It 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.