If you are just catching this series, I am joining up with Sufficient Grace Ministries in their walking with you series. Last week was our intro.
Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?
Oh the pit.
The most horrid place I have ever been in my life. I'd say I started on the downward slope when we received Noah's fatal diagnosis. The first week afterwards, I found myself really grieving and in shock at what we were facing. I didn't fall into the pit completely at this point though. Once I realized that at any point our son could die, I set out to make the most of the time we had together. I got online and researched as much as I could and found other moms to talk to & ask questions. I strived to create as many memories with Noah & the kids as I could in the time we had. I found that giving myself purpose in those days helped keep the worst of the grief at bay. I also knew we were really being lifted in prayer by so many which I have no doubt is what also gave me the strength to get out of bed the rest of my pregnancy.
I experienced a lot of fear in that time. There were so many unknowns, not knowing if Noah would be born still or alive and if he was born alive would we only have minutes together or days, what would it be like watching my son die and how would I react, etc. Truly the fear of the unknown in some ways was worse than things that actually did happen. During that time, I did my best to cling to hope, His promises and prayed for the best possible outcome yet I always knew in the back of my mind what the worse case scenario was as well.
I reached a point towards the end of my pregnancy that I finally felt I was ready for the next step, whatever it was. Living in the land of the unknown was mentally & emotionally draining. I think at this point, God gave me the peace to move forward. Though when I realized I was going into labor and when the Dr finally told me I needed to go to the hospital, I could see the edge of the pit in that moment coming into view and felt the sinking in my stomach.
Once again though, just when I didn't know how I was going to be able to go through it all, God gave me the most perfect peace during the rest of my labor. I have never experienced such a calmness. It's true, God gives you what you need, when you need it and not a moment sooner. That peace continued to be with me when Noah was born alive and during his 9 hours of life with us. In fact, when we were told his heart was slowing, I shed a few tears but then was able to smile & rejoice in all we got to experience with him that we were told wouldn't happen. When he was ushered into Heaven, it felt as if Jesus himself was physically hugging us all in that moment. It seemed as if for just that brief time, Heaven & our hospital room intersected and we were given a glimpse of what we'll feel some day in eternity.
I wish I could say that feeling lasted but it didn't. Once the funeral home came to pick up Noah, I went descending into the pit head first. Ugh, just thinking back on it now makes me shudder & cry. There are no words to explain how those early days felt.
After Noah's funeral, I didn't leave the house for 3 weeks. I stayed in bed a lot of that time, partially due to recovering after child birth and partly because I had no desire to face each day. I welcomed sleep as it would mean I'd get a break from the dark, depressing wave of grief that was threatening to drown me. I felt so utterly alone. We received cards & notes but it seemed no one knew what to say to me so most everyone stayed away except those who had been down this road & knew what it felt like. It seemed like most people forgot Noah & moved on. My older 4 children were my lifeline. They picked up the slack around the house when I couldn't function and they would check on me those days I couldn't get out of bed. Unfortunately Kevin was only given one day off from work after the funeral so even he wasn't around to help. I know it was only by the prayers of many & the support of a few that helped keep my head above water.
I eventually started to try to piece together my new normal. I learned to stop trying to please others & their expectations and worked on focusing on where God had me. Sadly, some walked out of my life after Noah & I experienced a lot of criticism not only in those early months but even now still from some who judge my grief.. In those early months, I had read a really good devotional that made me realize that there are times God has us in the valley and the more we fight to get out of it, the worse it can be. I began to accept the fact that it was ok to be in the pit of grief and that I was allowed to feel & experience it all as that is where God had placed me at that time. I learned that it was ok to just live one hour at a time or one day at a time, whatever it took to get through each moment.
It took me several months before I could go back to church though it wasn't because I was angry at God, I never experienced that. I found it hard to be around crowds of people (this still happens at times now). Plus knowing the last time I was there, was to bury my son, I knew it would be hard & emotional. Once I finally started attending again, it was difficult. I couldn't walk through the doors without crying. I couldn't sing the praise & worship music for quite a long time. Even now there are times I still tear up being at church or hearing the music. I'll occasionally leave the service during those moments to go sit outside at Noah's grave alone.
I don't know exactly when the gradual change happened, but somewhere along the lines I began to experience more "good" days than bad and felt like I wasn't in the darkest part of the pit like I had been. Looking back I can see how going through all this showed me that God is the only one who will truly ever be there for me. Many people I thought I could rely on left me but He was the only one I could cry out to that would listen & understand. I began to fully feel & understand in a new way some of the verses in the Bible I had always read but that held a deeper meaning for me now. I know it's only by the grace of God I got to the point I am today. Trying to keep my focus on Heaven & knowing I'll see Noah again helps me as well.
While I haven't descended into the deepest part of the pit since the earlier days, I still do trip & fall into it and find myself landing on a ledge with a view of the light. In fact, it took me awhile to write this post as I am just climbing out right now as I found myself alone on that ledge for a day or so again this week. It's in these times I find myself needing grace, support & compassion from those around me. I can't help it when these "tough" days hit as usually they come out of nowhere, they are now a part of who I am, my new normal. I am thankful they don't last as long as they used to but I can't say that they are any easier to deal with as time passes. I'm learning just to roll with it as a view of the pit will always be a part of my life.