In the past year or so grief has become something I'm very in tune to and intrigued by. I know the Lord put that in my heart because I ache for His children when they are grieving. Sometimes I feel like I can almost feel it; the Lord has really laid the burdens of other's heavily on my heart at times so that I can experience an ounce of the grief they are feeling daily. But for some reason it was hard for me to grasp how you couldn't feel joy during the Christmas season. It's just so joyful how could you not? I have found that the Lord loves to teach me new things after I've doubted someone. I can't tell you how many times I've doubted someone when they said they had come down with a type of sickness only to find myself in bed later that same year with the same illness. I definitely believed the person after that. I've had several of those experiences and now I really try not to doubt people when they say they're sick.
Ever since my friend Melissa lost her daughter, Audrey, I've watched her journey through very deep grief. I wasn't even a mother at the time and yet it hit me so hard. I know it was the Lord that was letting me feel her pain so that I could be a better friend to her in those times. But through that time I started to doubt things again and got a little snobby. When women would make a big deal about miscarriages I'd think to myself that they had no clue what it felt like to actually lose a child. They had barely been pregnant; they hadn't formed a bond with their child yet, who were they to think they'd lost something as precious as Melissa did? I got really protective over it all.
When I got pregnant I literally had the thought, "I've learned through Melissa I don't need to experience loss myself." (I know, that sounds terrible.) But apparently I was wrong. I didn't learn everything I needed to. And now I know how painful a miscarriage can be, not just physically, but emotionally. The emotional aspect is way more painful than the physical. Hundreds of times I am reminded daily that I am no longer pregnant even though I should be. Sometimes I'm reminded by seeing a pregnant woman or mother of a newborn at a store, sometimes it's a picture on social media, and sometimes the thought just pops into my head out of nowhere. But each time that I am reminded my stomach drops and I instantly feel sick. It is the most empty feeling in the world to lose a life that you once held safely inside of you and now you'll never get to meet. At times it feels so overwhelming I'm unsure of how I'll get through it. But then, almost simultaneously, I am also flooded with gratitude that I was blessed and privileged to hold that sweet child for as long as I did. That child made me a mother.
I lost my child eleven days before Thanksgiving. I had given Thanksgiving a little bit of thought about whether or not it'd be hard, but I was already focused on Christmas. I couldn't imagine feeling jolly and merry while not being pregnant. I have no desire to decorate for Christmas this year. Shopping is no longer fun. In fact the thought of how greedy everyone is around this time of year and the materialism of the holiday just disgusts me. I feel overwhelmed and alone in stores packed with people sipping Starbucks and obsessing over presents. I tried watching Elf the other night and stopped it five minutes in because I suddenly wanted to write out my miscarriage story.
As it turns out, Thanksgiving actually ended up being a lot harder than I imagined. I was around people almost all day and I had to keep putting on that smile and acting happy. I was so emotionally exhausted that it's now Saturday and I feel like I'm still recovering. I realized how absolutely vital it is that I spend time alone with the Lord, with my thoughts, writing, hand lettering, drinking tea, etc. to help clear my head. I need to be alone with my grief to process things. And I realized that I need to talk about it. Having conversations about other things is fine for awhile, but eventually I need a moment to vent to someone (usually Michael) and possibly shed some tears. Even if I'm sitting there with a happy face, on the inside I don't feel happy. I might even be using all of my energy to prevent myself from bursting into tears. It's hard to have a lump in your throat for hours on end.
So since Thanksgiving was so hard, I'm now even more nervous for Christmas, but also thankful that I have about a month to process and prepare. Something I've found really, really hard is events where I imagined I'd be pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant it was so fun to think about the upcoming holidays and sharing our joy and excitement with family and friends. People are very quick to share excitement and joy but they really shy away from sharing sorrow. I've already gotten the vibe from many that they think I should be moving on because what I experienced isn't a big deal. So since I don't feel as supported by everyone in the loss of my pregnancy like I did in my pregnancy I feel pressured into having to cover up the way I feel. And that is just hard. It gives me a headache to hide my sorrow. The only cure for grief is to grieve and I wish I didn't feel like I had to apologize for that.
So please excuse me this Christmas season if I don't show up to a gathering or act excited when someone talks about presents. I'm just really trying to focus on the real reason for the season this year because He is the only way I can get through this and I know He'll guide me so gracefully if I focus and rely on Him. And I pray that next year I'll have a baby in my arms to make this season feel much more merry and bright.