Friday, October 30, 2015

Never Forget

October is Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance month.  As I have pondered the "remembrance" part, it has bothered me, because losing a child is something you never really forget.  You don't have to try to remember it.  It is something you have on your heart and mind regularly.  As I was thinking about it recently, it struck me that the "remembrance" part of infant loss is remembering we are not alone in our losses.  As October has progressed, I have noticed many, many posts on Facebook regarding stories of those who have lost a baby.  I know for a fact, as I have experienced it myself, when you lose a baby you feel alone.  You feel as though the floor has fallen out from under you.  You feel as though you are the only one things like this happen to.  That is a lie.  You are not alone.  It actually happens more often that we could even imagine.  Through Facebook this month, I have seen several of my friends share that they are one in four women who have suffered infant loss through either miscarriage, still birth or infant loss.  It reminded me that I am one of four women who has suffered through infant loss through the still birth of my daughter, Charlotte.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around the 1/4 women thing.  Wow!!! That's a lot.  It means it happens quite frequently actually.

I truly believe one of the biggest lies that Satan tells us in relation to any struggle we are facing is that we are all alone and are the only one going through this particular situation or struggle.  But, as you can see from the numbers above, if you have lost a baby to miscarriage, still birth or infant loss, you are far from alone.  It is very likely the woman sitting two seats down from you has suffered through it as well.

As I see stories about someone losing a baby, my initial instinct is to scroll past and ignore it, but strangely I am drawn to their stories.  I think I am drawn because I can relate.  Although my story may not be the same as other stories of infant loss, I do know that gut wrenching, horrid feeling that begins to overtake you the minute you find out you've lost your precious baby.  I know what it feels like to have life inside my body one minute and the next minute to feel her lifeless body inside me.  I know the feeling that you have when you realize you have to go through the painful and trying experience of labor and delivery only to not receive the prize at the end.  I know what it feels like to plan a funeral service for your baby when you would rather be planning her first birthday party.  I know the feeling of arms longing to hold your dear baby so closely, but your arms are empty.  I know the feeling of milk coming in and no baby to nourish with it.  So friends, please, don't believe the lie that you are alone in your loss.  Many, many have been there and understand.  So, for me the "remembrance" part of infant loss is remembering I am not alone and neither are you.

My daughter would have turned three this coming February.  Although, my heart doesn't hurt as much as it used to.  I still go through times when my heart aches for her.  Just the other day, I was driving by a cemetery on the way to church (for the record we probably drive by the same cemetery at least 6-8 times a week), but on this day, my heart got caught up in my throat and tears stung in my eyes.  I thought to myself; parents aren't supposed to bury their children or much less their babies.  The pain is real.  Even as I sit here almost three years later and write, tears still stream down my face.  It still hurts.   I still long to have her here with the rest of her brothers and sisters as part of our family.  

As I've been trying to decide what I want to say in regard to infant loss, I want to remind you that although, the pain of losing a baby never goes away, there is hope after infant loss and that hope is found in Jesus Christ.  I knew the very minute we knew we had lost our daughter, that in and of myself, I had nothing to help me through this heartbreaking loss.  I had nowhere else to turn, but to God.  God never desired us to live our lives on our own and only have ourselves to rely on for strength and comfort.  He created us to depend on him.  He desires us to come to him and to rely on his strength and comfort.   

Friend, as I close, I want to remind you that you are not alone in your loss.  Many, many others have walked through the devastating loss of their precious baby.  You are not alone because your Creator, your baby's Creator, is right there waiting for you to turn to him, longing for you to turn to him.  He desires to give you hope when your situation seems hopeless.  He desires to give you a hope and a future as you come to him.  When you seek him with all of your heart, he will be found (Jeremiah 29:11-13).  What a beautiful promise.

I would like to leave you with this promise from Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant those who mourn in Zion -
to the them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Goodness of the Lord

I'm finding myself really disliking and dreading the month of February.  As I look towards February 2015,  it is filled with celebration and sorrow for us...for me.  Three of our daughters were born in February and one of them also died in February (on one of the other girl's birthday none the less).  So really the question is how do you manage both celebrating and mourning?  And is it even possible?

I'm recognizing that much of my dread is from wondering how I will respond leading up to the day when we lost our daughter.  It's a fear of "how much will this day wreck me?"  The thing is, most days I can easily tuck the hurt way down deep and cover my feelings and pain just by doing life.  I easily get wrapped up in the day to day and don't think or dwell on the hurt deep within my soul and heart.  Then February comes around and I can't hide it anymore.  I can't pretend I didn't lose my daughter.  I can't pretend these past two years haven't been the hardest two years of my life and in my marriage.  Everything comes bubbling up to the surface and pours from me.  It hurts.

Losing my daughter, Charlotte, has changed me in many ways.  It has changed me in many good ways and for that I am thankful.  My eyes have been opened to and I have been able to sympathize more with the hurting, with those dealing with loss and difficult trials.  My trust in God has also grown as I have seen His goodness, known His presence and seen His faithfulness in my life these past two years.  I've come to know and love my Savior even more.

I also feel like losing Charlotte has changed me in a different way.  It is really hard for me to put into words.  I feel as though I don't really know myself anymore.  Losing her changed who I am.  I'm still trying to get to know and understand the new me.  The person this most effects is my husband.  As I'm trying to get me figured out and as situations or disagreements come up in our marriage, it is easier for me to pass the blame to him than it is to take responsibility for my part. I tend to forget grace in my marriage.

Is it even possible that losing our daughter changed my husband too?  Have I ever considered that?   I know that he still hurts from losing her and it pains him greatly to see me hurting.  We are two very different and unique people trying to walk this road after a huge trauma.  We are both healing and recovering from our loss in very different ways.  We are still learning how to walk this road together with grace.  Just the other morning he told me, "we are in this together."  When I think or feel like I am doing this alone, I am grateful for his comment and support, reminding me that I am not alone; reminding me that he loves me and desires to walk through the pain and healing with me.

Psalm 27:13 was on our Christmas card this year.  This is also the verse we used as we dedicated Elijah to the Lord last year.  It says...
"I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."
Although we can't fully understand the Lord's plan for us in losing Charlotte, we have seen this verse true in our family this past year, even though we continue to mourn our loss.  We celebrated the arrival of Elijah and have thoroughly enjoyed our first year with him as a part of our family.  We continue to be in awe watching each of our children grown and mature and seeing their hearts turned towards the Lord.  We are humbled to used by the Lord in ministry in our local church.

Psalm 27:13 is also a promise that I cling to.  I don't believe that the verse only pertains to the past year,  but I believe it is true for our future as well.  "I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord..."  Good is who God is.  His very character is good.  His goodness doesn't change because my circumstances change.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes." Romans 8:28

Even though I can't comprehend or understand why we would lose our daughter.  I trust in the fact that the Lord had a plan/ has a plan in it and that he is working in it for my good.  This means that throughout these past two years of sorrow, pain and challenge, he is working.  It doesn't mean that it will always be easy, but it does mean that he will be with us and that he will help us.
"It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed."  Deuteronomy 31:8
Now this is a promise I can cling to.