By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Pursuing God, Sawyer's Story, The Journey of Motherhood
(If you are new to this blog and wish to see the story of our son from the first post, click on the category to the left titled "From a Mom 4 Life" and scroll to the bottom of the page).
Last Thursday we had Sawyer’s memorial. It was a beautiful service, small, intimate and lovely. We were very blessed to have one of our churches community pastors (and his wife) be willing to virtually organize the entire thing for us. It feels so overwhelming to have so much "to do" in such a sort amount of time. So many decisions need to be made in such a sort amount of time. In one week we decided:
-do you induce or don’t you, if so when?
-who will be there for the birth?
-what do you want to do to remember your child after they are born and before they are taken away?
-will you do an autopsy?
-will they be buried, cremated? Do you have a place for your family to be buried? What kind of casket or urn will they be put in?
-will you have a funeral, a memorial service? When, what do you do at one? (I surly had never attended one before for a child).
So needless to say we were amazingly grateful that Richie and Katie were lovingly willing to help us with the details of the service. We sang several songs (many of which are the ones that I have playing here) and Richie read several scriptures and we prayed together. Our desire was to celebrate the life of Sawyer that was so brief but yet has impacted us all so deeply and thank God for lovingly carrying us though. Do we understand why this has happened? No. Will we ever? Perhaps. Do we like it? No way. Does beauty come from pain? Can God redeem any situation and create beauty from ashes?
"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3"
Learning how to grieve is not something we are typically taught growing up. It might sound strange but I am learning to see it as a beautiful thing. Learning to grieve seems to have a lot to do with honesty and transparency. I have to be willing to be honest about how I feel, both to myself and to those around me. I have to be willing to accept and embrace an amazing variety of emotions at any point in the day. When I am laughing I have to have the wisdom to recognize and give thanks for that moment of happiness. When I am crying I have to be willing to surrender to the depth of sadness I am feeling. I find that most of my days are filled with the moments in between the laughter and the tears. Lately it is simply a feeling of deep and profound loss and sadness, a feeling that part of me is missing and the realization that the missing piece is so far away. As I put on my makeup in the morning I try to gauge if the amount of tears I will cry will justify skipping the mascara all together or not. I have been changed at the core of who I am though Sawyer’s death. The fact that I am a Christian and have a loving God to cling to does not take away the hurt or lessen the pain, it simply gives me a place to take that pain to and someone to call out to for help.
I started reading a book today called "Holding On To Hope-A pathway through suffering to the heart of God". It was sent to me by one of you that reads this blog (thank you so much Amanda B). As I began this book written by a Christan woman who experienced the loss of her very young daughter, I simply cried and cried. Her words seemed so poignant and equal to my own feelings. The author says:
"I’ve been blessed with many people who have been willing to share my sorrow, to just be sad with me. Others, however, seem to want to rush me though my sadness. they want to fix me. But I lost someone I loved dearly, and I’m sad.
Ours is not a culture that is comfortable with sadness. Sadness is awkward. It is unsettling. It ebbs and flows and takes its own shape. It beckons to be shared. It comes out in tears, and we don’t quite know what to do with those. So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don’t want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel. I tell people, "Don’t worry about crying in front of me, and don’t be afraid that you will make me cry! Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you the you’ve touched me in a place that is meaningful to me–and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief. In fact, those who shed their tears with me show me we are not alone. It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, and when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucketful of sadness and carrying it for me. it is, perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me.
Our culture wants to put the Band-Aid of heaven on the hurt of losing someone we love. Sometimes it seems like the people around us think that because we know the one we love is in heaven, we shouldn’t be sad. But they don’t understand how far away heaven feels, and how long the future seems as we see before us the years we have to spend on this earth before we see the one we love again. Fortunately, we are not alone in our sadness. In Isaiah 53:3 the Bible describes God’s Son as "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". And so it is on our sadness that we discover a new aspect of God’s character and reach a new understanding of him that we could not have known without loss. He is acquainted with grief. He understands. He’s not trying to rush us though our sadness. He’s sad with us."
I echo everything Nancy (the author) says. The people that have cried with us, been willing to walk this journey by our sides not knowing what it would look like, how we would react, how it would affect them or where it will take us, have given us perhaps the most deeply meaningful and loving gift we could ask for.
Last Tuesday I went to my MOPS group meeting. This was three days after I had given birth to Sawyer. I needed to get out of the house and I needed the support of my friends to get through the day. My friend Katie met me in outside the church and walked with me to check in my kids where I was also met by my friend Maggie. They both walked with me to MOPS. Simple things like not having to walk alone mean so much. One of the MOPS leaders came to me and asked how I wanted things to go, if I wanted them to talk about what had happened or if I wanted it to just "be normal", if I wanted them to pray or not say anything. Simple things like asking what would be most helpful to me rather than assuming, meant a lot. I opted for the prayer (why not get prayer when you can right?). Toward the end of the MOPS meeting, my friend Katie asked, "How are you doing? If you want to leave early I will go with you." Simple words like that make me feel so not alone. As I left, Katie and Maggie were with me and looking back I see that God was there with me that day using those ladies to be the physical representation of His constant presence and love.
I don’t want to walk this road but now that I have begun the journey, I simply don’t want to walk it alone.
How you can pray for us:
-That we will continue to learn how to live effectively in this "new reality" we have faced as a family. That my husband and I will continue to know how to help one another and our children through this.
Things we are thankful for:
-Amanda B. for sending me the book I am reading and Laura O. for having so many helpful books sent to us on grief including some on how to help your kids though it–so thoughtful and helpful. Thank you so much Kim P. for the book, beautiful figurine, book list and card and another small handful of you that have sent CD’s, books, book lists, a stuffed animal, scripture and cards of love and encouragement to us. These things are each so helpful as we begin this process.
-Today someone that I have only known though a few interactions (but she is so sweet I like to call her my friend) came by our home and dropped off a beautiful pot full of flowers for me and two toys for our children (one for each of them). The kids had such a great time with their new toys and we spent a good hour outside watching Hunter play with his water rocket toy and laughing at his new discoveries. I really enjoyed and was thankful for her gift of laughter today for our family–thank you Joann.