On my heart


So many things are on my heart right now.  I've wanted to write them down for a few days now, but just didn't know where to start.  If this ends up being a "popcorn post" (all over the place), that's why.

My mom
We leave for Iowa soon to see my mom's side of the family and bury her ashes next to her parents.  I've been so consumed with the effects of Kristen's death on the four of us living in this house, I just don't feel like I've really grieved for my mom yet.  Of course there have been moments of grief, tears, missing her, but the process of healing from this particular loss doesn't seem  like it's really begun.  Maybe it's just different from what I've experienced with Kristen, I don't know.

Celebrating my 4th birthday
It may seem odd that it's been nearly a year since Mom died, and we're just now getting everyone together to say goodbye.  There was a memorial service for her last August.  It took place just five days after Kristen's service and 500+ miles from my home.  Sweet friends offered to drive me there and back, but I just couldn't do it...emotionally or physically.  But now, Mom's side of the family...her stepfather, her brother and two sisters, all of her nieces and nephews, her granddaughters and her daughter...will be gathering to say goodbye to her.

My mom and I weren't as close as I think a mom and daughter should be.  There are a lot of reasons for that, and the many miles that separated us is not the only one.  We talked fairly often and always had a connection, but it just wasn't the mother-grown daughter relationship that I hope to have with my own daughters.  Regardless, she's still my mom.  I love her, and I miss her.

The last couple of weeks have been full of moments that remind me of the anniversary that approaches.  Remembering Kristen's CT scan last July and believing that this test would prove to the surgeon that we wouldn't need him after all.  The x-rays and ultrasounds done on Kristen after her birth didn't show the mass in her chest.  We just "knew" that the CT scan would be evidence that God had healed our baby girl.  But, it wasn't to be.  The mass was still there and had to be removed.  As straightforward as the surgery sounded (though certainly not a routine procedure by any means), it didn't turn out as any of us had imagined.

I'm still struggling so much with feeling out of place in situations and relationships where I once was so comfortable.  Every part of my life has been affected by the death of my daughter.  Nothing feels "normal" anymore.  When we were on vacation in Colorado a couple of months ago, I remember actually feeling, for a couple of very brief moments, pretty much like I did before my life was suddenly turned upside down.  Perhaps it was the change of scenery or the company we were with or just being able to step out, even for just a minute, from underneath the cloud of sorrow that follows me around. 

My dear sister-in-law's due date approaches, and I find myself still so very torn between being happy for her and so very sad for me.  Every week that goes by seems to get harder.  I think what I worry about most is that Kristen will be forgotten by the rest of the family once my niece arrives.  I've been told that's silly, but the thought is still there.  I am praying for extra grace in that area.

As I continue to mull over these things (and several that I didn't include here), I know beyond all doubt that God will reveal something in each one that I need to learn.  I'm doing my best to pay attention to Him, to glean the good from such difficult times.

Puzzle Pieces


You know when you're working a jigsaw puzzle, and you find a piece that looks like it belongs in a particular place?  The colors and patterns seem right.  The shape seems right.  It looks like it was made to fit in that spot...but it just doesn't.

I'm discovering some parts of my life that are a lot like that.  Things that I was very much involved in before Kristen's death just don't seem like they "fit" anymore.  I had chalked those awkward feelings up to being so consumed with grief.  And maybe that's still the case, but after a statement in this week's GriefShare video (Session 12), I have to wonder if there's more to it.  The statement made was regarding easing back into church (#9 in the "Top Twenty Lessons of Grief") and how the groups you were a part of before the death of a loved one may no longer be a good fit.  Though the video spoke about church specifically, it seems that the lesson would certainly apply to other areas of a person's life as well.

Grief changes you.  Those changes occur at such a deep level within your heart and soul that the outward portion of your life can't help but be affected.  Despite how much my life today looks like it did prior to finding out I was pregnant with Kristen, I know it to be so very, very different.  Those differences are things I cry over and rejoice about...sometimes at the same time.

I suppose it makes sense that relationships will change because I'm not the same person I once was.  Friendships seem different (some strengthened, some fractured), family relationships seem changed (again, some for the better, some not), areas of my life that I've poured my energy and talents into seem forced, new things seem hollow.

Nancy Guthrie shared on that video that deep sorrow actually expands a person's capacity for great joy.  That is truly a beautiful observation, one that I'm sure will become more and more obvious as I gain more distance.

Yes, grief has changed, and is changing, me.  I may not "fit" into the puzzle where I thought I did, but there is a place for me.  Just as it's best to keep hunting for the right spot rather than to jam a puzzle piece into the wrong place, I must be watchful as God reveals to me that place where He wants me to be.  Changes are going to happen to all of us, and some of those changes will not be ones that we would ever willingly seek out.  Because of Who He is, God can, and will, use them all for good.  We just have to continue to trust Him.  We may see a piece or two of the puzzle, but He's got the box lid and knows where every single piece goes.

For a season


I had a complete meltdown the other night.  I'm talking fall-in-a-heap-on-the-floor meltdown, complete with uncontrollable sobbing.  It was an absolutely anguish-induced episode.  I had been bombarded by so many things that had made my grief raw, yet again.  My heart ached.  Sadness engulfed me.  A number of different situations had come at me from all directions, and as I was getting ready for bed Sunday night, I melted into a puddle on the bedroom floor.  I felt so emotionally fragile that I was certain I would break before long.

My sweet husband of nearly 20 years came in to check on me.  And rather than try to "fix" things (as is his normal way of dealing with such a situation), he sat down beside me on the floor and just let me cry.  He listened as I went on and on (and on) about all that was weighing so heavily on my heart.  He listened, and he held me close.  He prayed with me and in doing so, assured me, yet again, that God had brought me just the right man so many years ago.

We are grieving so differently, my husband and I.  I've had emotional meltdowns before, and have endured them alone, sometimes because no one else was around and sometimes because it was just too difficult for him to reach out to me.  The tenderness in his voice, the gentleness of his touch that night soothed those places deep in my heart that were inflamed.

God is the ultimate healer, but it seems to me that sometimes He uses people who are willing to let Him work through them to help us heal.  Perhaps by letting God work through them, not only will they help someone else, they will experience something intimate and precious as well.  Maybe as they respond differently to a situation than they normally would, they will see a new aspect of their own character, and of God's.

Grief has stretched me in ways that I would just as soon not know.  But, I do.  I know that it's up to me as to how I respond to that.  And I pray for strength to respond in a way that pleases God.  This particular season of my life is not an easy one.  I don't know how long it will last, but I am grateful for the rays of sunshine that occasionally break through the clouds.  They let me know that I'm not stuck here.