Monday, February 15, 2016

Working Through My Grief

I recently finished reading "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled" by Elder Michael Gowens​.  Santa bought it from Sovereign Grace Publications​ for me in my book bag and stocking this past Christmas.  I've been reading it a chapter at a time, and studying many of the verses that he uses in each chapter.  And it's been incredibly helpful.  I'd recommend it to anyone.  There are a lot of good things in it.  And even though I read the chapter on grief about three different times in the last 2 months, I find many of the other topics just as pertinent.  After all grief for me has brought loneliness and fear, has heightened anxiety, and mostly been an intense battle with depression.

This has been an incredible help as I muddle through this experience.  The days that I read a chapter or spend some time studying out the verses typically have been my better days.  It's been a help in applying verses I knew with my head, but weren't feeling and implementing in my heart.  I want to share one especially helpful section near the very end on hope.  I'll share the first paragraph for the context of the second...
Consider an Old Testament example of how hope saves the believer from despair.  Jeremiah reached the point of hopeless despair as he walked in the smoldering ruins of Jerusalem.  He cried, "My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord" (Lam. 3:18).  Suddenly, like Hopeful, he was startled by an epiphany.  As a man half amazed he remembered something else: "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not;" (Lam. 3;21-22).  Hope replaced hopelessness when he realized that though the destruction around him was significant, yet life remained.  He was still alive, as well as many, many others.  The nation had not been annihilated.  Indeed, the temple was gone, but the people themselves had not been wiped out.  Life remained, and the mercy of God remained in fresh supply at the beginning of each new day.  This salutary reminder gave him hope to face the unknown tomorrow.
It will give you hope to face the unknown tomorrow as well when you focus your mind on the things that remain, not the things you have lost.  Life remains, Today remains.  His mercy for today remains.  His promise remains.  His love remains the same, whether in sunshine or in shadow. (emphasis mine)
It was unbearable to have to give birth to a baby that was gone.  It's unbearable to have to continue each day without her.  Children eventually bury their parents, you don't expect to bear your babies.  But "His mercies are new every morning" and make each day bearable.  It isn't having other kids that helps, it isn't having my own health that helps, it isn't things that help but feeling and knowledge of His love.  More than any one other thing, reading and studying what God has to say about everything helps.

The other thing I have done in working through my grief, is actually setting aside some time to think about everything that happened and to think about Abigail now.  I quickly figured out that my tendency to stuff my feelings and do things that need doing, lead to worse days and they happened more frequently.  The truth is that it's easy to stay busy with three living children, homeschooling, cook, and housekeeper.  She is always in the back of my mind, but I can't get things done when I dwell on it.  And yet I still need to.  Sometimes I do that by writing in her journal, sometimes I do that by working on her stocking.  I even signed up for two grief workshops and have some art journaling prompts similar to the writing project I did back in October.

It may sound crazy to "schedule" grieving time, but I find that when I work on these things.  I give myself permission to make sense of the things I hated about the experience, things that the hospital did that didn't help, things I should have done that I didn't know to do.  It helps to give myself permission to wonder what she would have been like, and to wonder what she is doing right now.  It helps to go over and over and over in my mind the things I know about Heaven to place her there.  It helps to figure out what this mess is that I currently am.  I've cried and begged Gary to fix me, that I don't like me, that I want to be where he is, since he's "over it."  He of course can't, only I can work through this, grief is very lonely in that way.

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