Tag: grief

Broken but Beautiful

Grief and Infant LossSara's Space

Back in the beginning of July, I had a series of really bad days. I was lonely and felt like no one cared about me and my broken heart anymore. I am now just “the girl whose baby died” to a lot of my past friends.  People don’t treat me the same as they once did and I have definitely lost friends during this last year. A lot of friends, in fact. Infant/child loss is a very lonely road to walk down and that lends to some very bad days because sometimes you just need one person to reach out and say they love you and are thinking of you and your baby…..but it doesn’t really happen often at all. Most days I’m able to function and even put on a smile and laugh. I think of Luke every day, and I’m sure that I always will. Most of the time now I’m able to think of his adorable little nose and precious little kissable cheeks without collapsing into a pile of broken pieces. I will always long to see and touch him again, but I don’t always fall off the deep end when thinking of him anymore. Some people reading that may think “you must be moving on.” Wrong. I’ll never “move on” from the loss of my baby boy. The truth is, I’m still very, very broken. But I am finally learning to allow God to repair my brokenness. In doing so, I hope that one day, I will be made into something more beautiful and useful than I ever have been before.

On one of those lonely days in July, I actually picked up my phone (bad idea, by the way) and I sent a mass text to several of my family members. I have a huge family and they are truly all amazing people. Anyone of them would go to the ends of the earth for any of the others. But one area we all fail at (myself included) is reaching out to one another in the hard times. We will at first, and then eventually we begin to assume one of the aunts or one of the other cousins is following up; and we just…..drop the ball. Seriously, I’m so guilty of this very thing myself. Guys, if you’re reading this, know that I love you all and I know that I’m just as guilty of it and I don’t fault you one bit. So…out of my loneliness and honestly out of desperation, I sent them a message letting them all know how much they’d failed in making sure I was ok and that I was drowning and needed them. I didn’t come out and say the last part, but every one of them got that hint loud and clear. (They also stepped up to the plate too. They really are wonderful people.) One of my cousins sent me something that I have kept in a note on my phone since our conversation that day. I’m going to share a little of that with you now…..

“Most of us are more broken than we would like to admit. It’s in allowing God to repair us that He shines through the best.”

Wow. He could have stopped right there and it still would have been amazingly inspirational for me. It made me realize that I wasn’t allowing God to repair my broken heart. How dishonoring to the One who created me to tell Him “No! You can’t fix this!” But he didn’t stop at that simple (but profound) statement. He went on to tell me about Kintsugi. I added a little link there for you to be able to read all about what Kintsugi is, and I encourage you to google some images of it too, because it’s seriously beautiful stuff. Here’s a little breakdown of it though:

Back in the 15th century, when a bowl or vessel of some sort was broken, the standard for its repair was to use metal staples. This method was not very pretty and likely did not restore full functionality to the piece needing repaired. As a result of these issues, a Japanese craftsman developed a method of repairing pieces that not only restored functionality, but also looked better as well. Most people obviously would prefer the cracks to be completely hidden, as if the damage had never been done at all. This applies to our damage too, doesn’t it?? Can’t my heart be put perfectly back together again??? Can’t we just be the way we were before…..? I don’t want people to see my brokenness.

The problem is, when something is broken, the pieces can never be fit back together again and smoothed over perfectly showing no signs of previous damage. Rather than attempting to cover up the damage, Kintsugi actually uses the brokenness of the piece as part of its beauty after it has been restored. It is done with the use of a lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, copper, bronze or silver to essentially glue the pieces back together. Even items that are missing pieces, either from completely shattering and basically turning back to dust, or from simply being lost; can be repaired using this technique.

 

Check out that vase. See those huge gold pieces in there?? Those would have been massive holes in the vase had they attempted to repair it without using this method. Those holes would have rendered this vase useless and something to be simply thrown in the trash. And that bowl….how pretty is that bowl?! The gold cracks running throughout it make it stand apart from other bowls that were essentially just like it.

 

Right now, I envision my heart looks something a bit like this…..

Not quite complete still, but the beginning of healing. There will always be a couple big gold chunks that stick out, but if I let them, they can be used to make me something far more beautiful than I ever was before. God can piece my heart back together again and fill in those huge holes where Azaliah and Luke are missing with something beautiful that will actually honor them far better than I could do on my own. He can take my brokenness and make something amazing out of it. I will always bear my scars of infant loss. I will always remember my babies and think of them, and even cry for them. But if I let Him, God can use those scars for good.

 

 

No one has a perfectly unbroken heart. We all have scars from our past and maybe even our present. It’s how we choose to repair those broken pieces that determines much in our lives. Will you continue to live in brokenness & despair and maybe even in anger and bitterness? Or will you allow God to make something more beautiful out of your scars??

PS: Ken, thank you for impacting my life. I love you, cousin.

Embrace the Now

Grief and Infant LossSara's Space

Matt & I were married in February 2010. Before we got married, we devised a great plan for our lives; we were going to travel and have fun as a newly married couple for about 5 years and then have babies. Remember what Matt said before…. “we plan, God laughs“?? Yeah, that applies here. In July 2010, we found ourselves unexpectedly expecting. This was NOT in the plan. In fact, my first words when seeing a positive pregnancy test were “oh, crap!” But that shock and extreme terror quickly turned into excitement, although I will admit I was still quite terrified by the thought of having a baby. We immediately told our families and made an announcement on Facebook for all the world to know. We were going to be parents. Despite how scary that was, it was miraculous and wonderful at the same time. Our excitement lasted for approximately 17 days. I began bleeding and cramping. We rushed to the ER on base, and ended up leaving hours later with hope. I had a subchorionic hematoma, but we saw the baby. It was still too early to see a heartbeat, but my bleeding had already stopped. As the weeks rolled on, our hope and excitement grew. My FIL even ordered a crib to be delivered to the house. Sadly, just a month later the bleeding began again, but this time it did not stop like the first time. It was confirmed that we’d lost our sweet baby. We never found out the gender of this baby, but after weeks of mourning our little one, we decided to give our baby a name. We chose Azaliah for our little love.

For several months after we lost Azaliah, I went into a deep depression. I was obsessed with having a baby. Something I hadn’t desired to happen for years to come, suddenly became my only desire. Month after month went by, each marked with a negative pregnancy test (or 5-6 negative tests…). I became angry and bitter. And also scared that I would never be able to be a mother and that because of something surely wrong with me…..Matt would never be a father. I feared that our hopes and dreams for a family full of babies would never be fulfilled.

If you’ve read any of our other posts up to now, you obviously know that that was not the end of our story for babies. But for the next 10 months, I walked around thinking that it was just going to be Matt & me for the rest of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I would have been perfectly happy with just him for the rest of my life, but I didn’t want to let him down. I wanted to see him with our babies. I wanted to make him a daddy.

Our second pregnancy, I was a mess. I worked in an oncology office at the time and literally would draw my own blood to be sent off for hCG and progesterone levels because I simply could not relax and believe this baby would end up healthy and whole and in my arms.

Despite several complications in that pregnancy, Mason Paul did end up healthy and whole and in our arms. To be honest, I had a really difficult time bonding with him after he was born. I loved him beyond measure, but I still had a wall up that I’d built from the moment I saw a two lines on that pregnancy test. I had not let myself get excited about his sweet little life. And then I had pretty bad pre-eclampsia and had to be induced at 37 weeks, was on IV magnesium for 3 days (1 before his birth and 2 after) and he got stuck and had to be vacuum extracted to get out! It was a pretty traumatic birthing experience altogether, so that made the disconnect even worse. I hated myself for ever struggling with this connection that every other mother out there seemed to have the instant they laid eyes on their baby. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t tear that wall down?! We had longed and prayed for this little miracle and yet I couldn’t connect the way I desperately wanted to. Ultimately these feelings just continued to make the whole thing worse! It was a vicious cycle.

I wish I could tell you that I sought help with these feelings or that something happened and things quickly and instantly got better, but that wouldn’t be true. I kept my feelings and my depression hidden because I was so ashamed for ever having felt them. But something positive did eventually come from this experience. I realized what I had done to myself by building that wall of disconnect out of fear of losing this baby too and I promised myself I’d never let that happen again.

Cherish the time you have while you have it.

This goes for everyone, not just babies during pregnancy. Don’t live your life in fear of loss. Imagine all the joyful moments you will be missing out on if you let fear control you in this way. I will never get those moments back from Masons pregnancy or early infancy and I truly wish that I knew then what I know now….

And I am so thankful that I learned this lesson so that now I can look back on our time we had with Luke and cherish those memories of his sweet kicks and hiccups and watching him interact with Asher on the ultrasound screen. If I’d been living in fear of losing him…..I would have nothing but sorrow to look back on.

First Visit

Grief and Infant Loss

Sara writes a lot more on our blog here about grief than I do. A lot of that has to do with how we are hard wired so differently. I usually have a more difficult time sharing the more personal aspects of life unless there’s a solid biblical lesson or exhortation I can pull out of it. Like most men, I don’t typically wear my emotions very close to the surface, though Sara often reminds me how much of it is actually written on my face like it’s God’s billboard. A lot of times, I can’t really even describe what I’m feeling in the moment and it may take some time before I can adequately put it into coherent thoughts.

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