Monday, December 18, 2017

The Gain of Loss ~ Lessons Through Grief

Me with our Kimberly. August 2014, the last time
I would hold her in my arms until Heaven.
December 17, 2017 ~ Three years ago today (1096 days) after suffering with the flu, our Kimberly went to Heaven, not because she was good but because she knew the Savior.  As I grieve for my daughter, there are lessons I am learning. 

My grief continues to teach me that...

...there is no peace in asking “why” only more endless questions.

...the “if only” scenarios are self-inflicted injuries we could do without.

...grief is chronic: it hurts all the time, but some days are better than others.

...I get lost in the dimension of time, and current events become jumbled memories.

...I am not mended, but there is a Comforter who holds my broken heart together.

...grief and gratitude are able to coexist.

...I walk through this life more tender; a choice I must make lest bitterness consumes me. greatest fear is losing my ability to sorrow for others.

...accidents do happen, and the sovereignty of God means He is never taken by surprise.

...looking for that “greater good” devalues the life that was lived. puts on me more than I am able to bear but never more than He is able to carry me through.

...loved ones do not become angels: they are saints. (Psalms 116:15)

...trusting God in my darkest times is an abandonment of self-will that leads to peace. depth of sorrow is not a result of a shallow faith but is evidence of my love for Kimberly.

...I am not alone.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Miscarriage ~ The Grief of Emptiness

My sweetheart and I were married on August 14, 1978, and we desired to have children as soon as the Lord would give them to us.

By November 8th, I was calling my gynecologist for information on a pregnancy test.  That was back in the day before you could purchase a self-test kit from your local drug store.  Never having had a pregnancy test before, the instructions given to me were to provide them with a sample of my morning urine.  The next day I carried my brown paper bag with a urine filled container into the doctor’s office for testing.  Then I waited for the results.  Strangely enough, I had heard a loud roar of laughter just after my sample was received by the nearby lab personnel.  I quickly reasoned that the full quart-size mason jar was a little more than what was needed for a pregnancy test!  I would have laughed with them, but I really wasn’t feeling well.  My husband had been on military sick-call for a few days and had already been admitted to the base hospital for further testing.  I was beginning to wonder if I was coming down with whatever he had.  A little later, and with a little more laughter, the official results were given to me: I was indeed pregnant.  Then I asked, “Should I be concerned that I am spotting?”

It was the next day, and my husband was being discharged from the base hospital.  But, my friend had taken me to the local ER, and I was now being admitted to a different hospital. I was in the process of having a miscarriage.  It was November 10, 1978, the decade of Roe vs. Wade, and Americans were being desensitized in order for them to accept the agenda for a woman’s right to choose. The questions I asked were responded to with medical terminology that was emotionally cold, indifferent, and that dehumanized the life that had been within me.  “You had a spontaneous abortion. The fetus was between 6 - 8 weeks gestation.”  But my heart cried, “My baby died!” as a grief of emptiness began to consumed me.

This grief of emptiness...
...where there is no grave to stand beside, no tombstone to read, no pictures to reminisce over, and no memories to share: this is the grief of emptiness.  A grief of things that never happened but were hoped for, of things that might have been but never will be.  This grief was consuming me to a point of breaking.  Many times the only ones who understand the depth of this grief are those who have shared the same loss of an unborn child, a still birth, or the deep sorrow of a barren womb.  I didn’t need the encouragement of “You can try again.”   I was too devastated by the loss of this child.  I felt alone in my grief, after all, there hadn’t been time for any joyous announcement before my heart was forever broken for this child.  Even my husband was still trying to get his head around the thought of being a father when I was suddenly engulfed with a grief that he could not fathom.  Bewildered by the events that had so quickly come upon our lives, he was at a loss as to how he could comfort me.  He just wanted me to be alright.

The years passed, and the Lord gave us five healthy children to raise.  Then came the unbelievable  heartbreak of a grief I have never known: my 28 year old daughter suddenly and unexpectedly died.

I fell back onto the chair as I cried out in defiance... the room felt like a vacuum as my body struggled to breathe.  I tried to reason that there was no truth in the words I had just heard.  But this echo of despair was relentless, and I was forced to face a truth I couldn’t deny: my daughter was dead, and the rest of my earthly life would be lived without her.  Memories of my daughter spun in my mind and fear began to grip my heart.  Would I forget her laugh, her voice, her smile, her touch: I desperately tried to capture and seal my memories of her before they escaped me forever.

There are still days when my heart is in my throat and I struggle to swallow.  I look at the calendar, and it betrays my heart.  How can it be years when it still feels like yesterday?
This is an abyss of grief beyond all measure that still breaks me.

There is comfort in knowing the Lord.  His grace is sufficient.  But this does not mean our sorrow ends.  It means we are never alone in our sorrow.
To grieve is not to disbelieve; grief is the measure of love.
It is His grace that points us to another day.  My mother’s heart knows that every child I carried will be etched on my heart forever.  When I get to heaven, I will know the baby I never knew, this child will be standing beside their sister, Kimberly.

In Kimberly's Bible...
...there was taped this small packet of sand...

...and the verse it was illustrating is found in Psalms 139:15-18.

Friday, June 23, 2017

My Darkest Day

It was December...and the worst news of my life shattered me forever...Kimberly was dead!  My beautiful 28 year old daughter had died of the flu.  She had gone to see a doctor on December 13th and died on December 17th, 2014, alone in her apartment.  Kimberly’s dad and I both had spoken with the police officers who had found her.  They were compassionate and gave us the information we were wanting.  Bill then called our travel agent and arranged for us to be on a plane the very same evening flying from Kenya to Arkansas.

We knew Kimberly was in heaven.  She had trusted the Lord as her Savior.  Knowing she had made her salvation decision years ago was a great comfort to our hearts.  But we were still in shock. How could our young healthy daughter die of the flu?  We were comforted in knowing that her death had not taken our Lord God by surprise: He would walk with us through this unimaginable tragedy and help us bear our deepest sorrow. 

Kimberly excited to see her brother, Billy, June 2014.
God is omniscient, which means He is all knowing: He knows the timing of our birth, as well as the timing of our death.  But He does not create the events that makes these things happen.  I believe in accidents.  I believe in free-will; freedom of personal choice with consequences and repercussions of our choices.  I believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” as Romans 8:28 promises.  I do not believe that all things are good, or right, but I do believe that even the worst events and happenings of my life are brought together for good by my sovereign Lord God.

My brother's cancer had brought me to Arkansas for the summer, which in turn brought all my adult children together.  Had it not been for my brother’s cancer, and my decision to help him, those moments and memories with all of my children together would never have happened. With that in mind, I asked my brother not to be too angry or bitter with his cancer.  It was the event that gave me 16 weeks with Kimberly and a weekend with all my children together that otherwise never would have happened.  I cannot tell you how comforting those memories are to me now.

(More about Kimberly:
"Growing In Grief"
"The Most Unnatural Thing"
"Too Young to Die"
 "Embracing Grief"
"The Proving Ground"
"What You Don't Know About the Flu can Kill You" )