Saturday, September 17, 2011

Empty Space

Two months have gone by since we gave our little girl back to Heaven… a blink in the face of eternity, but it feels like so much longer in the lonely expanse of the days spent without her. Some days I am able to smile as her sisters talk about her coloring up in Heaven, or when I feel relief that I don’t have to protect her from anything. Most days though, I’m just sad. I feel jealous when I’m around other families who are smooching on tiny cheeks or rubbing rounded bellies that are about to burst with fresh new life. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way and wish that I had more grace to bestow.

I feel alone and left behind. The rest of the world has moved on, and I am still swallowed by a sea of grief. No one can possibly feel what I still feel when I walk down the hallway and see her bedroom untouched, her tiny diapers still in a neat stack.

No one knows how I swallow tears when I buckle the other kids in our van, which seems too big now with that empty seat. No one thinks how every time I see the precious pictures of her on our wall that there won’t be any new ones to add. She was here, and there are pieces of her everywhere. Pieces that stir such emotion, it’s enough to break a soul. The first days after she died, I felt numb. Numb allowed me to keep going, to get through what needed to be done. Now I find myself wishing for that numbness instead of this shattering pain.
When my 3 children walk side by side I see a space… a hole where my littlest girl will never skip along beside them. When other people see us, they must not understand why we have anything to be sad about. They tell us how lucky we are to have the children we do…. They say how nice it must be to just have one child at home during the day… they say she was lucky to have lived as long as she did. I am not at a place where I can see the glass half full yet. Although I am happy to know Ellianna is whole and well and living in glory, I still miss her and yearn for her here… and I will, until I go Home.

It must be terribly awkward for people. People do not like to see pain. They want to know we are ok, that we are moving forward, and that we won’t break into tears in the middle of a conversation. That’s the thing about grief… it’s not something that goes away in a month, 6 months, a year… we are in it for the long haul. At Christmas when there is an empty stocking, we will be sad. 5 years from now when she is not starting Kindergarten, we will be sad. When there is no prom, no high school graduation, no wedding…we will still feel the pain and sadness of losing Ellianna. Many people are afraid of that; afraid to see us hurting… so they distance themselves, afraid to say or do the wrong thing. Well the wrong thing is to ignore it. We still need to know you’re here for us just as much as the day that she died. We need to know that you’re not too nervous to be around us, that you understand when we cancel because we have been hit by a new wave of grief, that you’re willing to talk about her, to say her name, to let us know that you have not forgotten.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Lean In To It

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?" Psalm 13:2

The grief of losing a child is immeasurable. It is a weight that lays over me like a heavy heavy blanket. Having other children I have learned, multiplies that grief because I am also grieving for the hearts of my living children. I am broken by the hole of losing my daughter and also bearing the burden of her three siblings who have lost a little sister. I am watching my 3 year old play that her baby dolls are dying and being buried... I am sitting with a 6 year old who wants to know why Jesus didn't let Ellie come back like in the book "Heaven is for Real"... and explaining to a 9 year old that just because we didn't get the answer we wanted, God is still sovereign. I am watching a 5 year old just a whisper away from death, and wondering if I still believe in miracles.

I know how this story ends, but that does not stop the enemy from planting doubts.

Mark and I started attending a Grief Share group this week. We had some challenges getting there, and almost didn't make it, but we sure know now that there is something special in store for us. We met a young couple whose baby girl was born at the same hospital the day Ellianna died, and their baby girl, Lily Grace, died ten days later. What an amazing source of comfort it is to have someone who almost literally stood in our shoes. God places the right people in our lives at just the right time. It has been frustrating to us to feel like we are stuck while everyone else has moved on with life... our group is a place where we can be in that spot with others who are walking the journey right along with us. If you are grieving, or need to grieve a loss that you haven't yet, find a Grief Share near you... it is a powerful resource for an impossible hurdle...

Someone told us grief is something you have to go THROUGH. You can't go over it, you can't go around it, you have to go through LEAN into it. Like an ocean wave. That is what we are doing. Sometimes the waves are gentle, sometimes they knock us off our feet, but we are in a journey we can't avoid.

Please don't stop praying for us...

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