Monday, March 24, 2014

Steps Toward Healing

It seems so many around me lately are dealing with loss...death of someone close to them.  I've been thinking recently about losing Charlotte and what has helped me in my journey towards healing.  I would also like to note that I am not there yet.   I am still learning to grieve and mourn, and I am still healing from such a huge loss.  After getting all of my thoughts down, I have realized these steps could be useful for any trial.

1.  Write - I would write especially in those very early days after losing Charlotte.  It seems as though each morning I would wake up sad, lonely and weary.  I would cry, Steve would hold me and pray. Then I would pull myself out of bed and into the chair in my bedroom.  There I would sit for the next hour or so and write in my journal.  Writing helped me to process all that was going on in our world and in my mind.  It helped me to process my feelings, my longings, my pain.  I would write in different ways.  I wrote letters to Charlotte.  I wrote out my fears, my hurt.  I would write out scripture that encouraged me.  I would write out prayers.  Some of my early journaling later became some of my blog, but not all of it.

2.  Worship - Sometimes I felt as if I couldn't pray and I didn't know what to pray for myself.  I would instead listen to worship music.  Music really ministered to my heart.  I remember being amazed at how many songs met me right where I was at and how others (those who wrote the songs) had, too, been where I was at dealing with hurts and trials.  As I played worship music, I would sing, pray and cry, sometimes sob.  Worshipping God takes my eyes off of myself and my pain and it put my eyes on my God who is  sovereign and so worthy of anything I can give to him and more.  Through worship I am reminded who I am, who God is and that this life is so temporal.  God is not just about the here and now on this earth.  He is about eternity.  Worship makes me yearn for heaven where there will be no more death, no more tears, no more sadness, no more pain and where I will once again meet my daughter face to face.

3.  Immerse myself in the promises of God -  I have to admit that sometimes in the early days, it was hard for me to go to the Word of God.  I am so thankful for the friends who would text me scripture and send me notes with promises of who God is.  As I memorized some of those promises, I clung to the truth in God's word and that in turn increased my faith as I felt God's presence in my life so fully.

4.  Let others serve me -  This one was difficult.  I am fairly independent, and hate to be a bother to someone.  But, as soon as we found out we lost Charlotte, the requests to "help in anyway" came pouring in.  The truth is most people cared for us and just wanted to do something.  In being with friends going through trials and being on the flip side, I totally understand the feeling of helplessness and wanting to lessen your friend's pain, to do anything to help.  Although, most of the time we didn't know what we really needed.  One of the best things we did was to say yes when someone offered to help in a specific way.  Yes, to when someone offered to bring us a meal.  Yes, when a friend offered to do our laundry.  This dear friend did our laundry, a less desirable task in my opinion, for six weeks, six weeks!  Let me tell you, though, not having to worry about keeping the kids in clean clothes during those early weeks was such a blessing.

We also realized that we needed to ask for help when we knew a specific need.  The day we found out we lost Charlotte at the doctors, we left Steve's car at the doctors office so neither of us had to drive home alone.  All that afternoon we were trying to figure out how we would get Steve's car back home.  Later that evening, friends came over after they heard of our loss.  Steve mentioned his car and our friend offered to go with Steve's dad to get it.  Such a blessing.  A couple days later as we were making arrangements for Charlotte's funeral, I was going through the kids clothes to make sure they all had something to wear for the funeral.  I realized the boys shirts needed to be ironed.  In the first place, I really don't like ironing and it stressed me out to think I would have to fit that in somewhere into my already cramped schedule.  I threw a note out on Facebook and within a couple minutes I had a couple offers.  Such a relief!  As it turns our, the friend that did our ironing doesn't even iron herself, much like me, but she just wanted to help serve us in any way.

As I've stated in other posts, we were so blessed by the servanthood of our friends and church.  I am so thankful I didn't let my own pride stop me from saying yes to their offers to help.  Their help freed me to take the time to mourn and to be there for my kids and family.

5.  Exercise - Around five weeks after losing Charlotte, I began running again.  Since it was still cold out and I'm a fair weather runner ;) I began running on the treadmill.  Before losing Charlotte when I ran I would listen to podcasts and sermons as I ran.  After, though, I made a worship playlist of songs that touched my heart.  When I ran, I turned on my music and off I went.  Not only did running help me feel I was doing something good for me and my body, but it became great times of worship for me as well.  When I exert myself in exercise and as I come to the end of myself physically,  I am able to more clearly see who God is and my deep dependence on Him.  Just a tip though, raising hands or closing eyes in worship while running on a treadmill is not a good idea, although, I never actually fell, I almost did a few times :)

Around the time I started running again, my sister and I decided to train for and do our first mini triathlon.  Setting this goal before me gave me something to work for, something that not only did my body good, but would give me a sense of accomplishment once I did it.

These are just some of the things that have helped me on the long road of mourning and healing.  I am almost certain I have forgotten some things too.  I do know that each person is different and what works for one may not work for another.  I am curious though, and others may be as well, if you have experienced loss in any way, what helped you?  Please feel free to leave a comment below and share with everyone.

Friday, March 14, 2014

One Year of Loss

A few weeks back marked a year since our Charlotte went to be with the Lord.  Steve and I were just talking the other day about how sometimes it seems like it was only last week and other times it feels like it never happened.  I wish I had something profound to say about living with grief, about some huge things I learned over the past year.  I don't.  I think grief is one of those things that we won't ever be able to fully put our heads around and explain in a pattern.  Grief is unpredictable.  One minute you are fine and the next it hits you like you just got run over by a semi and you don't know which way is up.

The week leading up to her death anniversary was really rough.  It seemed we had challenges all around.  In my mind, I knew Saturday, February 8 was coming quickly.  I was worried about how I would respond with the one year anniversary of our loss.  That made me super sensitive (like I wasn't  already sensitive after having a baby 6 weeks earlier :) and on edge.  To make matters a bit more difficult, February 8 is also Leah's birthday.  I was worried about making her day special, especially since her birthday last year was so dark.  I, also, was worried about how I could manage celebration along with grief and mourning.

When I woke up that morning, I was like, here we go.  I took time that morning to sit down and write for a bit.  I am so thankful for being able to write.   Writing has proved to be healing in so many ways this past year (but that is a whole other post).

As I showered that morning, it all hit me and I broke down.  I felt loss, anger, guilt.  So many emotions at one time.  I wanted to mourn, but I also wanted to make the day special for Leah and I felt I didn't know how to do both.  I can now look back and see that the Lord met me in those moments and He gave me strength to face the day.  Once again, I am blown away by his grace, something I so don't deserve and something I could never do on my own.

Steve and I had already made plans to visit the cemetery with the kids and take pink roses.  The kids haven't been there since her funeral last year and Steve and I have only been once.  We finally had her headstone installed in October and we hadn't even seen it yet.  It was snowing and it was so beautiful out.  We were thankful for the cemetery we chose.  It is in the country, backed up to the woods and oh, so beautiful.   We had to tromp through the snow to get to her grave.  All I can say is that it was beautiful.  I had no tears (I got those out earlier).  It was just a special time with the kids.

Then we got on with the rest of our day.  Leah was so gracious.  I truly believe she enjoyed her special day to the fullest.

I am so thankful for God's graciousness that day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Baby Elijah

I know I haven't written as much in the last few months.  The end of December proved to be a bit more stressful, with the end of my pregnancy.  In that time, we joyously welcomed little Elijah to our family.  A joy he is.  

Elijah William 
December 30, 2013 
6 pounds 7 ounces
18 inches long

At my 36 week appointment, my doctor said the baby looked good and recommend we go ahead and schedule induction for the next week (37 weeks), since we lost Charlotte in the 37th week of pregnancy.  We wanted to get Elijah out while we knew everything was okay with him.  

Once we arrived at the hospital, it took a while, actually quite a while in my opinion, for my body to get into labor.  We spent most of that day in the hospital chilling and waiting anxiously to meet our son.  Eventually around six or seven that evening things started to progress.  I did get an epidural (my 9th, ugh!), but I have to say this was my worst one ever.  I couldn't feel my left leg at all, but could feel everything else.  I started feeling quite a bit of pain and I told Steve that he should call my doctor who was at home.  He didn't and we just told my nurse.  She eventually came in the with resident doctor and examined me about an hour later.  As she checked me, I could tell she was thinking.  I was thinking, "shoot, nothing has changed and yet I'm in all this pain."  Then she calmly said, "she's a 9, if not complete."  I was like, "What?"  I told them to call my doctor because I usually only have to push 2-3 times until the baby comes out.  I was afraid he wouldn't make it on time.  He made it, thankfully, and Elijah was born a couple minutes later.  

We are so thankful for God and his graciousness and goodness towards us.  He has once again blessed us beyond all measure.