Friends & Suffering

This period of my life has sort of inevitably and unconsciously sifted out friendships and people that used to hold pieces of my heart. You really learn who truly cares when you are in grief. Grief has a way of making things like returning phone calls, or making dinner plans seem like the last thing on earth that matters. These tasks would require me to perform a certain way that would be deemed “socially acceptable.” Most of the time grief throws those mores and performances out the window–whats the point anyway? The people that have been there for me has been surprising. My friend–let’s call her “Sam” has been through an unspeakable amount of suffering, physically, relationally, and emotionally. She has become one of my best friends after Ella died. She still texts and calls me daily–and regularly acknowledges the fact that I am not ok. Her example of love has changed me, and set my own bar for friendship pretty high. The next time I have a friend who is experiencing death and grief, I will grieve with them and be there for them in a way that is so personal. I won’t expect anything from them. And I will do my best so just be in the depths with them. I probably won’t say “I’m here for you,” or “I’m praying for you.” I will cry and grieve with them…I hope I will.

Part of me has wanted to tell so many people from my past and present that the old me has died. If a friendship continues–you have to acknowledge that. You have to acknowledge that something as simple as a dinner date or a phone call is sometimes a lot for me to handle. Family and “friends” have ignored me, let me be, neglected me, and then expected me to respond the same way. The old me didn’t need as much. The new me does. For my own emotional wellbeing I have written off people who fail to realize we are still suffering and we are still broken. A conversation without this monumental realization is quite pointless to me.

I’ll give a little example of what I am talking about. This past Christmas we received countless picture cards…none of them acknowledged the fact that maybe Jason and I would be having a hard Christmas without our baby. People I thought would remember or care simply signed their names and wished us a “Merry Christmas.” Needless to say it was a very painful holiday, and all of those cards ended up in the trash. One card stood out from the rest though, a cousin of mine asked me if her card with her pregnant belly on it would be too much for me to handle. Thanking her I told her yes it would be too painful. She will never know how that little consideration and thoughtfulness blessed me. Now I understand that people forget. I get that. That used to be me. But the new fact is that I live life with a wound, and that wound is tantamount…it IS my life right now.

Some people in my own family have inadvertently made me feel terrible for my grief. They have sort of silently threatened me to act, to put on a happy face–so they don’t have to feel my pain. I don’t know why this is, I surmise that it makes them feel uncomfortable and sad, and afraid. Perhaps to deny my grief is somehow making sure it won’t infect them? Not sure. Maybe it simply is oblivion. I’ve had to choose to forgive many people for their lack of concern and for their insensitive remarks. Like I said, I used to be like that too…and if I’m honest I still am. We all let each other down as humans.

As a human being we can only carry so much. I carry grief and loss, and I don’t want to carry bitterness and unforgiveness in my load. I want to share an incident that also happened around Christmas that took me some time to forgive, and apply grace. I am still choosing to do this today. A family member and I where talking, and during that time they said they had to protect their newborn baby, and they weren’t sure if they wanted to be around us at Christmas time. This person also informed me that the maternal instinct was to blame, and it was hard for her to explain to me. Hard to explain to a mother of a stillborn who had no power whatsoever to breath life back into that little frame? I was devastated. That conversation literally left me speechless. I’m glad that God did not allow me to say what I was thinking or feeling. It would have been explosive I’m sure. Understanding where people come from, and assuming the best is always the key to letting go. It took me a long time to forgive her, and I’m sure to this day she has no idea how much she hurt me.

I wish that, that time was the only time I had to feel low on account of a family member or friend, but we do this to each other all the time. We are all selfish, self-consumed, and thoughtless. I want to share these accounts because I feel like it is an important part of my refining. For awhile I really damned up my heart, and made myself cold. I didn’t want to let God continue the refining that he started in me the day we lost Ella. There is a constant battle to keep my heart tender and right. A constant battle to look at my own inadequacies and failures. A constant battle to bestow grace that is and has been bestowed on me. This is so hard to do. Sometimes I want to be bitter and mean…and blatantly honest.

I get random texts sometimes from people I knew when I was eighteen, saying things like “When can we catch up?” But they haven’t been here with me in this fire, or on this journey. We are different people now. Catching up involves me opening my wounds up and being honest about who I am now. And I am quite certain that most people don’t want that, because if they did–they would’ve been here with me in these seven months. My mom had a vision one day, and she said she saw me, and Jesus..and He said “She’s coming with me.” She had the impression that I was going on a different path, and that most can’t go with me on that path…it is ours alone to take. Friends and family with young babies and daughters can’t expect me to go on their paths with them. I am mourning, and in death…and they are celebrating in life. I think this is the best way of putting it. We are on different paths. We are different people. So this is me releasing old friendships, old expectations, and old ways. This is me embracing others emptiness and brokeness. This is me not pretending. Seven months later and I’m still mourning. RIP the old Me.


5 thoughts on “Friends & Suffering

  1. I think until one experiences the pain and permanence of grief , they just dont understand it at all. I know I didnt … I never knew what it was like to think of someone everyday all day, when you wake up , when you go to sleep ( if you can sleep at all) , What its like to acknowledge loss with your brain but refuse to accept in in your heart. Its an exhausting cycle of remembering, processing , believing and despising reality. I never knew what it was like to cherish and miss memories that were never made and long for them so deeply. I never knew what raw absence of life looked like and how haunting the memories of it could be. I never imagined I could feel so angry with God. I always used to say ” people will always fail you, but God will never fail you” and the truth is I haven’t always felt this way since i entered grief, Many times I have questioned his Love, his faithfulness and I have felt lost in a sea of pain and broken promises. My faith has been wrecked and im still rebuilding it amongst the ruins a year and 3 months later . And yes in a lot of ways it still feels like I just heard the news because I play it over in my mind often, the moment my world changed. Not because I want to remember but because I dont want to forget. Before I experienced grief I never thought certain things that cross my mind frequently now… Like ” What if i just stood up right now in this room full of people and screamed ?! What would they do? What would there reaction be ? Words around me never felt so empty, yet the sky never seemed so amazing before either . Walking to the mailbox is a new experience, the grass under my feet reminds me that I live …. and she doesnt … Everything in my life, memories, pictures, events are now categorized as before her death or after her death in my mind. Ill see a picture and think that happened when she was still alive , and just the thought of that makes those memories even more special and at the same time tainted and painful. I never experienced anything more physically painful than grief either , sometimes its anxiety, sometimes it feels like fear, often to be it has felt like panic.. Ive lost control yet still dont want to give it up. And yes people have hurt me by the things they ve said and the things they did nt say. Many people who I thought were my closest friends and even family didnt even bother to show up to the funeral. In the following months people expected me to be the same, recovered, or like nothing ever happen and when i wasnt many of them withdrew. Many people thought I should be over it a month later, 6 months later, a year later certainly and i have felt a little judged by some like ” wow she is being pretty dramatic !” Dramatic ?? I lost my mom at 27 years old! Suddenly. It is dramatic! The truth is I found myself judging them too. I went through months of feeling sick with anyone who shared any concern about their weight, or their bad day, or their relationship issues. More than once I heard ” Were you even that close with her ?” which was a stabbing reminder of the space that I had let come between us leading up to her death ! It felt literally like a punch in the gut every time! I found myself trying to reach out to some others i knew were also suffering thinking maybe we could be miserable together, but like me they were suffering too much to reach back. In ways my overwhelming pain , regret, and anger made it easy to be self absorbed until I heard of someone else loss then their grief tripled my own . For while the days when something triggered loss seemed to be greater than the days that I was too exhausted to grief. Here I am its been over a year and Im still wondering will I ever recover? Will it ever be easier to accept? I find myself more and more able to participate in life again but I carry the pain and the experience with me unnoticed by most, everyone else has forgotten it seems…not me. not at all. Like I once read in a post of yours that I think sums it up in the best words ” I will never be the same and im not sure i want to be. “

  2. Another extremely hurtful thing ive been told is ” well you have a step mom, thats good ” Like somehow having someone else in your life makes you miss the person you ve lost less. As if your love one is somehow replaceable ! So to all of you who have said that to me ” NO IT DOESNT HELP! NO another person does not replace the person I lost and NEVER will. NO having a step mom doesnt make me miss my mom less. !! ” another one ” well you grew up living with your dad so …” So what???!!! She was my mother ! I was not adopted ! I grew up with her , she was my mom! I had regular vistations with her and have many many memories growing up with her just like you do with your mom! She gave birth to me and I we were extremely close , if anything the the fact that my parents were divorced and i missed out on more time with her growing up then people who come from nondivorced homes makes it worse! And yes there was space between us because of certain circumstances leading up to her death and it DOES not make it easier ! It makes it MUCH MUCh worse. I had to deal with that space everyday and now I cant deal with it because she is gone! And this feels pretty good to say !

  3. ” I know how you feel I lost my grandma last year ” , Ive lost grandparents too, 3 of them and it was sad and i miss them alot, it does not compare to loosing your young loved one suddenly, tragically and prematurely so thank you for the attempt at sympathy but you just made things worse!

  4. i’m so sorry honey for the pain you are experiencing and it was extremely cruel and hurtful for your relative to have said what she did.She obviously has no idea what she was saying and the impact of such hurtful can anyone blame you for this tragic happening. Seven months is not long at alll it will take a long long time to get over the rawness of the grief you feel now. You will of course love your baby forever and she will always be in your heart but hopefully as time moves on you will come to accept what has happened that you couldn’t of changed anything or done anything different. It wouldn’t of changed the outcome your baby was just meant to be an angel in heaven before you got to know each other.Consider it this way God is with you and always will be and with your baby. Unkind hurtful comments , well I would distance myself from these people that do not really understand or have empathy .Nothing compares to the death of your child , i wonder if you have thought about linking up with other mums in similar situations like a support group as others in the same situation can be very supportive to each other.
    making memory boxes of any momentoes you have and photos you will appreciate in time.However for now you just need to surround yourself with people that you know will support you and care for you and be around people that will be prepared to talk about what happened as ignoring your babies life is like pretending she never existed and really they are trying to protect their feelings instead of helping you through a traumatic time. God Blessxx

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