Posts tagged ‘grief’

August 2, 2018

Beyond Grief

As the world watches J35 grieve the loss of her sweet baby whale, I marvel at the universal sense of loss this whale brings to humanity. She moves me to tears, thinking of the deep breathes she must take in her time of panic and fear when her baby’s lifeless body slips from her control and she prepares herself to dive deep to get her baby back, a deep fall into the abyss. When will the mama let go?

That’s a question that only she can answer.

She is “beyond grief.” She won’t eat as far as the researchers can tell. All she does is try to save her already dead baby. She is on a “tour of grief” as one researcher called it. Just like J35 the whale, a human hurting mama will do things that make no sense. She will go to any depth to try to fix what has broken, while her human logic puts up the wall of knowing that she cannot fix her lost child, yet she may continue to do so at the sacrifice of all else. She will tell a complete stranger odd details or collapse into tears, or anger, at the drop of a pin.

As for J35, those from the outside want to help, but they can’t. Any interference could cause the whale to never recover, and her species cannot handle outside influence at this time of decline. A human mama cannot accept or handle outside influence often either. She cannot be open to everyone; there will be few that she can speak to without knowing that she has failed them or that they just cannot understand. Or, she will draw inside herself to avoid the pity, those looks of pity…

Yet, at the same time, it is the whale’s pod, her family, that is making all the difference today, day 9. Instead of just allowing her to fall behind or forcing her away from her dead baby’s body, her pod family is surrounding her, keeping close and being available if they are needed.

Friends, that is what a grieving parent needs! She (and he… dads, too!) needs to know that she isn’t crazy; that it is ok to be consumed by the darkness and the crazy thoughts for this brief period of intense mourning. She needs to know that if she wants to talk, you will let her. If she wants to ignore the pain for a time, you will let her.

((A side note: BEYOND GRIEF One of the researchers interviewed was correct… we need a word for this crushing period of unexplainable, fully excusable, excruciating agony. Mourning and grieving are useful terms in the early weeks (mourning) and in describing the life-long journey of loss (grief); yet, what word could somehow come close to encapsulating the original torment description? There isn’t one. Likewise, a grieving widow or widower used to be able to wear black for as long as they felt they were in the season of mourning – that time when pain and heartache fill their waking thoughts as well as their painful dreams – alerting those around them, but what can a grieving parent do? What do any grieving folks do now? There is nothing, and it causes society to fall further and further away from compassion, hope, and understanding.))

What can we do for a grieving parent? Don’t fall away. Be available, but not in her face. Don’t judge her ‘beyond grief’ period, her mourning, or her grief process. Don’t tell her what she must do. Invite her, call her, reach out, and wait. Mostly, though, pray. Pray faithfully as you never have before. You may never get to share a conversation with the grieving parent, even that you have been praying. But, you can fall at the feet of our Lord to lift up and surround the grieving parent, even from the outskirts of the group of those closer to her. Remember, for many grieving parents, there comes a point when they cannot pray. No matter how much or how deeply they have prayed before, the words, the feelings, and the thoughts of prayer will fail them. While they do not feel it at the time, God is still holding them and YOU can be one of the ‘family’ who is VITAL. Please pray.

December 8, 2015

The Object of Anticipation

Anticipation… hope, excitement, expectancy, planning, joy. Anticipation denotatively means “the feeling of looking forward, usually excitedly or eagerly, to something that is going to happen.” Just like the Japanese art of kintsugi, the object of desire—the object of anticipation—is shattered, seemingly irreparable. Perhaps the damage was done knowingly—purposefully. Often, however, it appears to completely chance, completely random and meaningless.

Kintsugi sake cup broken
As the object of anticipation is in pieces, we have a choice. Do we throw it away? Do we give it up—the hope, the symbolism, the joy? Or, do we begin the process of reforming it? The pieces must be assessed. The pieces may be jagged and cracking. They be slivered and scattered. Some may need to be smoothed. Some may not be reusable; once assessed, they may need to left out of the renewal project. Each piece is painstakingly touched, restored, or lovingly removed. Yet, in the hands of a Master, in the heart of the Creator, something beautiful is designed.

Kintsugi sake cup repaired center
The pieces will not, ever, fit back together exactly as they once did. Something has been lost, fragments of dust even, but a loss has occurred. The Master recognizes this loss, acknowledges this loss, and must gently and painstakingly make a filling that is specific and unique to the missing fragment or space. The object of anticipation is not, will never be, the same again. But, the beauty in the acknowledgment. The beauty in the change of anticipation. The beauty in the process of recreating. They are all so valuable to the Master and to the piece now recreated.
Anyone who has the opportunity to touch this piece knows that they hold something thoroughly and meticulously touched by the Master who thought of every line, every edge, every angle, and every depth of filling, every width of space… He has touched and detailed it all.

Kintsugi sake cup repaired inside

As time moves on, it may appear that more and more is repaired, yet, the reality is that the pain, the grief, the missing pieces, will be missing forever. The perspective or aspect might change, but the loss never will, and, thankfully, neither will the love the Creator!

Five years ago today my object of anticipation—the expectation of a sweet new life in our family—also included many “negative” anticipations… fear, dread, concern. We had lost Savannah Grace, nothing seemed to be going right in our ministry, jobs, or home, and my pregnancy just felt “off.” On December 8, 2010, we found out why. I have always wanted to be used by God and for God, but I never wanted to feel the pain of the shattering, the pain of loss and removal. I can say with certainty that God loved me enough to piece me back together; I am golden because He has pieced me back together and created beauty from my pain.


NOTE: These pictures were copied from Lakeside Pottery. I do not have an endorsement or anything of the like from them. I use these pictures with respect for your craft. However, if you wish for me to remove them, I will do so. Thank you for the beauty you create. It is such a gift.

October 27, 2015

Memory explosion

As I rubbed cocoa butter on my dry, cracked hands, I was reminded of the day we received Jedidiah’s diagnosis. As many of you have read before, one of the first things Jim did when we met up after I received the call from the doctor was to massage my cracked, bleeding hands with lotion. It has been almost 5 years since that day. I have had many times of hurting, dry hands. I wonder why tonight the memory exploded?

I wrote those above words ten days ago just before bed. Just a day before my “rainbow” baby and I both got sick, and I spent four days constantly monitoring his temperature (which was higher than any of my other kids ever, for longer than any of them had had a fever, too), wondering if he was going to be ok and if I was doing everything I was supposed to do to take care of him. The fear that grips when one of my boys is ill or out-of-touch is different now since losing Jedidiah. The fear threatens to explode just as my memories do, and the fear is paralyzing.

I don’t have time for the fear. Not because I am busy but because I am busy living! I need to live for my husband, for my earthly children, for Jedidiah, but mostly for myself.

I need to live, so

I welcome the memories.

I welcome the tears.

I welcome the triumphs,

and I reject the fears.

I need to love, so

I love out loud.

I love with hope.

I love with abandon,

and I reject the fears.

If you have lost a little one, may the memories some day bring you joy, but for now, if you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. But, please, please, work hard and work long to reject the fears.

May God bless and keep you.

April 8, 2015

Four years ago…

I was sure that I could never come to a place where I would wear the shirt I wore in Jedidiah’s nilmdts maternity photo shoot. I had bought the shirt for that purpose; it still had creases from where we folded it to show off my Jedidiah belly. On Easter, three days ago, I wore the shirt for the first time in more than four years. I had left the shirt hanging on its hanger, moved when we moved. No one knew what the shirt meant. It is just a shirt, after all. But, to me, it was so much more.
Four years and a day ago I would not have put that shirt on. At no time in the last four years could I have brought myself to do so. Am I a freak? No, I am grieving. “But, Kim,” you say, “it has been four years today. Surely, you are beyond that by now.”
Four years and a day ago I may have thought the same thing. The reality is that for 36+ years, I walked through life not knowing the grief process. Oh, I could list the stages of grief and I could sympathize with someone, but I did not KNOW the grief process. And, the truth is, the grief process is a life-long process. As many have said and as I recently read in an article about Keanu Reeves, “All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed.”
Grief is transformed when I receive a hug from my “love letter from God” and his big brothers. Grief is transformed when I look at Jedidiah’s precious pictures and smile. Grief is transformed when I speak of his impact. Grief is transformed when I choose not to speak. Grief is transformed when I trust (but possibly not always feel) that Jedidiah’s life and his death were God’s plan, His plan A. Grief is transformed when I receive the outpouring of love that so many of you, my friends and family, have expressed.
I am transformed for having held my son, weathered the dark months of nightmares and pain, coming out the other side to KNOW that there is a God and He loves me, loved me enough to trust with me with one of his precious ones.
So far, today has been Jedidiah’s hardest birthday for me. I don’t know why. Maybe because I don’t have specific plans because so much of everyday life could not be altered. Maybe because what I had wanted to do to commemorate his life this year was not able to happen. Maybe it is simply one of those days where God is holding me tight as I relive the loss so that as we walk into a time of ministering to others, I am better equipped to meet their needs. Whatever the reason… THANK YOU to those of you who have prayed and who continue to pray for me. I could not make it through without your prayers. God, please give my baby a hug from me.

November 18, 2013

Baby clothes

With a new baby boy on the way, I am trying to prepare my heart for baby clothes. Baby clothes? Yes, baby clothes. Walking by the baby section of a store was excruciatingly painful for many months after Jedidiah’s death, but that is not to what I am referring. The only baby clothes we have left from our many blessings are the few that I purchased just in case Jedidiah lived for a few days. I didn’t want to have to run out to the store or worry about getting new clothes washed before he could wear them. Now that we know that Baby is a boy, I can put those clothes on Baby instead of Jedidiah. While there are emotions there, it isn’t bad. The outfit that I am scared, yes, scared, to prepare for Baby is the cute little blue outfit that all of my boys have worn.

You see, after Jedidiah’s bath, we put him in that outfit. He didn’t wear anything else until after his death. I placed that outfit on our front table after Jedidiah died, and when we got ready for his memorial celebration, I placed it in a shadow box. I remember picking it up, and his sweet, sweet smell surrounding me. I placed it lovingly in the shadow box frame with plans to put pictures of each of the boys in that outfit inside the frame, too. I couldn’t find the pictures in time for the celebration, so it just held the empty outfit; it seemed fitting in a way since I was empty—empty in so many ways.

Now, I need to take the outfit out of its shadow box—a shadow box that is not hanging but lying covered in a drawer because of the pain instead of joy that it brings me. I obviously don’t have to put the outfit on Baby. I’m sure no one would care, but each of my sons have worn it, and I don’t want that to change. And, through time and God’s healing ways, I know in my heart that He will restore the precious, positive, wonderful memories instead of the thoughts of emptiness.

But, I am scared–scared that maybe a bit of Jedidiah’s smell will still be there but even more scared that it won’t be.

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