Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Grief Looks Like

A lovely woman at my church recently lent me a book entitled Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love (at the amazon bookstore here).  It has already been a tremendous blessing.


The book is made up of many small chapters and the reader is encouraged to find the chapters that best suit them that particular day.  As soon as I got home and cracked open the book I found myself gravitating towards two chapters entitled "Just Tell Me the Rules" and "Define 'Normal".  You see, figuring out if my grieving process is normal or appropriate for a Christian has been one of my biggest struggles since losing Evie.  Am I supposed to feel this sad?  Am I supposed to cry this much?  Am I expected to jump right back into life with both feet? 

But this book has given me some clarity.  It has been written by two Christian authors who have each lost loved ones and have studied loss for quite some time.  I feel very confident that their words hold great truth and I have been comforted to learn that everything I am feeling is within normal limits.  

Since it has comforted me so to learn that my feelings are normal, I thought it might be comforting to others who have encountered loss if I described what my grief looks like on a day to day basis.  Maybe it will make you feel "normal" that you are dealing with your loss in a similar way as another person on this planet.  

So, grief looks like ...

Lack of concentration and direction in my daily tasks even with a to-do list (if I can manage to make one).
Me crying almost every day, often multiple times a day.
Me needing quite a bit of time to myself to reflect, think, or pray or just be alone.
Me often wishing that I had no responsibilities and could just run away to a tropical location and spend weeks in solitude.  
A very sensitive heart that is unable to watch or read anything even remotely sad.
Very sensitive feelings that are unable to brush off conflicts or irritations with the same ease as they used to.
Impatience.
Repeatedly checking facebook or my email to see if anyone has sent me an encouraging message or just to escape reality.
Feeling pretty normal for most of the day until something unexpected happens and I don't have the emotional reserve to adapt appropriately.
Feeling a little like the old Sarah for a day or two and then crying uncontrollably for a couple of days.
Being unable to explain what I'm feeling when my husband asks me what is wrong.  I usually tell him "Nothing out of the ordinary".  He knows what that means.
Fatigue.  Like, crazy tiredness.  Not quite as bad as first trimester placenta-growing fatigue, but pretty close.
Needing to keep my schedule more empty.  
Feeling like I don't have a lot to give others.
Being afraid to hold a friend's baby because I'm not sure if I'll be able to without completely melting down.  And a small part of me feels afraid that I would be betraying Evie by holding another baby.
Having very few words.
Lack of appetite.  
Keeping my family and home functioning and having little energy for anything else.
Daydreaming about Evie all the time.  
Occasionally opening up Evie's memory box and clutching her little white outfit to my chest and trying to inhale all the Evie-smell from it (johnson and johnson's lavender baby lotion).
Waking up some mornings and wishing I could just stay in bed because it would be easier than actually "doing" life.


If you've felt any or all of these in the wake of loss please be comforted that you are not alone.  

I also wanted to share two very valuable insights I have acquired from in the above-mentioned book:

1. Remember it takes time to heal - lots of it.  Healing is your primary job just now.  Be gentle with yourself.  You deserve to take whatever amount of time is necessary for you to heal fully.  p.33

2. On page 39 the authors liken an emotional wound to a broken leg.  A person with a broken leg is not expected to walk on it until it has been fully healed.  The same is true for emotional wounds - it takes time for healing and you can't expect yourself to do certain things while your heart is freshly broken. 

So the flurry of emotions and sensitive heart-feelings evoked from the grieving process are normal*.  Take comfort in that.  And also feel at liberty to slow life down for as long as it takes you to heal.  The business will be there when you're ready to return to it.  

Lord Jesus please be with those who need to hear these words right now.  Please comfort them and let them know it's ok to take time to grieve and heal.  And please guide them for the appropriate way to do so in their lives.  Thank you for being the God of all comfort.  In Your Name, Amen.

*However, if you feel like your emotions are out of control and you are perhaps even contemplating suicide please, please seek professional help.  Tell a trusted pastor or friend and they can help point you in the right direction.  That path is a dark one and must not be taken lightly.  

27 comments:

  1. You are so real and honest about your situation and I pray your sharing is used to soothe the souls of other mommas who are grieving. God is using you.

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    1. Thank you so much Rachael - that is my heart's truest prayer.

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  2. I love you Sarah. Praying for you daily -- I could have used a book like that and a post like this one years ago. Thank you for opening up like this. It's helping others more than you know. <3

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    1. Thank you Lauren for your words and your prayers. I think the same for you - God is using you in such big ways, more than you'll ever know this side of Heaven.

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  3. I love that you wrote this post. (And I've been meaning to tell you I love the changes you made to the look of your blog.)

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    1. Thank you Fawne. When I first learned we would lose Evie I was desperately searching for real stories on how people handled such situations. I really didn't find much. So I am trying to be the resource for others that I was looking for. I hope others find it to be helpful!

      And thank you! I really like the new look too. :)

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  4. This is so good to read. I know what you mean about wondering what is normal and if, as a Christian, we shouldn't feel this sad. My list would have many very similar ones as yours!

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    1. Isn't it so comforting to know you're not alone in that respect? Phew!

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  5. As a momma who lost a baby girl when she was 24 days old, I really identify with this post. I'm so sorry for your loss -- and so proud of you for sharing your journey while it is fresh. Many things written about grief are written years after the fact, with the benefit of time and healing -- but it is really helpful for other mommas to hear from you as you are walking through it. May God carry you gently through this time.

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    1. Thank you Dana. The Lord has been so faithful to me and I feel very led to share this journey with others in a very transparent way. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

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    2. Also, I am sorry for your loss. It is so, so hard to lose a child.

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  6. And grief looks like:
    Seeing someone you love, standing on an island of sadness, and wanting to help the person you love, and wanting to be where that person is, but having to content yourself with a nod, a wave, and a kiss blown in that person's direction, because that person just sort of has to be on that island for a while longer.

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    1. Thank you so much Dad. And know that I deeply appreciate every nod, wave kiss, and blog comment. <3

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    2. “Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly, and if left unresolved you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place.”
      ― Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

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  7. I wish I could give you a hug. Seriously, grief is so exhausting. It amazed me to no end how grief can physically drain you. I am so glad you have found that book. I have never read that book but I did struggle with the 'right' way to grieve being a Christian. It is comforting to realize that it is okay to be this sad, this broken. I am sorry you know this pain. Please know that the pain will not always be this raw. I don't know if that helps, but I remember being in that place that you described... especially my husband asking what is wrong and repeating something like "nothing out of the ordinary", and knowing her knew what that meant. So hard.

    Sending so much love to you.

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    1. Thank you so much. It is such a difficult journey, as you know. But I love your story and how the Lord has restored joy into your life after losing Jenna. I look forward to being able to look at my Evie journey from the redemption side one day soon.

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  8. Thank you for sharing. As I read this I felt like they were my words. We didn't know we would lose our precious madilyne. Her heart stopped just moments from her scheduled csection and we were devastated. We have lost 5 children in the lat year and a half and we have struggled but have tried to keep our eyes on Jesus.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    (our loses were 2 miscarriages, 2 from foster/adoption, 1 stillbirth). Prayer helps and so pray for those walking these paths and look for ways to give back to those who are walking this with you.

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    1. dear lynette, I just prayed for you. what a hard road for a weary soul. I experienced a stillbirth as well on dec 2nd, our precious baby Ezra. I cannot imagin my pain compounded with more loss. let us keep our eyes on Him. The author and perfecter of our faith. sending love and prayers from kansas.

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    2. Oh Lynette, I am so sorry for your losses! What a difficult year. May God bless your 2013 richly and redeem your brokenness. <3

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  9. I identify with this so completely. I agree with Fran, grief is so exhausting and I wish you did not have to know this pain. It truly does get easier with time. Life is never the same but each day takes a little bit less effort than the next.

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    1. Thank you so much. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement <3

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  10. Sarah,

    Thank you so much for sharing your sweet heart in this post. I have recentley suffered a similar loss. My baby boy, Ezra, went to be with Jesus on dec 2nd. I was 37 weeks pregnant with him. I had a perfect pregnancy and we were expecting a prefectly healthy boy when I went into labor with him. They mistoke my heartbeat for his when we arrived at the hospital and later discovered that he had none. My placenta had completely torn away from the uterine wall leaving my sweet baby with no oxygen supply. We were in complete shock. We are still in shock. We know He is with the Lord and we have grown so much closer to God as he has mercifully revealed himself to us during this time. And we long for heaven like never before. But here I sit. Two months later. I can't bring myself to fold the laundry I just washed. I can barely get through putting my 20 month old son, levi, down for a nap before I retreat to my room to sob. I still have yet to get all the way through cleaning my kitchen. My sweet husband comes home from work and finishes the job that I could not complete. I leave very important words out of sentences when I write, so I'm sorry if that has happened in this post. The other day someone asked me for my phone number and I could not remember it. MY phone number! my husband ended up having to help me and tell me the first 3 digits before I remembered. I have heard from books that this is all normal, but it helps to hear it from a real person like you. It helps to know someone else is going through the same struggles in going about normal life. This road is so hard and it makes my heart sad that you have to be on it with me. But I am thankful that God would give you the desire to share your heart and help me not feel so alone. I hope your sweet Evie and my precious Ezra are playing together in heaven and loving every minute of it. Praise God that He is holding them!

    Emma
    emma.sweat@gmail.com

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a child is a pain like nothing I've ever felt. But praise the Lord for His goodness and for allowing us to find others and create a community of support. I am saying a prayer for you right now <3

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  11. didn't realize my account my husband created for me from 2009 still said Emma the fair. that's a little embarrassing.

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    1. Haha, no worries! I think it's sweet <3

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