Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Your Loss is Not Too Small to Grieve. It's Not Too Big to Overcome Either.

I saw a line. A second line. A faint line, but the test instructions said, “If a second line appears, no matter how light or dark, it is a positive result.”


Not ready. Not right. Not now. Lyme Disease. Heavy duty medications. Migraines. Arthritis. Depression. Fatigue. Neurological and Cognitive Problems... Just married. Not ready.

But there it was. A baby.

So I told my hubby. He was excited but worried. I had just been diagnosed with Lyme Disease, and my old man seven-day pillbox overflowing with meds was brand new to our lives.

So we tried to get used to the idea. And we did. It didn’t take long. A sweet little baby that snuggles and yawns and grunts and coos. That family we’d dreamt of. A baby.

We held a celebration dinner, but no phone calls. No fanfare.

And as soon as we got used to the idea that there was a baby growing in there, that baby was gone.

So the next day, I went to work. Because when that baby left me, I saw a big, deep, dark, gaping hole in front of me, and if I stayed home from work to grieve, I just knew I was going deep down into that dark hole and never coming out. Work as a High School Teacher was safe. It contained life-- messy, chaotic, teen-aged angst-filled life. 

The hole was certainly filled with dark, scary, hopeless nothingness. Whatever I did, I could not even look into or lean over that hole. 

I believed that if I did, then I would surely never ever come out.

So I did what I thought I was supposed to do: pretend it never happened. Pretend it wasn’t a big deal. Pretend.

Because I hadn’t been that far along. It was really just another period. So many people have it so much worse. At least I didn’t know him/her. At least I won’t have to miss him/her. At least…

At least what? At least 10 years and three healthy children later, I still search, panicked for the “other one” at the park for a minute before I realize that “other one” never made it to see the light of day? Still hold the door open for the “other one” after my three children have filed out the door… Because it happens all the time. I clearly identify the three children standing in front of me as my only children in my brain, while my heart says over and over again, “What about the “other one”? Just briefly. Just for a moment while I put my brain back in charge.

Because my brain still says, “Do not go into that hole. Do not, whatever you do, go into that deep, dark hole.”

Because I’ve been in the Chronic-Disease-Hole. I’ve been in the I-Thought-This-Would-Be-Different-Hole. I don’t like it in there, and I’m not sure how I made it out of any of them. To be honest, I think I pop in and out of them all, but this one… this Lost-Baby-Hole has loomed so large and so deep and so dark, and I have never dared to go in. I have always told myself I wasn’t allowed in there because my loss was not a big deal. My loss was not a chasm so deep and so wide that it separated me from my first-born from day one. Except that it was. Except that it is. Because I think when that baby left, I threw all of the joy I thought I’d find in motherhood down in that pit. I threw all of my hopes down there too.

But I went to Mom’s Day In Day Out at Flatirons Church this month and listened to Betsy Larabee tell her story of loss. Her story, in so many ways, was my story too. And she said something important that I never knew. Something I never believed was true. She said, 

“There’s more than enough grief to go around. Your loss is not too small to grieve.” - Betsy Larabee

But I thought mine was.

Turns out it’s a huge dark cavern of grief that I have barely begun to wade through, and on the other side are three little boys and a man who need me to go down into this hole, find the joy and hope I threw down there, and climb up and out the other side. I think I have to feel my feelings. I hate that. But now that I have the permission to feel them, I can’t not.

But I don’t have to avoid going into that pit. Is it dark? Scary? Overwhelming? Painful? Absolutely. All of those. “But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior.” I’m not going down there alone. We aren’t going down there unarmed. And I have to believe that He will eventually pull me up and out on the other side, clinging to the joy, hope, truth, and grace I threw down there when I thought I was protecting myself.

(Did you know in 1988 Ronald Reagan Proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Please remember to pray for the women and families you know who have experienced this loss.)

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here.

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