“Take it by day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second.” Momma’s words to me, her hurting daughter.
“Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5-6
Healing is a process…a long slow process…full of hills and valleys…good days and bad… My words as I learned to make peace with my daughter’s death.
If you haven’t read When Overcoming is Your ONLY Option (Part 1): The Loss of Life , please read it first.
My mother’s birthday was the day we arrived home from the hospital. She hoped her granddaughter would be born on her birthday and had been looking forward to it since I told her my due date. Even though Niyah was born two days before, I was glad that my mom’s birthday and Niyah’s death date weren’t the same. Despite our sadness over Niyah’s death, we felt the need to celebrate mom’s birthday anyway. My momma met us in the parking lot of our apartment and my aunt and cousin also stopped by to check on us. My husband left us at home and returned with pizza, balloons, cake, and ice cream. We laughed and enjoyed ourselves. She had a good birthday.
See, we were broken hearted, but we decided on the drive home that we would not be destroyed and we would “fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).” We joined a new church at the beginning of my pregnancy and learned a few things that we didn’t know we would need so soon. Thank God. We were already in the middle of a faith battle with my husband’s diagnosis (Maybe one day I can get him to do a post about it) and to be caught up in another one was mind boggling.
Even though we decided to fight, I didn’t want to attend Niyah’s burial. We didn’t want a full service and chose to privately bury her. I wasn’t going. It hurt too much. I didn’t want to see her in a small box (or bed as the funeral home called it). My aunt handled all the details and was going to represent us in laying her body to rest.
The morning of her burial, I noticed my husband getting dressed. He said he was going somewhere with his mother. I’m not stupid, so I figured out he was going and didn’t want to upset me, so he didn’t tell me. While he was getting dressed, I told him that I was aware of where he was really going. Then it hit me. “I am her mother and even though I don’t want to see her like this, I AM HER MOTHER.” So, I called my mom and told her I was thinking about going and she started asking all of these questions, which I thought was strange. I then talked to my sister who was on her way to mom’s. “Something was fishy.” I got dressed and left with my husband to go to my aunt’s. My momma met us there. She was asking questions so she would know whether or not to be there too. My aunt and husband were already in contact, so she knew he was coming.
I went to the burial. I saw her in her outfit that I planned to bring her home from the hospital in. I saw the family picture that I wrote a special note on in her box as well. My aunt prayed, I kissed a red rose and dropped in the ground on top of her box, and said goodbye.
For as much as this hurt, I don’t think I would have forgiven myself if I missed it. I just kept saying “I am her mother. I gotta there. I have to do this for her.” and I did it.
1. Overcoming is a decision. It doesn’t mean the absence of pain. It means
moving forward in spite of the pain. Overcoming is a journey, not an
When we made the decision to fight, it didn’t mean we weren’t hurt. We were very hurt. We wondered if we had done something to cause this to happen. We cried. I was already a crier, but this took crying to the next level. When we arrived home from the burial, we had our son with us. I went into the bathroom, sat on the floor, and cried out to God (This happened everyday for the first few weeks. This happened multiple times on some days.). I told him that I could not do this on my own. I told him that the only way I would survive this is if he carried this burden. I knew that I needed him. That if I was going to heal and be “okay,” he had to be a part of it. I gave my pain to him (“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” 1 Peter 5:7). And I felt a sense of peace after every good cry. I knew He was with me. I wasn’t in this alone. My husband and I had each other and we had Him.
2. Overcoming is the ONLY option because grief can be paralyzing and
In the coming weeks, I joined internet groups for women like me. I also unjoined most of them shortly after. I felt worse instead of better each time I logged in. Something wasn’t right. I prayed for those women daily and even commented a few times, but so many of them seemed to be getting worse instead of better. I WANTED to get better. I didn’t want to feel stuck. A few women spoke about being on the couch for weeks at a time and only getting up to use the bathroom. They were not eating, sleeping, bathing etc… Others had to care for their children because their worlds were at a stand still. I wanted to help them, but this was still fresh for me, so I wasn’t really in a place to help and heal at the same time.
I’m not speaking against those women because the grieving process looks different for each of us. I too felt the tug of “darkness” trying to pull me in and take over.There were many days that I wanted to put on a jogging suit and gym shoes and run like Forest Gump. I wanted to run until I burned holes in my shoes, so I know that feeling. And even though it took everything in me to get out of bed, to cook, do laundry, I got up anyway.
I rejected depression for my son’s sake. He was young and needed his mommy to be present and taking care of him. I could not allow myself to fall in too deep. My son helped me move forward.
3. Overcoming requires actions. It won’t happen if you passively wait for it.
My healing journey involved a variety of things. The first and most important acts were a lot of prayer and my Bible. I read the book of Job multiple times. I figured his story would help me because his whole life fell apart and that’s how I felt at the time. He trusted God in spite of all that happened to him. If he could do it, then I could as well.
From there, I read the book of Psalms. David’s journey seemed emotionally unstable at times and I could relate. One minute he was praising the Lord and the next he was drowning in sorrow. In the middle of some verses he went from sorrow to trust and praise. That was me.
I actively looked for my healing. Besides prayer and the Bible, I began writing. My momma told me to talk to my Heavenly Father. And sometimes the pain was so bad that I couldn’t verbally communicate, so writing played a necessary role. In the beginning I wrote almost everyday. As I started to feel better, my need to write lessened.
Excerpts from 2 journal entries
“It’s been 4 days since I lost her. I woke up this morning in good spirits and at peace, but by evening that all changed. As of right now , I feel lost, confused, overwhelmed. What happened that meant my daughter had to die? She was alive Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. What happened that my daughter had to die? Why is this apart of my experience? I want to run, kick, scream, yell, anything because the pain runs so deep. I can’t turn back the hands of time no matter what. After crying and begging, I decided to go to my Bible. The answer to everything is in there. The Word said the Lord would bind up the broken- hearted and turn mourning into joy as well as provide comfort so that we may be able to provide comfort to others in their tribulations, so that He may be glorified.”
“Today I woke up feeling “blah.” I didn’t feel as bad as last night, but I didn’t feel the peace I felt the other morning. I will be ok. I know this! God is still good and I still thank Him. Today, I will be busy preparing for my little bug’s arrival. I am still his mother and I owe it to him to have myself together. He still brings me joy and it will be good to have him him. He is my blessing along with my husband. They are my blessings. I was just hoping that Niyah added to it. I will get through this! I will write to make me feel better and I will read my Bible to make me feel better and I will love more to help me feel better and I will try harder to make me feel better. I am more than a conqueror and I WILL CONQUER THIS!!!”
Throughout this process I constantly reminded my husband to grieve as much as he needed. He did so much to make sure that I was okay, it seemed like he wasn’t leaving any room for his own healing. I received phone calls and texts from several male friend and family members who were fathers as well. They called to check on him. He never returned most of the calls. Even though he appreciated their concern, he said he didn’t have too much to say. And I respected that.
Since healing is a journey that varies for each person, we respected each other’s needs. His way of healing was by focusing on me. And I loved on him as much as possible.
One day my husband came home with a book titled ” Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy” By Pam Vredevelt. Like me, she noticed the silence surrounding this topic. I had never heard of my situation until it happened. The more women I’ve talk to the more that I discovered that these types of pregnancies are more common than people think. Pam compiled a book of stories from women who walked this road.
I also attended a 5 week class at my church called “HOPE” for women who have had abortions, miscarriages, and still births. At the time, it was just me and the class instructors. Every week we prayed, talked, focused on a different area of grief, and read scripture related to the area of focus. At the end of the class we had a little ceremony which my husband attended. My instructors were awesome and we formed a bond for life.
My support system
God and our support system are how we made it through the most difficult time in our lives. Our friends and family were there every step of the way. A few friends came to the hospital immediately after receiving the call. People showed up with dinner some nights. Others called to check on us.My mother and sister-in- law brought 20 DVD comedies to our apartment to make sure we laughed and laughed we did. My mother, sister, and aunt visited frequently and answered the phone EVERY time I needed to talk. We were never alone. I am indebted to these people for life.
My final thoughts
There is more to this story than the 2 parts I published. The grieving process cannot be rushed. My momma was right. You just have to take it a little at a time. If you find that you need help, seek it. Talk to someone. Call your doctor. Don’t try to do this alone. Don”t shut down. Fight. I can’t take credit for my healing. I do not consider myself strong and courageous. Yes, my husband and I decided to fight, but we didn’t fight alone. We didn’t pretend to be okay on days when we weren’t. Be honest and open about where you are in the process. As much as you may want to be alone, those are the times that are darkest. Allow people to love on you. You are not alone. If you find that those around you can’t help you because they don’t understand, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and Blessings,