I was thinking yesterday about how lucky Jake and I are to have the friends and family surrounding us who have helped us through the last year. I thought to myself…what do people that go through trying times do without people like these?
So I thought I would write down some of the things I remember going through to let other women/couples/families know that they aren’t alone in these feelings – and they won’t last forever.
Christmastime, especially, was very hard last year for Jake and I. To put it in a few words, we dreaded it. We felt cheated, hurt, lost, and alone – even though we never were “alone”, emotionally speaking. So I thought about the families/couples that are going through trying times this holiday season as well. Maybe this is their first holiday without a loved one, or maybe they just recently endured some painful and tragic event that has changed their lives.
In the beginning, the pain is blinding. You may be angry at God, and that’s okay. It’s not wrong to be mad at Him because if we understood Him, we wouldn’t be humans. That doesn’t make it right or fair, but it makes what has happened part of His plan. Stay close to Him, even if it’s in anger – because the level of anger you feel will eventually turn into the same level of love and gratefulness. I truly believe that our God would much rather us shake our fists at him in our ignorance of his plans for us than to abandon and denounce Him. Don’t try to understand what has happened immediately because the answers aren’t always there right away; we may never know, but knowing isn’t necessary for acceptance.
The stages of grieving are a joke. These books and websites give a “time line” of the stages; in reality, there cannot be stages because grief can be a lifelong journey. I, for example, do not believe that I will ever be over my grieving for Robert William. I might remain in the “acceptance” phase for a while, but in the blink of an eye some reminder of the pain I felt can blindside me and throw me back through the stages all over again. In fact, the stages can occur spread out over weeks or months, or there can be multiple going on at one time. It has happened many times already in just a year, and even though it sounds crazy, the feelings and emotions remind me of the strength of my love for the son I never met. It’s comforting, although it may not feel that way at first. We’re human and beautifully different, and our emotions and healing do not follow a script. Allow yourself to feel what’s going on in your heart, and don’t ever feel like you have to lie to those around you for their sake. True friends would never want that for you so don’t worry about the people who stray from your life trail along the way; they were never meant to walk alongside you anyways.
Lean on those who offer to be leaned on; “be a blessing to those around you by allowing them to bless you”. Allow others to help you, whether it’s emotionally, financially, physically, etc. If someone offers an ear and you feel like talking, it will bring you closer to share whatever you’re comfortable sharing and it will be therapy to you both. I know at this point that my closest friends are professionals when it comes to non-professional emotional support. When people were bringing Jake and I dinners and snacks after we returned home from the hospital we were so grateful for not having to think about going to the store or fast food restaurant. In return, those people know to this day how much we appreciated their kindness and generosity – and I think it did just as much good for their souls as it did for ours. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be scared of sounding crazy or needy – because no one else is walking your path. No one else will ever realize what it feels like to walk a day in your shoes, but they may understand that you need them in your life for whatever part of that path they can hold your hand through. My doctors, therapist, family and friends are my angels for this reason, and above all I learned to use my husband for what I believe God intended. “In sickness and in health” was truly tested in our household, and I can’t imagine a stronger relationship because of it.
Get mad, cry, scream. Act how you’re feeling, no one will think less of you; if they do, pity them. They haven’t weathered the storm that you have and they are not nearly as strong as you are about to be. It will happen one day, you’ll look back and remember those dark times when you didn’t get out of bed and all the times you begged God to make it easier for you. Then you’ll laugh at the trials that once made you cry because they are so insignificant now. Your skin will grow thick and your heart will grow strong.
Hugs to you always,