Sunday, November 05, 2017

Good grief

Last week I stopped into Cub to buy the candle in this picture. I grabbed the 6. And then I hesitated. It's so easy for me to think of Hannah as a baby because that's the only way I knew her. Was I grabbing the right number? Would she really be turning six? That feels so big. She'd be just two years younger than Leah. They'd be such good friends! And two years older than Will. He'd have two big sisters bossing him around!

Alas, it has been six years since Hannah Marie entered this world and our family forever.

Sometimes I can't believe it's been that long. But then sometimes I can hardly remember what life was like before Hannah. Before grief was the new normal.

Grief is fascinating to me. I've never completely lined up with the classic stages of grief--denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Sure, all of those surfaced at times in the weeks and months following our losses. But never in the "right" order. Or for the "right" amount of time. And I knew right away that "acceptance" felt like the wrong word for the end of the cycle--as if I could ever accept this burden and move on with my life. 

I read an excerpt from a book recently that resonated so clearly with me regarding grief. Because the truth is, even though I may never "accept" or "move on," my grief has certainly changed. It's not as heavy as it was six years ago. Not as all-consuming. Not as painful. This is a portion of Beth Moore's book Breaking Free:

"Nothing could be more natural than a mother grieving the loss of a child. However, if ten years later the mother is still completely consumed with the loss and bitterness that have eclipsed all comfort and healing, she has wedged a stronghold between appropriate grief and gradual restoration. The enemy will capitalize on normal emotions of love or loss to swell them out of healthy proportion. They can consume our very lives if we're not aware of his schemes. Loving is never sin. However, obsession that flows from putting something in the place of God is sin. Likewise, grief is never sin, but disallowing God to minister comfort and healing to you over the passage of much time is."

It is my job, as a loving mother, to grieve for my daughter. It is also my job, as a daughter dependent on her heavenly Father, to accept the comfort, healing, and love He gives. We are not meant to be burdened by our grief forever. We are meant to be comforted in it. 

The week of Hannah's birthday last year, I heard this song while I was driving that spoke volumes to me of what I experience in grief.

Hannah is a part of our family and will forever be a part of my story. My story would be really boring if it was just the happy parts of my life. Our stories are the good and the bad. The mountaintops and the valleys. Every piece tells our story and tells of God's goodness through it all.

On a Sunday evening I'm looking back
Over all the years and where I've been
Looking at old photographs, I'm remembering
You were right there and you have been ever since
With every page that turns, I see your faithfulness

The mountain where I climbed
The valley where I fell
You were there all along
That's the story I'll tell
You brought the pieces together
Made me this storyteller
Now I know it is well, it is well
That's the story I'll tell

There were some nights that felt like they would last forever
But you kept me breathing, you were with me right then
And all that You have done for me, I could never hold it in
So here's to me telling this story over and over again

You hold the broken
You hear my every cry
My eyes are open
I know that it is well
It is well


Carrie said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and story Erin. In my own life, I have found that the passage of time is a peculiar mark after a significant loss. Time halts, gets rearranged, and passes at the most cruel speed. Sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow. And each minute is punctuated by a wistful “what if” or “I wonder how...”. While Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Grief perhaps offer an ounce of normalization to the complexities grief brings, the model’s fatal flaw is that she described it as linear. Grief is not linear, there are no clear stages, and it is never complete. The professional world now recognizes that grief is like a rollercoaster with highs and lows, twists, turns, and repeats. We also embrace that the world is full of disenfranchised and ambiguous losses that complicate the entire process. Grief doesn’t end, it changes. I believe God was purposeful in designing it that way. I think grief is our soul’s way of reminding us that the powerful bonds of love are eternal. I am sure your sweet Hannah feels tha love you and your family hold for her today, and forever. Sending love dear friend. -Carrie

julie @ shorts and longs said...

This is so beautiful and true. Thank you for being real, and inviting us into it, Erin. xxoo