Walking out grief Part 1: Your Own
We had no idea that anything Today (June 14, 2021) is my son Evans’s birthday.
He would have been 7 years old today. “Would have been” because he passed away 2 hours after birth due to a super rare genetic mutation called Potter’s Syndrome.
We had no idea that anything was wrong with him during the pregnancy and at 33 weeks, Cindy went into emergency delivery (while I was out of the state) and when he was born we found out that not only did he have lots of things wrong…but that he wouldn’t make it and we wouldn’t be taking him home that day.
Our family has gone through some ROUGH things….infidelity, health issues, debt, business issues……but NOTHING can touch what we have (and continue to walk out) with losing a child.
The parents who have experienced this all call it the “Horrible little club you never wanted to join”.
In the midst of all of the grief we have experienced though the Lord (and counseling) has taught us so much about how to walk it out in a healthy way. We don’t do these things right all the time, but we have learned a lot over the past 7 years that I wanted to share in this post.
I’ll do a Part 2 to this in a few days, but I wanted to write this one while it is fresh in my mind while we process and remember and grieve our boy today on his day.
A few tips from a grief veteran:
1. Don’t compare your grief response or journey with anyone else’s
This is a tough one to start out with. It’s very easy to go “Well, so and so seems to be doing better than I am so they must not have experienced as much pain as I did”. Everyone experiences and processes grief and loss differently. There’s no perfect way to do it. Walk your path and let other people walk theirs.
2. Don’t run from it….press into your grief.
If you are super busy and grief keeps coming up OR you are smack dab in the middle of a majorly traumatic situation….you may just have to schedule yourself some specific time to sit with your grief. Allow yourself time to process, journal, pray and cry. Putting it off is never going to help you work through it. Remember though…your goal is not to try and “get over it”, but to work through it and find your footing in it. You want to learn all the Lord wants to teach you in it.
3. Community matters….a lot.
This doesn’t mean that if you don’t have 10 best friends and an amazing church small group walking with you in your pain that you will never heal and you should give up. LOL That’s obviously not the case. Community looks like a lot of things and it just means that you need people (directly and indirectly) to come alongside you to help hold your arms up. All through scripture we find giants in the faith that the Lord talks about and the people he brought with them to help them stay strong on their journey. It’s hard enough to do regular life by yourself….grief is harder.
4. Most people around you don’t get it….so give them loads of GRACE.
Most people have absolutely no idea what you are feeling or are going through. Even the people who have gone through hard things many times cannot identify or empathize with you. So just set your mind to cut them some slack and give them grace right off the bat.
I remember a couple after we lost our son there was a patient of mine who came to the house to help me take down our TV and surround sound for our move. This was his whole company so he showed up and was working in our living room and when he showed up he hadn’t heard what had happened 48 hours earlier. Throughout the day he sees Cindy crying on the couch and people bringing flowers and food by and he finally comes up to me and goes, “Hey Jim Bob…ummm….did something happen??”
So I told him that our son had died right after birth and I’ll never forget his response. He goes, “Oh man….” (long pause) “Well, I had a dog die once so I guess I can relate…so sorry man.” LOLOLOL
No joke…he compared the loss of our son to him losing a DOG. I had a split second of rage that came up and then I just bust out laughing and thanked him for his help and his sympathy and it was totally fine…why?? Because he was just trying to connect with me as much as he knew how to in the chaos we were in….and in it’s own way it was a beautiful display of sympathy and friendship.
People are going to say and do dumb stuff….and it’s ok.
5. Grief is a process and you can’t put a time limit on your journey.
If you try and put a time cap on how long you think you should be struggling or having a hard time in your grief then most of the time you will be let down and disappointed….so just don’t. Like I said already….everyone is different and their journey is different
People say many times that grief is like waves in the ocean…they come and hit you off and on and sometimes when you don’t expect it and are always different. I think that’s true. Take each wave one at a time and sometimes one will catch you off guard….and that’s ok.
6. Get a journal
Not everything you feel and experience is something you can process easily or instantly nor will you understand it all….so writing it down is very helpful. It’s a great habit to get into to let your mind fully process through things you are thinking but it also allows you to record what is going on in your mind and emotions to give you time to ask the Lord what He is telling or teaching you through it. I also love to go back in my journals and see how much the Lord has done in me at different points because of how different my entries feel to read. Super beneficial and cathartic.
There’s more to this I know that will come to me…but that’s a good list to start with for now. In Part 2 to this topic I’m going to spin this around and talk about how to walk out grief with other people and how to support them.