Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some things I wish I didn't know

In life there are some things you wish you didn't know or really, who needs to know THAT?  Such as  the age old question of how many licks it takes to finish off a Tootsie Roll Pop or that my dad takes out his front tooth at night. Yep, you're wishing you didn't know that now, too!  Good thing he knows nothing about this blog or what a blog even is!

But there is something I know too much about or maybe not enough, I'm not quite sure.  In the 2386 days, 3 hours, 1 minute and 44 seconds since Wednesday, January 14, 2004 when our lives changed forever, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about death, grieving, love, grace, redemption and hope.  I have asked countless questions to go along with that knowledge, some that never have answers.  I like to tell myself that having an angel waiting for me has to have some definite earthly reasons.  In the past year, I've found some.  On those occasions, people have come to me regarding infant loss.  They want to KNOW what to do.  It takes everything in me not to laugh.  I know that sounds terribly cruel.  And this comes from the biggest "doer or want-to-be doer" or them all.  I want to be able to do something to fix things.  Well, in these cases nothing can be fixed.  It's just the beginning of an endless journey to mending a hole that has no chance of being repaired.  Once I get beyond that idiot moment, I feel the utmost pain and sorrow for that family and return to that night.  Every image that has been burned into my brain comes flashing back and I try to remember what was most helpful and what would we have liked better. There's an incredible organization out there called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep where they send photographers to the hospital to take pictures of the baby and the family.  These are some beautiful and most treasured items a family can have.  We have some photographs of Harris that a nurse took, but none with us and not nearly to the degree of these.  I always suggest giving them a call so that someone can be sent out soon.  I also suggest encouraging the mom and dad to hold their baby as much as possible.  At first I didn't want to hold Harris.  I was so upset with everything and couldn't handle holding a baby who wasn't living.  How badly I wish I could have those moments back, they were the only moments I had to hold my angel until we meet again in Heaven.  The hospital did a great job with keeping some hair for us and doing footprints and handprints.  My nurse was an angel herself and handled so many of these details for us.  

Here's where it gets tricky about advice.  One of the things Jim and I remember most is having a friend come in and give us both tender hugs and then she left.  There weren't any words, just gentle and tender love from a friend.  So often words that are meant to be hopeful or encouraging can be so damaging. I'd advise not saying anything, simply listening, holding and allowing those grieving to tell their story (over and over and over again).  

My sister, Candi, has had to call me twice in less than a year for two of her friends.  One friend's sweet son, Ayden, earned his wings on August 25 last year.  Both mom and dad are teachers, first day of school and saddest day of their lives. Another friend is more recent.  Candi reached out to me because she knew that I KNEW what loss was like.  My loss is much different that Lindsay and Jeremy's, but we share the grief of having angel babies.  Having my sister call me for her friends taught me two things, Harris lived and died so that I could in a very small way help someone else and so that my sister would be able to help them as well.  Does that make it any easier?  Not on your life.  I don't think I realized the complete magnitude of pain his death caused my family until Ayden died and Candi reached out to Lindsay.  I saw and will never forget the raw pain in their eyes at the hospital when they first entered the room, but I think they all tried to shield me from seeing that afterwards.  Candi went to action immediately and did more behind the scenes work than a stunt double.  VeeCee, in her sweet gentleness, cared for me so very tenderly and I'm sure took orders from Candi. All while they were both in pain.   Who was taking care of them?  Something to know to do, while the parents are suffering, there are other relatives suffering, too.  Take care of them please.

There's so much more to know and do and be and see and all that.  And I really wish I was still ignorant of it all.  However, I am certain, without a doubt, that God's perfect plan is at work in this.  And I am holding on to that with everything in me.  

While this came from another blog, I agree with it whole-heartedly.  And I hope you never have to use it, ever.  But it can't hurt to look it over because every time I get to talk about Harris or his story he lives a little more.

A Bereaved Parent’s Wish List

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.

I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn’t “kill” my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or to “be happy”. Neither will happen for a very long time so don’t frustrate yourself.

I don’t want to have a “pity party,” but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say, “I’m doing okay,” I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

Your advice to “take one day at a time” is excellent. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle it all at an hour at a time.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.


  1. ((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))

    Love you!

  2. Just had to let you know we talked about Harris last night at Bible Study. We are doing Kelly Minter's study on the book of Ruth and talking about how God works things together and how suffering and sovereignity go hand in hand. It was an emotional night and Lara prayed for Julia and our family for a long time as well as another family in our group with major life trials right now. I don't remember the exact context, but his name came up. I just wanted you to know that he lives on our hearts- mine and Debby Webb's.

    Thank you for your post. It is beautiful and real and so needed in this world. Blessings to all of you!

  3. Shea...Thank you so much for sharing this. My own tears are flowing...in honor of your loss, but also out of gratitude that God has given you a ministry of sorts...a ministry that you share with your son. Many prayers continue to be sent up for you.