Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grief counseling, week 7

I miss these red, crusty cheeks, really, really, really badly.
I miss these little feet and sweet ankles and knees I used to nibble on.
I miss this mighty little man of God. This picture was taken one year ago today. There isn't anything I don't miss about Noah. I wish the tears that were flowing right now were soaking his head, like we used to do so many nights...

I've been too busy lately. Some of the busyness has been self inflicted and much of it is the reality of having to close on our house in less than two weeks. One thing they have tried to emphasize in grief counseling is slowing down, simplifying, and taking time for self-care and grief. I'm not doing this right. I'm too busy and I feel like I haven't been a good friend to any one of my family members or friends, and quite frankly, I do not have the emotional fortitude to be that to anyone presently. It wouldn't feel so hectic if we were moving right into our new house but we have a month of homelessness to figure out. We need to organize storage of our belongings, pack suitcases for the month of December since we'll either live in a hotel or do some house sitting, mail for the month, etc. This wouldn't feel so hectic, I am sure, if every day I weren't reliving hospital life in my head and heart, missing Noah's sweet presence, missing nurses, and quite frankly, missing being a caretaker and researcher. I guess there is a reason why the grief facilitators emphasize not taking trips or moving during the 9 week session.

We covered a lot of material on Monday. A few questions posed were:

"Where is it that you find a sense of hope?" I find hope in knowing that Noah is whole and healed and in God's presence. I find hope in God. I find hope that I was not created for here, but I am here, so while I am here, my purpose is to be used for God's glory. I find hope that one day Jesus will return for the Bride of Christ. I find hope in the God of the Universe who threw every star in place, designed every living creature, and Who knows my name because He loves me.

"What makes you want to go on?" Deep in my heart, I am ashamed that Christ's short life and gruesome death were not enough of a wake up call for me. I didn't learn in 19 years, at the time, of knowing what Jesus did for me what 7 months and 2 days with Noah taught me. What makes me go on is knowing that I am not my own. I was bought with Jesus' death on the cross. As a mom, no, as Emily and Noah's mom, I will not live this life half-hearted nor for my own pursuit. If I don't love God out loud in front of Em, I'm not worthy of being her mom. I'm not worthy of being His child...

"What would your child tell you to do now?" This one was difficult for me to answer because I can be quite literal...since Noah would be 17 months old, he'd be calling me 'Mama' about now. I suppose that's what I am supposed to continue doing, being his big sister's 'Mama'.

Our assignment was to make preparations for the holidays. This was a powerful time because each parent in the room had different fears or apprehensions about the upcoming dates. Many plans have been rearranged or changed altogether in order to lessen the pain. One mom will be trudging through her second holiday season without her daughter. Her husband has left her, his family no longer comes around, she made no mention of her own family, just she and her two boys, alone all day, her not motivated to cook a meal and finding no reason to celebrate. The dad in the group that has lost 3 children in the last 3+ years encouraged her that perhaps all she stopped doing the first year may be reintroduced over time. Just because she didn't do that particular tradition the first year doesn't mean she has to stop it altogether. Sitting there, I couldn't help but think of so many other people who have lost someone they love, whether a child or spouse or parent or friend or whomever. The point of our discussion and the goal of our homework over the next week and even as time continues, is to establish memories, ways to remember those we miss dearly. I am very grateful that this is our topic for the next couple of weeks because even as I think of Noah on countless occasions throughout the day, I have not made memorials, really, and it makes the last year and a half all the more distant.


One facilitator stated that this is where we as the grievers need to state our thoughts and desires plainly so there is no guessing. We need to take responsibility to mention our child's (or your loved ones) name and say that for which we are thankful. They gave us a sheet titled, "Creating Memorials", which has many suggestions as to ways to remember and help others remember. Our experience is different, as is the next guys, but we were in the hospital last year at this time. We spent the holidays and my birthday in the hospital and so, for me, not being there this year will leave an emptiness in my heart. We will likely head over to the new hospital on Thanksgiving to try to encourage other families experiencing now what we did just one year ago.


Please, understand I am not stating this for my own benefit because my life is full and my heart runs over with love and generosity everyday from family and friends. I really do hope this has become a resource of encouragement for others who are also grieving or for those of you who are standing alongside friends and family in their loss. But as the holidays quickly approach, don't let the time pass by without acknowledging the memory of the person who is no longer here. Light a candle, make a toast, lead out in prayer, giving thanks for that person, give the widower flowers...whatever you do, don't ignore the elephant in the middle of the room or it might just sit on your face.

13 comments:

  1. adrienne, not that all of your posts are poignant and heart warming and breaking...but this one really spoke to me today. maybe with the thoughts of thanksgiving right around the corner...? i don't know.

    but, thank you, as always for your honesty. i will remember to give thanks in the upcoming days for all that i have but also for all that we have to look forward to in our eteranl glory.

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  2. Anonymous7:48 AM

    I lift you up even more today and the many days to come, Adrienne. You are in the prayers of many, I am sure that you feel it.... With all that is going on, just remember to take a few minutes to just breathe and relax for YOU! You are so amazing and strong; you give so much to others, thank you for sharing again!
    Thinking of you,
    Beth in Brighton

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  3. Always an inspiration to me and I'm know many others. I can't imagine the pain you feel...I think Noah is, without a doubt, the most beautiful little boy that I have ever seen. I pray that God wraps you up in his arms this holiday season and brings you some sense of comfort. Always thinking about your family and praying for you all.

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  4. Thanks for continuing to share all of the details of your grief counseling. We were in our support group over a year ago and it has been nice to re-expose myself to those questions again a year later and see the differences in my responses.

    Also thanks for reminding me to take some time to stop and reflect before this upcoming holiday season sneaks up on us, as it does every year.

    You continue to inspire!

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  5. Adrienne,

    My name is Allen Twiggs. My wife Zan and I lost our daughter Martha Anne almost 5 weeks ago. I think you replied to one of Zan's blogs.

    I was wondering if I could ask you if your family has found a new "normal" yet?

    I am scared to death to think of what that might look like, but even more afraid that it may never come.

    Will "normal" ever exist? Or, do you just get used to the hollow feeling in your chest?

    I am sorry if these questions make you think about things you don't want to. There are not very many people that we know who have lost a child.

    If you like, you can reply at my blog page; allentwiggs.blogspot.com

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  6. Anonymous6:36 PM

    You are a good friend to me! praying for you,
    Chris K.

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  7. Just have to say thanks.

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  8. Adrienne,
    I love how open you are to others pain. You feel you have nothing to give?? You are giving so much more than you know.
    Thank you.

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  9. Anonymous10:00 AM

    I am so sorry for your pain. Please try to keep focused that this life is very short. You will have an eternity of kissing those sweet cheeks. I hope you and all the parent's that have lost children can take comfort in knowing that they woke up healthy, in the arms of Jesus.

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  10. I'm so sorry you even have to go through a thing called grief counseling.

    I hope your Thanksgiving rocks.

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  11. I am praying for your family and all other families that have lost a loved one. Holidays are hard without the ones we love. My dad has been gone almost 8 years now and it is during this holiday season that I miss him the very most. Won't it be a glorious day when we get to celebrate this awesome season with them and our Savior in Heaven? It gives me chills of excitement to think about it.
    Thank you so much for sharing about your grief counseling. Your words are so honest and so powerful.
    God bless you this Thanksgiving!

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  12. Your answer in the second question you listed made the tears start flowing... these words were a wake-up call for me...

    thank you for your transparency in living and loving Jesus.

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  13. Thank you for loving God "out loud" and for encouraging me to do the same...especially in front of my girls.
    Nine years ago we had our first miscarriage the day before Thanksgiving - & our second right around Easter of the following year. Although I love my two girls more than words can say, I still think about the two angels we have in heaven. The Thanksgiving holiday always brings a bit of sadness with it.
    Thanks for sharing your journey through grief.

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