LIFE IS SO BUSY. I don’t know how. I don’t understand the magical nuances that make it so. But all of a sudden it’s July and Christmas is tomorrow and I haven’t written for my own blog in a month. Ya know what I mean?
In the same breath, these days seem to drag by at a speed similar to my toddler making his way inside for lunch. You’d think he was dragging the dog (the one we don’t even have) inside with him. Pregnancy is a cruel mistress that way.
Particularly pregnancy after loss. 20 weeks came and went a couple of days ago for me. We’ve already/finally weathered half of this pregnancy and that invisible weight I’ve been toting around for four and half months is beginning to crumble. Each day is another success, another step in the direction of a healthy baby outcome.
Milestones in Loss
When folks talk about loss and coping with the grief and how to live with and through it, milestones are often mentioned. This has been the reality in the bit of reading and support I’ve encountered. They say that milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries of the loss and all sorts of other “trigger days” should be handled with care.
They’re right. Those days do carry weight and are times to tread lightly with the feet of your heart. But you know what I’ve found?
I’ve discovered that you can’t be prepared for the hard days. They sneak up on you like those five pounds you had no idea you’d put on. They’re rude and come without warning and cling like your now too-tight jeans.
When You’re Unprepared
I was 20 weeks pregnant when the hellish week and a half that was losing Theo began. I was expecting that 20 week mark of this pregnancy to be difficult. I was foolishly unprepared for the panic to set in days early, but my mind is fickle and eager to jump ahead apparently. And so every twinge I felt one day last week devastated me. The only thing I could think was, “I don’t think I can survive this again. God, I can’t lose another baby like this.”
I mercifully came under this cloud of fear while rocking our two-year-old to sleep that day. Not that I should be surprised by such a “coincidence”—God’s been doing nothing but going above and beyond for me, well for forever I suppose. So I sobbed and tried to pray and clung to my sweet toddler and let myself feel and mourn. Because I don’t think you can heal without that.
Sometimes we compare emotional healing to physical wounds, and that works here and there. But I think emotional healing is an open-ended process. When you’re at the beginning of an emotional wound, that can sound daunting, almost as if this pain is going to follow you around forever.
And it does in a way. But not in the way that you’re thinking. Not in a debilitating way that clouds your life with hazy sadness. Pain and loss bring beauty into your soul that no perceived positive blessing ever can—they strip you down to your core, giving you the opportunity to filter off the dross of your life and live fully in the pureness of who you were made to be. Your eyes become clearer and your heart somehow lighter in a more full sort of way.
Let it Happen
That’s an option that you have, anyway. Loss and pain don’t always bring about beauty, but if you let them, if you surrender them for healing, they can and will.
Each time I encounter one of these “milestone” days, I not only mourn our loss, but I’m reminded of all that I have and everything I have to look forward to. I won’t say that days like the one I had last week are fun or joyful, but they are fulfilling and strengthening as I persevere through them.
Today when I look back, I see myself being held while I was holding Oliver because somehow our sleeping children are a balm to our souls. I see myself surrounded by loved ones because being alone is so hard when your soul is bleeding and there’s nothing to do but poke at it and see if it still hurts.
That hard day wasn’t a surprise to Jesus. He knew it was coming. He had it covered for me. He had me covered. And so I can be confident in the days to come, no matter what they bring, because of this steady stream of faithfulness I can look back on. Milestones and surprise hard days can come and go because I know that I’m meant to overcome. I was built for this overcoming.
Move Forward out of the Broken and into Life
And so all of us broken ones, we need to remember to stop trying to pick up our pieces. We need to let those broken parts of us go and allow what’s left to be fostered and brought into newness and life and full-fledged joy because those things can be a reality, even after losing a child. Even after losing a spouse. Even after losing a job. Even after fill-in-the-blank-with-what’s-breaking-you. This pain and ugliness is temporary and is not your default mode, so don’t allow it to fill that role, ok friend? You’re made for more than that.
Next time that five pounds sneaks up on you and makes your normal day into a hard one, put on some stretchy pants (or no pants!) and weather through it. Be held and have confidence in the One who’s holding you. You don’t have to be tough because He is and He’s already won this battle too.