Thank you, Lord, for Molly Piper.
After hearing what we were going through, my pastor's wife (which, as a total aside, makes her sound stuffy and prim and unapproachable...my pastor's wife is fun, amazing, real - all that and a bag of chips. I am so thankful for her...) emailed me a link to a blog written by Molly Piper. In 2007, Molly gave birth to their daughter, Felicity, who was still born. In the subsequent months she wrote a blog series called "How to Help Your Grieving Friend" sharing very transparently her grieving experience to help others know what grieving friends may be feeling. I sat and read every entry in that series today...and I cried. Oh my gosh, Molly Piper gets it. She was able to put words, eloquent words, to all these emotions inside and address some of my deepest fears as we walk through the near future.
I realize that some people would say that a failed adoption isn't the same as having a still born baby. I do not minimize anyone else's grief, nor do I want to over dramatize what we are feeling right now. But I have to tell you, I couldn't begin to imagine how difficult this could be. As I read Molly's blog posts I realized that although I have always been sympathetic, I didn't fully understand that there are some hurts that may heal, but still leave a lifelong scar. Hearts that break are forever tender in spots. I never got that...until now. It was so helpful because for days I have wondered, "How will I get over this?" and now I think it isn't about getting over the grief, but learning to live with and despite it.
A couple of things Molly shared really spoke to my heart. The first was the post titled, "There Is No Timetable". She talks about getting through the acute grieving periods - the intense moments shortly after your loss. But there are lots of other, difficult moments down the road. She sums it up best with this sentence: Grief is not linear. I really thought once I got out of the shocked, numb phase I would move through the check list of feelings and soon be back to my old self. I have moments of that, but it is often one step forward, two steps back. I am not good at this. I can't seem to predict what will set off a wave of sadness or provoke a few tears to slip out. Yesterday is a perfect example. I went out shopping by myself. (First trip out in public - one step forward.) Then the clerk commented that something I bought was cute, did I buy it for my daughter (Innocent question...knocked the breath out of me...two steps back.). Of course, the grieving gets a little messier when you factor in my husband with an engineering degree - he wants to know the formula to get through this with the most efficiency- and my theater degree - I want these feelings to channel themselves into something cathartic - and you have a hot mess of emotions with no clear way out. Knowing grief isn't linear frees us up to go moment to moment without feeling like we are failing "the test".
Another amazing post called "She Can't Grieve on Command", seems like it was written just for me. One of my biggest fears when it comes to "re-entry" back into normal life is that people, in the best of intentions, will want me to be emotionally transparent...all the time. As a recovering people pleaser, the thought of these kind of encounters terrifies me. I can see myself frantically going through this mental script, "Do they want me to cry? Do they want me to make a joke? Do they need me to try and put a spiritual bow on top of this experience?" And then the final question - "Can they handle it if I do any one of these?"
I don't know minute to minute how I will be feeling. There are brief moments when I can get so distracted by the business of life that I forget the specific cause of the ache in my chest. Those are not the moments when I can transparently share my heart as a reply to the ever vague "How are you doing?" I cannot guarantee I will give people the response they are seeking - not specifically words, but even emotions. Understanding that this fear is normal makes me much more ready to face it.
The post Molly wrote called "Avoid the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers" also cleared up something very important for me. Because pain and grief are uncomfortable not only for those going through it, but also for those watching, people often feel the need to offer a tidy, neat nugget of truth to help ease the uncomfortableness. Here's my problem - while others have been wonderful with their words and support, I have been the one trying to find the Hallmark answer for this whole experience. Guess what? Don't have it yet. And I've given up trying to find one right now - possibly ever this side of heaven. I realize that I need comfort from God more than I need an explanation...even though I want the explanation more at this moment.
Reading what Molly Piper wrote was so helpful for me right where I am at now, but it also helped me appreciate and love the people I know who have walked through deep grief before me. I thought about my amazing friend who has suffered miscarriages, and yet still gets up and parents her son with more courage and strength than I ever realized it must take for before now. You are truly beautiful, friend. I thought of my grandmother, who in the course of six months in 1971 lost her daughter-in-law, watched her son's slow recovery from life threatening injuries, lost her husband unexpectedly three days before Christmas, and then went through major back surgery. I have always adored her, but after going through this, my heart aches with both pride and sadness when I recall her answering quietly, "Not long enough..." when I asked her how long she and my grandfather were married. I have a new respect for the strength it takes to live life with the ugly badge of grief many people wear.
I don't mean to belabor the point. I truly am not trying to wallow in this. But I feel like I will do no one any good if I put on a fake smile and pretend my way through the next few weeks and months. I believe I will have more moments of joy and laughter as time passes. I know who our family is and I know we will become a new version of that. I know God is faithful. As much as I want to forget all of this, then I would have to choose to leave the joy behind with the sadness. And although the sadness is suffocating at times, I wouldn't give it all back. There was too much joy.