Saturday, July 3, 2010

A lesson on Grief

 my bible and journal and fun pen
Don't be scared of this post. Please ;)
Lately,  I have been finding joy in things such as this:
Exciting Soccer Games in the World Cup
Good, fun workouts (often while I watch these games)
Long walks with my hubby
Reading books outside in the heat
Feeling Briar move around
Homemade fruit smoothies
Sweet snuggles from Bella (the  lab)
Long, unrushed quiet times in the mornings
Fresh fruit in the morning
Connecting with old friends on recent trips
Cleaning my shower...something feels good about getting it squeaky clean and smelling beautiful :)
Peanut M&M's
**Caveat**Here it comes. I am having a good day, but I'm choosing to write on something more sober. It's just the way it goes. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm not allowed to feel sad, or I need to put on a happy face for others. But I am all about being AUTHENTIC and REAL.  I am not going to be debbie downer, but I also want to show others that I can walk through this with the Lord, even in the midst of pain. I don't always want to run from pain, which is my first idea and first reaction. I don't always want to walk away from it.  I have a really neat devotional about walking through grief that I have been reading each day.  It really talks about how you will often feel alone, isolated, down, etc.  It doesn't mean I am depressed, I am simply walking through the stages of grief.  The place I am in is an odd one. Meeting with a friend this week, she described it best. It's almost as if I'm in a dance of grief and joy.  One cannot be present without the other.  In the most joyous parts of this pregnancy (feeling my man kick or move, seeing him on ultrasound), it is still bittersweet in the loss.  It doesn't mean that I am not happy or that when I"m happy, I'm not in the pain, it is just the journey I'm walking.
Last night we watched our ultrasound on DVD.  It started out okay. It ended with us both in tears.  Knowing the reality that our  little guy is so content in his little place in my belly.  That he will not be okay when he comes out. It makes me want to stay pregnant keep him in a place where I can experience the joy of knowing him. Seeing that sweet little 4-D face with his hand above his head...that will bring you to your knees. :)

This actually isn't a lesson for you going through grief. It's a lesson for you to deal with others who are dealing with grief.
 I say these things not to condemn you if you have said them, or to make you feel silly. But honestly, I had no idea before I walked through it and I KNOW I have said some of these things.  I know everyone walks through the process differently, so I know I am not the one and only master of knowledge in this area.
Some things not to say:
**God has a plan for this baby (this death, etc).  "God works for the good of those who love him" "God has a reason and purpose for this."
We know this. Believe me, i am holding on to that truth above all else..that God's true and perfect plan is so much bigger than the moment of grief I am in.   But it doesn't help to hear it. My grief book actually says that when you tell a grieving person this, it doesn't allow them to feel the feelings they need order to get to the place where they can feel and understand God's bigger plan.  Try not to say these things. God will use circumstances and people, as well as his word and truth to get the person to a place where they can understand this, but it can't be said as a platitude.
**You look better today (this week, this month, etc)
By saying this, you infer that I was a total basketcase last time I saw you.  And I am not better. I am simply having a good day. Allow me to be there...try not to act like I'm a weirdo if I am sad one day and normal the next.  In the grief devotional I have, it talks about how all loss effects you greatly, but the loss of a child is the ultimate loss. They call it a 'shadow loss' because it will always pop up for the rest of your life. That scares me...but it is reality.
** You are depressed.  (**unless you truly have seen signs of this for a while and the loss happened a while ago**)
I am going through grief (oh, and I'm still pregnant too....hello TIREDNESS and HORMONES :). There is a difference.  It is a tough journey.  Some days look different than others.  Someday, I could deal with depression and I will reach out to the tools I need to get through it then if it happens. But right now, I am dealing with pain. with loss. with the ache of never taking my son to baseball practice.  to prom. to his wedding. That is okay.  People going through grief need a season to feel that pain.  Do I want to? NO WAY!!!! But should I? Absolutely.  I didn't ask for this lot. But the Lord knows that this is something I can handle, and he has allowed it to come.  Brandon and I are walking this journey hand in hand with the Lord.
**(Insert your opinion about the situation here) 
When you share your opinion about a death, a circumstance, makes the person who is going through the pain feel as though you will judge them if you do not deal with the circumstance as they did.  Just a thought. :)

A couple things TO DO:
**Don't ignore the loss. It's like a huge white elephant in the room. Acknowledge it with a "I've been thinking about (Briar) today" or "I've been praying for you" or "I'm thinking of your family a lot"....."I'm sorry", etc.  You don't need to say too much....but acknowledging the life and loss (for me) is such a blessing. It really bums me out when people ignore it completely because if this were a healthy baby, you would talk about it...although in all loss it's a balance....definitely don't dwell there and ask a million questions unless you are a good friend who should be doing that.
**Listen. If someone grieving wants to talk, they will often do so when they know they have a sweet and willing listener. I often feel I need to validate feelings and talk a lot when I am listening, but it is often important just to have a listener who cares.
**Be there. Check in on the person who is grieving. It is a very lonely feeling and you often feel forgotten about, as if everyone else has gone on with life and doesn't want to deal with your sadness anymore. Even if this is true, check in with your friend who is grieving. Say hi.  Ask them to coffee. It is important.  
**Do something to honor the loss.  My friends are throwing me a 'love shower' instead of a baby shower.  That is so special to me.  Think of a way you could buy a necklace with the name of the person lost or make them a quilt, etc.  Do something to let them know their loss is not forgotten.
(EDITED TO ADD)**Pray for the person
I can't believe I forgot this the first time. This is the most important. Rather than try to insert your wisdom into the situation, simply pray that the person would seek wise counsel, would hear from the Lord. Pray for their comfort, their peace.  Pray that the Lord would walk them through this.  That is what I pray for :)


  1. Brooke, I love this post. Know that I am praying for you guys.

  2. I love the love shower idea! Let me know when it is so I can show some love. Because I love you guys, and sweet little Briar. And..........drum roll please.........I'm going to call you soon! Ahhhhh! Lots of stuff going on during my days, and then at night when I finally get home theres lots more stuff until bed. You know the drill I'm sure. But really, soon. It's going to happen. Love you friend, and I'm praying for you often.

  3. good words B. so so so enjoyed our convo on friday. love you oh so much!

  4. Hey Brooke! I have loved keeping up with you and Briar through your blog this summer. Your strength and faith are always inspirational to me. Your family is in my prayers.

  5. Brooke.

    I love the new picture of you and AG. You look beautiful! I think about how you are doing every day. I look forward to your posts daily and I pray for you nightly.

    Love and Peace,

  6. Great post, Brooke.
    Please know I think of and pray for you often!

  7. Wow--how vulnerable and real!
    Thank you for sharing your heart and how you feel!

  8. Thanks for the sweet comments, friends :) I'm having a great morning, I slept way in today. I appreciate all of your I wade my way through this!!

  9. I use the same pen when I have my quiet times...weird, huh?

  10. Great post:) Everyone need to read this to know how to handle situations when people around them are grieving.

    Thank you for sharing and opening your hearts and thoughts during your journey.

    Still thinking about you and praying for you (& your sweet lil man!)


  11. Brooke, I'm not sure if you remember me from Porter, but somehow I found your blog through facebook and just wanted to come out of the stalker shadows and tell you I am truly, truly sorry for what you are going through. I have had two miscarriages since Hallie (not trying to share a circumstance or to compare in any way...), but just to say that your suggestions for how to deal with grief and what people should and should not say are so right on! We all need to be free to walk through it in whatever way we can. Sometimes you don't really know what to say to someone until you've been there in the middle of that pain...and sometimes still there is just not anything anyone can say, really. I just wanted you to know that you and your precious family are in my prayers! Kelly Johnson

  12. B...I love you, sweet friend. Thank you for writing this post and helping us all gain perspective on being there for you guys. So helpful! I was just reading through some of Job last night and and really feeling challenged on how to be there for someone in an encouraging way as they experience loss. Job's friends seriously missed the mark and he was so hurt by them...I was pondering this and then stumbled across your blog. Perfect! Thank you for being upfront about these things. I'm sorry (as I'm sure are many) for anything that I've done or not done to love you well in this process. We want to know how to love you well!
    Also, info on the love shower for me too, please! Love, Nat

  13. Sweet Brooke,
    I loved catching up with you and the girls at lunch. I pray for you and AG through your journey.
    Love you friend,

  14. brooke, i am sitting in a cafe catching up on some things and my dumb facebook wouldn't open, but instead my computer suggested I open your page instead. i didn't even recognize the pattern of the blog from the thumbnail, but i did. i don't usually, but i did.

    and i want you to know that i am praying for you now.
    from a coffee shop.
    in milwaukee.
    and i imagine again on future runs when prayers flood my mind.

    i am so sorry.
    i am praying.