"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them close to his heart, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Three months Later

Today marks the third month anniversary of Rachel's death.   

Some friends have said that things seemed to get a bit easier around this time.  In some ways, I know this has been true for us.  But in other ways, things have gotten more difficult too.  My emotions seem so erratic, so powerful.  Sometimes they frighten me with their intensity.  I am so angry sometimes, and so intensely sad.  Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to sit through a worship service again and not worry that I am going to 'lose it' in front of everyone.  (and I don't generally cry easily so that's un-nerving for me in itself) And then I wonder - shouldn't church be a safe place to weep? Maybe even profusely? Maybe it's my own pride that causes me to look for the all the escape exits before I sit down...and my own pride that keeps me from showing what is really inside me.  Because that mess scares me too sometimes.  I do know that it is such a relief to be with people who are ok with my tears.  Because all I really want is just for someone to sit with me when I fall apart.  I know that God is faithful.  I believe that Rachel is safe with Him. But I miss her here....and as Dave says, there is a part of us that was awakened by her that will never be awakened again by anyone else.   

A friend sent me this picture of a sand sculpture that they saw in Vancouver last year.  "The mother with empty arms".  I don't think it needs more of a description. If you can zoom up, there are tears in her eyes too. 

I have had a really hard time writing again since Rachel died. I'm not quite sure why that is.  But the other day a thought struck me.  Maybe it's this place, the office, this chair that almost covers the exact spot where she died in Dave's arms.  I wondered if subconsiously, I don't want to be here, because of that memory.  And it still seems so very real sometimes. I wonder too if the thought of sitting here makes me feel a little trapped because I spent so many hours sitting here with Rachel, daunted by the prospect of leaving the house with her because things could 'turn' so quickly. (And when you're feeding a baby every half hour, there isn't much you can really get done anyway, right?) 

I was so grateful for the online friendships I made during that time and it was so good for me to have an outlet to process what was going on with Rachel and to feel your support through it.  I am an inward processor and even Dave said a number of times that he was glad for the blog because it helped him to get to know me better.  But I have to be honest here - the computer also became a source of conflict between Dave and myself because I didn't know when to stop.  It was my escape from alot of things. (when I couldn't escape outside) And I am learning to set some healthy boundaries again and that takes time.  This feels a little strange to say because I would love to have a chance to sit beside my little girl just once more....but I do *relish* my freedom to leave the house whenever I want.  And I *relish* the leisure to play with my kids, to laugh with them and with my best friend again.  So you may see less of me in the future.  I am thinking of having a 'turn off the computer day' once a week and I will let you know when that is:)

I think another reason why I hesitate to write sometimes is because a part of me wonders if people are tired of hearing about my grief.  That's me talking, my own insecurities.  But sometimes, all it takes is one wayward comment to set us on a spiral of insecurity again, right?  A few days ago, I thought that I was ready to write again.  And so I went on this blog, read the great comments - and felt so encouraged and then I read the last one, by an anonymous writer. It was a criticism of a comment made by a friend of mine, which mentioned that this (death of a child) is the hardest thing for a couple to go through.  The new comment read "How would you know what the hardest thing would be to go through until you are 80 years old?"  Really? Was that comment really necessary? Does it matter that I might one day experience worse griefs? Why minimize my pain now? Why do we have this incessant need to rate everyone's pain? My blog isn't a discussion panel. This is my life!  These were the thoughts going though my mind, among all the other stuff in my head.  And I realized that sometimes I am just tired of trying to explain away some comments, trying to twist it around to see the good intent.  I want to be honest about what this journey of grieving is like for us - but I feel a bit fragile these days.  And as I write that, I wonder if my comment will scare away the people that I don't want to make nervous by that comment.  And so I think, sometimes, just the need to always edit my words can be a little tiring, daunting even. 

But today, I felt that need to write again.  I wanted to write for myself.  And I wanted to share with those who care for us, what is going on so you can pray for us.  And I want those who are hurting to know that you are not alone.  And so when the mood strikes me, I will be here.  

ok....so Marriage after the Death of a Child: 

What is the most difficult about this journey of grief is realizing the toll that the stress and trials of the last few years have made on our marriage.  That doesn't mean we didn't ever laugh.  There was alot of beauty too and times of closeness but we didn't have the time to work through relational problems the way we could have, had Rachel been healthy.  We just wanted to "Get through it." This is why the Marriage Retreat was so good, so necessary for us.  It was such a relief to hear someone say that it is not unusual for parents who go through the sickness and death of a child, to struggle with the things we have.  It was a relief to be given the permission to grieve.  I think I expected us to be over the worst of it by now, and it makes me feel impatient with myself sometimes.  I want to run ahead and bypass all this - try and distract myself with things, instead of facing the losses and the messes.  But we need to GRIEVE in order to HEAL.  

We had three private sessions with the retreat leaders.  And I was kind of nervous about them. We haven't always had the best experiences with counselors before.  But these sessions were so helpful. Another thing we took away with us was the encouragement (or homework) to start dating each other again.  They said that for so long we have had to pour our energy into dealing with sad and serious stuff - to the extent that we have forgotten how to have fun together and enjoy knowing each other - and that now we need to direct our energy into having fun together and getting to know each other again.  So true....

So we are taking up the challenge!  Dave and I are taking turns planning dates. (and trying to keep it a secret from the other) The only rule is that it can't be a dinner and a movie.  This has been our fall-back for SO long.  And in Rachel's last year or so, we had to take Rachel with us everywhere so it usually ended up being dinner, and movie at home. So......time for a little more creativity!!!  

Any great date ideas???


Meredith said...

The Rubiyat for special ornaments for the kids this Christmas and dinner somewhere on 17th--there are lots of places along there.

Carol Taves said...

Thanks for being courageous enough to share the continuing struggles - you are not forgotten, and you are still prayed for. Love you all.

Julie said...

Is there a rollerskating rink in Calgary? How about bowling, wall climbing, museums? Perhaps a his and her aerobics class? Attend a dog show? Visit a farm? Rent cross country skis? (soon enough) snow shoes? paint balling? How about Bingo?? :)

Josi said...

I have been reading your blog since you were pregnant and have never posted before. Many times where I started to type, and then decided it wasn't my place to do so. I went through nursing at u of m with your sister-in-law and was linked to your blog through her.
I am so glad to see you post again. I still check almost every day. Your whole journey has been so touching and I cried and smiled along as the blog went by.
I hope to never know the pain you have gone through, and I think losing a child (no matter how old that child is) IS likely the hardest thing a couple or a person can go through. The pain my best friend had when she experienced the death of her unborn baby at 6 months pregnant, and the pain my in-laws experienced at the death of my husband's sister at 34 years old...both had such difficult times after their losses.
Thank you for sharing your story. It reminds me every day that life is so precious and to hug my children and enjoy every day I have with them.
Thank you.
As for date ideas...it's great to create new memories together, fun times. I like the active suggestions by Julie. Maybe a "staycation" at a local hotel, and get a couples massage, do brunch in the morning and enjoy the outdoors together. Explore shops that you normally don't go to. A cooking class, or something that takes you back to being a kid - bowling, picnic in the park (when it's nicer out again), flying a kite.
That's all of got. Good luck to you both!!

Kathy and Carl said...

I too want to say that I have appreciated your honesty. And grief is so different for every person, it has it's own path, no one knows which way it turns as you journey life. There isn't a "timeline" or "pain gauge". It's just you. So don't ever wonder if people are weary of your thoughts, because we come to hear your heart and go away being touched and moved and brought closer to God. Thank you for that Kendra.

As for date ideas. Carl and I always enjoyed picnics, even in the snow! Cross country skiing (but not too far or else you regret the leg pain the next day!). I like the staycation I idea. Making a romantic meal together and going to an art gallery. I'm so glad to hear that the retreat was so helpful; enjoying dating each other again!

Angela said...

I am so happy to read your writing again :) I will ALWAYS be ready to read whatever is on your heart.

Oh friend, the grief is still so new. I know I've said this to you before but be patient. The intensity changes in its own way but it is always there. I think the hardest part is when it is completely unexpected. I don't know how many times I was crying at the end of church on Sunday morning! Tears of sadness, hope, love, questions. What a journey this is...

I think the dating idea is wonderful. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you both!

Anonymous said...

I love your honesty. I'm no pro but I did volunteer at nursing homes, hospices and hospitals. For that I did every course available. The things I learned - divorce amongst couples who lose a child is extremely high. Why? I can only imagine what you have gone thru and each day you each deal with different emotions and pain. I pray for you both as a couple not because you don't love each other but because you've been on a roller coaster and when one of you is still up there, the other one is at the bottom going up again. The first year is easier than the second because then it's sinking in it's forever - I think in a way it's true but I can honestly say it takes me a year or more tho I've never lost a child. People don't want to deal with your grief because they can't handle it - I think that's true with some people but honestly if someone has lost a person dear to them it's an honor to hold them while they cry - Jesus would hold you in His arms so why wouldn't we? Dates? Get out there in His beautiful art gallery. Seriously, it is so healing. I've lived in Calgary and yes, it can be way too cold in winter, but, the most beauty I've seen is in winter. Go check out the hoar frost on trees. You're in fall now and the colors are glorious. Do things with people who don't know you - I love the suggestion of the cooking course. Take a class together on something that interests you - I think Dave seems to enjoy photography. Go on an art walk - I can't remember the avenue in Calgary but it's full of galleries and you can walk from one to the other and they have some nice coffee shops in between. Enjoy yourselves - I think you earned it.

Andy said...

I just wanted to thank you for letting us into your home and your life. I feel very much part of it, and I hope you feel the love and support from so many people that read your blog, but may not post. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I think about your family often, and it makes me realize that I need to appreciate all the little things in life, and embrace them.
Thank you again, and if you continue to write, I will continue to read.

Date ideas: Murder Mystery dinner or a dinner theatre, concert (music or speaker) , bowling, cooking class, bobsledding at COP,just a couple of ideas.

Bev said...

It is nice for me to come back to your blog to see posts from you again. Since coming to your blog, I've always appreciated your openness, honesty in all the joyful times and difficult times.
I'm glad to hear that you and Dave had the courage to seek some alone time during the retreat to receive some "councel". I think it is great (and very important) that you spend intentional time "dating" one another again. I LOVE the Staycation idea. I always LOVE the idea of cooking together, perhaps ethnic dishes you've never made or eaten before, shopping in stores you don't frequent, try a new sport neither of you have done before...creates some great moments of laughter between the two of you. I pray that through your dates together, you will come to appreciate each other in new, exciting ways. Have fun! Looking forward to hearing about some of your dating experiences in the future!

Anonymous said...

Kendra I only you know fleetingly and I have read your blog since it started. My heart aches for you and Dave.

When you talked about comments left and that you should watch what you say. I don't agree. You will only push away those that don't matter. Those that love you will read between the lines and know what you mean and will not take offense. If they don't like it then maybe they should walk in your shoes.

Losing a child is the wrong order of things in life so good for your for processing it your way and for getting help when you needed it.

I think the date thing is a great idea my psychologist told me I needed to date my husband again. I am looking forward to it.

I wish you the best of luck on your new life journey and to a newer season.