Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?
I'll be honest,when I read this week's question I let out a heavy sigh. The Pit. I do not want to go back there and even thinking about it makes me feel all those early emotions. I am going to try my best to talk about what it was like, but as others out there know, there are few words to really describe the pain.
I think I will start with when I first clung to hope. The nurses (all 3 of them plus a midwife) had just left me alone in the room. They could not detect a heartbeat using the doppler, so they were going to send me to the ultra sound room, once it was available. So for what seemed like an hour (really 5 min.) I sat alone. I knew he was dead. I just knew it. But when your worst nightmare happens you have no reference point for it because it is supposed to be a nightmare, not real life. I remember looking to the crucifix that hung in the little room. I wanted to touch it, but it was too high on the wall for me to reach. I told God, "He is your child, if you want him back then you can have him." I guess I found hope in that moment knowing that God was in control. That Caleb was never mine to make life or death decisions with.
All throughout the labor and delivery I clung to hope. The Holy Spirit was really moving as I look back now and see how much peace we had during those three days. After they took Caleb away I remember again looking at the crucifix in our hospital room (this is why I think having Christian and specifically Catholic hospitals is awesome) and thinking "they can take away everything, but not my love for God." I knew that they could take away my son, and who knows what else, but that I could still proclaim the Gospel, and that brought me peace and joy. Somehow in that moment, God was enough and I was grateful to have Him and His love, which no one could take away.
Over the days and weeks and months I kept clinging to hope. I guess I clung to the hope that my situation could be redeemed. That it could have purpose. As a Catholic I believe in redemptive suffering. This means that I believe that I can offer up my sufferings as a prayer for others. This teaching is what got me through. The pain was so intense in those early days. I would say to God constantly, "don't waste this pain, Im giving it to you to use it." Looking back now I really believe that I did more for the Church by offering up my suffering than I did in all my time as a missionary. Suffering is awful, but it can be redeemed if given to God. My hope is still that one day in Heaven I can see the fruit of all my suffering, how it helped others.
I carried my Bible around everywhere. It was like a blankey for me and if I didn't have it physically in my hands I would start to get anxious. I think I even slept with it a few times. I needed to be reminded of God's faithfulness in writing even when nothing felt like it in reality. I remember reasoning with myself on the darkest days, "No one would write a book full of lies, so God certainly wouldn't either. His promises are true...repeat over and over again." I poured over the psalms. I had no words of my own, but they gave me words and helped me work through that early healing.
Being in the pit is so disorienting. Nothing is familiar. I was bombarded with sin. Anger, jealously,envy,hatred, bitterness, etc. I didn't know what to do with it all. I had always been a happy person and now I hated everything. I wanted to break things.all.the.time. And I think that is where a lot of fear crept in. I thought I would stay that way for ever and then I felt like a horrible Christian. It wasn't until I began to really let myself be all those emotions and not try to fight them that they began to lessen. That would be my advice for someone in the pit- you will be angry, jealous,bitter,mad, and a whole lot of other things: it's ok. In time they will lessen if you continue to bring them to Jesus. I just went to confession this past Saturday and when I got done on my way out I turned to our priest and said, "Father, I think this is my first confession since Caleb died that I haven't had to confess anger." I truly am not struggling with that anymore(at least not right now)- Praise God!!!
When you are in the pit, you can't recognize yourself and that can be scary. I went from loving wife who can run a home to a scared little girl who sat in closets and cried, sometimes all day. That all felt very foreign to me which scared me more. I felt so weak. I begged Nathan to leave me on a number of occasions. I just couldn't handle the fact that he would have to come home to a crying wife every night. Again, I thought it would never end. But it does. One way or another we all come out of the pit. And then return from time to time b/c that is how grief works.
For others who are in the pit right now, know I am praying for you. My advice would be to invite Jesus into the pit and stop looking for a way out. Don't panic, just sit with Him and eventually He will lead you out. Everything in your world right now is a mess, and thats ok. You can worry about how to pick up the pieces later. Read scripture, write it everywhere if needed. Do one thing at a time, remember your only goal while in the pit is just to stay alive, nothing else is relevant. One day at time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time....Find others who have been through what you have. One of the turning points for me was attending a griefshare group at a local Baptist Church. I was able to be anonymous b/c I didn't know anyone at that Church. Although no one in the group had lost a baby, they had all lost someone close to them and knowing others were experiencing the same emotions as me made me feel better, a little less crazy. Give yourself a lot of grace while in the pit. Its ok to stay in pajamas all day, it won't last forever, but for now its ok. You are not the same person you were, so don't try to be. Lean on others. Let them cook, clean, run errands for you. I had a hard time leaving the house b/c I was so scared to run into someone and have to actually talk. My friends were so nice to bring me things like milk and eggs and basic groceries. Let others take care of you, again it won't be for ever. Keep bringing your pain to Jesus. If you don't want to talk to him, then look for stories of others who have kept the faith. I know these women that I write about here helped me when I was too angry to talk to God. Writing in a journal also helped me sort out my emotions. The thing that I did the most though was cry. I just offered that as my prayer to God. Tears were our form of communication and that was just fine with me.
Praying for all those in the pit right now. Keep clinging to the Hope that can only be found in Christ.