Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grief on a Timeline

Grief isn't something that I can "overcome". I just finally realized that today. Even though I heard phrases like "it will always be with you" or "you never get over it", I really didn't believe that would be my experience. It's in my nature to achieve, to conquer, to control. To overcome. I was going to be successful in my grieving; I was going to "grieve well". Maybe I am grieving well, but that doesn't mean that I pass a test at the end of X number of months and I'm done.

I had to say out loud today that this grief journey's going to take at least a year. It was a relief to admit it. Even that is still trying to apply a timeline to something that can't be predicted, but at least I'm not living in a state of "I should be fully recovered by now..."

Little Feet

Olivia had my toes. Every time I look at my feet I'm reminded of her. She had the best little baby feet. We used to call them "marshmallows with toes." We didn't know how she would walk on those little fat feet, let alone wear shoes.

I really wanted to see her little feet mashed into sandals this summer.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some of my favorite photos

Aunty Tricia always was really good at bundling a baby...and she got lots of practice at our house!

Sabrina and her babies

Such a handsome boy...

I'm so glad that I was able to capture this...Nicholas had such a big smile...

Olivia's smile was more shy...but she had a dimple in her cheek just like me...

How cute is this? I don't know if she was too impressed with the hat, but we loved it!


My children, Nicholas and Olivia, live in eternity. They have gone on ahead of me, and that brings me great comfort and a lot to look forward to. Their presence there has removed the apprehension I used to feel about death.

Corrie has chosen eternal life. In fact, he did so on the day Nicholas died. He knew what he needed to do to ensure that his family would be together forever. He's such a great dad.

I chose eternal life many years ago. But I hadn't started living in it until recently.

Living with an eternal perspective changes the entire way I relate to this world. This is not all there is. I do not have to worry and scurry, hustle and bustle, collect and keep, hoard and accumulate, try to get younger and richer, or sweat the small stuff. Or even the big stuff. Don't get me wrong - I am in fact human, and I do many of those things a lot of the time. But when I let God cover it with His grace, He makes all things right again. He restores my soul and resets my perspective back to an eternal one. Then I can put my priorities back into order.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


In my very first post I wrote about the gifts that Nicholas' short life and death has brought us. That and the hope that Olivia's short life and death has brought us have been the theme of my journey here.

When I got over the inital shock of hearing that we were to be blessed with twins, I was able to embrace the concept that not only was I going to get a second chance at welcoming a new baby into our family, but a third chance at the same time! I so wanted another chance. Looking back at Sabrina's birth and first few months as a baby, I've realized that I suffered from postpartum depression. This was more than the "baby blues". I was a person who was career-driven, self-centred, and had up until then very little experience with children. I would even say that I had never really been a child; I didn't play with my dolls and stuffed animals, but had preferred to read and learn instead. So take this person and place her into a situation where in order to succeed you had to give up all you were and serve this little one who had been entrusted to your care. To be honest, it was really hard, and I don't remember enjoying it much.

God slowly but surely worked on my heart in the years since. Over time, as Sabrina grew and matured, and I was able to find ways to relate to her, I enjoyed her more and more. She was so cute!

But motherhood was still an arena where I felt very inadequate. I would observe other mothers and wonder why I couldn't play and have fun with Sabrina like they could with their children. So I sought out places where I was successful, like work. But I couldn't balance my family life and my work life, because I was pulled to where I felt validated and competent. I thank God that He never gave up on my stubborn, prideful heart. As I sought to know Him better and study His Word, He gently revealed to me those areas where I needed to put Corrie and Sabrina first. He enabled me to learn how to serve them and learn how to love them the way they need to be loved. And just as my heart was starting to be turned toward my family, we discovered we were expecting twins. Which brings me back to where I started. Since I felt like I had ruined the only time I had to experience Sabrina as a baby, I was excited that I was going to be given double the opportunity to get back what I had lost.

And when we brought those twins home, my heart was in it. I enjoyed them so much; the abundance of two babies, discovering how different they were, learning what would keep them healthy and would make them content. Being able to care for both of them at the same time. As they weakened and died, one by one, my hopes of redemption died with them.

When I returned to work, I started to grieve all over again. I didn't understand why going back to a place where I was cared for and validated held so much anxiety for me. Through prayer and therapy, I was able to see that I did not want to return to being that person I had been before the twins came. God then showed me that I was grieving the reality that I could not be my own redeemer. There was nothing I could do to fix my mistakes, to replace what I had lost. The hope came when He reminded me that Jesus came and died so that He could be my Redeemer. His sacrifice has covered all those lost and wasted opportunities. He has promised us in His Word that He will restore "what the locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25), and that means that in Christ I can have a fresh start. What a precious gift!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Technical Difficulties

My apologies! I was just notified today that the movies of Nicholas and Olivia were unavailable to be viewed. I've since figured out what the problem was and you should be able to view them now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nicholas Talks

His sounds were so precious, we treasured every one.

Olivia Talks

She always did have a lot to say.

Walking in the Valley

I've heard it mentioned more than once since entering into mourning that those who grieve go through cycles, rather than one large process where you emerge whole and healed at the end. That makes a lot of sense, since as time passes we perceive things differently as the lens through which we view them changes.

Right in the beginning, when without a doubt that grieving was far too big for me to manage on my own, that's when I was able to cast my cares upon God and His grace was ever-present. People would ask me how I was doing, and I would reply that I was "fine" or "carried by God's grace". It was all so fresh that support was visible and all around us. We saw how much God loved us every day through those that served us and cared for our hurting family. I was amazed at the revelation that He would indeed carry our sorrows if we offered them up to Him to take.

As time has gone by, and the loss isn't as raw, bit by bit I've started to take my burden back from God's big shoulders. And it nearly overwhelmed me. Friends, those of you who do not know Christ as your Saviour, how do you do it? How do you live life without Jesus? Now that I've seen both worlds, the natural one and the Kingdom, I don't ever want to go back to living in the natural. Living in my natural instincts, my natural independent streak, a personality and heart not yielded to something better than myself. Yes, I stumble, I make mistakes, I carry things I was never meant to carry. But I know that the saving grace of God will cover those things and that brings me hope.

This grief cycle has brought me from a place of leaning on God and people, to trying to manage on my own and fighting against having to grieve, to back to accepting where I am at and resting in the promise that God will make something beautiful out of my pain. Knowing myself as I do, that as the lens of my circumstances changes again, I will enter into another grief cycle. But each time I go back to walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I know He is with me and I don't have to fear anything. He will protect me and guide me. (Psalm 23)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Good Things

It was a beautiful spring day in Winnipeg today. The sunlight floods into my house and fills every corner on a day like this. I love my house, and I thank God for it often - we moved here in a hurry last June in order to accomodate the arrival of our twins.

I celebrated my 33rd birthday here last night with good friends. Good people, and I thank God for them too - I don't know what we would have done without their love and support.

Sabrina and I went for a walk today and we tried out her new scooter. And I listened to her talk the whole way. I hope she never stops telling me things and asking me questions.

We went out for a drive as a family this afternoon and I listened to Corrie share his heart while Sabrina sang to herself in the backseat. Then we stopped at our favorite place in Lockport and ate yummy greasy food together in the truck. What could be better than that?

God is so good - He doesn't let me grieve all the time.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(Psalm 103: 1-5)

Tears and Faith

Again, another great quote from an inspired writer in the blogosphere...

"During those couple very tearful days, I read a page in the One Year Book of Hope (Nancy Guthrie) that encouraged me greatly. (Thank you Susan!) I know that tears are good, that God is loving me as I cry... but sometimes I feel weak and lacking in faith. This second day in the Brokenhearted section was wonderful.

Along with relief (of crying), there is also the uncomfortable loss of control that is a companion to tears, isn't there? Some see tears not only as a loss of control but also as a lack of faith. It is as if the physical manifestation of tears gives evidence of a spiritual deficiency- that if our faith was big enough or deep enough or developed enough, we simply wouldn't be this sad. It is as if we think our grasp of spiritual realities can erase the hurts of being human. But when you've lost something or someone who is valuable to you, when you have been forced to let go of a dream or live within a nightmare- that is something to be sad about. So let yourself be sad. ...

Thank you Lord, for keeping track of my sorrows (Psalm 56:8) and for filling me up when I feel so low. Thank you for those wonderful relationships that you have blessed me with and for using many different people to fulfill the needs in my life at this time! I love you Lord Jesus and praise you... for the good days that remind me of your peace, and for the bad days that remind me of your grace. Please gently remind me each day as I seek you, that your grace truly is enough. I pray that you continue to bless us and that you will steadily bring new life to this family."

I definitely couldn't have said it better myself...

Off Comes the Mask

We live in a "feel-good" culture. If we feel sad, anxious, or depressed, there's a pill for it. We have built an expectation that illness and death are inconveniences that can be conquered by modern medicine. We think material things will make us happy, and we buy them whenever we want, even if we don't have the money.

Grief does not fit in to a "feel-good" culture. So many of the writers of blogs I've visited that are writing about grief and loss express that they struggle to be normal; that they want to be normal women. And it struck me this morning - how did we become a society that couldn't accomodate grief and loss? How did we get to a point where we have rejected the half of ourselves that feels pain and called that normal? We have tried to remove ourselves so far from it that we don't know how to relate to those that can't.

Up until now, I've been the kind of person that could conquer anything by force of will. Even negative emotions. And I couldn't understand those who weren't able to live the same way. Now I'm finally up against something bigger than my will can conquer. I'm no longer capable of "managing" my emotions to appear as someone who is worthy. And to that I say, Thank God! It's been painful, but I've been forced to tear off the mask, the one that I've been wearing for so long I didn't know it was there. What's underneath feels raw and exposed. Vulnerable.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How to Help Your Grieving Friend

Through my travels in the blogosphere, I have discovered a very eloquent series of blog posts called "How to Help your Grieving Friend". It was written by a woman whose child was born silently just days before her due date.

I know that I am not alone - but it is good to read something that someone else has written and think "yes, that's how I feel, too..."