I was really moved with all of the responses to my last post and I’m glad I decided to share it more publicly. I don’t post everything that I write on this blog or on Facebook—just the things I feel compelled to—and I am glad I followed that pull to push “publish” and share this time. Everyone’s responses have been meaningful and lovely and healing in their own way. Thank you.
Today I thought I’d write a little recap of the things I’ve done and/or experienced so far in these days after our loss, in case it is helpful for anyone else going through something like this or supporting someone else.
-I’ve struggled to remember what normal life feels like.
We found out about this baby and agreed to adopt it two days before Thanksgiving. Since that day, I’ve spent most days juggling my “normal” life with thoughts and preparations for this baby, so now I am trying to remember what normal, mother-of-one-not-preparing-for-anything-else activities are and what my normal level of enthusiasm about life feels like.
Fortunately, I had spent the hours before finding out about the baby writing out some fairly detailed goals for myself as a woman, wife, mother, and professional in 2014, so I have those as a reference point. The things I thought I was capable and desirous of accomplishing in 2014 then is probably the vision of “normal” that I can pursue now.
Still, these goals are designed to be pursued by “normal and enthusiastic Sarah,” not “grieving Sarah.” I don’t feel like myself at all right now and simple things like getting dressed and putting a load of laundry through the wash feel really challenging. I know this is normal after a week like we had so I’m not too worried, but I am hoping to settle back soon into the contentedness and energy that usually characterize me.
To make this easier, I’m not allowing myself to deviate too much from my normal expectations for myself. When we got “the call” about the birth mom wanting to keep the baby, I wondered, what should I do?! The obvious answer to me was, the dishes, I guess. I’m not going to embark on some wild deep cleaning project or take on extra projects for work right now, but I can try my hardest to just keep our household going so that things look and feel normal around here. I’m also taking Zoe to our normal activities—the park, the library, a playdate, our exercise class—and keeping her world as normal as possible.
-I’ve practiced the self care I know I need.
A few things I try to keep in mind whenever I am struggling are my basic self care principles: eat, do my Bible study, get some alone time to process, get healthy amounts of exercise, don’t emotionally eat or drink, don’t ignore everyone, take showers and get dressed in decent clothing, and practice sleep hygiene. I actually have to chant these in my head sometimes and cheerlead myself into them, but if I do these basic things, I feel like my normal self physically and that helps a lot emotionally. These become my most important to-dos above anything else. In the psychosocial education classes I used to teach, we talked about self care being like a “chair” or a “stool” that supported you in any situation. You have to figure out what legs of the stool YOU need to be the best you and then make sure you plant those legs on the ground. (For example, some people are more extroverted than me and would be horrified by the minimalism of my social goals. More power to them.)
I’ve been craving hard exercise, cookies, and time alone and I’ve tried to give them all to myself…balanced with rest, nutritious food, and time with friends who I feel 100% comfortable with. I haven’t forced myself into large unstructured group settings yet because I just don’t feel comfortable with it but I’m also not letting myself withdraw into hermitdom like I’d secretly like to.
-I went to church.
I remember learning that after King David learned that his newborn baby had died, he went to the house of the Lord (2 Samuel 12.) This week I also experienced the loss of a child, though not in the same way as King David (thank goodness.) Though I had no clue how to begin to process this loss, I knew staying away from church wouldn’t help. In many ways church was the only place I wanted to be…and so I went. I sat in the back and left pretty quickly but now going to church won’t feel like this big hurdle. I’ve done it and I’m going back on Sunday. GET READY.
-I’ve gone through every stage of grief Elizabeth Kubler-Ross named…sometimes all in one day.
And I know I’m not close to done yet. Emotional roller coaster much? But whatever. That’s what the self care is for, I guess…
-I’ve forced/allowed myself to accept the gestures of love offered to me.
As I’m typing, I’m drinking a soy latte a friend brought me. She asked me if she could bring me a coffee today, and while part of me is like why should you drive from your house to mine just to bring me a coffee, the other part of me is like LET HER HELP AND ENCOURAGE YOU…God shows His presence through people. And I do feel His love a little stronger this afternoon because I allowed her to love me.
I’m also sitting in an empty house right now. I usually don’t ever take David up on his offers to give me “alone time” on his days off, but I know it is crucial to my processing and thus my healing that I spend a little time alone, and so I sent them to the park together this afternoon. I know they’ll come back happy and I’ll be a little more ready to give them my love and attention because I won’t be so internally preoccupied.
This was one of my goals for 2014 and it’s my way of processing and organizing my thoughts (if you couldn’t tell from the bullet points I made to organize my thoughts today.) So…get ready to see more blog posts in my future. Unsubscribe now and save yourselves!
Well, thanks for allowing my grief and self-indulgence a platform for another day…I have some little park buddies that just walked in the door that I want to focus on. Happy Friday!