Week 4: January 28, 2013 ~ Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy
One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.
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As I was thinking about what to write this week, I recalled the guilt I have experienced in more than one way since losing Lily...
I remember the first feelings of guilt came days after losing her. I was writing a letter that I read to Lily at her Celebration of LIFE/Memorial Service. I was struck with feeling guilt...for myself and for the world. I felt guilty that my life and the lives of everyone around me continued on like my world hadn't been completely shattered. Like she hadn't died.
This is what I wrote to Lily in my letter:
...life goes on. I still hear laughter. The moon still rises and the sun still sets. But, I won't forget. Even when I smile, thoughts of you are always dancing in the back of my mind. Shouldn't the whole world just stop? Mine has. How does the wind still blow? Doesn't it know you aren't here?
It just felt wrong to smile and laugh. It felt wrong that the days, weeks, and months continued marching by. Lily was born just days before the genesis of spring. This is what I wrote a couple weeks after she was born and died:
Days are now bittersweet. With the promise of spring, came the promise of Lily. Like the new life all around me bursting forth from the earth, Lily was new life. We wait. We anticipate. Spring and Lily...they came together. Now, spring will always remind me of the time Lily came...and went. How cruel it seems. Now, I'm not sure what the future holds...I'm not sure what to dream anymore, how to feel. What promises does tomorrow hold? How can all the plants and flowers still look so pretty without her here? They seem so happy. Everyone seems so happy, out playing in the warm weather and sunshine. Spring and summer clothes now being brought out of storage. I can't blame them though. I would be doing the same thing.
Each year on her birthday, it feels so odd to celebrate. There is still a sense of dread within me when I think of her birthday in March, which is just over the horizon. Yet, each year, it changes just a little. I now get that excitement and anticipation for my daughter's birthday, just like I got growing up for my own birthday. I know that just because she isn't here doesn't mean we shouldn't still celebrate her precious LIFE and all God has done in me and so many others because of her!
Lily only knows complete satisfaction and joy in Heaven, which brings me so much peace. For a brief while, I felt guilty for wanting her here with me in this broken, sinful world when she has all of Heaven's glory! She never knew sin or sorrow. Yet, I realize that is just a mother's intrinsic longing, to be with her child. Oh, there is no where else I'd rather she be than safe at Home with Jesus!
I know that Lily wouldn't want me to feel guilty. She wouldn't want me to be sad forever. She wants me to be happy. She knows that the world continues on, whether or not she's here. I can have so much joy in my life, while at the same time missing her with every breath. As time goes on, truly my love for her only deepens. I can take all I've been through and surrender it to the Lord. He gives beauty for ashes and a heart of praise. I can take my sorrow and joy, and my feelings of missing her so tremendously, and use it to honor her and glorify my King! I felt for so long that feeling sad meant I was closer to her. Yes, it's true that in those moments of sadness, I can feel her close to me. It is a reminder that she is real. Yet, I don't need to feel sad to feel her close...she is with Him and He is with me, so really she is all around. Her heart beats with every beat of my own, so she is never far off.
If you have lost a baby, don't ever feel like you love them any less or miss them any less because you are "moving on." Moving on doesn't mean moving on from loving them or missing them. You will carry them tucked safely away inside your heart forever! So much of who we are now is because of those little babes that came to earth but for a brief while, yet did so much in their brief stay! The fact is, we live in a temporal world where we have no choice but to move on...but never, ever forgetting.
I also have struggled with wondering if I did something that caused Lily's death. Because her autopsy results came back inconclusive, there was no real reason or explanation for why she passed. It honestly hasn't been that big of a struggle for me, but the thoughts have entered my mind on a few occasions. Thoughts such as was there something I should have done differently and she would still be alive today? Was there something I didn't catch and should have, which makes it my fault? If I had delivered her earlier, would she be here? Did I sleep wrong and cut off life-supply to her body? Did I have some sort of infection that killed her?
This is what I wrote in my journal before my 6-week postpartum check-up when I found out the results of her autopsy:
Without the Lord in my life, I would be haunted by 'what ifs'? and many, many questions about her death. But, I know this was part of God's plan all along. And even though I didn't see it coming, He wasn't surprised like I was. He had planned her name and its meaning (Lily Katherine, meaning purity and innocence, which she will forever be) long before I ever knew what was to come. This has shown me that He is still in control, even when I don't understand. She was never meant to experience the pain and suffering of this world. All that's happened doesn't mean her life wasn't beautiful and she didn't fulfill the purposes she was sent for. He did what's best for Lily and for me.
God somehow spoke this truth to my heart, that He simply took her. I see that He has a plan and a purpose for all of this, far beyond what we can even see now. The Lord worked it out for me to have a free, full autopsy so He could bring peace to my heart. So I don't have to always wonder why she died, what the medical reason is. Because you see, God is much greater than "medical explanations." If He wanted her here with me, she would be. I know there's nothing I did wrong that hurt her and there was nothing physically wrong with me or her.
I have complete peace in knowing what I know. Lily was alive one moment and the next she was gone, still. One moment she was in the earthly realm, and the next she was in the spiritual. My Lord breathed the breath of life into her and He took it away. He took her away, but in the most beautiful way possible. It may sound strange for me to say that, but God has a way of bringing beauty to any and all things. Beauty from ashes, sorrow to joy. He has a way of healing and restoring even the most broken of hearts.
This is a poem I wrote after I found out that there was no medical reason why she passed:
He took her silently, He took her away
She was far too beautiful to stay
He took her perfect, He took her pure
She knew no sin, no suffering to endure
He took her painlessly, in the night
The only thing she knows is Heaven's light
He loves her more than I do and knows what's best
In His arms is where I'll rest
There is no reason, no one to blame
Still, I miss her just the same
I'm a mother who held her baby for just a day
But, in Heaven she waits, that's where she'll stay
I'll hold her again, kiss her, and love her
Of this I am sure
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