Walking with You: Overcoming Grief ~ 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.

Hmmm…this is a hard one for me in that it really hits home. And I’ve decided to post this here on my more private blog as I don’t think I could really share it all over at the family blog where I had been writing. Not many of my IRL friends and family know about this one.  There are some things I’m just not ready to to share with a wider audience.

So, guilt, um, yeah. Where do I start? I actually think that this experience of Naomi’s death has opened my eyes to the ways I have let guilt motivate so much of what I do in my life, even before she was born. So in a way, I feel like one of the gifts she has given me is the opportunity to break free from some of the guilt that I had been living under, like the guilt of not meeting others’ expectations, guilt in perceived failures in relationships, guilt over my body not looking the way it “should” because I’m not taking care of it the best. These are just a few of the areas of guilt, not related directly to Naomi, that my grief has brought into focus. For I discovered that in the early months when I was physically still recovering from the intensity of our eight week hospital stay, recovering from birth, fighting multiple illnesses, and trying to figure out how to navigate the waters of grief, feeling guilty about a lot of the things I used to feel guilt about brought me into a deeper, darker hole and was a waste of energy! I found that in many areas I was holding myself to an unrealistic goal and then heaping guilt on myself for not meeting those goals. My desire for healing was deeper than my drive to meet expectations of others or myself and so I realized I had to learn how to care for myself and be gentle to myself. I had a few close friends/family who over and over reminded me to be gentle with myself. That was one of the best pieces of advice I received in the months after Naomi died.

As far a guilt specifically surrounding Naomi’s death, I certainly have struggled with it and it is not something I feel I have overcome yet. There is a part of me that wonders if we unnecessarily prolonged her life. She had some very intensive interventions. There was a period of time where it was hard for me to find any joy in reflecting on her life because of how difficult it was for her, how much suffering she had to go through…and while medically they tried to regulate her pain, I have no way of knowing how much she suffered and felt. Watching my baby cry silently on the ventilator is one of the (many) horrible experiences I saw her go through and her body was so broken by the time she finally passed. But ultimately I keep going back to the fact that we made the best decisions we could at the time with the information we had and with much prayer. One of my prayers was that we would not be in a position where we had to make a medical decision to directly end her life, but that God would allow her to go to Him when it was time. And I am grateful that I feel that prayer was answered. She made it clear at a certain point that the end was near. So all we could do was hold her and love her, which we did, until the end.

I also still struggle with guilt over the fact that my body bore a child with such a severe defect. I know in my head this is not my fault, but I still struggle with it in my darker moments. And this feeling can often snowball into guilt over how I’m grieving, how I’m not moving through my grief quickly enough or in the right way, or how I am still so weak. Those feelings haven’t come as strongly lately, but I don’t think I’ve completely overcome them yet either. I think they’ve been more back-burnered for the time.

For quite some time I didn’t know how I could every feel deep true joy again. I still feel like I have to choose to believe that because God is the source of all joy I can and will experience it again. There have been moments of joy, many of them, over these last months, but often it is a joy that makes my heart ache because I know a deep sorrow and that sorrow illuminates the joy in a way it never has before. So I think joy feels differently now than it did before Naomi left. I think that maybe what I’ve been longing to regain wasn’t joy but instead innocence, the innocence and naivete that getting pregnant usually means bringing home a healthy baby with lots and lots of happiness. And that is an innocence I will never have again even if one day we try again for another baby. I would say that I am still looking for joy, I’m choosing to count the gifts God gives to me daily. But it is a battle and sometimes I struggle with why this life has to be so hard and what my purpose is for living here on this earth. I know that part of my purpose is to be momma to two little boys, who many days are the source of the joy that is in my life. Some days, though, I wish we could all just go to heaven and be together, complete, as a family.

I wish I had a way to end this that would bring a happy conclusion to it all, but I don’t. I do trust, though, that God is with me and that He is teaching me how to dance again, a different sort of dance, a dance of joy and sorrow. I will close with the Psalm that Kelly quoted in her blog this week that has really spoken to my heart.

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

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About geomom

I'm a wife, mom, and girl trying to follow Jesus. Been married for 8 years and have three children, two boys living with me and one baby girl living with Jesus. I'm living this one life one day at a time through the pain and tears and joy and laughter, held in the love of God.
This entry was posted in grief, Naomi, Reflections and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Walking with You: Overcoming Grief ~ Embracing Joy

  1. Catherine says:

    Thank you for sharing this honest, heartfelt post. I can relate to so much of what you wrote. I also felt tremendous guilt that my body had failed my baby somehow… that his complications were somehow caused by me. When we learned that his condition was possibly caused by a genetic mutation, I was overcome with guilt, that my body had passed on something fatal to him. I also feel the loss of innocence deep inside me. I pray everyday that somehow God can restore a little bit of it, so that I’m not constantly living in fear of more tragedy happening.

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers ❤

    • geomom says:

      Day by day asking God to help me trust Him and replace my fear with His love. Thanks for the reminder to keep praying for that and for identifying with me on this, Catherine!

  2. Holly says:

    I think guilt is one of the harder emotions to overcome. It’s always in the back of your mind reminding you. I don’t think it ever completely leaves either you just get better at ignoring it or realizing that the truths it tries to haunt your with aren’t really truths at all.

  3. You had mentioned finding peace in knowing that God would allow her to go to Him when it was time. I have also told myself that on occasion. There is a true peace and comfort with those words, that seem to help you let go of the guilt, if only for a short time.

    Through a lot of my guilt, I had felt sick over the fact that my body failed to keep his life going. That is something that I still feel from time to time, but I focus on picturing God’s hands on my son and my womb at the time, knowing, that He knew all that was to come. In that, I have to keep on trusting…

    Thank you for sharing… and trusting us with your heart.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here. I could relate to so much of the struggles you shared with guilt. I remember, knowing of course with my mind that it wasn’t my fault, but wrestling still with the fact that I couldn’t keep this from happening. I couldn’t bring our babies into the world, safe and healthy and happy. There was nothing I could do to change what happened to our children…it was nothing I did to cause it. But, still, I wrestled. I like what you said about your dance holding both joy and sorrow. Yes. That’s exactly right. And, there is beauty in that dance, my friend. Beauty shining from your life and your words on this post.

    Love and prayers for you…

  5. Kayla Yow says:

    I also had those struggles with why I could get pregnant, but not have a happy, healthy baby! The guilt overwhelmed me in this matter. I still cannot wrap my head around it. I still struggle with it. Hugs and love to you Mama!

  6. Anna Maroni says:

    Reading something that is truly from the heart is sometimes painful for me but needed. Getting past my own loss has been extremely difficult, but I feel like I have found a family in the blogs across the net dealing with grief of child loss. Where once I felt completely alone like no one could possibly understand my pain I now feel loved connected and as though I can start to live again and help others. This is truly a great post and one that I will remember.

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