Friday, February 6, 2015

Private Grief

It's strange how I used to feel like it was desperately important to publicly grieve Lilly. I felt it was my responsibility to help other grieving parents by sharing my own experience. Maybe because I myself latched onto every blog, book and group about child loss I could. I am a person of action and I couldn't stand to be still and feel the pain.

We are days away from Lilly's 3rd birthday and I can barely find the willpower to plan anything. I told Casey I just want to keep her to myself. Like sharing her life celebration would require losing bits of her.

Or maybe I'm scared no one will come. That it's been long enough that she's starting to be forgotten.

When Lilly's little sister, Eliana Grace, was born last April, life took on new meaning again. She has filled me with a joy I didn't know I could feel anymore. Once the paralyzing fear of losing her too was over and I had a beautiful healthy baby girl in my arms, an unearthly peace filled my soul that could only be from the Father.

In the business of caring for a new baby, I have learned to put my grief aside and allow life to move forward. But since the new year, I have slowly plummeted into a deep depression reminiscent of those early days.

My love for the child I did not get to watch grow into the beautiful girl I know she is, is equal to that of her big brother and little sister. It's just so hard to bear such joy and sorrow in one heart.

Oh God how I miss her.......

I miss the smile I never saw... the voice I never heard... the arms that never wrapped around my neck... every missed goodnight kiss....

The inability to nurture the motherly urge to hold her tight and make sure she knows she is safe and loved leaves me with the sense that I have constantly forgotten something....

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
I don't know if it makes sense but these words have given me Hope. They used to frustrate me because I couldn't see past my feelings of betrayal. This week, however, I have come back to it with a sense of promise from God. That though I must go through this suffering, He will bring me back to a place of peace and joy....a place of innocent trust and gladness in the Lord.

Maybe then I will see His purposes more clearly...even if I have to wait for my own journey Home.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pregnant and Grieving

It has been a while since I blogged. Every time I try I just can't seem to get the words to come out right.

Of course I knew that being pregnant after losing an infant would be beyond hard, but like most things in life, you just have to experience it to understand. 

I am terrified. I am over-joyed. I am at peace. I am a mess. 

It feels like I am anxiously holding my breathe. Waiting to see if I might actually get to bring her home.

When I was about 14 weeks, they had trouble finding the heart beat. I was in every way FREAKING OUT! I was instantly crying and couldn't even talk for a while. I think I scared that poor nurse. She tried for 15 minutes with no luck. The 4 hours we had to wait for the ultrasound was absolute torture. 

The ultrasound showed a healthy baby and a steady heartbeat or this would be a very different post. I let out the breath I felt like I'd been holding for hours and thanked God for that little flutter on the screen.

But those hours of waiting were not so thankful. I felt like I went through every question of faith I have gone through with the Lord over the past 20 months. One minute I was mad and screaming (in my head anyways) asking how He could do this to me after taking Lilly and my prayers over this child, then the next I was repentant and thanking God for even blessing me with this child in the first place.

People tell me to just be prayerful.

....You mean like I was with Lilly? You mean pray everyday that God protects my baby, get prayer at church for a smooth delivery and always end by saying but above all else just let her be healthy?

Yeah I did that. She died. 


Yes I still pray. I know if I didn't and something happened I would still blame myself as irrational as it may sound. 

And I HATE when people say "oh let's have a girl this time to go with that little boy of yours". ......

I already have a little girl. This baby IS NOT a replacement. But thanks for completely ignoring Lilly and ripping a fresh new hole in my chest. 

(Sorry. Pregnant. Emotional Irrational and just a touch of Crazy)

I'm so scared. What if I make a wrong decision? Use the wrong doctor? Go to the the wrong hospital?

What if this baby dies too? 

Breathe in breathe out, repeat

I know... there is nothing I could do anyway. As in all things in life, God is in control. He holds tomorrow. He created this child and knows her destiny. Who am I to worry when all things are in His hands. 

But I do worry. Every breath is full of fear and doubt and.... prayer.... and prayer gives me Hope.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

When I Lost You

My tears run dry but my heart still weeps.

I am exhausted but I cannot sleep. 

I can’t taste food, still my hunger grew.

I am alive, though I died when I lost you.

I find few answers when I try to read.  

I have bound up the wounds, they continue to bleed.

I pray for peace but I feel consumed.

I am alive, though I died when I lost you.

I search for memories, so faded now.

I keep on breathing, though I’m not sure how.

I long to be with you, but won't leave your brother too.

I am alive, though I died when I lost you. 

I see my reflection but don't recognize a thing.

I can feel her heart song but will never hear her sing.

I want to kiss rosy cheeks but mourn the lips turned blue. 

I am alive, though I died when I lost you.

I have a lamp for my feet but I cannot find the way. 

I think I know He loves me but still I feel betrayed.

I struggle to believe, but will cling to Hope, it’s true

I am alive, though I died when I lost you..

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Ugly Parts

I have made it my job to stay as busy as possible. I am trying to forget the pain. But the truth is, it is always there. I cannot escape it and I know that healing cannot come until I walk through it. 

Why am I trying so hard to be "normal" again anyway? It's just a guise. 

This plastic smile isn't for me, it's for you. For my son who hates to see me cry, for my husband who is desperately trying to move on same as me, for those who can't handle the pain and would rather pretend time can heal and...well, I guess it is for me too. Sometimes it's just easier than showing the truth. 

No one wants to hear the ugly parts. 

No one wants to know that my hair literally lost its curl after Lilly died or that the little stuffed bear I sleep with was the only thing in my arms when I left the hospital. 

No one wants to hear that I live almost every day in sheer terror of something horrible happening to Isaac or that I still play the events of that week in February over and over again in my head till I am physically ill with guilt and regret. 

Not many can handle the knowledge that every single breath without her is more painful than anything I've ever felt before. That death is a constant companion lurking in every thought and fear. That behind every smile is a sacrifice, a betrayal to my soul. 

It sounds over the top I know, but it's real. 

A post by Rachel Lewis in Still Standing Magazine explains it so well. 
"I know death has changed me when a friend announces a pregnancy and instead of simple joy, my first thought is, "I hope the baby doesn't die." (But of course, I never say that.) 
I know death has changed me when I live with an ache in my heart that sometimes can be ignored, but never goes away for good.  
I know death has changed me when prayer is war. How do you love and praise Someone whom you feel so deeply betrayed you? Or, perhaps worse, seems to have forgotten about you? 
I know death has changed me when I hold my daughter's hand that much tighter while we walk the neighborhood, because I just know something will happen if I loosen my grip. 
I know death has changed me when every time I say "good-bye" to someone, I have a nagging feeling that this "good-bye" might be our last."

I have been to all the conferences. I have read every book. I have prayed till I was empty....

And that's exactly how I feel. Empty. Hollow. 

When they ask how I'm doing I secretly list the things I could say, and usually settle on OK. I don't say the normal "I'm good" because I am not. Besides I'm a terrible liar. One look in my eyes and people can usually know exactly what I'm thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I know how blessed I am. I have food, shelter and a sense of safety that most of the world can only dream about. 

And of course there is Isaac, a constant ray of light and hope in a black world.

So what is wrong with me? Why do I struggle to find comfort in scripture. How am I having so much trouble seeing the bigger picture and accepting "God's Will"? 

I am so thankful for the daily inspirations from Lilly's site. They keep me going. Keep me reading and therefore have kept me focused on Christ. Even when I have problems reading them myself.

I'm not saying it's not OK to question God. In fact I think it is necessary in understanding why we believe what we do. 

My problem is that I know that I believe He is real-the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the whole bit-but I don't always understand why....

I mean I feel it, deep in my soul. God, or whatever you choose to call it, is real. Something is in control of this crazy universe and it definitely isn't us. 

I have witnessed His miracles and felt His presence and even dreamed dreams that tell me He is there, but most days I still just cannot wrap my mind and heart around His love for me when He could listen to me beg for her life and say no. 

I've heard it said that God brings us to the end of ourselves so that we have no choice but to lean on Him. Doesn't anyone else find that cruel? Am I alone in my blasphemy? 

I could never do that to my own child. 

It's easier to think that He just wasn't listening. 

I'm sorry if this offends you. I have no choice but to be brutally honest with my thoughts. How else can we heal if we ignore our questions and let them fester deep in our souls for fear of being wrong, or worse, being right. 

God is great, I don't think He is offended by my questions. If He is who He says, He wants me to lay it all out at His feet. I am not naive enough to come to the throne room led by hatred and spite, but I am full of questions I am literally dying to know the answers to...

My Prayer: Oh God! Be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Let me find you!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Compassion Runs Deep

I never thought I would be able to smile and laugh on Lilly's birthday. It seemed so strange to me. Sometimes I still know what it is to feel as if I will never be able to smile again, and yet there I was, enjoying company of good friends, even on her "Heaven Day".

Some will say it is a testament to our strength and heroic courage in handling our grief. I say it is the grace of God with compassion and support from others. When someone genuinely shares our tears, it is like they have stepped into our world of hurt and somehow their strength helps to carry the immense weight of it all.

A week before Lilly's birthday, I was pleasantly surprised by a billing girl in the dentist office. We have had some insurance problems due to policies being wrongfully canceled after Lilly died. Instead of canceling her insurance they canceled all of our plans...

I had to explain that my daughter had died a year ago and why our insurance company still seems to get confused, and then there I was, in the middle of a dentist office with a stranger hugging me and asking to hear my story. I gave her the short version, and she shared about her niece, Mya, whose heart stopped beating just a few days before she was due.

As I looked into this strangers teary eyes, full of compassion and genuine interest, I thought, "she must know my Lord." By the time we said goodbye she had said Lilly's name more than most people I know have in a year. It was heartening that she did not run away or look at me as if she might be able to catch my pain like a disease.

Moments like that begin to restore my faith in humanity and remind me of the things Lilly has taught me. However, like most highs, I should have known a trench was waiting just ahead.

On the way home from this very encounter, I was pulled over in a speed trap, going 45 in a 35. Right in front of the cemetery. The cop was abrupt and rude as I silently handed him my information, and I cursed my absent mind as he went back to his car to write my ticket.

While I waited, a funeral procession went by. Being alone with my thoughts on the best of days can be dangerous, and here I was sitting so close to her little body, reliving her own funeral. Not the best situation for a bereaved mother with an anxiety problem. I took some deep breaths and tried desperately to hold it together just long enough to get my stupid ticket and get home so I could break down there.

When I finally calmed down, probably hours later, to tell Casey what happened, he called it the perfect storm of events. Because it did not stop with the ticket and the funeral procession directly across from the cemetery where my daughter lies. He told me that the court date for the ticket was on February 19th, of all the days in this wretched was her birthday.

I fell completely apart.

I'm sure he thought I was trying to get out of a ticket, but what an actress I would have to be to pull off the crazy, wild sobs rolling from the depths of that hurt. I tried to put up my hand to stop his rambling, I couldn't make out any of it anyway, and I explained; "please sir, I just need a minute, my daughter died last year and that happens to be her birthday". He mumbled something like "sorry about that loss", and continued to spew his superfluous information in a tone soaked with cold indifference.

I don't know if it was the drastic digression in compassion between this encounter and the one I had just had moments ago at the dentist office, or if it was the break of trust in a figure that is supposed to be on my side; but as he tossed my ticket in my passenger window and walked away, leaving me a crumpled mess, I grew hysterical to the point that I knew I could not drive.

How I dialed the phone and communicated my location to Casey, I'm really not sure. I know he couldn't make out anything I said for at least 15 minutes.

The emotional roller coaster between Joy and Sorrow exhausted me. It does most days actually, this just happened to be more than I could physically/emotionally handle. I couldn't stop shaking. The only thing that stifled my wild sobs was my fear of scaring Isaac.

I wish I could say this was a one time thing. But the truth is, it happens more often than you want to know. Less now that I am taking medication, but really that just prolongs the time between episodes.

This separation of parent and child....there is something so unnatural about it, something so wrong it's on the verge of evil. It is like daily torture. Dying little by little, every moment she can't be with me.

Children aren't supposed to die. We are supposed to leave them once we are confident they are comfortable and safe to be left on their own in the world.

I don't have any deep theological wisdom filled thoughts to share...just my daily struggle to keep want to keep breathing...without her....

My initial reason for sharing this story was to move others toward compassion rather than judgement or preoccupation with self. You never know what the person behind you at the checkout has been through. Who knows if the woman you complain to about your children is secretly hurting because she can't have her own.

Maybe we should stop and think a little more before we judge. Compassion can go a very long way into the heart of the hurting. But so can negligence and scorn.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Celebration of Life and Hope

Last week we remembered what would have been Lilly's 1st birthday and then her "Heaven Day".

We went to the cemetery and covered her cold bed with rose petals. It was frigid and snowing on her birthday. I hate the thought of her in that icy ground. It's irrational, but I have often told Casey how much I regret not covering her with a blanket before they closed my daughter away from me in that tiny casket.

I was touched by those who came out in this cold to be with us and send balloons to the heavens in honor of miss Lillian Hope. We don't deserve the measure of grace and kindness others have showered on us even now, a year since she rocked our world.

After each balloon release (we did a small one on her birthday as it was freezing, and held the big event on her Heaven Day which was warm and sunny) we invited everyone to a reception. I made Lilly a cake, as I will do with all my children's birthdays, and fussed over a clean house like I haven't for months.

As I was dusting parts of the house that hadn't been touched for more than a year, I felt like it was more than just preparing for company. It felt like, emotionally we were clearing the dusty corners of our hearts, picking ourselves up, brushing ourselves off and staggering forward into our new world.

On Saturday I read from 2 Samuel 12:19-23. As I was looking up the scriptures I knew I wanted to read on the way to the cemetery, it hit me hard to realize the significance of the numerical location. Lilly lived and died 2/19-23/12...
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
I explained that we were moving on, but that Lilly is and forever will be a part of our family. She will never be forgotten or overlooked. We move on because we have to, and by the grace of God and the love and support of others, we feel as if we can begin to stumble out of the blackness and into the shadow.

The fact that I will never see her again in this lifetime has been very difficult for me to grasp. If I could bring her back to me, I would. However, like King David, instead we must hold tight to the Hope of Heaven, everyday.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Before bedtime prayers that Tuesday, Isaac asked me if I was sad. He always knows when I'm feeling particularly down, whether I express it outwardly or not. I said, "Yes I'm sad because I wish Sissy could be with us, but I am so happy to have you." This is a conversation we have fairly often and he usually gives me a hug or kiss and goes on playing. At prayer time we ask him if there is anything he wants to tell Jesus. That night he said simply, "yeah I say Jesus make Momma happy". 

My sweet, sweet boy! What would I do without Isaac? I am baffled by mothers who lose their first child and find the strength to move on. Most days, Isaac is my only true reason to go on living. He is my gift. Certainly, God has blessed his name: Isaac-Laughter or "He will laugh" and John-God is gracious.

**In honor of our precious Lilly's memory, we have launched a website - Please visit the Give Hope page and/or pass the site along to other grieving hearts that may find it useful.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I recently posted a status to my Facebook page that read "Sometimes the answer to the crap God puts in your life isn't to look for the positive or find ways to ignore or get past it....sometimes you just need to go through it with as much grace as you can muster and see what it is God wants to do with the broken pieces...."

An acquaintance responded with a flat "God does not put crap in your life". Initially I wanted to drag her through the bible and point out all the times God did indeed put what I have so eloquently deemed as "crap" in people's lives, but then I took a breath and thought, "I'll just blog it out."

So the question is: Does God put crap in your life?

Well...I would say watching my daughter die in my arms is a big fat load of crap.

To say that God had no hand in it, the devil did it, or bad things just happen, diminishes God to something too small to be worth calling "Almighty".

We cannot understand it all and we cannot hold all the answers or we would be nothing short of gods ourselves. Still, I struggle to accept that God could allow such pain in those He loves.

In the book of Ruth, Naomi lost her husband and both of her sons. When she returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, they called her by name and this is what she said.
 “Don’t call me Naomi,[a]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[b] because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:20-21)
  1. Naomi means pleasant.
  2. Mara means bitter.
I cannot ignore that God Himself authorized Lilly's death. I cannot understand why He could not have found another way to accomplish the good that has come from it.

I did not lose a job. I don't need healing. I can't even find joy in the life of my loved one, for it was stolen from her before it began.

The answer is not on its way. I cannot wait for the Lord to turn my situation around for my good. I know He can, and has, used Lilly's story for good, but there is nothing I can say I wouldn't trade to have her back in my arms.

I have learned joy in this new life, but it will always be tainted by sorrow. My true joy waits in the unknown of eternity.

So, I push on and continue to pursue God and look for some sort of peace.

It is a a battle I face everyday. I am drowning in this bitterness and I must fight to keep my head above water.

There are times when I think myself justified in a grumpy attitude and quick flashes of anger. After all, how dare God allow neglectful and abusive people to keep their children and take my baby girl when I am a loving, responsible parent?

I know sometimes I sport a bad attitude. The status that started this whole thing was composed out of bitterness toward someone who has not handled our situation very well. They often dart away when they see us coming to avoid a possible awkward conversation, they seem to always be looking for a change of subject or something "happy" to talk about, and have an obvious air of "aww you poor thing...I'm so sorry this thing happened to you but I'm really kind of over it, isn't it about time you found peace and moved on?"

Don't worry, I'm not always this crude.

Praying continually, perfectly candid and honest with the Lord, I search for Him day by day. Even in the midst of my anger and frustration at Him, at the world, at death itself, He finds a way to calm me and meet me where I am.

My heart is torn. I am humbled by the grace of my Loving Father.

Horatio G. Spafford wrote the words of a hymn I have sung many times. Spafford didn't lose one, but six children, all in tragic ways. Six. I marvel at his words. Only true grace and peace from the Living God could bring such faith from such a shattered heart. 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul. 
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, 
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.  
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole, 
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!  
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, 
even so, it is well with my soul.

I am searching for that peace and I have felt her near. Lilly, my missing piece. She is here, I can sense her. Or, perhaps, it is the Holy Spirit whispering peace to my heart. I hear them saying... Heaven is real. This was supposed to happen. It was always a part of the plan. Do not worry, time in this world fades quickly and I will be with you forever some day.

I can sometimes say it is well with my soul. Sometimes...but the pain is still there, still real, still encompassing my heart, the fabric of my being, my life...

Even so, I am beginning to understand this Hope. It is not in this world, but the one to come. The struggle is in the waiting.

At times I feel like a spiritually rebellious teenager, but He is always the constant lover of my soul. 

It reminds me of a song we often sing on Sunday mornings...

Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday 
Your love never fails  
You stay the same through the ages 
Your love never changes 
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning 
And when the oceans rage 
I don't have to be afraid 
Because I know that You love me 
Your love never fails


Forgive my bitterness and unbelief. I know I must let go to find your peace. I know it's silly but I am afraid that in letting go of Lilly I will lose her or forfeit my role as her mother. Help me to understand that it is not Lilly I must let go of, but the bitterness in my heart, and that there is no shame in allowing myself to feel happy. I pray also for the grace and compassion required to forgive others and the wisdom to educate for those who will come after me. I love you Lord! Holy Spirit guide me find His Peace.