Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in the Past 6 Months

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I have so much to write about, so much to say.  However, in the interest of everyone’s time and sanity, I have narrowed down much of what I’ve learned in the last six months since Everly’s passing down to 10 things. Please know that I am sharing my own experiences alone and that each of us have are on our own grief walk. 
This is my journey.


10.  It’s okay to leave it as is.

Ever wonder how my house looks like now?  6 months after Everly has lived here.  The same.  Haven’t moved one item.  There are still syringes and chest PT thumpers in the same position as they were when we left in January.  Her last towel and outfit is dried and resting in the bottom of her clothes hamper, wrinkled and lonely.  Her bottles, syringes and medicines are still on her counter in the kitchen; her bouncy seats quietly poised awaiting her weight; her clothes neatly hung side by side in her closet.  Nothing has been moved and that’s okay by us.  For our family, the “not” seeing of it all would be more painful than the fact that they rest unused, yesterday, today and tomorrow. They'll be a time but not yet.  Not today.


9.  I want to hide.

The strangest thing has happened…I have a curious need to travel with aid of some childhood fantasy invisibility cloak.  Some days.  With two boys and activities, events, responsibilities, it isn’t practical to stay locked inside, even if that’s what I desperately want.  Many days, it is.  However, summer is busy and that means so are we, to an extent.  I’m fortunate to have my dad who helps thwart the “enemy” on days when I can’t fathom the thought of being in public.  Jimmy also steps in and pinch hits after work many times, too.  I’m told these moments of needing to stay secure in our little alcove of the world will continue to come and go.  Find the hiding places of these souls and meet them there.  Friends, they need you.


8.  The world doesn't know what to do with you.

This is one of the most eye opening things I’ve figured out over the past 6 months.  Hadn't ever thought of life from the perspective we are in before now.  Didn't realize how much grief even affects others in the outer circles of our sphere.  It does something strange to people.  To be honest, it freaks people out.  Avoidance, both physical and verbal, allow others to pretend, if only for a moment, that this awful, scary situation didn’t happen, discussing only inconsequential tidbits of the day, moving on as if this black cloud wasn't hanging overhead.  Grief...and the aftermath that uncomfortable, painful and messy.  The bereaved don't like the effects anymore than the onlookers.  Only, they don't have a choice.  It takes a concerted effort for people to enter this bumpy world and for this we reprieve, we are thankful.  Approach, acknowledge and above all else, love these friends.



7.   Sorrow comes out of nowhere.  Literally.

More times than I care to count, tears billow over the edges of my already wet-with-tears eyes.  Not precipitated by any particular memory, adorable newborn baby in my direct line of focus, mention of our sweet pea, but rather, just because.  Just because she isn’t any longer.  Sitting in Dairy Queen with my boys a few weeks ago, the tears just quietly fell.  Just because she isn’t any longer.  Love on those who know this fierce sorrow. 


6.  The roller coaster of emotions is intense.

Walking through grief IS the scariest ride you’ll ever experience.  There is no rhyme or reason to your emotions from one minute to the next.  No guidebook to help you OR your loved ones.  It’s like living with multiple different people who all go by the same name.  I think this is why I personally relate to the movie Inside Out so well…each emotion is so powerful.  One isn’t any more right than another.  But they are all valid.  Sometimes misunderstood, like anger.  The expectation of grief is that someone is sorrowful all the time.  While there is a great deal of sorrow, there is also wistfulness, indifference, hope, sometimes joy and happiness and a lot of anger.  It’s a weird and unsettling mix of a new kind of "family” that disguise themselves as emotion.  Can’t live with them and can’t live without them.  Just love those unconditionally that are on this ride.



5.  The calendar is now enemy #1.

Dates, milestones, anniversaries strike like a cobra.  No longer are dates circled with eager anticipation, counting down to some joyous occasion.  Now, in the early stages of child loss, the calendar represents very tangibly the lost opportunities we have to parent, to celebrate, to live with our baby.  We see the dates differently now.  The date of their birth, maybe even the date of a diagnosis, date their heart forever stopped beating, date the child was put to rest.  Other dates, like ours now, 6 months since Everly left this earth feels like a knife to the heart.  Love tenderly these people who take attacks from one who cannot even speak and bears no weapon. 


4.  Holidays, special times and events are painfully hard.

Who knew that the 4th of July would rip me apart?  I couldn’t leave the house for three days because of it.  Skipping through sections of the stores still is my MO.  Forget walking by, near or around the baby section of Target or any store for that matter, specifically during holiday times.  I’m bracing myself now for the onslaught of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas “stuff” that will be a barrage of bullets aimed at my heart.  Maybe I’ll just stay home.  Love with zest these people who must exist in a society that doesn’t stop because of their loss. 


3. I'm scared because I don't know who I am now.

Every day, the grief chips away at the person I have known for the past 42 years.  I barely recognize myself anymore.  The loss unequivocally redefines not only yourself, but friendships, relationships, priorities, everything about your life is altered.  It is  disconcerting, add in the fact that this reemergence of your new self is a process.  No longer comfortable in my own skin, I feel like a tenant, borrowing real estate until my home is ready to move in for good.  Extend love and grace to the bereaved who not only have lost someone special but have lost their own identity.


2.  I'm lost.

Quite simply, I'm lost.  Some days, I don't know if I'm up or down, left or right, in or out.  The ever-present mental fogginess is still a plague that infests our clarity.  Some days, going through the motions is about the best you can do.  The feeling of being lost is only superseded by a realization that I don't know where I'm going. 

1.   I’m not strong.

Nope, not at all.  It's difficult for me to admit because I like the feeling of being able to handle it all, do it all.  But it just simply is not true.  Many, many days I am in “fake-it-until-you-make-it” mode.  Secretly hoping that a self-fulfilling prophecy will take place, I would surmise.  If I can convince others, then I can convince myself, too, right?  I need people.  I need my friends.  I need help.  I need a hug.  I need a smile.  I need grace. Lots of it.  I need God.  I need honesty.  I need understanding.  I need closeness.  I need to know someone cares about my pain.  I need to know that I matter.  I need to know that she hasn’t been forgotten.  I need to hear Everly’s name.  I need to know that you will walk beside me as I search for what’s next in this big, frightening world now.  I need you to hear me.  I need unconditional love…on good days and on bad. 
I pray that when the time is right for me, I will have the unique insight to bless in this same way.  But, right now, regardless of what I write, say, between the lines.  I may not ask for help but know that I need it.  Desperately. 

I have been painfully honest in my writing since I began some 18 months ago now.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by those who are patient, loving, supportive and kind both inside my family unit and in my friendship circle.  I share my list as a way to shed light on the journey I've been on thus far and where I am today.  Please don't let the time stamp of 6 months fool you.  Today is significantly, in every sense of the word, harder, more painful and heart wrenching than in earlier months.  Remember that hedge of protection that allows people to get through the very early days of a death?  Yeah, it's obliterated now.  Gone.  Never to be see again.  Now, we are left with God and the people around us.  While God IS indeed enough, the old adage "it takes a village" couldn't be a truer statement.  I need my village.  Today more than ever. I pray you will take residence with me.

With love and appreciation,





1 comment:

  1. Praying for you and sending hugs. So proud of what you are doing in Everly's name. What a blessing you are and will be to those families in need.