Friday, October 4, 2013

Sometimes a Shadow Wins

Right after James' died, I felt buoyed up by prayers and the shock of surprising loss. I thought, hey this isn't so bad, I can totally handle this. Except as time goes on, the reality sets in and that buoy effect happens less often. The thing is, it has to. You have to deal with the reality that all your hopes, dreams, plans, and wishes were quickly swept away. You are left to take a good hard look at your surroundings, at yourself and try to figure out where to go from there. 

I started reading a WONDERFUL book, A Grace Disguised by Gerald Sittser after hearing a quote from the author in a infant loss support group (it was as depressing as it sounds). I picked it up at the library and have had to read it bits at a time because it is SO dead on to how I am feeling. I read a chapter or two and process the clarity he provides. One passage hit me hard, he describes a dream where he is chasing the setting sun, desperate to stay in the light but inevitably twilight comes and he is terrified by the darkness. He knew he would be, he knew that he would feel like he was in darkness forever, "I felt absolute terror in my soul" (Sittser 33). He talks it over with his cousin and sister and they provide crucial insight, 
   "Later my sister, Diane, told me that the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.
    I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best I could. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it" (33-34). 
I mulled over this idea and realized I had to do the same. I often told Kyle that I felt like grief was chasing me and I was stumbling, trying to escape it's grasp. I would fake cheerfulness and smiles to avoid facing the reality that my baby died, inside me.

Well as soon as I decided to really accept the darkness, it came. It is as dark as I imagined. I would fall apart at seemingly trivial things and I would emotionally check out. As I would check out, my mind would race over who I was and what I was doing. In the darkness, I confronted the very worst in myself. I felt guilt and above all total selfishness. Anger for my own selfishness and fear crushed me. I felt as if I could never be good and therefore I could never be happy again, it was complete depression. Kyle would leave and take Max to the park and I would burst with tears and shake and pray that someone would ring the doorbell and come to my rescue. In my darkest moments I would think that everyone would pretty much be better off without me. Not in the sense of ending my life, but in the sense that the worst parts of me brought misery to everyone else and I should leave to prevent more harm. As I struggled to pray, these thoughts would overwhelm me and I would think, Why is no one here? Why am I alone in this? But truthfully I had to be. For when you are truly alone and no one is physically there to scoop you up and rub your back, that is when the Savior enters.

I have heard it described by some as a "swooping in" feeling. But for me it was merely a small positive reassurance. I was not lost beyond repair. As soon as I held onto that morsel of truth, more truth would come.  My selfishness is my weakness, but that weakness could be made a strength. I could be happy again. Slowly the light would come and I could get my bearings again. I could palpably see and THINK truth.

The darkness must come, it is necessary to enter it when accepting grief. But in darkness, you cannot truly see. So you grasp what is handed to you, and much of that are lies in the form of twisted truths from Satan. Of course I have selfish tendencies, but in darkness that was all I was given for awhile and so I thought that was all I was. It is terrifying to examine oneself so drastically but even when in complete darkness, you cannot stop praying for light. I truly thought it would never come, that I was set up for complete misery forever. It can come, ever so slowly, but you must let it in.You must not let go of that small shred of hope that if others are happy, you can be as well.

Now, I don't write this to cause alarm or worry. I write because I need to be heard. I need others to know that this is indescribably hard. I need others to know that I am not always as cheerful as I look.

During the buoy period I told others that I would let them know when I needed help. But I didn't realize that when you need it most you are paralyzed to ask because you don't know what you need. It is a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. So of course I need help, but please don't ask what I need, because I don't know.

So here I am. Letting you really know how I am, where I am. Sometimes a shadow wins. But, you only notice the shadow when there is light to create it; I am so grateful for that light.


  1. Hi Gina, I wanted you to know that I think of you, James, Kyle and Max very often and I have been praying for comfort and the strength for you. I will continue my prayers and send love to your family. xoxo

  2. Gina I don't know you, but I lost my son in June at 37 weeks. I feel like you can put into words all of the things I'm feeling and going through. You help me realize I'm not alone in this experience and I'm so grateful to you for that.

  3. You (and Kyle, Max and James) are not forgotten in our prayers each night. We love you. I'm so sorry. I wish there was something I could say, but I think you are right when you say that you have to let the Savior swoop in because he is the best type of healing there is. I am truly sorry for everything you are feeling - we really do think and pray for you everyday.

  4. Gina, I can not even begin to imagine the pain you bear. I have not had a child let alone lost one. At times I feel I grieve a lost child as I was not able to have one. Just like in other things in life you are never alone in the dark. There are not monsters there, but sometimes those moments when we have the quiet to escape from the noise and distractions of life we find out who we really are there in the dark. My darkness comes for other reasons but my heart feels a kinship with you. If I were closer I would come to your door, and no mater how ugly it seems, just be there with you. Love to you and your family and prayers that peace will come at those times it is most needed. - Lisa

  5. My family and I still pray (out loud) often for you and your healing through this process. Sending love and hope your way.