I have been contemplating this post for some time and what I would share during this grief week, our time of remembering.
Because of my private fb grief blog, some of my thoughts have already been stated. There are those however that were just waiting to be spelled out here and now.
I can hardly believe we are at the 2 year mark already. 2 years of life being completely and totally turned upside down....
For you who are new here, here are a few links that I may refer to as I go. You should be able to click on them and be directed to the correct spot.
Abby's story which was viewed nearly 35,000 times and gave me a platform I never could have had other wise to share God's care of us, shares the details of our precious 3 year old's end of life which happened abruptly but in God's perfect timing on July 15, 2014.
My face book grief blog is located here. Some days I just refer to it as my personal wining space. LOL. You may ask to join at any time. There I share our family's journey and some of the daily response to the effects of grief and how we continue trying to live...
Now on to the lessons grief has been teaching me. (ha, I'm not some expert or anything)
Lesson #1: Pain can produce positive.
Some days I have begged God to just write the lesson I need to learn in the big blue sky, so I can be done with the pain and crappy details that compose the current story of our life.
But as I continue on the path, I am realizing that learning is not always peachy and how pain is indeed a precursor for positive change in my life. Duh. You already knew that right? I guess I'm just a slow learner.
"My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness"
Lesson #2: Theology can be twisted.
I have ranted, huffed and puffed much about the things that well meaning souls have said that have been so painful in the midst of the deepest heart wrenching pain.
The statements that go something like this, "There must not have been enough faith to heal her..." and "this is God's chastisement" and " there must be hidden sin in your life".
I wonder sometimes why we as people (Christians especially) tend to show up in other's times of pain with our pat answers, judgement and critical spirits. While I do believe God does discipline us as his Kidos, I also am beginning to grasp a deeper sense of the real truth that sometimes (well probably more like most of the time) pain and grief are not at all related to our misbehavior, mess-ups or failures. Like, really. It ain't about us at all. It's about HIM.
If we truly believe the scriptures, we see that sin entered the world right at the start and the consequences of that sin bring all the crappy stuff (man! I use the word crappy a lot.) we know as pain, grief, sadness.
Grief or any other crisis we may see is not the time to use the Bible as a tool for condemnation and judgement.
Instead it is a time to watch for God's glory and beauty to be displayed in the midst of the ugly.
I love the story in John where Jesus answers questions about why the blind man was blind from birth. Jesus's answer is simple, yet so profound. "It was NOT because of his sins or his parent's sins Jesus answered. This happened so the power of God might be displayed in him."
Lesson #3: There is no grief time table or chart to mark off in the journey. There is no wrong way to grieve.....
Another duh. But here again, I'm amazed at all the places grief surprises me. I had once heard said that the 2 year mark is a toughy. I thought at the time that nothing could surpass the pain of the first weeks, months, year. Who ever told me about this milestone was correct. At least that's how it's playing out for our family.
I'm amazed at the many different grief styles I have met. Some are so polished in their grief. So put together. Not the blubbering mess that I seem to be.
I spent a great deal of last week on the couch. Tears glistened at the surface at all times. I cried openly at Costco. At church. While I was making supper. In the process I felt a strange drawing to the corner of the attic where her tote sits. Full to over flowing with all the pieces of her. Her special clothes we all remember. Her red Minnie Mouse dress, her fruit night gown, her 10 sizes to small purple swimsuit that I helped her into those few moments before she left for Heaven. As I sat neatly folding and caressing each piece, the sobs shook my body in a way I hadn't done for so long. Sometimes a real good cry is all it takes. Suddenly, I felt ok. Odd though it seemed. But that's my grief. Personal and real to me.
And while I wish that I could follow a checklist and be done, I am learning to embrace the roar of grief instead and finding my peace in the process.
Lesson #4: My pain is not the only pain our there.
Sometimes when I'm tempted to wallow I'm instead reminded to look around. My friend Sara has been instrumental in helping me adjust my focus. She's never judgmental but shares positivity, joy and encouraging love. She challenged me to join #100daysofhappy where we document simple blessings via a photo each day. I have so enjoyed the effect on my spirit that I didn't stop at 100. I am on day 108 currently.
While I still have really down times, I feel more equipped to pop out of them quicker.
Lesson #5: Find your passion.
I am still learning about this one. Sometimes I wonder which of the current experiences I live are grief related or simply facts of life and related to the age I'm at. You get my drift?
I have never been big about fundraising for any cause. It was not my cup of tea. But then my daughter died. Suddenly instead of celebrating her birthdays and other milestones, we could only celebrate our memories.
Out of that the "Remembering Abby, Light up the Night" Memorial was born. Each year on her birthday we remember the things that made her unique. It gives us a format to honor her memory and the impact her short life made. And I am finding joy and passion in planning, the excitement, and all the little details. It occupies our time for several months each year. Plus each year we can pick an organization that is making a difference in the world, our world! Our recipient this year will be the same as last, Amanda the Panda Family grief center. This organization is near and dear to hearts and has been an integral part of healthy grief for our family. (You can read all about our grief camp weekend here.)
We had hoped to raise $100 or maybe $1,000 but God saw fit to shine his blessings on last year and we were able to raise over $10,000! That provides grief support to 10 families for a whole year. (The Des Moines Register did a beautiful write up about the event and our family, complete with a video in the middle! )
The tremendous out pouring of love and support is huge in driving my passion for remembering her.
Each of us respond differently to pain. For some passion may be played out in a much quieter way but can be equally helpful in the healing process.
For more info on this years event which will be held September 17 visit our group fb page 2016 Remembering Abby - Light up the night
Lesson #6: Prayer Rocks!
If there is one single thing that has been so very helpful for our family, it is this: the prayers of the saints.
Grief is uncharted and endless. The journey is hard.
Many times I have felt the prayers as they rise, giving strength to my weary bones.
It has changed my perspective on it's importance and effectiveness.
So don't ever say "well I can't do anything else, so I will just pray". That "just praying" is powerful stuff.
"And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests with this in mind. Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
I don't know what the rest of our story looks like.
I do know we are starting to dream again.
I don't know how the grief will continue to affect us.
I do know it will and that this life is our "new normal".
I don't know, some days, how we will continue to survive and flourish.
I do know God will continue to hold us in the palm of his compassionate, loving hand in the process.
As the week continues, we will continue on the path grief has taken us on. We will probably release her favorite red balloons and some chinese lanterns at some point as they will always represent her to us.
You may see creepy "dead" photos of us holding her as she took her last breaths. I never would've have ever thought those pics would be treasures. They represent pain in the deepest sense but also represent her flying away where she is forever safe and resting with Jesus. So thankful my sis had the mindset to take them...
I may continue down the sappy, weepy trail I've become so familiar with. Or joy may continue edging it's way in.
Either way, I know I have a network, faithful friends, family and support from people who share compassion with us as we trudge along.
Thank you all for walking this journey along side us.
In memory of our little sparkling piece of heaven.
September 14, 2010 ~ July 15, 2014