Saturday, November 03, 2007

Good grief (LONG)

Last year at this time, holding 'Brudder'
He was her favorite person
She knows how to love like no other...
These are our friends, Matt and Molly
After saying she wanted to be a 'dove' and 'Laura Ingalls Wilder', Em decided she wanted to be a 'China doll'
These will be great to look back on when she and Jackson are older


It's been a crazy busy week since we returned from SD, trying to unpack from the trip so we can pack our house and pack in quick visits with friends before we pack again for another week out of town. Did I mention we close on our house on November 28th? I'll just cram all my packing in for the night before...just kidding. Well, sort of. Actually my mom is helping tremendously! I did wait until the night before I left for college, though, to pack. Last minute cramming actually reminds me of one reason I posted a picture of our friends, Matt and Molly.

In 1995 we went to Siberia with these guys, and oh, about 150 teenagers for 2 months. Yes, we were crazy. But, Jason and I would have literally lost it if we hadn't had these guys to keep us laughing and pressing on day to day. Anyone who went on this trip with us knows that there are so many words to describe it yet is was indescribable. One day when I find all my pictures, I'll scan some for fun. Anyway, I mention them because we are blessed. Jason and I have a lot of friends. I am not bragging. This is a reality. We have met many wonderful people growing up, going to college, moving from state to state, going on mission trips, life in the hospital, in blog world. We are blessed because whether in proximity or in our hearts, our friends at whatever stage in life, even if 'inactive', will always be dear to us. Our lives are as busy as anyone else's, but it doesn't keep us from praying for and loving the friends God has sent our way.

The last year and a half has really brought to light the importance of friendship, as well as a working definition of the word for us. We have learned through the agony of losing Noah where our deep friendships lie and where other relationships that were teetering between deep and shallow now stand. As part of our grief counseling, we were assigned the task of essentially going through every person in our lives, during our loss and after, and determining their role in regards to whether they are 'Doers', 'Listeners', or 'Not really serving any role or purpose'. I realize the last category sounds cold, but if everyone were to be honest in their own lives, whether you've walked through grief or not, you could compile your own list and there would be people who fall into that column. These are people who have 'checked out' or are draining or so self-absorbed that there is no room for mutual encouragement. These are people that don't really need to be in our lives at this stage, and maybe not in the future. Basically, it's a column where it's okay to say, "No. I'm a grown up and I choose not to have you in my life." Relationships change. They come and go. The ones that remain are those that run deep. New ones that come are those that can endure the 'new' you.

For me, I can plug people into each column quite easily. I am not 'crusty' about being able to do so, either. My expectations were just that, mine, and when people who I thought were supposed to do something or say something did not, God showed me a bigger picture of the Body of Christ. He showed me that it had no walls. He also showed me that it was not okay for me to have those expectations, even though we think it is justified. Maybe I'm a bit jaded. I have always been an optimist. I try to see both sides, at least at first. I want to pray appropriately so when I do form an opinion, it is based on someone else's fruit and not just my assumptions.

Last night (a Friday, mind you), Jason and I went to a grief night for parents at the new Children's Hospital. The speaker shared about the gamut of emotions. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Guilt. Loneliness. Depression. Non-emotion. I'll go into those on another post, but another thing he touched on was how other people expect 'bereaved parents' (or widows, widowers or any of those 'left behind') to be their old selves again. He talked about men in particular at this point because men do not show emotion like women (nor should they be expected to...FYI). He said that when a person returns to 'life', ie. job, school, social circles, and begins 'doing' some of their old things, ie. responsibilities, tasks, work, other people view that as their 'old self' and expect that the 'griever' is 'over it' and ready to resume life as they knew it. Let me just reiterate what grievers (or even non-grievers who have made radical life changes) have been trying to tell people around them for YEARS...I AM CHANGED AND THERE IS NO 'OLD ME'. THAT PERSON YOU KNEW IS GONE AND FOREVER CHANGED. THIS IS ME. I AM FIGURING OUT THE NEW ME, BUT LET IT BE CRYSTAL CLEAR, I AM NO LONGER THAT PERSON YOU LIKED OR DIDN'T LIKE, SO LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF. YOU CAN GET TO KNOW ME AS I START LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME WITHOUT THE PERSON IN MY LIFE THAT I LOVED. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE NEW ME, THAT'S TOTALLY FINE WITH ME. I AM THE MOM OF A DEAD KID. I AM THE MOM OF A LIVING KID. I AM THE WIFE OF A MAN OF GOD WHO LOST THE ONLY SON HE EVER HAS KNOWN. WE ARE THE FAMILY ON THE BLOCK WITH THE CHILD WHO DIED. I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHAT IS ON THE COVER OF THE 'INQUIRER'. I'M NOT INTERESTED IN GOSSIP. I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT OFFENDING PEOPLE IF THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD.

Anyway, it was insightful. I appreciated what he shared regarding men and their grief expressions. He said that society has expected men to express their grief in the same way women do, so when they don't cry enough or talk about their feelings, everyone assumes they are cold or 'out of touch' with their emotions. We are all going to grieve the way we are wired to grieve. We don't know how we'll grieve. It's not a course you can take: Grief 101: How to Grieve. It hits at unexpected times, like on the ellipse machine at the gym or seeing someone with the same diaper bag I chose for Noah. I am grateful that God showed us early on that even though we shared the same beautiful son, Jason and I will grieve differently as our losses were varied.

We then toured the new facility and found some of Noah's doctors and nurses. It was good to connect with them and catch up a little on their new roles at the hospital. One of the docs, Noah's last resident, got on the phone and started calling people in the hospital saying, "Noah Graves' parents are here", as if everyone should just know who that is. We teased him about it and he and the other doc said it was true. That there are just some kids that remain in their memories forever. When they say, "NOAH" it is like saying 'Madonna' (except of course, DIFFERENT than Madonna). Everyone knows who they are talking about. As a parent, just as the speaker had shared earlier that night, it means a lot to know that people remember and aren't afraid to 'bring up your child'. EVERY PARENT IN THE ROOM RAISED THEIR HAND WHEN ASKED IF IT WAS A POSITIVE THING WHEN PEOPLE BRING UP THEIR DEAD CHILD.

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing and very well said, my friend. I know it is uncomfortable for people to talk about something they know is painful for another person. But it is so much more painful when the loss is not acknowledged.

    I'm so sorry you have to live without Noah here on Earth.

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  2. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Wow Adrienne! You really hit this one on the head!
    We experienced similar situations with ourselves as well as with 'friends' when our son was sick and again when we adopted our daughter. We both handled each situation differently as you have described.
    I was changed.... I was no longer interested in the trivial junk, I needed true friends who were there to help me face a difficult situation straight on. Somewere there, some were not. The 'new me' has continued to evolve since....
    Friendships are so important, but the true friends are those who stand by in support (not always knowing what to do or what to say, but they still stand there by your side)....and are still there years later. As you said, they run deep.
    I did not know you before Noah, but I consider the 'new you' a friend. Thank you for putting this into words so eloquently!
    Hugs to you on this day!
    Beth (in Brighton)

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  3. Adrienne,
    I love reading your posts. You're willingness to share your journey continues to inspire me.
    It caught my attention when you mentioned the mission trip to Siberia, as I was on that trip and on your team. I still look back on that trip with fond memories....I was 15 at the time :) I think you and Jason were newlyweds when you led that trip and now (being married myself, I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to have all of that responsibility!) Wow, you guys were really great, though. I have thought of you both often since then and I thank you for the impact that you made on my life then... and are continuing to make on my life now. God bless.

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  4. Your post moved me, again.... esp. the very last part. I worked in a school for 7 years as a social worker before having my two kids and one of my friends, who was a sec. had lost her son when he was in high school--probably about 10 years before I had met her; anyway, the last year of my job, we lost a 4th grader in a 4-wheeling accident and not only did I work with the staff to console all of the students on this horrible loss, but my friendship got stronger with my sec. friend b/c this brought up so many memories of losing her son. She shared so much with me, and it all came about with me just calling her quick when she found out about this little boy and simply asking, "How are YOU doing?" I knew this would stir up many painful memories for her, but the thing that got me the most was when she said that it's so NICE when people ask her about her son. People sometimes have this notion that it's better not to ask b/c they don't want to offend someone, when in reality, it's SO nice for people who have lost someone to talk to about their loss on a reg. basis. It keeps things "real." Sorry for the rambling but great post and you are in my prayers, friend.

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  5. I'm sitting here crying......that's an emotion I rarely let myself do anymore in regard to my son. He was delivered still on Thanksgiving Day 2002 at full term. This time of the year I ache, I hurt, I yearn for what isn't there....and I feel guilty about it. I've let so many people in my life go because they were not what I need anymore. There are some good ones around me now.......but they are not the ones who knew me before.......they only know the "new me"......I miss those old carefree days.......yet I'm grateful for having had the experience of carrying my beautiful child for nine months. We have since adopted a beautiful son and he fills my heart with joy...........but how do I explain to people who won't let me talk about it that I miss my son who died? Everyone expects you to go on and forget.....but how can you??? Adrienne....thanks for sharing your journey.......This cry just felt really good and was much needed.

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  6. All I have to say to this one is...have you been reading my journal?! Almost exactly what I want to shout at some people....the "new me...Josh included" is just how God wants us to be and that is a good thing! Not saying the change isn't painful or that we have stopped missing Pearl. Keep being honest...praying for you and love you so much!

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  7. Thanks for sharing and teaching me to be a better friend.

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  8. Thanks for sharing that Adrienne... Sometimes, when I read the words of someone who expresses just what I am feeling, it's like a huge sigh of relief that I don't have to try to express it myself. Grief counseling sounds like a very good idea... I'd love to find something like you have.

    Meghan

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  9. Anonymous10:44 PM

    Thanks for sharing exaclty how you feel...in words. People in my life have recently shared with me stories of lost spouses and knowing your journey with Noah and expieriences you had and felt, helped me better understand what they had gone through. Immediately i thought of you. Although i have not been there myself loosing someone so close, i am a bit more aware of the needs in their lives, as well as yours. it is hard not knowing what to say, although i care so much. This blog has informed me to be stronger in areas i feel weak...thank you!
    Stephie G

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  10. Anonymous10:44 PM

    Thanks Ade. See you this week!
    Chris

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  11. Anonymous7:24 AM

    You are so dear to me and I hope (know) that you will tell me when I am self absorbed. Remember- we dont want to blow sunshine-lol. May Christ shine through changes in us as we grow. R

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  12. Very well put Adrienne. I find myself afraid to talk to people about their loss because I don't want to make them feel bad. I am sorry. I am sorry for your loss, I am sorry people place judgement or tell you how to grieve, I am sorry the Em doesn't have her brother to fight with, and I am sorry I haven't been a better friend. I was just thinking the other day and I do remember seeing Noah. You guys were here over the 4th and he was just tiny. I remember talking to Em about her brother. I am glad the grief counseling is helping. I know we haven't been best friends since high school or anything but I feel like we have developed a friendship that will last a lifetime. I am here if you ever need someone to talk to. Love you!!!

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  13. erika9:34 AM

    You know, that's good to know (that parents like it when you bring up their child). My friend (who lost a child)told me that she doesn't like it when people act like nothing happened.

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  14. anothermadhousewife9:41 AM

    I didn't really finish my thought above. Thanks for helping me know how to be a better friend to people who have experienced loss. Erika

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  15. I wanted to add my friends new blog to the prayer list.

    http://allenandzan.blogspot.com/

    I have been visiting Noah's blog almost everyday since January. It has been a blessing in my life. I hope you will visit my friends blog and help to bless her and her family as they begin their new life.

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  16. Well said Ade. We truly do become different people after a loss. A big chunk of US was taken the day that person left our lives. There's no way that will return to us, this side of heaven.

    We had our one year celebration of James' life. It was beautiful, hard, sad, hopeful. It hurt and was amazing in the healing process. You know how it is...the jumble of a million emotions all at once. I'll be praying for you especially as you enter this first of holiday seasons, the end of the first year without Noah.

    You are blessing me through your journey.

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  17. I am yet another person you do not know that has come across your blog. I shed many tears reading your story and the story of your beautiful family. I, too, am a believer and find that reading your story triggers fear of surrender and questions of the depth of my faith but praise God that he speaks through you, others and His Word to remind me of who He is. One question that keeps coming to my mind, and the primary reason I am even making myself known through this comment, is regarding vaccination. Was Noah vaccinated (likely with the Hep B vaccine since that is the one he would have received at birth)? There are many sides to the issue, some grounded in viable research and others not, but as someone who appears to have looked into every possibility to what caused Noah's death I thought I would toss that out there to be grappled with. I'm not trying to stir up trouble, just give you something else to look into to as many have suggested a correlation between Hep B vaccine and demyelinating diseases. May God grow increasingly glorified through your struggle.

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  18. Hope the moving is going well. Em looked adorable as a china doll. And once again, your insights are profound. It really helps me to understand the things you are sharing... not because of personal loss but because of my friends and family. This was really good to know and I've always believed to be true:

    "EVERY PARENT IN THE ROOM RAISED THEIR HAND WHEN ASKED IF IT WAS A POSITIVE THING WHEN PEOPLE BRING UP THEIR DEAD CHILD."

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  19. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Another blog to visit and pray for.

    http://zanquinn.blogspot.com/

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  20. Anonymous9:08 PM

    Here is a loving dad's blog on his 11 year old daughters death.

    http://allentwiggs.blogspot.com/

    Lift up this family in your prayers.

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  21. Mollly4:08 PM

    I was just talking about you today and saying how great it was to see you both and remember fun? times in Russia. Thanks for being so open and vulnerable about Noah. We love you! And thanks for posting the decent picture : )

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  22. Wow, I just came across your blog. My dh and I tell people that we have four kids, but only one lives with us. Our dd is 9, our son, Payton, was killed in a freak accident 2.5 years ago, and now we're almost ready to bring home our two kids we're adopting from Haiti. This post rings true to my heart. My son has been living in heaven for 2.5 years now and I long for him each and every day. I LOVE it when people bring up a memory of Payton, no matter how small. I often tell my closest friends (who are few) that I may look like the same person, but inside I am forever changed. What a blessing to have been Payton's mom for 3 years, 5 months, and 6 days!

    In Christ,
    Mary Franks
    www.xanga.com/huck_muleeva

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