God Carries Us Through

As promised I am beginning a series where I will blog through a book by Max Lucado. It’s called “God Will Carry You Through”. I have been on a mission to find books that I can bump up against my journey after losing my daughter so that hopefully the story, my story layered with thoughts from authored by others, will help someone. It’s been my desire since I started writing that somewhere, somehow, someone finds hope through this blog. And so it begins…..

Chapter One – God Carries Us Through

“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this.”

Wow – when I read this, I initially thought those are hard words to understand when you are in the throes of grief and loss. In fact, some might just be downright offended, mad or pissed. But wait, listen – I know that while these words are hard to swallow, they are absolutely true. Not in a way you may imagine, but so true. You will get through this.

It won’t be painless. God never said we’d go through life without struggles. While I tried not to cringe while reading that and hearing me say it because you know, and I know, some people seem to slide through life without so much as a scrape and some, well they just seem to get hit over and over with life battles. So it won’t be quick. Whether you are a seasoned griever or just beginning this journey, know that somehow, some way, someone will be helped by your journey. I know this to be true.

God will use your mess for good. How do I know and how can I take comfort in that? It’s not always easy nor can I say that every day is good. I have my good days and I also have bad days, very bad days still eight years later. But I also know that through my small network of grief friends, we help each other. Our words often console one another. There are days I just want to scream at people – “you just don’t get it”. But I know my network, you my readers, some of my close friends, they get it. They understand that our connection is more valuable than anything else, except the one we lost. Through their words, their quiet silence, their steadfast dedication, and priceless extension of love, we are able to step forward.

Until next time,

M

Holidays are over – so why am I still so mad?

Each holiday season I pine for January. Since my daughter passed away, I find the holidays to be less than cheerful. So when January arrives, there seems to be a collective sigh of relief that comes. But not so much this year. Now I’m just mad.

I’ve been mad for weeks now. A few weeks ago I found myself out walking and at some point during the walk I’m talking to myself and asking “what is wrong”? Then it hit me and I began to cry. Sobbing for the remainder of my walk and I’m sure had anyone crossed my path they’d have thought I was having a breakdown. Actually what I was having was a breakthrough. I wasn’t sad. I’ve been sad for too long. I was just plain mad.

So when I get mad, I cry – that is how I roll. Then when I cry, I get madder. I’ve spent too much time crying these past 8 years, in fact, I’ve spent many years crying over tragedy after tragedy. After the realization that I was just plain mad, I realized that I am so tired of grieving. It’s worn me down to a place where there is nothing left to grieve. Not sure why now. Why now am I just so mad?

I think it may be in large part because I have battled the good fight of grief and now I’m just pissed. I want to know why me. Why my daughter? And I know I won’t know the answer to this until I’m face-to-face with God – and that does not make me feel any less mad. I’m still mad. I feel beaten down, dragged through the mud and kicked until I can’t breathe. Yeah that is grief. It’s hard, it’s tough and it’s exhausting.

So I pray and I talk to God and I talk to Brittany daily. I ask for help to understand. Because my human brain can no longer make any sense of it. I do know too that I’m too distracted and haven’t done my homework. Reading, writing and prayer – those things have kept me from losing my mind some days. When I stay focused on my faith, my writing and connecting to those who understand what I’ve experienced – well it helps. But even that is exhausting some days. I know it has helped me get to here, but now I feel like I’m at a cross road and need to know what I need to do next. Praying for that guidance is all I can do now.

Until next time,

M

What Christmas Means to Me

Originally written December 25, 2009

Today I chose to write about what Christmas means to me today in comparison to what it meant to me as a little girl many years ago.

I remember many Christmas as a young girl, that gifts under the tree were sparse. My mom was single mother of six children. She worked many jobs just to keep us together as a family. She never took money from sources, other than family, she was a proud mother. She did what she could to provide for us and most importantly to keep us from being separated.

There were times when the state threatened to separate us because we had no money for food and moved a lot. We lived in downtown Indianapolis until I was in about 4th grade. There is so much more about this story, but I’ll save this for another day.

The one thing I do want to say is that Christmas to me growing up was about family and about being together. It wasn’t so much about the gifts. Now my grandmother she always made sure we had gifts under tree, especially when mom couldn’t. Christmases at my grandmothers and great-grandmother’s houses were – well they were just amazing

When I say family I mean extended family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas family would come from all over to gather at the Wisehart house for holiday dinner and fellowship. Aunts and uncles, cousins (1st, 2nd and 3rd), grandparents and great grandparents, moms and dads (well except my dad).

We would sit around and eat so much food until we were about to burst. My great grandmother’s Butterscotch Pie was to die for. No one to this date has ever been able to make it the same way she did. I miss those days so much.

Then there was the Christmas’s during my 18 year marriage and life with my sweet Brittany. It was my new tradition. Yes, we did visit my great grandmother’s until those events stopped. Eventually it became too much for her. And after my mom died our family virtually fell apart. So we all had to create our own traditions.

So for 18 years Christmas meant getting up and watching Brittany open up her gifts and jumping for joy. When we were with her father’s family we would hear the Christmas Story from the book of Matthew in the New Testament. You see it was very important to us that Brittany new and understood the true meaning of Christmas. That it wasn’t always about the gifts – however it sure was a lot of fun.

Now I find Christmas to be one of the loneliest days of my life. The people in my life that created all those memories are gone. First my great-grandfather, then my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, my great-grandmother and most recently my daughter. Just thinking about it makes me cry out in anguish. But then I remember….

The real meaning of Christmas. I would encourage you to read the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. It talks about the wonder of Jesus’ birth – the real reason we celebrate Christmas – it talks about his life – it provides us the way to live our lives – it speaks of His death and His resurrection.

His resurrection is the reason I keep believing that there is a reason I am here and why I keep moving forward one day at a time. Because the resurrection assures me that I will see the family that has gone on before me. The family that helped to create my Christmas memories early in my life and late in my life; I miss them so much – especially my dear sweet Brittany.

Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus – to remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only son – Jesus.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and they will call Him Immanuel which means God is with us.” – Matthew 1:23 (NLT edition)

Merry Christmas my friends because even in the midst of our grief there is hope.

Until next time

M

A Time to be Grateful

Monon in Carmel

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” – Oprah

As I sit here reflecting on Oprah’s quote I can’t help but think back over the past eight years and see the many blessings that have come my way since my daughter’s death. I believe a person needs to have great faith to see that and to believe that life can still have meaning after such loss. But also understanding that it will be different. Never the same.

I’m a fighter and I have always gotten back up and dusted myself off and took another step in faith that God has my back. He has up till now and I have every bit of faith that He will for the rest of my days. The problem is always me. I get in the way of my own recovery, my own journey because of my human nature to disbelieve.

Life has handed me more hurts and sorrows and at times I’ve often wondered how life could have any meaning left for me. It would be so easy for me to give up, to stop believing, to stop living.

But my faith is so much stronger than my disbelief.

And that my friends is where it begins and ends. So today I am thankful for my faith, for it has carried me this far. My Thanksgiving prayer for you all that is that you can find gratitude in the little things. It is the little things in life that rebuild faith, strength, foundational love and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving

until next time

M

Language of Grief

Language of Grief

Fellowship of suffering has been described as a combination of those who have suffered and those that are suffering. Recently Andy Stanley spoke about this during a message called Comfort Zone. In fact, I wrote about this in a previous post called “Cloud of Witnesses”. I have found this to be true from the moment I met my first mom who had lost their child. There is an undeniable bond that happens and I think it is because we understand the language of grief. We understand the pain, not their pain, but the pain loss brings when you hold your child while they cross over. Collapsing over their bodies and praying to God, screaming out to God because the pain and anguish of that moment is so horrific. It still brings tears to my eyes each time I revisit that moment October 13, 2006 at 6:55 am.

Comfort from those who’ve been comforted is life-giving to those who need comfort. – Andy Stanley

So that quote really spoke to me because it took me back to those early days and weeks after Brit died and had it not been for those who came and sat with me, sometimes not saying a word, but spent life-saving time with me – saved my life. Sharing the same space in time, no demands, and no expectations – just sitting side-by-side meant more to me than I could ever put into words. I was blessed beyond measure for those who did not give up on me. Their comforting made me feel like someone cared.

That being said now that I consider myself a seasoned griever, I have experienced life-giving purpose in writing this blog, in hearing from my followers, meeting moms in person and lastly praying for those who I do not know, but understand the journey they are forced to live out.

I don’t believe I have the answers, nor do I claim to be an expert in offering advice, but what I do know is that grief and I know each other well. It has visited me on many occasions and for a variety of reasons. God has worked in me to allow my pain to be a voice for others and I take that role very seriously.

I don’t want to sugar coat anything here on this blog. It is not my intention to give the impression that the death of my daughter was any easier because of my faith. It was not. It takes a mountain of faith to get through loss. My faith has been questioned, shaken and put to the test, but I have not lost my faith, in fact my faith has grown exponentially in spite of my losses.

Finding purpose to honor my daughter’s memory and to help me heal by helping others has been crucial to my healing. It will always be a work in progress. Eight years since the death of my daughter is different than it was at one year or two years and so on. Each year it changes it evolves into a mature grief. I still cry, sob and yearn for my daughter. I still question why. I still find tears well up in my eyes when I spend a moment thinking of my Brit. The pain is still relevant in my life. My faith has been tested, but not broken. I rely on my faith in God to help me find the purpose in all of this mess.

He comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled,
we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

So on the days when I feel I can’t make it another minute, I remember the advice I got from someone many years ago in the early years of my grief. “Close your eyes and imagine you can crawl up into the lap of Jesus and allow Him to comfort you”. While that seems a little odd, it works. Spending time with God in prayer or in the fellowship of church – has been the very nourishment and comfort that has helped me get to this moment.

Our capacity to comfort is determined by the degree of which we have suffered. – Andy Stanley

I encourage you to watch the video link below from Andy Stanley. I get something new from it each time I watch. He also mentions my story and says my daughter’s name which I found touching. The whole series is also listed below.

 

http://northpoint.org/messages/in-the-meantime/comfort-zone/

MeantimeSeries.org

Until next time,

M

Chronic Sorrow Revisited

Chronic Sorrow Revisited

 

101314_1405_ChronicSorr1.jpg

Chronic sorrow is the periodic recurrence of permanent, pervasive sadness or other grief related feelings associated with a significant loss. (Eakes GG, 1998).

 

I have often wondered about how long sorrow would hold up residence in my heart. Since the death of my daughter eight years ago I can say with the utmost certainty that it will always be a part of who I am. Sorrow has taken up permanent residence in my heart. Specifically over the space where my lovely daughter holds a forever spot. Scared by loss, and maybe a little broken, but my heart still beats on. It still feels love. It still leaps for joy when something or someone brings happiness into my life.

I have come to understand that sorrow and happiness can live harmoniously in one space if, and only if, they are both respected. Given their time to be heard. Chronic sorrow seems like a disease, but really it’s just a label for a mother’s broken heart. I wouldn’t say that I have a pervasive sadness about me. It’s more like moments in time that I reflect on a life once known, and a time that some days I’d love to hear her voice or her funny laugh, but pervasive sadness – I don’t think so.

Do I think pervasive sadness happens to some? Absolutely and that breaks my heart for them. I understand how it can happen. I do believe if I had not fought hard to come out of the fog of sorrow and into a life that I can bring light to my daughter’s memory – I too would have fallen into this pervasive sadness. So if you find yourself there – seek help. Talk to a professional, write it out – do something. The best years after loss can come but its hard work. At times can be exhausting. But with a lot of support, faith and love you can make it to a space where the sadness and sorrow take their rightful place but does not permeate your soul.

I’m a living testimony that while I have lost much, I want to live on doing the work I was made to do. I want to fulfill my destiny. Just like my sweet Brittany. She is the light that shines brightly and keeps reminding me that I have to stay focused on the good in the world. That is my prayer for you.

Until next time,

M

Grief Exposed

Last night I as I attempted to sleep thoughts of my journey played out in my head keeping me from a restful sleep. I said to myself – “you should get up and write” but I finally succumbed to the exhaustion and fell asleep. I don’t recall what it was specifically that I was dreaming about and that annoys me. I feel like at times I dream of things that have a message. But last night it was more like a restlessness that I cannot pinpoint. I cannot identify readily as this or that. It is just simply the restlessness that comes with grief.

I am coming into the dark days but it is a bit early just yet. I usually experience the dark days  beginning in September and it usually  lasts until the new year. With each year that has passed since my Brittany’s untimely death, I have called the days leading up to her death as the dark days. I have included the holidays for they have lost their luster for me. Can’t get that back. In fact, the meaning for many celebratory things have left me with a void that I cannot fill. I can only live in the moment and I cannot find the hutzpah to look into the future. Life for me is simply this….fill my day with busyness. Distractions work well.

Pondering on a past life that I longed for so long was ripped from me and in the wake of that,  I was not left with much to rebuild on. Not sure what the message is for me. I have resolved that I cannot figure it out and that I have to be ok with that. But haven’t quite got a grip on that yet. I still question “why me” a lot. I can look back over my life and say “why me” so many times that one might imagine any normal person would have gone berserk by now. I keep the faith that one day it will all become clear to me. Why so much has been taken from me. Why didn’t I get what they have. When I say “they”, I say all those who continue to enjoy their children, see them grow, graduate, marry and have children. My arms ache for the loss of so much. I cannot put it into words how profoundly empty that feels.

I hope that some day it will perhaps make more sense, but for now I am at a loss, my broken heart profoundly exposed and my sorrow spills over into a river of tears. I wrote today this which pretty much sums up my sorrow….

“Sometimes I just want to go back because going forwards means the distance between me and you fades and all I’m left with is the faint hint of who you were in my life.”

Until next time,

m