Monday, November 8, 2010

Taking Time Out to Grieve

I know it's been a long time since I've posted on here.  I've recently realized that what started as an intentional break from the intense grief and mourning of August has seeped into an unintentional time of avoidance.  After August passed and the first couple of weeks of September were behind us, I looked back at those weeks of overwhelming grief and saw just how weighty they had been, how much I had been carrying on my shoulders every day, and how exhausted I was from walking through the one year anniversary of each of the days of Samuel's life and each of the first days without him.  Though I am so glad I did it -- that I went back every day of August and read what we'd posted on that day in 2009, that I purposefully remembered what we walked through, hoped, feared, and faced in each of those 31 days -- it took a toll on me, and I was in rather dire need of a hiatus from the heaviness of August.  So, I purposefully took a break.

However, as time has passed and September turned into October and then November, somewhere along the way I became complacent, and after a few questions from a friend, I realized that I have simply been avoiding grief.  Something truly changed for me after we passed the year mark -- especially after we passed the anniversary of the funeral and those first few weeks of numb, overpowering grief.  I was surprised by what a difference it made to know I had already lived each date without Samuel once, and I could do it again.  Though I had not expected it, life felt noticeably more manageable after crossing all the first anniversaries.  But I guess that more manageable state made it easier for me to slip into a lazier attitude and a degree of avoidance.

The one place where I always find myself transported back to Samuel's bedside is during the worship songs at church on Sunday morning.  The first few Sundays of Samuel's life, we were able to go to church and still get down to the hospital just as the floor was opening back up for parents to be with their kids.  I vividly remember how much faith it took for me to sing the lyrics to praise songs in those days of such fear and an awareness of how very much I had to lose.  It moved me to my core to sing that God was healer when I didn't know if He would heal my son, that He was in control when nothing at all was within my control, and that He was so good when my son's life was so broken.  I believed those things with all my heart, but it took such tremendous effort to join the chorus of voices singing those truths to the very God I was beseeching to perform a miracle in Samuel's life.

And every week at church now, I find myself taken back to Samuel's side.  Almost always I go back to when he was dying, and we watched him grow sicker and sicker and saw his body decaying even while he was still alive.  It find myself choked up and teary, and again it takes great faith in my soul to sing God's praises while remembering the heartbreak of those days.  And yet, in some ways, remembering those days by Samuel stirs up the most praise in my soul, for during Samuel's life I saw God in more real, transforming ways than I ever had and perhaps than I ever will.  I knew God in an intimate way I can't possibly describe, and going back to that place elicits such praise from within me.  God has shown Himself to be so good -- even when life has not gone as I hoped.  He has proven Himself to be truly, deeply, and completely sufficient.  He has drawn my heart to Himself, and I am so very grateful.

Grieving for my sweet Samuel continues -- and always will -- but it is with a new rhythm and at a new pace.  I have to be careful to let myself grieve as it bubbles up -- and it certainly has been bubbling up the last month or so, but I have been ignoring it.  I see warning signs when I haven't "taken time out to grieve" as our grief counselor, Judy, often said in our sessions.  I get more snippy, am less joyful, and find life more frustrating.  I have needed to come back to this place of grief to create more room in my heart for other emotions, but as time has gone on, it's gotten scarier to come back here.  I am reminded just how much I need it: I need to grieve, I need to blog about it, I need to let myself dwell on Samuel for awhile.  And every time I do, I can see and feel how good it is for my soul.  So, I'm thankful for Sara, who asked me enough questions to prod my self-protected heart and helped me see how far off the path of intentionality I had come.  And I'm thankful for my God who sees me through it all and gives me pictures of hope along the way.  And I'm thankful for Samuel who may be toddling around Heaven these days and saying a few words already.  Who knows what he's up to in Heaven or how old he is there, but I do know some day I'll snuggle that son of mine again, and I am thankful.


  1. "I knew God in an intimate way I can't possibly describe, and going back to that place elicits such praise from within me."

    Love this! I have felt this as well, but you say it so well. As the old hymn says, "Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I've proved Him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!"

    Press on.


  2. I'm so thankful for you, Kat. You shine the light of the Lord that is impossible to ignore. I love you, dear friend.