in lives that end in old age. He had a special plan for Everett, just as he does for all of us. And Everett's plan, was precise, and it was exacted with care, and completed just as He willed it to be.

Pslam 139:13-16 says this....

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

Every moment of Everett's life was laid out before a single day had passed!

Moments like this one:

And this one:

And this one:

This one too:

And even this one, it was all within his divine will:

Maybe it seems cocky, or deluded, to state that my grief is maturing. Maybe you think I'm mislead when I state that I believe I am more capable now of coping with my loss and my hurt. Maybe you think that I'm only fooling myself. But maybe you think that because you're still in the hardest and most painful part of your own personal walk through grief. Maybe you can't imagine a day where the hurt will be less and you will actually feel comfort. Maybe you can't imagine not feeling angry over the loss of your baby, let alone feeling at peace with it. Maybe you can't picture a time where you can talk openly about your loss and your feelings without crumbling into a million little shards. And if that's where you're at, and you've somehow found your way here to my blog, then I hope that you take some hope away from this post. Hope that one day you'll be in a totally different place and will be able to look back and see how far you've come and how healed you've become.

Thank God for His comfort in the hardest times in life.

Thank God for family and good friends who act like life preservers when we feel like we may drown in grief.

Thank God for bright spots along the way, that show us God is doing good in our lives even when we're going through tough times.

Thank God that emotional wounds heal with time, like physical ones, and they leave scar just the same, that reminds us of our strength and of God's love.

Thank God for Everett and for all the amazing things that his brief little life accomplished. Thank God for the wheels set in motion by our son and his battle. Thank God for the changes to our hearts and souls that would not have been made if it weren't for Everett.



Amanda Anderson Photography said...


I shed so many tears reading this post. I hear you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being able to convey them so well. This post brought me some much needed comfort, especially right now.

Katie said...

Awww Amanda, thank you! And I'm sorry I made you cry ;) But if it was something you needed, and it was good, then that's good too.

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