There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

To the mothers who have lost a baby.

I have had many privileges to meet women who have lost a baby and connect with them. It is genuinely my privilege and honor to be trusted with someone's deepest parts of their soul and anguish. I wish I could give them all a hug so tight that it would keep them from falling apart. I have been thinking about these women and the thousands of other women I don't know that may need to connect to another "Angel Mom". I wrote this with them in mind. All the things I wish I could say if I could meet them.

You will survive.
I know you feel like you can't breathe. I know your arms physically ache for your baby. I know you feel like there is no possible way you can keep moving forward. I know you feel empty, lost and scared. Like you have anxiety and depression running through your veins.
But I promise, you will make it.
Your breath will come because you're still alive, even though sometimes you wish you weren't. Your arms will be filled again with the love of others; other children, friends, family, neighbors, even strangers at chick-fil-a. You will keep moving forward one second at a time, then one minute at a time, then one hour at a time until one day has passed. It will be like that for a while. But the clock will eventually speed up and the days won't seem to last forever.
You will make it because you don't have another choice.

Your child is happy and safe
I have always believed in Jesus Christ and had a strong religious upbringing. But there comes a time, even for us who are raised going to church, that we figure it out for ourself.
Immediately following Jane's death, even while we were still in the hospital, I felt confused and unsure. I had heard the answer a thousand times in my life; she is in heaven (aka the spirit world). But I just wasn't sure. My faith had been completely shaken.
I called one of my best friends Heather and her husband Jacob while in the hospital. A couple who had a stillborn baby boy, Levi,  16 months before Jane died. What I remember most is how much crying we did together, 3,000 miles apart. I needed to know how my faith could survive such tragedy. She said the most perfect thing to me. Her faith didn't, but she has re-built it piece by piece and the pieces she has are more treasured then before. So that is where I started. And I found that it came back together quicker and stronger then before.
I know personally how easy it is to question God and His plan for us on earth. What is his purpose in taking beautiful children away from parents? I had a very simple decision to make.

Choice A:
Do I choose to believe Jane is in a happy place, surrounded by love and beauty? That she has occasion to be with our family in spirit and bring us her love. That God had a specific plan for her and she was needed back in the spirit world.

Or Choice B:
I can choose to believe she is gone. She has left us and either a cruel, misguided God has taken her or there is no God, therefore no life after this and she is gone forever.

Which one sounds more pleasant? Ya...I choose A. And it isn't naive to believe it. One makes me happy and brings me peace. The other causes insurmountable anxiety and fear. Why wouldn't I choose A? It is absolutely the logical choice.

You will become a different person.
In my first post on the blog I mentioned how I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't recognize myself. I couldn't feel happy. I couldn't smile, laugh or show any emotion besides grief. It scared me to not recognize myself. Losing a child changes you. But it's mostly for the better.
My anxiety and depression have gotten worse. But my patience is broader. My sympathy for strangers has increased. My desire to do good and be good has grown. I don't care as much what others think about me, as long as I am doing what is best for myself, my family and what makes me feel complete. I desire more compassion, more sympathy, more love, more patience and all other good things. I like the new me better then the old.

You will be happy again
Everything has an opposite. Cold/hot. Happy/sad. Joy/grief. Our grief has gone as deep as any human can probably endure. With that, comes joy that is beyond comprehension. The huge joyful moments are still few and far between, but when they come they are a whole new level of understanding and peace.
Sometimes you have to choose to see those moments; but they are there.

Your grief will always be a part of you
(this one is added from my sweet friend Heather Dahle who I mentioned above)
"Loss isn't something you get over.  It is something you work through.  Grief is the process of working and adjusting to your new "normal."  It isn't always a linear progression.  It can be messy, and sometimes it doesn't make sense.  There are relapses, backtracking and detours.  I might never be done grieving the loss of Levi (Heather's son), and I'm okay with that.  I recognize that many of my most sacred and cherished experiences are a result of working through my grief."
I want to add to what Heather said my own confirmation of this truth. I know I have only been through this process a short 6 months but I have experienced those "backtracks, relapses and detours". The hard days truly are so difficult, but they are so important. They bring me to my knees, they draw me closer to Jane and to my Heavenly Father. They are part of becoming that new and better person.

Talk about it
I think one of the worst things you could do right now is to keep your thoughts and emotions bottled up. Talk to friends. Don't stay silent. The more opportunities you get to share your babies name or stories about them the better you will feel. If you aren't ready to open up to other people, get a journal and open up there.

You are not alone
There are so many moms who have lost babies. When you become a member of this special club, you feel the need to help the other members. Especially the newest ones. Reach out to us and let us comfort you and help you. Send me an email or Facebook message. I would love to hear about your sweet angel and how you're feeling. We can help each other!
Not only are there other "angel moms", but there are neighbors, friends and family who want to help. Open up to them and let them in.
Though all of us can sympathize with you, your journey is unique to you. But even then, when you feel nobody truly understands your pain, you are not alone. Your Savior knows your pain exactly. He has already carried your sorrow. You are not alone! There is absolutely no way you can do this yourself, turn to Jesus Christ for relief.

Even though I haven't met every woman who has lost a baby, I love them all. Truly, truly love them. They are my sisters and comrades. And this was written based on the specific circumstance that I know, but I would imagine many of it applies to anybody who has survived someone close to them.