Grieving On Purpose


Emily ~ 11 days before her death

Once upon a time, another grieving mother told me that someday I would find that I would need to grieve on purpose.  I would find there would be days when I would want to open the memories up so the floodgates would pour over me.  The underlying thought was that someday I would not grieve so readily, so openly, so often.

I could not imagine such a day.

Yet, it has come.  A few months ago I did just that.  I opened up the memories.  On purpose.

I opened up Emily’s cedar chest filled with her things.  I took them out one by one and cried puddles into them.  I cried until I thought I might hyperventilate.  I began reading the notes I had taken in the hospital.  Page after page until I could take it no more and put them down.  I stared at pictures, like the one above, remembering as much as I could of her life, piece by piece by piece.

I allowed the memories to flood over me.  I did not beg God to rein the memories in as I had so often before when I just couldn’t take the pain.  I let the pain consume me.  And then I slept.

The raw grief of losing Emily doesn’t come nearly as often as it once did.  Yes, there are still days when one little thing sets me off, but the tears are brief and the pain less intense.  Your mind finally wraps itself around your child’s death and your world slowly becomes less about all you’ve lost and more about continuing to live.  Yet there are days when you feel the need to crawl back into that skin, if just for a moment, and remember…no matter how bad it hurts.

I’m still not through all the hospital notes.  They are painful.  I only managed to watch one home video of Emmy (her first bath at home) before our VCR broke.  I need to get the home videos transferred to DVD, but I am afraid of someone accidentally losing them in the process.  I just can’t deal with that…so I don’t.

In fact, I’m not even sure I’m totally ready to watch those videos.  To see her alive will hurt so very bad and I will have to be in a certain mood to be able to handle that sort of pain.

In fact, I will need to be in the mood to grieve on purpose.

It’s been 2 years since Emily left my arms.  I can hardly believe it has been that long.  It doesn’t seem possible.

You can look at me, my family, my home and see a joyful existence.  If you didn’t know our story, you would probably never know we had lost a child.  You might wonder at the fish on our van or the picture of a little girl on our buffet you can’t quite place as you look around at the rest of my children.  You might wonder why my count is off when I tell you I’m pregnant with number 7 or why my husband always blows a kiss to Heaven before he leaves the house.  But you won’t readily see the grief.

God truly has healed our hurting hearts.  He continues to bless us and others through Emily’s little life.  And although, I do still grieve, it looks a bit different than it used to.  It’s more a quiet grief, a private grief, the worst of which comes when I allow it to…when I grieve on purpose.

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37 Comments on Grieving On Purpose

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37 thoughts on “Grieving On Purpose

  1. I know exactly what you are talking about down to the number of pregnancies.

    This April is 8 years for me. We have some very special traditions around Jonah’s birthday that I really look forward to now. I used to dread his birthday. Now I am glad I have it.

    .-= Sandi@A Mother’s Musings´s last blog ..A Peek in My Window =-.

  2. I just have to mention. She has the most beautiful eyes! Such a sweet baby! I can’t imagine the heartache. Bless you for all you have done to help other grieving mothers.

  3. Amy, I think about you a lot and about Emily and how heavy your heart must feel because of her absence… As a mother, I can’t imagine that pain ever really leaving… but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are great. I will continue to pray for you.

  4. Hugs Amy~

    I think of you when I listen to the Christian song
    Every Season…the song I mentioned was on my play list that might make you cry.

    It talks about seeing God in the changing seasons….it makes mention of the Fourth of July…
    (a very special day for your family)…..The song brings full circle our growth as the seasons change…..a very soft,touching song!

    So the next time you are griving on purpose….the song might aslo help in healing!?

    .-= Fruitful Harvest´s last blog ..Celebrating Sedar Supper =-.

  5. Amy,

    I can’t imagine the loss of a child nor understand for one moment what days must be like for you. All I can do is say, I pray for you. I pray that God in His timing will restore everything to you as it should have been even though that time may take longer than you had hoped. Emily will never be replaced but knowing that you will once again be reunited on the otherside and never have to endure the pain of loss or the pain of just missing her very presence in everything about your life again.

    God is waiting and faithful for you. He is a God who understands more than most of us will ever know what it’s like to lose your only child, yet He did. And in doing so, created that bridge for us believers to be reunited once more with our loved one never to experience that pain of loss ever again.

    I keep you close and keep you in my prayers that if you ever need someone to listen, I am here.

    Have you considered purchasing your own equipment to do the transfer process yourself? I heard if you have a fairly new computer that can house burning DVD’s you only need the transfer cable and software and you can do this without trusting someone else. I know I need to do this with all our kids videos before they no longer make VCR’s or ours dies!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat
    .-= Kathleen Smith´s last blog ..Lunch In Paris Winners =-.

  6. Next week will be 4 months since our sweet daughter was delivered stillborn into my arms. A beautiful perfect little body, a sweet angel spirit not meant for this world. We are trusting God with all our hearts, and praying for the healing your have experienced. My grieving heart and empty arms can’t really imagine it is even possible, but your words strengthen my hope.


  7. I totally relate to what you’re saying. Today would have been my Kaylee’s 5th birthday. It does get easier and hurt a little less, but there are times when I need to go to that place. There has been a whirlwind of doctor visits over the last 3 days precipitated by my 3-yr-old taking a tumble down a flight of stairs, so there’s been little time to grieve as I normally would at this time. And now it’s back to the whirlwind of life as if nothing ever happened. Life does go on…ready or not.

    • You know, the whole “life goes on” part of grief has always been hard for me to stomach. You just want the world to stop…and it doesn’t. At this stage, I think it is important to just stop life for a bit (even if it’s just you stopping), let yourself grieve, and then let life start back up. Praying you have just a wee bit of time to stop life and remember your little girl. {HUGS}

  8. I can’t imagine I will get to the place that you are, but I am sure it will happen at one point. My Kara Faith has been gone from me for just 32 days. I almost feel like she is slipping away a little more each day, but I still sleep with the blanket we held her in when she went to be with Jesus. He made her perfectly to accomplish His purposes and I was just a tiny part of the plan. Yet it hurts so badly sometimes. Thank you for your post. There is hope for the future and HOPE and Joy in Jesus. I think I would like another little one someday, but I am growing older and the pain is very fresh right now. May you and your family be blessed!
    .-= Nancy Palmer´s last blog ..Fridays are Donut Day & Purple Day =-.

    • Nancy,
      That slipping away hurts so bad, doesn’t it. I’m sure you are probably just now coming out of the fog surrounding little Kara’s death. Those days hurt so much, and you are right, it never seems as if you will be okay again. There is hope and a future moving toward Jesus and your precious daughter (not away from her). You are loved, Nancy. I pray for you often. {HUGS}

  9. It has been 4 weeks today that we lost our sweet baby Lezlea. We went to the doctor for a regular OB check-up to find that there was no longer a heart beat. I delivered at 37 weeks and 2 days!! She was beautiful and perfect! We don’t know the cause of her death. She would have been our #3! I hurt so bad at times and in other times I know she is an angel now watching over us. I know God is GREAT and I feel honored he chose her to sit with him in his kingdom…but I am also only human and feel selfish and would rather have her here! Thank you for sharing your story and little Emily’s!! She was so beautiful…and now I am sure she looks gorgeous with her wings!!

    I know I have a long road ahead of me but I am glad I have God on my side to see me through it! And I am praying he keeps blessing me with more children!!

    You and your family are in my ! God bless!

  10. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing more about your Emmy. It seems as if it was just yesterday that I was sitting next to you, at the Bible Camp, talking about your Emily. My friend, I think and pray about you so often. I pray that Jesus continues to bring you peace and joy. Your faithfulness is a testimony.

    You are a special gift.

    .-= Rachel´s last blog Sam….and thought of spring =-.

    • Rachel,
      Our friendship means so much to me. Those early days, as painful as they were, are dear to me because of the love of people like you. Thank you.

  11. I cannot believe it has been 2 years! I love when you post about Sweet Emily, she cheers my heart and makes me cry every time. You are truly blessed to have such a precious daughter. I grieve with you and yet praise God for the joy that is Emily!
    .-= MamaArcher´s last blog ..Such Contrast =-.

  12. Amy,

    I am new to your blog. The Lord has convicted my heart to accept His plan for the size and timing of my family as well! I want to thank you for the amazing gift of sharing Emily’s life with my family! I have a little girl almost 7 months old…her and emily share quite a physical resemblance in fact. Reading your thoughts and prayers through your journey of letting Emily go, just tears my heart into. I wanted to let you know, that I hold my babies a little closer, and I complain a little less about the noise and confusion of my life with 5 (so far) blessings! I don’t take for granted my healthy children, here in my arms…I will hold them and love them a little better…because of Emily’s life and story! Thankyou for blessing us with your blog!

    • Bonnie,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. The things you spoke of are precisely what I hope and pray comes from sharing our story. Children are precious…each and every one of them. God bless you!

  13. Today I grieved on purpose. I found your blog through a friend’s Facebook link that had nothing to do with losing a child, but about sibling’s loving each other. Today my toddler alternately kisses and smooshes her 2 month-old brother. Today I am exhausted and learning the hard lesson that I am not the perfect mother I thought I would be. Though Susannah would be 6 years old and ready to start first grade in just a couple of weeks, today I can still be reduced to sobbing reading the words of a stranger walking the same path.

    • {{HUGS}} This has been a rough week for me, even after 2 1/2 years. I think milestones are some of the hardest to work through…like your daughter starting school. Still amazes me how something seemingly small can reduce me to a puddle. Bless you, my friend.

  14. My 2 1/2 year old son died three weeks ago in a drowning accident. Some days I feel like I have fallen into an abyss of grief and I am afraid I will not be able to climb out and care for my other children. I have had two days (including today) when God has shielded me from the pain. I think it is so devastating that I can’t think about it all the time because the pain is unbearable. I can’t believe that he’s gone and I just keep thinking of all the “what ifs” that might have made things different. Sometimes I feel like it didn’t happen to us, like it’s something I read about in the newspaper. But I can’t escape the fact that he’s not here. Or that I remember holding his limp, lifeless body.
    Today, I asked Jesus to grant me a day out of the grief pit so I could have a “normal” day with my other children. He did, but then I felt guilty for wanting a break from grieving for my son. I don’t want to feel like he is a burden, whose memory I must avoid in order to function. But I can’t remember him with smiles yet. It hurts so much. Even knowing that he’s in heaven, it seems so unfair that he is not with us. Sorry for rambling, but I felt like God let me put off my grief on purpose today, and maybe someday that will develop into a day when I grieve on purpose.
    Your posts have been a blessing to me, thank you for sharing your thoughts about Emily.

    • Jennifer,
      My heart goes out to you. I am so, so sorry. I still have moments when I feel like this didn’t really happen. For weeks I was just sure she was right down the hall where I could go at any moment and pick her up and hold her. But then that dream would crash in on me. Take the moments of peace God gives you. And please, download the free ebook..I pray you will be blessed. And thank you so much for commenting…your “ramblings” are precious.

      • I agree Amy, take the moments ( I call them gifts from God) of peace that the Lord grants. Don’t feel guilty for not grieving. I remember feeling intense guilt (right around the 3 month mark after Ethan passing) for NOT grieving. Oh sweetie, you will grieve for a long, long time, so take those breaks that you can. It’s truly a gift from God. He only gives us what we CAN handle. He created you, and He knows that you need a break ever now and then. God bless you both!

    • Jennifer,

      I read and can relate to you, what you have written. I want you to know that we have endured the same tragedy. Our son drowned a year ago, and I want you to know that I am here if you need a shoulder to lean on via the internet. Please email me at if you feel led to do so by the Lord. I know that He certainly led me to you! You will survive this! Lean on Jesus. :o)

  15. I’m so sorry for the loss of your little girl. It’s been 23 days since my husband and I lost our eight year old son tragically in a bicycle accident. He was the second of four children. The pain is so fresh and I can relate to everything you are saying and I’ve already thought about do much that I know is coming in the future. Especially, the part about not grieving so openly or readily. Your blog is a blessing. I believe that parents who lose children just need to know that what they are feeling is normal. Even though, at this moment, nothing feels quite normal. Trent, like our other children is all over our home where he will stay. Because that is what comforts my family. The worst thing that could ever happen is for people to forget him or pretend his 8 precious years never existed.