What It's Like, Six Months In

A friend of mine recently e-mailed me to tell me about a friend whose baby girl died. She asked if she could pass along my phone number in case this person wanted someone to talk to, someone who might "understand what she is going through." I said of course, wanting to help and yet not knowing if I really can. I know that in the past months some of the things that have helped me so much have been from people who have also lost babies and children. I know that no situation is the same and that grief is different for everyone, and yet it helps to know you're not alone and that what you're feeling is normal.

After six months I still feel like I have an "open wound." Everything still feels so fresh and so raw, so I don't know that I could offer much wisdom to anyone. Perhaps all I could offer would be my own feelings:

At first you wonder if you will ever be happy again. If you will ever really laugh. If you will ever experience joy. And then one day you will catch yourself laughing, a real laugh, and you will write it on your calendar and thank God for it. Someone will ask you how you're doing and you’ll say that you’re doing OK, and then as soon as you're alone you will burst into tears. You will be sitting at a stoplight crying and be embarrassed that the driver next to you is looking at you. You will cry like you have never cried before, heaving, sobbing cries from deep inside you and you won't know that it was possible to cry so much.

There will be Sundays when you want to be anywhere but church, and then there will be days when Sunday can’t come soon enough. There will be times when you want to be alone, and times when you're by yourself that you will feel so, so lonely and just want someone near. You will be more grateful for your children and try to love them better and then cry when you still fail.

You will have nights when you won’t be able to fall asleep and mornings when it will take all your strength to drag yourself out of bed. And in the mornings, during the half-second between asleep and fully awake, you will feel the dreaded feeling that something is wrong and then it will hit you all over again: she's gone. You will feel guilty and wonder what you could have done differently. You will wonder what it is you have done that necessitated you being tested in this way, and you will wonder if God took her because you loved her too much. Through it all, you will be grateful that God picked you to be her mother. You will sit at the cemetery for hours because even though you know she’s not there, it’s where you feel close to her. And you will bring flowers and garden clippers trying to make her spot look beautiful because you will still want to "do something" for her. You will be outside and feel the air on your face and breathe in the sunshine and the ache you have for Heaven will be so strong you can hardly stand it.

You will hold her picture and kiss it, remembering her soft skin. You will smell her blanket and try as hard as you can to smell her and then cry because you can’t. You will play her videos and rub the computer screen aching to hold her one more time. And you might wonder if you are crazy, and then feel better because other moms tell you they have done the same thing.

You will be humbled by the prayers offered up for your family from people you have never met and grateful for family and friends who have loved you through this. You will be grateful when someone asks you about her and hope that your crying doesn’t bother them. You will pass people -- in the grocery store, at the ball field, at the gas station -- and wonder what sadness they are carrying around that no one knows about.

You will be more purposeful in prayer and when you say you will pray for someone, you will. You will know that God's sovereign plans are perfect and that her days were appointed before she was even one day old, and then there will be days when you forget this and are full of questions. You will wonder if anyone understands, and God will remind you that "the man of sorrows" truly understands and you will beg Him to please help you. There will be times when God seems so far away, like He has left you, and times when He seems closer than ever. More than ever you will see that you were not made for this world and pray for Christ's return. You will be more grateful for Christ and His sacrifice. And you will ache for the day when Christ welcomes you into His arms, when you will see Him face to face and He will wipe away every tear. That glorious day when you will finally be home.

And you will be grateful for her. Grateful for her short life. You will know that if given the choice between not knowing her and not knowing grief or knowing her and experiencing a grief like you've never known before -- you would pick her. Over and over you would pick her.

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