Ever since Mila’s funeral, it has been very difficult for me to experience pleasure. It’s hard to smile and enjoy things while my heart is still in such immense pain. Everything in me wants to shut out the happy and wallow in the despair. I remember one day, soon after Mila was born, I made a funny and made Aaron laugh. I let out a chuckle, too, and it literally made me feel sick inside. How can I be laughing at such a time as this? There's nothing funny about anything that's going on right now. Yet over and over I’ve seen the joy of the Lord seeking us out in the midst of the pain, just like the song we sang at Mila's funeral:
🎶 O, Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee... 🎶
Our 3 older kids went to family camp for the week. I knew they would genuinely enjoy themselves there. While they were gone, Aaron and I had to choose (force ourselves) daily to open our hearts up to this joy that seeks us. We made plans to go out to dinner, get Yogurtland, and play with our younger 3. We did "kid camp" at home, which meant making goodies, watching videos, going on a couple of fun outings (as well as a more sober outing...visiting Mila's grave), and doing VBS every night. We had to make the effort to consciously enjoy life, from the grand things down to the mundane.
It ended up being a good week overall, and I was looking forward to the older 3 coming back from camp and to us being home all together again. However, when they got back, all the bickering & complaining started up again. I asked for prayer to love them & disciple them through this preteen/teenager stage that they're all entering into. I'm so easily disappointed & frustrated by them these days. Maybe part of it is my grief. Maybe my post-partum hormones. I don't know, but I want to enjoy them and not think that things are more peaceful when they're not around.
Things are getting a little easier every day. I've made it my mission to focus on enjoying life again. I can visualize it. I imagine myself walking into a room smiling and light-hearted, hugging people, making jokes, and being interested in what is going on around me.
I am aware of the consequences of not choosing joy. I have read and heard stories of what happens to women when they crumble underneath the weight of grief. The danger is very real and very near at hand.
The danger of bitterness
I've talked to women who have had a very difficult time being around babies after their own have died. I totally get it now. It's insanely hard not to be jealous and feel like it isn't fair. But at the same time, seeing the contrast of death to life makes me marvel all the more at the little baby in front of me who does have life. What a gift life is. I want to enjoy babies. I want to play with them and get a smile out of them. I can't help but think of & miss my Mila whenever I do see a baby, especially a newborn one, but I really really don't want to be bitter toward these precious little ones. This is what the Lord has ordained for my life. So I am choosing contentment.
The danger of depression
I could easily see myself getting depressed over this. I have always been such an active person, but it's such a struggle now to motivate myself to do anything. I'm not interested in the things that were once so fun for me. Even basic things like feeding my kids every day has been a challenge. I don't feel like eating (because I want to lose that baby7 weight), so I don't even think about what to feed the kids. What has helped a lot is to busy myself. Like with our little kids camp: every day had a goal & purpose, even if it was just a simple trip to the grocery store. Also, the practical side of me kicks in. If I get depressed, then I will have to deal with coming out of depression. I don't want more things to deal with and more brokenness to heal from. So I am choosing joy.
The danger of strained relationships
I heard a story of a woman whose baby died in utero, and she was so distraught over it that she never really recovered. It ended up hindering her relationship with the Lord and destroying her marriage. It is so easy to turn away from the Lord and from Aaron and to just hide myself up in all these sad thoughts and feelings. The wondering, the questioning, the "why did this have to happen to me?" plays over and over in my mind. But again, the practical side of me sees the danger of strained relationships with the Lord & with Aaron and doesn't want to deal with the consequences of that. Nothing can separate me from the love of God, not even the pain of death. So I am choosing to stay strong in the Lord and not have my faith shaken.
I've been spending a lot of time listening to uplifting music and encouraging talks while I pump.
I will bless God the Lord at all times - Sons of Korah, Psalm 34
Though You slay me, yet I will praise You - Shane & Shane
Your praise will ever be on my lips - Bethel Music
Desiring God Ministries - talks about grief
Also, some encouraging writings I've been reading:
Elizabeth Elliot - anything by her
And Still She Laughs book
Writing all of this down right here helps. It's almost like it forces me to think things all the way through. It places my mind in the right state & beckons my heart to follow.