Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's Not Just a Number

I recently realized that I had been struggling with an aspect of where Eveyn fits into my daily life. One of the most difficult areas to navigate in losing a child is the question of how many children I have. It seems simple. Why would that be a complicated issue? It's complicated for several reasons. It's complicated because I am a people-pleaser that doesn't want to make others uncomfortable, because the rest of the world gets weirded out when you talk about your dead child, because my heart is constantly telling me one kid is missing but the rest of the world sees me with "my hands full", because I don't want to have a dead child, but I don't want to deny her either.

How many kids do you have? What were your pregnancies like? Do I talk about all four pregnancies and babies, or just the three that are the most comfortable? I feel like I am in a constant battle with myself of living life on the outside like my heart feels on the inside and keeping my second child, my first daughter a secret in an attempt to make sure others feel comfortable. I started to feel that Eveyn was being left out of my life. I felt like I was putting her on a shelf in a closet because it was just too complicated. The worst part is that I wasn't even doing it for my own needs through some stage of grief, but I was hiding her life for the sake of other people and my assumptions about their ability to handle it. I realized that my new feelings of sadness and anger when I thought of Eveyn were based on the fact that I felt like she was being pushed out of my life, and I was to blame.

After realizing I had allowed myself to become very isolated in this struggle, I posted a question on one of the groups I am a part of on Facebook. I asked other mothers if this has been a struggle for them. I asked them how they respond and how they include or exclude their missing child in conversation with others. Through my question and the many, many responses I received, I rediscovered the power of community. I have had 80 responses to my question. As I write this, I am still receiving more comments, encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom from fellow moms who are living each day without their children. I am so thankful for this community. As easy as it is to isolate myself and believe the lie that I am on my own, I know the truth - we are many. We do not know each other, but we are connected and know each other's pain.

God is gracious in his provision, and it comes in all forms. One of the gifts he gives is community. I've told other moms who have lost children, that it is never a community we would choose to be a part of, but it is one that we are thankful to have by our side in the dark times. Through that gift of community, we receive further gifts of encouragement, wisdom, comfort, friendship, love, and guidance. He is gracious even in our times of pain.

So today I have received these gifts of encouragement, wisdom and care from other moms who share this journey. If someone else is uneasy or weirded out by the fact that I talk about my sweet baby, it is of no concern of mine. I cannot deny this child that I knew for 10 months. I cannot deny the baby I held in my arms for 6 short hours. I will not pretend that I didn't bury her little body or that I regularly visit her gravesite. She existed and I live each day with her.

I have four children. Eveyn is my second child. I have had two natural labors and two c-sections. She would be 7 years old if she were here with me. Eveyn is a part of our every day life in our home, and I will not exclude her from that when I step out of my front door. She is my daughter, she always will be, and I am just as proud of her as I am of the three I have here with me. If I believe her short life was one of meaning and purpose, I cannot hide her from others. I will share her and expect God to do great things through her.

7 comments:

Lindsey said...

Your life, your children, and your right to talk about ALL of them. I think as long as you are strong enough to tell the story - others should be strong enough to listen.

Becky Campbell said...

I love this. I have often wondered, being the person on the other side of the conversation, if questions like "how many kids do you have?" Are bringing up problems or pain or something I have no clue about for another person. I know it's a normal part of conversation and any normal conversation could be connected to pain in a person's life we didn't know about. But by answering authentically you open the opportunity for real relationship and grace instead of facades. Thank you for your courage to be real and trust God instead of feeling the need to control or manage things in your interactions.

Becky Campbell said...

I love this. I have often wondered, being the person on the other side of the conversation, if questions like "how many kids do you have?" Are bringing up problems or pain or something I have no clue about for another person. I know it's a normal part of conversation and any normal conversation could be connected to pain in a person's life we didn't know about. But by answering authentically you open the opportunity for real relationship and grace instead of facades. Thank you for your courage to be real and trust God instead of feeling the need to control or manage things in your interactions.

Elizabeth Mai said...

Thank you both for the further encouragement. I appreciate you!

EmmaJ said...

Thanks for sharing your heart on this, Elizabeth. I think... that if someone feels uncomfortable with you being open about your life, that you have three beautiful kids here with you and one beautiful girl with Jesus, they should examine their own hearts and ask themselves why that makes them uncomfortable.

Everybody feels awkward in conversation sometimes, struggling for the right words, but sometimes that's just how it is - I think it's better for us to encounter those situations of reality, rather than living in a fake world where people don't tell the truth.

Maybe you can help us all along, to know what are some good ways to respond to our friends' (or acquaintances') losses.

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ابوعدي للتسوق said...


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