Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pregnancy & Infant Loss - A Time to Mourn

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"For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance...."  

{Ecclesiastes 3:1-4}

When you are staring in the face of unimaginable loss, it is so difficult to comprehend why you have to be facing it at all.  You may wonder how this could possibly be a part of God's plan.   You may find yourself overcome with all sorts of questions for which there may be no answers.  Since I do not know the nature of your loss or losses, I cannot speak to what you are personally going through.  My experience in the realm of Pregnancy & Infant Loss comes from having a stillbirth and an early miscarriage.

I so wish that I was in a different place in my walk with the Lord when I went through these traumatic events.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  How different would my journey have been if I knew Him the way I know Him today?  While I cannot rewrite history, I can only learn from what I know now and apply it to the situations I faced back in 2001 and 2003.  I didn't know about "seasons" of life.  I knew I had a lot of bad luck.  I felt like I was being condemned to a life sentence of misery when everything was happening to me.  I wish I knew the above verses from Ecclesiastes then.  Of course I knew the cool 1960's song by The Byrds.  But I guess I never thought much about where the lyrics came from and what they mean.

Without question, I recognized the incredibly profound impact that my stillbirth had on me - on us {my husband and I}.  I delivered our son knowing he was already gone.  I held him for hours.  I was far enough along that it was not a "miscarriage", and we needed to involve a funeral home.  There was a funeral for our son.  We grieved long and hard.  We still feel this loss over 12 years later.

My miscarriage happened around 8 weeks gestation.  It was our second pregnancy.  We'd only just found out a couple weeks earlier.  I knew I would be high risk based on my first pregnancy and knew I'd be starting blood thinners immediately, although at the time of the miscarriage I hadn't yet started.  The loss hit suddenly and we were deeply affected by it.  The loss, however, "felt" different.  Not necessarily to me {being the one going through it}.  

I honestly don't know what "outside" people thought about our loss.  I can say from my experience what it felt like other people thought.  I did not feel as much of a sense of sympathy.  Yes, I felt like people felt sorry for us - in a "wow, they sure have had some bad luck" kind of way.  But it was 8 weeks and the pregnancy wasn't "tangible", if you will, to others on the outside.  I very much felt like I was rushed into "getting over it" and that it was "just" a miscarriage and it wasn't really a life because I hadn't felt it or seen or held it in my arms.  If you've had a miscarriage, perhaps you can relate.

I felt like I was being denied my season of grief after my miscarriage.  Yes, I was grieving.  My husband felt the loss as well.  But I did not feel like our loss impacted many people at all.  Maybe it did, but to me it felt like it was that "bad luck" kind of day for us and life just moved on for everyone else like nothing had happened.  What I know now is that after experiencing such a loss, I was {and still am} entitled to that season of grief.  Yes, I did go through a difficult time, but I never really felt like my grief was appropriately acknowledged.  If you've never been there, you cannot understand or appreciate what it feels like.  If you have, then perhaps you can.  All losses are different, but they are still losses and are each deserving of recognition.

Your season of grief might look different from mine.  There are so many variables that can affect one's level of grief.  It doesn't make mine better or worse than yours.  It doesn't make my way right or wrong - or your way right or wrong for that matter.  Each experience is unique.

What I know now is that it is important to embrace your grief.  The waves of emotion that come after a loss vary in intensity throughout a season of grief.  I believe that it is important to go with what you are feeling - to ride those waves of emotion, allowing them to carry you through this season.  I say this because it is my experience that denying your feelings of grief and sorrow is more harmful than experiencing the feelings and processing through the emotions you are feeling.

The journey is difficult.  There will be ups and downs along the way.  There will be days when it's all you can do to just get up and out of bed.  There will be days when you find yourself smiling - and then feeling guilty because you think you shouldn't be allowed to feel happy after "x" number of days, weeks or months after your loss.  It's ok to go with the happy feelings too!

Whether your pregnancy or infant loss was years ago or very recent, my hope is that you are able to find comfort and strength in Scriptures like the one from Ecclesiastes.  God is with you always and He is your strength - especially when you feel you are at your weakest.  He is telling us that everything has a season - a time to cry and a time to dance.  Mourn your loss - regardless of when it occurred.  It doesn't matter if it was early on or after delivery - it's a loss and losses bring great sorrow.  Allow yourself the opportunity to grieve, as it is through your grief that you will find healing.  I also want to say that I am not a counselor or medical professional.  I just speak based on my experiences.  There may be some of you whose grief is so overwhelming that you need help beyond what you can get from those around you.  It's ok to seek professional counseling or medical advice too!

As we recognize our losses this month, my prayer is that you know that you are not alone and that you are able to find hope, healing, and {yes} eventual happiness again.

~~~~~

Throughout October, I would like to post on various topics surrounding pregnancy and infant loss.  If there is any topic you'd like to see covered, please share in the comments or click on the link on my sidebar to email me.  I'd love to know what you'd like to hear about!  On October 15th, which is the National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I would love for you to come back and link up your stories about what you have experienced.  I realize that this is deeply personal and perhaps you aren't ready to go there yet.  If you are, however, just know that your story may be such an encouragement to someone who is grieving their own loss right now.

Please feel free to grab the button below to put on your blog to help spread the word about the link up on the 15th.

Remembering Our Babies 2013


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