Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Grief Share

Grief Share....even the title of that can make you want to cringe.   Justin first found out about grief share a few weeks after Callie died and suggested that we go.  I told him he could go, but there is no way I wanted to go.  Sitting in a room with strangers talking about grief was not something I wanted to do at all.  I especially didn't want to sit by someone who had no idea what it was like to lose a child because I thought my loss was way more significant than theirs.  My attitude definitely wasn't the best, but I was still dealing with shock, so we just put it on the back burner for awhile.

The Lord really worked on my heart and was using other people to slowly lead me to give Grief Share a try.  I had 2 different people at different times tell me how Grief Share was really good for them after losing a child.  I was able to ask more questions to them since they understood my loss and started to be a little more open minded about it.  I then found out David and Nancy Guthrie were the main narrators in the video series and they endorse it, so that also helped me to see what a great program it was.  I had already read some of Nancy Guthrie's books and I really respected her.  After looking into it a little more, we decided to give Grief Share a try.

Last week Justin and I finished our last Grief Share meeting.  It was really good for us and I'm so thankful we did it together.  I wanted to share a little about our experience in case you were skeptical like me.  Grief Share is a Christian based 13 week program for those who have lost a family member. They have the program at most churches around you and you can just choose what day/time works best for you.  This is the big reason for why we really loved it: it's Biblical!  I was very concerned that it would be more self help stuff and just giving you steps to help you with your grief.  That wasn't something I was interested in.  It is filled with scripture, it focuses on God's sovereignty, and leads you to put your trust in the Lord for comfort, not people.  There is a workbook and you have homework that only takes less than 10 minutes a day.  The scriptures and questions were SO good for me to work through.

One thing that grief share taught us was the importance of leaning into our grief.  To not push it away and go on with your day not thinking about it.  We learned that talking about it, journaling, going to grief share, discussing it together or with others was really good and necessary for us.  I think it was especially good for Justin.  He works long hours during the week and really has to force himself to block his grief out of his mind so he can work.  He comes home from work and is a loving husband and father and just doesn't have a lot of emotional energy left to work through his grief.  Grief Share really helped him work through it, talk about it, and learn from it.  We were also able to discuss together the things we were learning and working through which helped a lot.

If you have lost a loved one, I highly recommend going to Grief Share.  I will say this, you have to give it at least 3 weeks.  There are a lot of people who come once and never come back.  It IS awkward the first meeting.  It's not fun to open up to strangers about something so very difficult and personal.  I cried the first 6 weeks every time, at least.  I compare Grief Share and working through grief to exercising.  You dread having to do it, but you know it's good for you.  And you never ever regret going once it's over.  You feel better after doing it.  And then every week, it actually starts to get easier to go.  You realize like exercising, that you are seeing how good it is for you.  And at the end of it, you actually look forward to going.  That was how Grief Share was for me.  I dreaded going for about 5 weeks.  My parents came over every Thursday night to watch Cooper for us, and if it wasn't for that, I'm guessing Justin and I would have decided at the last minute not to go during those first few weeks at the last minute especially the nights he worked late.

We were also very blessed with an awesome group.  The Lord placed us in the perfect group for us.  There were 3 other people there who have lost a child, which I've heard it is unusual to have that many in one group.  The rest of them have lost spouses.  We were like a family at the end of the 13 weeks as we have walked through so much together.  The facilitators were wonderful and compassionate.  We also learned a lot about other things that were going on relating to grief.  We learned about surviving the holidays seminar that I attended, and we learned about the worldwide candle lighting service for those who have lost children.  We wouldn't have known about these opportunities otherwise.

My heart also really softened to people who have lost their spouse.  Grief Share obviously doesn't compare grief but losing a child and losing a spouse I would say are the most difficult since you are living with that person and see them every single day, and your whole world changes.  I learned a lot about what it's like for someone to lose a spouse and grew more compassion towards them when before I felt that it wasn't as significant as my loss. I also heard of people going who have lost a mother or father and that it has been very helpful for them too.

The Lord really taught us so much through this ministry and we made some really great friends through it all.  A lot of people go through Grief Share 2-3 times because you learn something new each time.  I won't be able to do it again for now since baby Nolan will be here soon, but Justin is thinking about doing it again.  I really think I will do it again in a couple of years as I know it will be good for me to process my ongoing grief even years later.  I really am thankful for this ministry and  recommend it for anyone who has lost a loved one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Name and a New Year

Well we officially have a name for baby #3.  Nolan Asher Cummings.  I figured I would go ahead and share since so many people have been asking me.  From the very beginning, we have felt that this baby is going to bring JOY to our family again.  I knew right away that if this baby was a girl, her middle name would be JOY.  When we found out the baby was a boy, I had some friends look up boy names that mean joy or happiness to share with me.  One of them was Asher.  I loved the name right away, and debated about it being his first or middle name, but finally decided on it being his middle name.  Nolan was going to be Callie's Boy name if she would have been a boy.  We usually come up with 2 different names for each child (Cooper's girl name was not Callie), but I thought it would be special so have something even as small as this that relates to Callie.  And the fact that we both still loved the name Nolan, which is how we came up with Nolan Asher.

Asher means "Blessed, Happy One".  I know that Nolan is going to bring such joy and happiness to our family.  He already has.  Cooper talks about "Baby Nolan" all the time.  He hugs and kisses my belly and asks me if he could listen to his heartbeat a few times a week.  He wants to show Baby Nolan new toys and he also wants to get bunk beds so he can sleep on the top and Nolan can sleep on the bottom.  He is so thrilled to have a brother and of course I already know he's the greatest big brother ever and Nolan is so blessed to have Cooper for a brother.

There is something very special to me how baby Nolan was first created, literally days before our Callie died.  They were both with us at the same time for a very short time.  God purposefully created Nolan before Callie passed away.  He purposefully had me find out the day after her funeral. It may not seem like the best timing in my eyes, but we know His timing is perfect.  We know there is no such thing as coincidences.  And I had to learn very quickly that joy and sorrow can co exist.

We know that Nolan is not God's way of replacing Callie to us.  It is impossible to replace her.  Nolan is not some consolation prize and not someone who is supposed to replace our grief.  Yes, he will bring us joy and we love him so so much, but we will still grieve Callie.  We know that this joy will not replace our grief.  Our grief will not go away when Nolan is here.  We will still grieve the loss of Callie and she will always be missed.  The day Cooper meets Nolan for the first time, I know I will think that Callie should be here too.  Callie is his big sister, and our family will never feel complete this side of heaven.

I have also learned going into a new year that it's really good not to have expectations on my feelings of grief.  For so long, I was dreading December, REALLY, REALLY DREADING.  Her birthday and Christmas and celebrations etc, was too much to think about.  I kept thinking, once I get to 2017, things will get better.   Saying goodbye to 2016, the year from hell, will be such a great feeling.  A New Year will feel good.  Nolan will be here, we will move into a new house and will have lots of things to look forward to.  It will be better.  But you know what?  It wasn't better.  It actually became worse.  I got through her birthday and Christmas, and seeing happy intact families and pictures everywhere, but I just wasn't expecting New Years to be hard.  And because I wasn't prepared, or even worse, I was thinking things would be better, it hit me like a ton of bricks that we had to start a whole new year without Callie.  I was depressed and sad a lot.  Though we had so much to look forward to, the thought of going through a whole new year without Callie was heartbreaking.  It was reality again of the finality of it all, this side of heaven.  I know we will be reunited again, I know I will see her again, but thinking of going through year after year without her was overwhelming.

We are SO SO excited to meet baby Nolan and for a sweet new addition to our family.  But I am going to be more prepared with my grief this time.  Having Nolan here will add JOY to our family, but it will not take the grief of missing Callie away.  It will not just automatically make things better, like I thought starting a new year would.  In some ways it will add to our grief.  I know I will have to finally make decisions on packing up her room.  I will have to trust the Lord in ways I never imagined every time I lay him down for a nap.  I will see Callie in him.  I will miss being able to see Callie as a big sister.  All the baby toys will bring back some painful memories.  Our added joy will add grief as well.  Missing her will always be there.  Every family event, every holiday, every birthday, every mother/daughter bond she will be so missed for the rest of our lives here on earth.

Nolan Asher is such a blessing already and though there will be major pain and grief, we truly are thrilled to have another baby again.

"The fact that our heart yearns for something earth can't supply is proof that heaven must be our home"

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Callie's Birthday Celebration

Saturday, December 17th was Callie's Birthday.  Ever since the funeral was over, all I have thought about was how am I going to get through her birthday without her.  I just couldn't imagine it and I dreaded it for over 5 months.  I would cry every time I thought about it.  I would cry every time I saw other people celebrating their child's 2nd birthday.  The pain at times was unbearable.  I had thought so much about what would to we do this day.  At times we talked about doing nothing and just being at home the 3 of us.  At times we talked about doing something different and just being around other people.  At times Justin and I were on completely different pages on what we wanted to do.  I preferred being around people and he preferred being alone.  Even though it may not seem like a big deal, these "firsts" dates are really, really hard.  The reality is, the weeks leading up to a significant date in a loss can actually be harder than the actual day.  The anxiety and anticipation of the date is so hard.   I wanted to write to remember Callie's first Birthday in heaven and how we celebrated her life. 

After much discussion, Justin and I decided on having a casual celebration for Callie with our close friends who have been there for us through this difficult season.  We originally wanted to do it at a park, so it would feel more laid back, but the weather was crazy that weekend and predicted rain and I didn't want it to get rained out.  I think it worked out better doing it at our house in the long run.  I really wanted it to be as stress free as possible so I didn't do any food besides cake and drinks.  I didn't want it to feel like a big birthday party, but more like a celebration if that makes sense.

We knew that we wanted to spend part of the day with just the 3 of us and visiting her grave and just having some time alone.  Waking up was hard. It was hard not to picture what this day would have looked like if she was still with us.  The Lord is so good though and immediately after we started getting up and getting our day started, we had some neighbors come to our door.  They came with some balloons, a poem, and cards written by all different people in the neighborhood.  They told me  some neighbors have put up balloons outside their homes for Callie's Birthday.  It was so meaningful and special to us and the tears started flowing.  Right after that, I had another friend bring us over a homemade breakfast for our family.  Then shortly after that, we had another neighbor stop by to bring us a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  We already felt so loved and it was just 10am.  More importantly to me, I felt that Callie wasn't forgotten especially on her birthday.

Though we had a good morning, we did have a time of deep grieving.  We missed her so much.  We missed her running around our house and her voice and all her cuteness.  A sweet little 2 year old, I still can't believe she is 2 years old now.  We know that grieving and tears are sometimes necessary in our grief journey, but it did hit Cooper hard. My heart just hurts for him.  He also started crying hard and saying that he missed Callie.  We all hugged and cried and talked about how Callie is so happy with Jesus, but we are sad because we do miss her.

We then headed out to the store to pick up some things for Callie's Celebration and on our way out we started to see pink and white balloons outside some of our neighbors homes.  At first I thought it was just our cul da sac that had balloons out, but then we realized that it was a lot more than just that.  I could not stop crying as I kept seeing more pink and white balloons out.  It was so special and so sweet!  It was the small gesture that just spoke to me that Callie was not forgotten.  It's unbelievable how such a small gesture like this can be so meaningful.  We then got to the store and picked out some balloons to put on her grave stone.  Cooper picked out a Toy Story small balloon that reminded him of Callie since he was Woody and she was Jessie for Halloween last year.   After picking up some things we headed out to the cemetery to spend some time there.  Justin is always so diligent about cleaning her stone so he spent time doing that first, and attached some balloons to her flower vase.  We also put a Peppa Pig toy on her stone.  We tried to spend some time sharing our favorite memory of Callie, but Cooper was too busy digging in the dirt.  We were told that no matter how much we plan for a day like this, it will never go how you expected it to go....mainly because nothing will ever be good enough for a day like this.  We did sing Happy Birthday to Callie with tears running down our cheeks.  Justin always likes to have some alone time there at the end as it's a special time for him to think and pray so Cooper and I walked back to the car to give him some alone time. 

We then went back to our house to get ready for Callie's Birthday Celebration.  I went to pick up the rest of the balloons I ordered for the balloon release.  It was a very cloudy day outside without any sun most of the day.  On my way back home as I was about to pull into our neighborhood, I saw these rays of sunshine streaming down through the clouds that looked like they were going right into our neighborhood.  I didn't see the sun out the rest of the day.  I don't even know how to explain it, but it was like God telling me that he loves me.  He loves our family and Callie is with him.  She was our little ray of sunshine and she is with Jesus.  It  was a sweet moment for me.

Shortly after that we had our Birthday Celebration for Callie.  I tried to keep it as simple as possible to not add any stress to an already emotionally stressful day.  We had close friends come over and they all brought some helium balloons which was helpful. The kids played outside for awhile and then we wrote messages for Callie on some of the balloons.  We then went out to the cul da sac for the balloon release.  We all sang Happy Birthday to Callie and then released the balloons.  The kids seemed to enjoy it and it was beautiful to see all the balloons and the love floating up to the sky. After the balloon release, we came inside and ate some cake and the kids played some more.  It was a sweet time and nice way to honor Callie without it being too much or too stressful or overwhelming for us. Our good friend Josh put together a video of the celebration to send to us and it was so meaningful and something we will always treasure. 

We are so thankful for everyone who sent messages, cards, and texts that day. People who did small thoughtful things to celebrate Callie and remember her.  We know not every birthday will be like this, but it was a relief to get through her first one. Every single birthday without her will be hard. All the what ifs flood through your mind.  What would she be like?  What would she look like now?  What would our life be like if she was still with us?  It will never get easier.  And right after we got through this difficult day, we already started thinking about how we would ever get through July 4th.  It's interesting how these days are always on our minds.

Happy Birthday again my sweet Callie.  Words can't even describe the depths of pain we feel missing you and wishing you were here with us.  You have blessed our lives more than you know.  I know you had a beautiful birthday celebration in heaven.  And as silly as this sounds, I hope we made you proud celebrating and remembering you here.   

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy 2nd Birthday Callie

My Dearest Callie,

Happy 2nd Birthday!  Today is your very first of many birthdays in heaven.  What an absolute JOY that must be for you to experience your birthday in heaven.  What a party you will have today.  I'm so thankful you are with Jesus, even though we miss you so much here on earth.  I know our earthy separation is temporary and I cannot wait to reunite again soon.

Though I know you are experiencing such JOY, we miss you so much, especially on your birthday.  I wish so badly I could have one more day with you.  I wish I could hug and kiss you, hold you, and talk with you one last time again.  I wonder what new words you would be saying right now.  You picked up on words so quickly, so I'm sure you would have had a huge vocabulary by now.  I wonder what changes in your personality I would have seen if you were still with us.  You were always so independent and had no fear, I'm sure you would be exploring the world around you every time you got a chance.  I wonder how beautiful the curls in your hair would look like.  I wonder how long your hair would be now.  I miss fixing it everyday in order to get it out of your face as it grew so much the last couple of months. I wonder what new toys you would be into right now.  You loved Peppa Pig the last month you were wth us especially and I always think of you every time I see it.  I wonder what kinds of trouble you and Cooper would get into.  You both loved making huge messes together.  He loved playing with you so much and I know he misses you.  I miss your sweet brother/sister relationship.  It was a true joy to watch.   I wonder what cute new winter outfits you would be wearing now.  And cute winter shoes as this would have been your first winter walking.  You would have loved the Christmas Tree and looking at christmas lights with us.  I'm sure you would still be a great sleeper and adventurous eater.  You made my job as your mom so easy.

You are missed so so much.  I'm thankful you don't have to experience the pain of missing us like we do with missing you.  There are so many moments when I still think I hear you crying in your room.  When I think you are waking up and I need to go get you.  When I think I hear your cute voice down the hallway.  But I instantly have to remember that you aren't here with us and it hurts so badly.  I wish I could have watched you grow up like everyone else gets to do with their daughters.  I wish I could have seen your personality blossom over the years to come.  But God had a different plan for all our lives than what we ever expected.  And as much as that pains me, I am again so thankful you are with Jesus, experiencing the most amazing things anyone could ever experience.

Happy Birthday again my beautiful daughter!  You are so so loved by many people.  Your daddy and brother especially love you SO much.  We miss you every second of everyday.  I thank the Lord for allowing me to be your mommy for 18 short months.  I so wish it could have been longer, but for now I just want to say we will see you very soon!  xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Face Smiles While my Heart Grieves

I heard this phrase the other day and it stuck with me.  So much truth with those words.  My face smiles,  and I'm "going on" with life.  I have a son to raise and love on, I'm cooking, cleaning and doing all the normal things again, but my heart is grieving everyday.  It's been awhile since I have written, as a part of me has so much to say but I don't know how to say it.  I don't feel like sitting and getting my thoughts out, though I know I should.  This is such a difficult time of year for us.  It's been 5 months now since we lost our Callie, and the days don't get easier.  I still find myself in shock on some days, just really can't believing that this actually happened.  The holidays are extremely hard, especially with her birthday being the week before Christmas.

I have never experienced grief like this before and it is a very unique and strange experience.  It's completely exhausting.  Going to Grief Share has been one of the best things we are doing right now.  I will probably write a whole post about it later after we finish, but we are learning so much about grief and how is is necessary to face it, talk about it, cry and grieve to move forward in our grief.  Everyone grieves differently and now I see how grief can be very silent.  So many people walking around smiling, while on the inside their hearts are broken.  And it's not that they are trying to fake it or be someone they aren't...it's just that you can't physically cry and mourn in public everyday.  You can't talk about your loss with everyone everyday.  It's just not realistic.  And as hard as it is when people sometimes pretend like nothing happened, I know that it is a part of life.  It's almost a reminder to me of how many people are struggling or grieving in silence, because no one really knows what's going on in everyone's life.  And though everyone knows we experienced a tremendous loss, and everyone knows we are hurting, it is still a silent grief.  My face smiles, but my heart grieves.   Everyone grieves differently, but I also think there are some similarities to our grief of a loved one.  To me, Grief has been...

  • Being late to a lot of things because I couldn't stop crying long enough to put on my makeup.  
  • Having to stop listening to music in the car because every song would make me cry and I didn't want to be a crying mess when I arrived somewhere.
  • Speaking of the car, I seem to cry the most in the car.  It's where I have complete silence with just my thoughts.  I think about July 4th in the car.  I think about her in the back seat.  My  mind won't stop running because I'm not doing anything or thinking about anything.  
  • I can be crying all the way to someones house, and then arrive with a smile on my face
  • My pillow is wet a lot from my tears
  • Family pictures and Christmas cards are everywhere saying how "blessed" they are, and wishing us a happy and wonderful Christmas.  It stings especially not acknowledging that this won't be a very happy and wonderful Christmas for us.  My face smiles at the pretty picture, but my heart grieves over our broken family. 
  • Our sweet baby boy will kick me in the womb and it brings me great joy and a smile, but it also makes me sad that Callie isn't here to be his big sister
  • Dealing with her room, everyday. Not knowing when I should do anything with it and how to go about transitioning a new baby here.  It has been extremely stressful and one of the hardest things to cope with outside of losing her.  
  • Putting on my sunglasses in the middle of chicfila with my son because I missed her so much and couldn't stop the tears in public. 
Those are just small examples.  The Lord has softened my heart so much for grieving people.  Not just for those who have lost a child, but who have lost a loved one in general.  It's so so hard.  I have learned more than I ever wanted to learn on grief.  I feel horrible of how I probably ignored people's grief previously in my life, I just had no idea.  It helps me give others grace who have unintentionally been hurtful by ignoring our grief.   I love it when people still talk about Callie and bring her up by name.  I know it can seem strange, but it is comforting to hear her name and to know she isn't forgotten.  I don't want people to pretend she didn't exist, and if you say something that makes me cry, please don't feel bad!  It is more hurtful to pretend that nothing happened.  

Though my grief can be silent and painful, God's Grace has been sufficient.  I am absolutely amazed at how I'm able to function and that is only by God's Grace.  I have seen the Lord use people in my life and seen him place our family in the right community of people at the exact moment that we needed it.  I know there is purpose in this pain.  I know I have to trust the Lord when I don't understand.  He is good and sovereign.  But even with knowing this and truly believing that God is good and is doing a great work in our lives, my heart grieves....and always will.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why "Let me know if you need anything" Isn't Helpful

This is something that has been on my heart for awhile now, but I must write a few disclaimers as I want to be sensitive to those who said this to me with the best intentions.   First of all, if you said this to me after Callie died, please know this is not written about you, so do not feel bad!  90% of people said this to me, so it really is not about anyone specific.  Also, I KNOW I've said this to people ALL.THE.TIME. before Callie died, and I really had no idea how unhelpful it was until now.

With that being said, the most common phrase that practically everyone said to me after Callie died was "Let me know if you need anything."  I got this from people who live far away, people who live close, people I haven't spoken to in years, and people who I see everyday.  From distant friends to close friends, everyone said this to me.  And you know how many people I actually let them know I needed something?  Zero.  But I totally get it.  People have absolutely no idea what to say to me and how to help, so they text me or end a conversation with "Let me know if you need anything." And I politely say Thank You, knowing I probably won't ever hear from that person again. 

 I know people want to do something but don't know what to do.  And quite honestly, I have no idea what I need either.  That first week of complete and utter shock and despair, I couldn't think straight.  I had every person tell me to let them know if I need anything, and I just wanted to scream out, "I don't know what I need, please just think of something yourself."  And I have learned over the past 3 months, that the most helpful people were the ones who thought of something to do for me, then ask me if they can do it, and I can either say yes or no.   And even if I said no, I was so thankful that person thought of something to ask me.  

For example, planning Callie's funeral was something I desperately needed help with.  People took care of it for me.  I had a friend call me and say, "we would love to put together a slideshow for Callie's funeral, is that something you would want?"  YES, YES I do want that!  I never would have thought of it myself, because my mind was mush but I'm so thankful they thought of it themselves and did it for us.  Someone else asked me if we would want a lunch for close family after the funeral and I said yes and they did that for us.  Those are just a few examples from the first week, but after the funeral, and the weeks and months following, is when we need people even more.  

Here are some specifics things I have learned from people over the past 3 months:

  • Be specific in how you can help your friend in need.  This doesn't just apply to a friend going through grief, it could apply to  someone who just had a baby, someone who is stressed, someone who is moving, or someone with sick kids at home and overwhelmed.  Instead of saying, "let me know if you need anything",  say, "can I bring you a meal today?", "Can I watch your kids for you so you can rest?", "can I come over and visit with you today or tomorrow?", "Can I help plan something special to remember Callie?"  Just thinking of something specific and asking them is SO much more helpful than being general.
  • When being specific, state it in a way as something you would love to do for them.  Even though I was experiencing grief, I didn't like to burden people.  It was so nice when people asked to help in a way that wouldn't be a burden to them.  "I'm going to the store, can I pick up something for you?"   "My son would love to play with Cooper and we have nothing going on the next 3 days, can we watch Cooper for you? Or have a playdate?"  "I would love to bring you a meal this week, which day works for you?"  When the person stated it in a way that  seemed like they really wanted to do it for me, it really blessed me.  
  • Bring them food!  I can't stress that enough.  The first week after Callie died, we stayed at my parents house, and my parents Bible Study class brought over food all week.  One person dropped off a huge box of Chelsea's chicken salad, pasta, fruit, bread etc, and we were able to eat on that for lunch all week (and if you live in Kingwood, you know and love Chelsea's).  My church brought us meals for 3 weeks and our neighbors for 2 months!  It was such a blessing not to think about cooking food.  No matter what type of stress a friend is going through, most people won't turn down an offer to bring a meal.  
  • Try to remove "Let me know..." from your vocabulary completely.  Not just, "Let me know if you need anything" , but even saying "Let me know if you want me to bring you a meal."  Yes that is specific, but it's still putting the ball in their court and then they have to call you up and say, "Remember when you said let you know if we need a meal, well, we could really use a meal this week."  It's just more awkward to ask for it and it makes me feel like you didn't really mean it (though you may have).   I heard a lot, "let me know if you want to get together."  And I just stare blankly as I'm not sure if they really want to get together or just saying that.  I understand they don't want to burden me but I can always say no if I don't want to get together.  It's just more helpful to say, "do you want to get together on Monday?" and I can either say yes, or no if I'm no feeling up to it.  
  • Learn what the person in grief wants.  Everybody is completely different.  For me as a stay at home mom, my life went from taking care of 2 kids, to taking care of 1 and it has been so painful, especially since Cooper doesn't need as much direction and attention as Callie did.   Being alone with just Cooper makes it harder as the days are super long.  I have memories all around us and our day to day has changed completely.  Having play dates and get togethers is something I really needed and still need.  Being alone is hard for me especially since I'm alone all the time, and being with people is a nice distraction.  But for some people in my situation, they would want to be alone.  I had a few people tell me they wanted to give me my space, but I didn't need or want space.  I wanted to be around people and specifically for Cooper to have friends to play with.  He and Callie played together every.single.day and his instant playmate was gone.  It was shocking for both of us.  I didn't realize how much they played together until she was gone.  When I shared this with people, some people would say, "well, let me know if you want to have a playdate."  And I just think, "didn't I just tell you that's what I wanted?"  It's been so nice when friends and neighbors have initiated get togethers with us and having fun outings with Cooper has been a blessing and makes the days go by faster for us.
It's hard asking people for help. For some people, it's easier than others.  There are probably just 3-4 people in my life that I feel comfortable enough to ask for their help, and even then it's hard.  So when people say, "let me know if you need anything", it's too hard and overwhelming to actually call them up or text them and ask them to do something for me.  Most people won't do that especially with people we aren't very close to.  I'm so thankful for people who thought of things I haven't even thought of to offer help.   These are all things I have learned during my grief from other people.  I feel badly now when I think about all the people I have said, "let me know if you need anything" to before this.  I just didn't know.  I think it's a very natural and common phrase we say to people in need almost like saying "how are you" to people when we pass them. 

The biggest advice I've learned is that if you know someone experiencing grief, think of a specific way you would like to help (bringing them a meal, having them over for dinner, plan a playdate, hire someone to clean their house, offer to help them pack, plan something for the loved ones birthday they lost, sit and listen to them talk about their grief), and ask if that is something you can do.  Even if you think "I don't know if they would want this," Just ask and the person can always say no.  You never know, the thing you think of could be exactly what they needed, they just didn't realize it.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

3 Months without Callie

It's been over 3 months now without our Callie.  Here are some random thoughts going through my head after 3 months of the most intense grief most people will ever experience.

  • I still go through shock somedays.  Because Callie died so unexpectedly, the shock can hit me at random moments.  I still can't believe this happened.  I still can't believe she is actually gone.  
  • We now define our lives as before Callie died, and then after she died.  Our lives are completely different now.  Everything changed. Our family changed, our personalities changed, our emotions, the way we think, the way we act, our friendships changed, etc, etc. 
  • I have become more of an introvert now.  Not so much that I have to be alone all the time, but I really really don't like being around large groups of people.  I actually have social anxiety now, which I have never had before.  I pretty much HATE small talk and try to avoid it as much as possible.  I don't really like meeting new people now because I know I will at some point have to explain what happened to our family.  At this point in our lives, I don't feel like starting all over with people.  I do love being around a small group of people who know me well and I can be comfortable around.  But being around a large group of people, especially people I don't know well,  can be hard for us.  I am constantly afraid that someone will ask me how many kids I have or more questions about my family that I will have to explain in a very awkward setting.  
  • Some of our friendships have changed.  Many people who have walked the road of grief will tell  you that their friendships have changed through it.  Some of my friends I have gotten so much closer to through this.  Our friendships went deeper and they have chosen to really walk through this dark road with me.  We've had people dive more into our lives than beforehand, which says a lot to us.  They are choosing to be friends with us during our darkest times, knowing they won't get anything in return right now, since we can't be the greatest friends right now.  Then there are friends that have distance themselves from us because they don't know what to say or what to do and that makes me sad.  I know that is just a part of grief.
  • It is hard for me to be around little girls who are the same age as Callie.  For some reason, it's not as hard for me to be around boys her age, maybe because I already have a boy, or maybe because the boy doesn't remind me as much as Callie.  But seeing a little girl around the same age as Callie can really pierce my heart. 
  • Going to church is hard.  I've talked to other moms who have lost children and they have all said going to church for them was hard too for about a year.  Singing in church is very, very hard.  Every song we sing reminds us of our loss.  I can't sing a song without thinking about Callie.  Our church in particular has gone through a ton of change at the same time Callie died which makes it even harder.  Our church is much bigger, with many new people and I don't have the emotional energy to invest in right now.  I'm sure I can come across as rude, but this is a part of grief that most can't understand.    I know it won't always be like this, but for now it's hard. 
  • I'm afraid that people will forget about Callie.  Since she was old enough for us to have a ton of memories with her, but young enough to not have her own friends yet or her own teachers, I'm afraid that people didn't know her well and will forget her.  It's one reason I post her videos and pictures all the time.  I just don't want her to be forgotten and I wish I could do more to keep her memory alive and to honor her.
  • July 4th plays in my head on a loop over and over again.  I really wish I could get it out of my head, I really wish the images would get out of my mind, but they won't for now.  And I can't imagine how much worse that is for Justin. 
  • I really hate that Callie died on July 4th.  Why oh why did it have to be on a holiday?  Why did it have to be on a day where people are off work, celebrating, parading, and shooting off fireworks?  It's just salt in a wound.  I so wish it was just a regular ordinary day, but it wasn't and it's something we have to deal with for the rest of our lives, every 4th of July. 
  • Justin and I grieve very differently.  It can be hard since no one knows what we are going through except for each other, but yet we are grieving in completely different ways.  I like being around close friends or small groups.  Justin doesn't really want to be around anyone since he is an introvert in that way.  If he is having a hard day, he wants to be alone.  I love looking at her pictures and videos, and for Justin it is very very hard to look at her pictures and videos.  I'm public about my feelings and he is private.  Everyone grieves so differently, and even though we have gone through the same type of grieve, we are grieving in different ways. 
  • Speaking of grieving differently, it's so true that there is no grief like the one you go through.  You can't compare grief.  When people try to compare their situation to mine, it can make me cringe.  Some people try to relate, but it's usually not helpful.  
  • We are planning to move into a new house.  We don't know when exactly, but we assume it will be sometime over the next 6 months or so.  We have talked about moving before Callie died since Justin got a new job and has a much longer commute, so it's not like we are making a rash and sudden decision.  Justin wanted to move the day after it happened.  It's very hard for him to be in this house.  I am okay being in the house and think it will be very hard to leave all her memories behind, but I do think it will be healthy for our family to start fresh in a new home especially having a new baby.  Of course this does not mean we are moving on and it will not heal our hurting hearts, but it will help especially not having to put the new baby in her room.  
  • Every Single Day is hard.  It may not look like it in your eyes, but deep down our hearts are shattered and hurting deeply on the inside.  Some days are completely unbearable, and other days are just regular hard.   We think about her all the time. The  'Why Me' questions can still pop in my head.  I don't see much fruit from her death yet and that is hard.  When people complain about small things, that can be hard.  Even just seeing happy, intact, healthy families everywhere I go is hard.  
  • God's Grace is sufficient.  Though we have hard days, there is absolutely no way I could get through this deep pain without relying on the Lord.  The is no way I can even function without knowing and believing in God's sovereignty.  I know He is carrying our deep burdens and I know He is doing a big work in our lives and the lives around us even when we don't see it.