Monday, October 1, 2012

Surviving the Premature Death of Your Child

           When I think back to that day – when I allow my mind to return there – I am drenched again in the confusion, the heartache, the what ifs, the what-might-have-beens, the agony, the horribly empty arms. The abruptly still and empty womb.
            The physical pain isn’t replayed, but the emotional agony dances around the edges of my heart. It’s easier if I don’t allow myself to “go there” at all, so when I talk about it I often sound hollow, detached, like it all happened to someone else instead of me, and I’m just a fact-repeater to the listener; because being attached guts my heart all over again.
            April 13, 1993. Nineteen-and-a-half years ago, and it still hurts. I walk through Target and can barely eyeball the poofy organza, satin and lace dresses hanging in the baby section without wondering what she would have looked like in one of them. Easter is particularly hard, when the white patent leather shoes, spring hats, white gloves and purses show up alongside the dresses. Red and green velvet and satin Christmas dresses get to me too.
            I see girl babies, in their pink-trimmed, flowery jammies and my heart bleeds a little. Every year, I wonder what she’d be doing now. In 2011 she would have graduated from high school; she’d (probably) be embarking on her second year of college. Where would she be attending? What would she be studying? What would she look like? How many eager young men would her father be running off the porch?
            Would there be joint shopping trips, manicures and pedicures together, enjoyed mother-daughter teas?  
            But I do allow myself to go there, especially when I am alone and holding the tiny, square, sterile white box that contains her remains, because doing so validates her as a living, breathing human being. It reminds me that while I have two living children, I really do have more than two. I know so, because I held her, caressed her, wept over her. But before that, I carried her in my body and felt her move and wiggle…and hiccup.
            In this blog, I will take you through the journey of the death of our precious daughter, Victoria Lee Owan, in premature delivery. In the process, we’ll explore how mothers grieve, fathers grieve, siblings grieve, grandparents grieve, and your closest friends grieve…or retreat.
            Losing a child prematurely, either in pregnancy, at birth, or soon after, isn’t called “A Silent Sorrow” for nothing. Most people don’t have a clue what you’re experiencing, and they don’t know what to say, and you end up walking this path and facing this agony alone. Well, not really. God walks this path with you, even though it often seems like He’s not even in the vicinity. We’ll talk about that too.
            And we’ll talk about what to say and what not to say to a friend or family member who’s suffered this kind of loss. I want it to be a forum where you pour out your heart, inquire, maybe even rail at life and all of its injustices. I want it to be a place where you can come to weep and to heal; to encourage and to edify. My husband will even jump in occasionally to give advice to husbands – those grieving, often-forgotten-about and neglected fathers.
            We’ll talk about how to keep your marriage intact and grow in your faith. We’ll even help you come to faith, if you’re struggling with that.   
            Even though life will never be the same again – this type of event seems to snatch away whatever vestiges of innocence you still possessed – you can recover and heal. There is life to be lived – a lot of it. That fact, and hope for it, may be so very hard to see if your pain is fresh, but it’s there. Give yourself time to find it; don’t let anyone rush you.
            Don’t care right now about finding it? You will. There are a lot of people in your life who need you to find it – eventually.
            Everyone experiences their loss in a unique, personal way, but there are particular emotions that everyone goes through. We’ll explore all of those.
            No medical or psychological advice will be dispensed; we simply want you to consider this your personal support group – for as long as you need it, or us.
            May the God of all comfort guide and be with us as we journey together.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Matthew 5:4 NKJV

O Love eternal, Love divine,
In wounded hearts pour oil and wine.
Where darkness broods like moonless night,
O Light of Life, let there be light.
And Thine the praise, the glory be,
When Thy beloved come home to Thee.
~ Amy Carmichael


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