Ask Amy – Fear and the Healing Process After the Loss of a Child

healing after child lossIt seemed appropriate on the eve of the 5 year anniversary of our daughter’s Home-going that I should answer this particular question.

Two readers submitted questions that, while not entirely similar, were of the same topic…life after the loss of a child.

One reader had lost a child at 7 months (the same age our Emmy was) and wanted to know what we had done to heal from her loss.  The other reader lost a son due to complications of childbirth and was pregnant again and wondering how to deal with the fear she was feeling.

For me, the fear was one of the most ongoing things I needed to heal from.  In fact, it continues to be something I must give to the Lord over and over again.  Just this past week, I sat up late into the night praying through my fears as I held my newborn son.  I know I will never fully conquer this fear this side of Heaven, but I do know God is big enough to handle those fears and walk me through them.

The past 5 years have been wrought with ups and downs in the grieving process.  Here are a few of the things we have done to help us heal and gain victory over our fears.

*Write, write, write.  On my Grieving Mother page, I have a lot of links to articles I have written, many of them typed out through tears.  I grieved through my writing and I encourage every grieving mother to do the same.  It doesn’t have to be a public blog.  It can be a quiet journal tucked away by your bedside.  Mothers need a place to write their deepest thoughts and feelings without judgement.

*Cling to the Lord and each other.  I wrote Psalms for the Grieving Heart because I knew grieving families needed to cling to the Lord during their grief, but they more than likely couldn’t handle lengthy Bible studies and/or devotionals.  Music was very important in our healing as well.  Songs like Blessed Be Your Name and Be Unto Your Name brought us to tears, but helped us praise the Lord in the middle of it all.

We also grew as a family.  We never hesitated to speak of Emily.  Even our children who were not born when she passed away know of her and speak as if they remember her.  And Ty and I clung to each other.  We often found that when one of us was weak, the other was strong.

*Grieve how you need to grieve and say what you need to say, but do it in a safe place.  My husband and a select group of friends are my safe place.  I know I can say anything to them.  I know I can grieve and they will listen and hug me and pray for me.  Unfortunately, those who grieve often hear rather thoughtless words spoken to them that can cut like a knife.  Don’t open up to those kind of people.  Even if they do not mean to hurt you, it is best to only grieve openly with those who understand.

*Don’t do anything hastily, but do keep working through those difficult things.  It took me several weeks to take Emily’s clothes out of the closet and put them in a box.  It took me 2 years to finally go through them all and tidy them up.  There are still places we do not go and things we do not do.  We’re just not ready.

There came a time when we felt ready to go back to the city where Emily died.  It was hard.  We cried.  A lot.  But, we did it.  And sometimes I have been ready to take a step forward before my husband, but I have chosen to wait until he is ready.  We do this together even though we heal differently.  I have to respect his difficult things just as he has to respect the things that are more difficult for me.

*Focus on serving others.  Once the brunt of the storm is passed, it is so very important we begin to serve others with the same comfort and love we were shown.  I have sadly watched women cling to their grief as a security blanket, never letting go and reaching out to others.  It is okay to find joy.  It is okay to live again.  It is okay to heal.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I never cry and I never miss Emily and I never feel like my heart is going to break in two.  When you’ve lost a child, there’s never an end to your grief.  But, I can attest to the fact that with the Lord’s infinite mercy, you can heal.  Ask Him to fight the fears for you.  Ask Him to steady your feet on this path.  Ask Him to show you what He wants for you.

And thank you, my dear readers. for allowing me to share my precious daughter with you.  It is my hope and prayer that her life and her death and how her daddy and I have walked through it all has glorified the Lord and encouraged others along the way.  She was such a blessing to us and we will never be the same because of her.

Daddy holds Emily for the first time after her first surgery in December 2007.

Daddy holds Emily for the first time after her first surgery in December 2007.

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18 thoughts on “Ask Amy – Fear and the Healing Process After the Loss of a Child

  1. Thank-you so much for sharing this! I’m am newly pregnant, my first pregnancy since losing our little boy at 25 weeks gestation. I am very grateful that I haven’t struggled with many fears yet, but I am aware & on guard, knowing that satan will use whatever he can to bring fear & in that way destroy the joy I have in this pregnancy. I have been blessed as I’ve journeyed with you these past few years and the tips you have given today are great and so helpful! Thank you for sharing your heart and being open about your journey of grief.

  2. Amy, I agree with all you have written. Thank you for sharing your heart with mommas who have lost a child. God bless you, and all of the bereaved mommas out there. God will carry you when you feel as though there’s no hope this side of heaven.

  3. Emily’s story has touched me so much through the years. I very nearly lost one of my sons when he was 7 months and your story has always served as a reminder to cherish every moment. I had my forth child, a girl, last November and named her Emily with your little one in mind. She too has a full head of brown curls and a beautiful smile, when I look at her I am frequently reminded of your little angel.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today.

  4. I am 3 1/2 months in my grief journey. I lost my 9 year old daughter to brain cancer. I found everything you wrote here to be true. I have blogged about my grief and have so much healing there.

  5. I could not imagine what this would feel like, the only coming close I can come is a child with Type 1 diabetes at age 7. You think if you survive SIDS, you have it made, well this rocked our world….forever changed our lives & robbed his childhood…but we survived & now my fear is his children will have it, he will die early & on it goes. I am so thankful for his strict adherence to the regiment of what it takes to deal with this disease, modern technology & Dr’s that have made this nightmare an easier pill to swallow….but to loose a child….I know God will not give us more than we can handle, I just cannot imagine how to ever survive it. So I am glad to know how well you are doing & know how much good God grants to us all.

  6. What a blessing to read your blog today. Your daughter Emily’s story was heart wrenching & touching. This being the anniversary I was curious if you would post an update. I have an unborn child in heaven waiting for me. I also have a prodigal child who I grieve for as he runs from God. God gives us children to keep us on our knees. I believe each one is a miracle gift from God. Currently my life is in crisis while I battle breast cancer and homeschool my 2 youngest of 5 children. I listened to your audio on homeschooling through crisis. It strengthens me to know there will be a new normal because I realize my life will never be the same. My children have amazed me through every step and we are a stronger family with each test. My mother battled breast cancer too 9 years ago and being by her side is a gift I wouldn’t ever trade. My youngest was 6 months when my mom went to heaven and she is my mothers namesake. Having her name keeps her memory alive . My unborn child’s due date is the same as my youngest sons birthday so each year I am reminded of my child waiting in heaven with my mother. Reaching out & sharing is what I believe God intended for us as Christians to bear each others burdens. Thank you for sharing yours. God bless. Laura

  7. Thank you so much for this post!!! It wasn’t until reading it, that I realized that I have been struggling with fear for years! Not in the death of a child, but in the death of a husband. I’ve been remarried now for nearly 13 years, but the fear of losing him is sometimes overwhelming. I never had words for it till now…now that I know, it will be so much easier to fight it. God has blessed me with two amazing, godly men….both totally different from each other too.

    Knowing this is fear that I struggle with, I also know where to find the ‘ammo’ to fight it with. Thank you so, so much!!

    Molly

    ps~ I love how Creed looks so much like Emmy. What a sweet, sweet blessing.

  8. I, too, am a mother who has lost a child. My son was 25 and he died as a result of an accidental gunshot. His brother was with him at the time of the shooting and believes that he was responsible for his death. I almost lost both of my sons that day. As a single parent (their dad passed away in 1982) I felt so alone but I was given many Tender Mercies from Father in Heaven so I could understand why my son died. I appreciate your thoughts and the sharing of your experience. It was sweet to know that we shared so many of the same feelings.

  9. Thank you for sharing on this difficult subject. I have had several miscarriages (2 last year) and the thought of getting pregnant again scares me to the core. Last year was a difficult one with 3 major losses (my Dad passed last Feb) and sometimes it’s all I can do to get through the day. Thank you for giving practical ways we can work towards healing our hearts. It is so important to remember it is a step-by-step process. And sometimes its just enough to know someone else has been there and survived. Blessings to you!

  10. Hi, I just joined your blog recently so had to do some reading to catch up, but I feel your loss. I lost a little one 3 years ago just before he was to be born, so reading about your little girl brought back some memories of having to deal with the grief then. I love how you are so open and honest. Prayers and hugs as you remember your Emily.

  11. I skimmed over this email yesterday, then had to re-read it as last night I started to have my first miscarriage after 8 healthy pregnancies. Thank you for the encouragement.

  12. Dear Amy, I am the reader who lost my son during child birth. Thank you so much for responding so sweetly. I didn’t see this until now because my husband and I share an email and sometimes he accidently deletes things that he doesn’t know I am looking for. My little girl was born healthy on March 14. The fear lingers but I am believing each and every day that He will give me His perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him. Thank you again so much. -Megan