Losing a child changes a person. *Forever*. I read that a lot as I devoured anything I could about child loss, just trying to make sense of our situation. They said you’d be a different person… more compassionate, less materialistic, even better (?). I felt alarmed and confused. I’d loved my life and who I was before this all happened. I already tried to live from a place of gratitude and joy. I didn’t want to change, I just wanted desperately to know it was actually survivable.

Grace's garden sign, angel and flowers

Grace’s flower garden with sign & angel from the community

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
There is surely truth in that. Struggle and strife and loss can bring out strengths you never knew you had, frankly some you never even wanted.
In the beginning, it is only survivable with dedicated will to simply keep on breathing… for a moment…and then another. There are days in the depths of darkness which threaten to suck that breath away, and you wouldn’t care a bit. Would even welcome it.
It can make you reckless- I remember lying in the middle of my lawn, spread-eagle, face up, swollen eyes open to the sky- during a violent thunderstorm. Sharp cracks of thunder,cold, pelting rain and lightning flashing all around. I didn’t care. I was facing God and daring him to strike me… to end the tortuous pain. I’m glad He didn’t, but He has in fact kept me company all along the way. At first just while I lay for hours and days on end, truly broken, and weeping. Weeping for my child and the pain she felt. Crying for the life cut short and all the things she would miss, we would miss. For the damn waste of it all. For the gifts no longer shared. For the loss of the family that once was and could never really be the same, and for the hurt and loss my husband and other children and family were bearing. Fearing for what the future would hold for all of us. All was blackness, like being in a deep, cold,constricted well. I stayed there a long time. I didn’t necessarily want to sit up. Even when outwardly I was (sometimes!) dressed and feigning the mundane chores of ordinary life, my soul was weighted down to the bottom of that well by grief. As I slowly realized though that I was never alone- it was a innate feeling hard to describe- I felt less need to be reckless, and just ‘be’. To allow the violent waves of grief to crash over me. To let the tears flow, whenever. To open-mouthed cry myself to sleep like a baby if I needed to, and then wake oddly calmer, until the next wave. I’d compare it to being in the actual ocean. Like my times in the Atlantic in Ocean City, MD. If I were to go out to (or just beyond) the breakers, and try to maintain control on my own by rigidly keeping my feet planted and body stiff, it just doesn’t work. It is not possible and you get knocked around pretty hard. It can actually get scary, especially when the waves come fast and furious. You might hit bottom, ‘get boiled’ head-over-heels out of control, and just as you finally come up to take a gulp of air, you get knocked down beneath the water again before you are able. Serious injury and drowning are a possibility. I realized that when I let go of trying to ‘control’ my responses and trusted in my faith, and instead just relaxed and lifted my feet off the ocean floor, things went much better. I could float and bob with the swells. I could even find moments of peace, especially when focused on our faith and the promise of seeing Grace again.
I was learning to fight the nausea of despair until I could rise to my feet again.
I’d originally titled this post ‘sea legs’ to describe the lost feeling of navigating blindly around starting a blog yesterday.I really don’t know what I am doing. Now it seems a fitting name for the words above, which just kind of poured out.
Thanks for listening.