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???