Sunday, March 14, 2010

One Month

It is overwhelming to think that tomorrow will be one month since our sweet Elyse went to be with Jesus. I still miss her just about every minute of every day, which will probably remain for a while. We got a pack of info from Angel Babies, a ministry in Fresno through Hinds Hospice. There is a page with some insights for friends that I wanted to share. It talks about things I have been feeling, but have been unable to communicate, at least unable to communicate them well. Okay, here is an excerpt:

To our Family & Friends: Our Grief Experience Shared.
We want to share with you some of our feelings and how you can help and support us. We have suffered a tremendous loss, and we need to grieve. Even though this may be uncomfortable for others around us, it's something we MUST do. We won't be over this in a few weeks as most people expect. We will be able to adjust to the loss of our precious child if we are given the time needed to grieve. (Avereage intense grieving is 18-24 months). However, we will not be the same people we were before our loss.

We may need to talk about our baby, how much we loved our child and the details of our experience. Even though we may not have many memories we suffer from broken dreams. During this time we need others to be there and listen to us time and time again. This is the kindest thing a person can do for us. We do not want to forget our baby and we will need to mention her in the future. It would be appreciated if you would remember our baby, especially on difficult days such as anniversary days, birthdays, Christmas, and Mother's and Father's Day.

In our struggles with our grief, we may have difficulties with the following:
* Understanding our many emotions and feeling emotionally balanced.
* Coping with feelings of guilt, anger and jealousy.
* Dealing with normal daily functions due to lack of energy.
* Deciding what to do with our baby's belongings.
* Coping with the individuality of our grief as a family and as a couple.
* Sharing family celebrations.
* Seeing babies that are the same age our child would have been.
* Need to make major decisions such as subsequent pregnancies, moving, job changes, etc.
* Visiting the cemetery and purchasing a tombstone.
* Remembering our baby in special ways that are acceptable.
* Feeling different and subsequently feeling isolated.
* Dealing with physical symptoms that arise due to grieving.

Dealing with these many emotions takes a lot of courage and tedious work. It is worth it so we can have peace of mind and physical well being.
If we sound a little selfish, please understand. Only after we are able to adjust and experience the journey of grief can we reach out and help others. One day we will be able to live life in a fuller manner.
We try not to criticize others. Before our baby died, we didn't understand the full impact this loss had. We want to share this painful experience with you so others can understand our need for support. No one will be able to take our pain away, but perhaps they can be there and listen.

Reading this has been so comforting; it helps to validate some of the feelings and emotions that I have. A couple things in particular have stood out to me, the statement about grieving over broken dreams. That has been such a reality for me, you picture your family, life and future to be a certain way and then in an instant it has all changed. So not only am I missing my sweet little girl, I'm missing what I imagined her life and our life as a family would be. I'm so saddened over her and Pete not being great friends. I'm saddened over future siblings missing out on their older sis. There will always be a part of our family that is missing...

Also, the timeframe of intense grieving, 18-24 months, that seems like a long time. And yet it is hard to imagine this pain and suffering leaving us anytime soon. I think the encouraging side of that is that what we're experiencing is pretty 'normal' so to speak. I know some people expect us to be over this soon, not so much spoken expectations, but silent ones. Well we're not going to be better for a while. We know that God is good, faithful and sovereign and that we are in His hands. We trust Him with our futures, with the pain and ache and know that HE WILL complete a good work in us and through us. There is so much more on my heart and in my mind, but I think this is more than enough for right now.


Sara said...

Thanks for posting this. I hadn't read this when I called to talk today. So many of the things I've been processing in the last week, you mentioned here. I love you sis. We'll talk tomorrow- hugs-Sara

Jen Johnson said...

I agree with Sara, thanks for posting this. Many of these things made complete sense. Jay and I struggle seeing kids Elyse's age too and if we are I can only imagine you are. We love you and will walk the 18-24 months with you or the rest of your life.

Ann-Marie said...

April, you and Cliff are amazing. I can't begin to fathom the pain you are experiencing. Thank you for being so honest, and know that I think about you and pray for you often. Ever since I heard about Elyse, I've vowed never to complain about anything I need to do for my children again. I'm treasuring every moment because we never know how many we'll have. You and Cliff, even through your pain and grieving, are huge inspirations to me.

Kara said...

Thank you for sharing this April. I think and pray for you every day and it is good to have some guidance in this. We still want to spend an evening with you guys soon.

Tamera said...

Hi April,
I was looking at the beautiful photos of Elyse's service and found Cliff's blog, which, in turn, brought me here.
Your family is in our prayers and will continue to be so as you attempt this new life.
Thank you for the window into your hearts.
Serving a Gracious God,
Tamera Shoemaker

The Larson Family said...

April, It was so good to hear from your mommy's heart. Daily I think of you, pray for you and hug my kids a little tighter because of your testimony. God is truly being honored through your transparency and devotion to Him. Praise His name!

Michelene said...

April, I am so sad for you, Cliff and Pete. This all penetrates so deeply and the understanding of grief is so personal. Even though we love God and embrace His promises, we are sad. I would say we were intense for a solid 2 1/2 years, then at times I totally relapse and get angry all over again. It makes me so sad to think about what my girls are missing out on. We moved this summer (4 1/2 years later) and it was horrible for me. I saw a future somewhere else for our family that is together, but moving felt like I was leaving Caleb. His closet was the same as when he died. The girls have circulated through his room, Ellie sleeps in his crib. All photos are up. Those will NOT come down. Ellie has been wearing his coat this winter and says, "This is My Caleb's." Hard to hear, absolutely. I want my little girls to know him. Savannah, Scott and I talk about him all the time.
Your hope in heaven is what will drive you and prayer from others will carry you. Worship is vulnerable and tough. Let's connect. Want to bring Pete over when you are down? I'll message you directly. Loving you Miss April.

Sara and Brad Auch said...

Thank you for your comment earlier, I just read your latest blog entry and everything you have been writing is exaclty how we feel, it is comforting to know there is someone else out there who understands, because all we have been hearing for two weeks is, "i cant begin to understand how you feel". know that we will be praying for you and your family. Love, Sara

Jessie said...

April, I'm so thankful that you've taken the time and energy to share these thoughts, feelings, aches and hopes! And thank you, also, to the ladies who have shared their own journeys of grief in the comments. Grieving such a devastating loss is definitely so personal, but hearing some of the "nitty-gritty," day-in and day-out struggles of your journey... your transparency has so many effects--on you and on us--all to the glory of God. Whether your "intense" grieving takes months or years, know that each of us are right here (via this blog or FB, if not in person) wanting to hear those memories, share in those pains, laugh with you as you remember the good times, mourn the loss of your dreams, and lift you up in prayer. We love you, dear, sweet friend.