When it rains, it pours…My mess after the storm…

April 9, 2010 at 10:03 AM 8 comments

(Disclaimer: This will probably be a long one…there are probably like 3 posts in one, and it might be a little all over the place…but I have a lot I need to get off my chest so bear  with me please…)

My Grief This Week, Mostly Yesterday…

It seems like it always happens that just when I seem to be doing really well with my grief, life is looking good again, I’m finding joy and blessings around me, and I write a post about it – that that’s when things come crashing down on me. I hit a lot of highs over the past couple of weeks; I should have known a low was building up waiting to come crashing down on me… Dumb grief.

This week wasn’t an altogether bad week or anything. But for some reason I found myself crying more. I guess if I look around I can probably pin point some things that led to that…

For instance, it was the 3 month anniversary of Hailey’s passing…and no one said anything to me about her on that day…or about me and how I was doing. And I wish people said things about her more or asked about me/us more or just gave us a “thinking about you today” more – but maybe they don’t because they think I need it since I share it all on here? Or maybe it’s because I try to play strong girl and I do it so well that people don’t think I need any of their support? Well I do… I really do need it…

Then, I finished the pages in Hailey’s scrapbook (all I have to do is put it together today), and the pages I worked on this week were on the end of her life. I cried while I put most of them together and as my eyes reread some of the sympathy cards we were sent. I think it caught me off guard that those final pages in her scrapbook might be hard – I should have known, but I didn’t expect it for some reason.

And then I am still working on trying to order Hailey’s grave marker and ran into some minor difficulties in doing that, nothing really was that big of a deal…but for me, it was emotionally hard already to do it and then once things appeared to be not going smoothly, I pretty much just lost it and there were more tears spilled over the grave marker than there needed to be I’m sure…

Not to mention every time I got in the car this week and drove somewhere, 99% of the time, the song “Heaven is the Face” played. This was the song I first heard when we had Hailey and we chose to play it at her memorial service. It’s so fitting for us and I really do find it to be a beautiful song, but this week I just couldn’t take hearing it every time I went somewhere.

And let’s just say my emotions being all over the place this week could have been influenced by PMS… possibly…

Plus, it just seems like everyone I know – friends, family, and even those I don’t know but come into contact with daily – is having or has had a healthy baby. And this week I guess was one of those weeks I couldn’t handle it very well. The “Why me?” thoughts came back. Why did I have to lose my baby? Why do they get their babies – even when some of them didn’t plan it or didn’t know – and I don’t? It’ so unfair. All these babies are celebrated and mine is buried in the ground and no one mentions her and no one wonders how I am dealing with that. It’s not fair… And then the companions to those questions involve questions like these:  Is this God punishing me? What did I do to deserve it? Is it my fault? Ugh… I hate that ugly place in my grief. I thought I had conquered it, but it’s back….and I just want to scream.

Along those lines, my grief went to a new place yesterday. I really felt/feel(?) like a failure. I feel like I failed Hailey. I feel like I was too selfish, I feel like I didn’t show her enough love, I feel like I didn’t hold her enough, I wonder about some of the decisions we made, and I just feel like I failed her as her mother. I think Josh hit this point before I did. One of the most difficult things for him was when we found out Hailey had Trisomy 18 and that it was incurable and untreatable. He wanted to fix her and make her better and he couldn’t… we couldn’t… and this hit him early on. For some reason I guess mine took a few months to fully hit me. And I know if I get logical, I shouldn’t feel like a failure… but that really doesn’t change the fact that I do…

Maybe my PMS this week just made me throw pity parties for myself? I don’t know.

I struggle, God speaks…

God really has perfect timing and I’m so thankful when I see that. I have been reading two devotionals (as I mentioned in my last post)…well last night’s devotions from each were perfect.

The devotion from Grieving the Child I Never Knew starts with these words:

“Sirens blare. The sky darkens. Trees rock frantically back and forth. The wind whirls violently. A funnel-shaped cloud descends. All warning signs a tornado is coming – and you’d better head for cover” (p. 26).“At times in your grief journey you may detect a storm coming. You may sense sirens blaring in your soul. Your mood darkens or you feel frantic. Emotions whirl violently as the reality of your loss starts to descend on you” (p. 27).

Ha…how perfect God? Did you know we had a tornado in our town yesterday? This was my facebook status:

Kristin  is having a hard day today 😦 … spending this gloomy day in dothan running errands … “Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water.”

Yesterday at 11:29am

Kristin

maybe going to dothan after the tornado passes??
Yesterday at 12:06pm ·

Cetty

Let it rain.
Yesterday at 3:12pm ·

Ilea

did you mean a literal tornado or an emotional tornado?
11 hours ago ·

Kristin

haha… literal, but emotional works too 🙂
11 hours ago ·

Kristin

(there was a tornado spotted a few miles from our house)

My friend recognized  that my reference to a tornado in light of what I had written before could have been figurative applying to how I felt emotionally… Well she was actually right…And so was the devotional I read last night.

There was a tornado in my town and in my life yesterday. At first it started with a drop of rain, and then more, and then harder, and then the wind gusts pick up… and then the grief hits with all its destruction full force…quite the perfect analogy yesterday.

My other devotional had a different topic, but it was one that hit home yesterday. It focused on the verse: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 And talked about how God doesn’t intend for us to go through our storms alone. “We all need ‘foul-weathered friends’ who will venture out into the weather with us. Storms and sorrow both lose some of their strength when they are shared” (p.28). The reflect questions were hard for me and I didn’t answer them. “Who will walk through the rain with you? What makes it hard for you to share your struggles with others?” Ugh… I don’t know Lord! That is where I seem to be stuck this week.

Talking is hard for me. I am not a big talker. I’m pretty quiet and introverted – unless I know you really well. I’m an observer, not the center of attention. And I’m not a phone person, I’m an email or text person. But I can pour my soul out on here, but my blog allows me to distance myself in some way and hide behind the text. I can pour my soul out to my husband, and to my God… but for me to pour my soul out in conversation, it doesn’t happen often. I rarely cry in front of people, even if I want to I try to hide back tears the best I can. I don’t really know why, that’s just who I am. And I am not one by nature who says I need help to someone. I’m too independent and probably too stubborn to do that. I play strong girl and I play it too well sometimes. I mean don’t get me wrong, God has given me true strength… but I think it makes me distance myself from others allowing them to think I don’t need any help…when I do…

I don’t know if help is the right word though. I don’t want help. I don’t want someone to listen to me cry. I know some people do want that and that is all good. But that’s not what I want. I guess what I find myself wanting these days are the people in my life to show me that Hailey existed and still means something… and I want their support and encouragement and to see they care…and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these things never happen…but I need them to happen more…

Like as I mentioned on the 3 month anniversary of Hailey passing… no one said anything to me…about Hailey…about me… that hurts and makes it feel like we don’t matter. Another childless mother blogged on Easter about all the wonderful mementos and gifts her friends and family had given her to brighten her Easter without her child – like Easter eggs with her daughter’s name on them and such. Why doesn’t anyone do something like that for Hailey/ me? I wonder why I had to go searching for all of these books on grief – why didn’t anyone think to give me one? On facebook I’ve been supporting this Pepsi Refresh $25,000 giveaway for Project Sweet Pea in honor of Hailey and yesterday’s share asked people to share it too if they knew a baby who spent time in a NICU, no one I knew shared it. Why?

Does my independent, strong personality turn people off from helping me in these ways? Is it my fault because I want people to give me support when I’m not actively seeking it – because I don’t ask? Do people really not care or think about us? Or do they just not know what to say or feel they need to say anything? Is it from people reading my blog and seeing that I’m doing well that they think I don’t need anything? Why is it that it seems like most of the support went shortly after Hailey was buried? And then I wonder, am I just being selfish again? Am I making something out of nothing? Am I just finding reasons to throw myself a pity party? I don’t know…Probably. But yesterday these questions were hitting me hard and really frustrating me and bringing me down.

I know many of these thoughts and questions are illogical or something…but I have them nonetheless and I needed to get them out. I always said I’d be honest in writing about my grief…whether I’m right or wrong in it…So thanks for listening to be blabber on and on.

Another 3 month anniversary

Well this is what I meant to write today’s post about…but then other things happened…

3 months ago today I saw my daughter for the last time. I kissed her forehead for the last time. 3 months ago today we buried our daughter…

And I’ve been wanting to write about something since we buried her… I’ve been wanting to explain something, even though I know I don’t need to…But I’m going to anyway…

Is there anything harder than seeing a tiny casket? I remember watching an episode of Oprah on the life of Mattie Stepanek (an episode I showed to several of my classes when I was teaching), a remarkable little boy who passed away from Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy in 2004. In reflecting about the day of his funeral and burial, Oprah says something like… “And it’s really hard to see a little casket.” Boy I remember choking up every time during that part. And then when I was around 30 weeks pregnant, we went to church and the pastor mentioned how he had recently done the funeral and burial of an infant…and he talks about how hard it was to see that tiny casket…and of course I cried that day in church, I couldn’t imagine burying my baby that was on the way…little did I know that I would have to do just that…Oh it’s sooo hard to see a little casket…

Well we had the option of having Hailey’s casket open or closed during her memorial service. We chose open. And that’s what I want to talk about…

I know many people who came to pay their respects and show us support didn’t want to or didn’t go up to Hailey’s casket. And I don’t blame them. It’s not something people want to see, a tiny casket with a tiny baby in it. I don’t think I could have done it had it not been my daughter.

I knew that having an open casket would be harder on people, and I understand why. But I want to share why we did it…at least my personal reasons…

First of all, I know this is weird to say, and maybe you can only understand if you bury your child, but she looked good. Sometimes, oh this is so morbid I know, but sometimes the bodies of the deceased don’t look good and that’s why people have a closed casket…But Hailey looked good, almost better than she did on some of her bad days…

I wanted her casket open because I wanted people to see my daughter. Since she lived in AL, most of our friends and family never had an opportunity to see her (other than photos posted online) and they never had a chance to meet her. Never in a million years did I want them to meet her like this…but that’s the only option I had. And I wanted them to meet my baby…. I felt like if they didn’t see her, it would be even more like she didn’t exist. She would be so far removed from our family… to me it would have been like they would have never known we had a daughter…

And I did it for me, for us… I wanted to look at her for as long as I could… 36 days just doesn’t seem like enough sometimes. And I know that wasn’t really Hailey, she was gone… but it was her body God gave her for her time here… And I just couldn’t say goodbye to that part of her yet…But are we ever ready to say goodbye?

So that’s why we had an open casket. I knew it would be really hard for people, and I didn’t do it to make it hard on them. It was something we needed to do.

Wrapping up these random thoughts…

So that’s where I’m at today… or yesterday… And I feel slightly better already by giving a name to all those thoughts that eat away at me. But my soul still feels the damage left over from the storm…. Today is a new day. And thank God the sun is shining today! Today I am going to officially finish Hailey’s scrapbook and put it all together. That will feel good to do. And I think I’m going to finally make my way over to Lowe’s to buy some flowers and plant them today… who doesn’t like flowers? So I’m hoping that today will be a better day… and praying that God will help me clean up the damage and brokenness yet again…
P.S. God speaks again, after I published this post… this is the headline of my online devotional this morning… Hmm… could you be talking to me God?

“God is not pleased when we allow pride and self-sufficiency to prevent us from accepting help when we really need it.”
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My book-loving soul rejoices over these books! Pink Azaleas for Hailey

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeni Stepanek  |  April 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    You are in my prayers, today, and on every ‘unrecognized anniversary.’ I do not know your loss or pain. But I understand the feelings that come with such.
    In hope and peace,
    Jeni Stepanek (Mom to Katie, Stevie, Jamie, and Mattie — who each spent too few moments on earth).

    Reply
    • 2. kvanderlip  |  April 9, 2010 at 1:29 PM

      Oh Jeni! Your comment means so much! Thank you…I really don’t know what to say to you other than thank you… and I hope Hailey meets Mattie in Heaven. I do not know your loss or pain either, but from what I do know about Mattie, he was such an amazing person. He has given me such inspiration over the years, and I do think of you and your family often even though I’ve never met you! God bless.

      Reply
      • 3. jenistepanek  |  April 30, 2010 at 8:02 AM

        Mattie LOVED babies. I am most certain that Mattie has already held and cuddled ittle Hailey, and that she has wrapped her hand around his finger. I told Mattie when he was young that when little babies hold your finger, that is how they say ‘I love you’ til their smiles and words come in. Mattie loved that thought, and even wrote a poem, ‘Touch of Heaven,’ about a baby who held his finger.
        In hope and peace,
        Jeni.

  • 4. Jennifer  |  April 9, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    I look forward to seeing your scrapbook before I leave. Maybe Sunday?

    Reply
    • 5. kvanderlip  |  April 9, 2010 at 1:30 PM

      Of course!

      Reply
  • 6. mom  |  April 9, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Dearest daughter of mine, you are forever in my thoughts every day, as I read about the remarable journey you are experiencing. Please know that my precious Hailey is in my thoughts and prayers every day. You are one amazing and remarkable person and daughter. I know that Hailey truly knew and felt the love that you and Josh gave her in the brief time she was here with us. I think a lot of the loneliness and sorrow you feel so much is not helped because so many of your loved ones live so far away. And I think of Hailey on each of her ‘birth’ dates, that’s why I’m so grateful I have so many pictures around me. Can’t wait to see you and your memory book of Hailey!

    Reply
    • 7. kvanderlip  |  April 9, 2010 at 7:53 PM

      Thanks mom 🙂

      Reply
  • 8. ileamarie  |  April 9, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    Thanks for explaining about the casket thing. Seeing Hailey was a bit overwhelming for me-not a sight I ever expected to be faced with (You mentioned you didn’t think you could have done it if it wasn’t your baby….walking up there was pretty much the hardest thing I ever did).

    Your mom came over while Mark and I were with Hailey and she told me that her outfit was too big for her and reached out to touch her little feet to show me where they really were. 🙂

    Anyway, now I know what my best friend’s baby looked like and so even though it was a surprise to me, I’m glad you did it, and more importantly, I’m glad that you and Josh made the decision that was right for YOU (which is really the only thing that matters-you didn’t need to explain yourself).

    PS-I don’t think you’re selfish. 🙂

    Reply

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Dedication

"God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed." ~Job 1:21

In Loving Memory of Hailey Marie

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