Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Choosing joy: after loss.

  Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day, and it got me thinking I should write about post about how I worked at choosing joy after our miscarriage. {Read that story here
   I should start by saying it was really difficult. I think any grief is difficult to wade through, and for me, miscarriage was especially hard. Sometimes it seemed silly to feel so sad about losing someone I had never even met. I had never really experienced anyone openly grieving for a miscarriage before, yet I knew lots of people that had had them. But they seemed to move on just fine. It wasn't that easy for me.
  In the first few weeks after the miscarriage, I cried pretty much every day. Mostly in my car and at night- the two times my mind had a chance to rest on the loss. It might sound crazy to you, but I think that is the first way that I chose joy after my miscarriage. Joy often gets confused with smiling and laughing and optimism. Know what I think? I think joy can definitely be found in real, gut wrenching mourning. My tears weren't for wishing my baby back. They were prayerful tears of God this hurts so bad and I miss my baby I never knew so much, yet I'm so glad your'e holding me so tightly right now. I gave myself time to cry and be really honest with God and let him scoop me up in the midst of it. Eventually, I cried less. But kept praying. For peace and comfort and patience and hope and for joy. 
  I'd be lying if I said the heartache stopped when the crying did. I'm not sure that scar will ever really go away, you know? But life goes on. It has to. So, I had to do some tangible things to keep choosing joy and not be overcome by grief. So I quit my job. I know its dramatic and I'm not saying anyone who feels less-than in the joy department should do it. But for me, it was what I needed. The day after we found out our baby was gone, I sat across from a mom at my job who said she didn't care if she ever saw her baby again. Yeah. Clearly, that was not a place I could find healing in. I talked to my boss, who was so supportive and caring, and I moved on to another, less stressful job. I struggled with feeling like a flake (I'd only been at the other job for a few months) and a bit like a failure (the job I moved on to didn't use my brand new degree at all). But I prayed a lot and kept hearing God say choose me, choose joy. 
  Around the same time I changed jobs, we took a vacation with friends. It did a world of good. Intentional relationships have always been important to me, but they took on a whole new light when I was healing. It was really hard for me to talk to people about the miscarriage at first. Because, would they think I just need to let it go? It's not a big deal? Stop talking about it already? Maybe some did/do feel that way. But for the most part, friends were a huge part in my healing. Especially on that vacation. I'm a firm believer in good friends and good wine as a balm for the soul. And if there is a beach involved, even better. 
  The last thing I did to purposefully choose joy after our miscarriage was busy myself. Not in a distraction type of way, but in a fake it til you make it kind of way. We joined a small group at our new church, I made new friends at my new job, I joined a local non-profit committee, I started a book club with friends, I joined a cooking club, I had lots of wine and girls' nights, I invested in my new niece and nephew. Somewhere in the last few years, I've switched from an extrovert to an introvert. That can be a slippery slope when grief is involved. I rarely felt like getting out and being social because I genuinely prefer quiet nights at home. But I needed to be out and doing. I still do. And those nights spent over glasses of wine {I promise there isn't always wine involved} and Sundays sharing meals with good friends were so good for me. Those are the things that helped me find and choose the laughter, smile on your face kind of joy. 
  When you add up all those intentional things, that really were strung together by lots of prayer and time spent in the Bible, joy is the result. The thing they all have in common is that they forced me to remember that I am not defined by my situation. My situation was miscarriage. My definition was grace and hope and love. And joy in the ways God has and continues to bless me. But most of all, joy in the truth that I am a daughter of the King. And one day, one day I won't have that scar of miscarriage any more. And you won't have any of your scars from whatever situations you've found yourself in before or find yourself in this very moment. I don't celebrate because today is good. I celebrate and have joy because one day, all will be good. 

The Whole series:
Day 2. Let's chat. 
Day 3. Nouwen's words. 
Day 4. A choice. 
Day 5. A picture. 
Day 6. A quote
Day 7. In marriage.
Day 8. Fake it.  
Day 9. A song
Day 10. Zucchini bread
Day 11. Best of my days.
Day 12. A picture. {2}
Day 13. A quote. {2}
Day 14. Priorities
Day 15. A book.  
Day 16. After loss


Mary Nevin said...

what a beautiful post, i love this series but this one may be my favorite. your grace, strength and authenticity are so inspiring. i'm so glad you chose joy and thank you for reminding me why that's so important!

LaLa said...

Thank you for sharing, and I understand. Your not alone in grieving so hard for a life you did not get to know. I think it is great that you chose joy even on the hard days, it is not easy. My heart still hurts, I'm with you I do not believe that scar goes away, just with time we can deal with it better. Just so you know, your not alone in this grief. Hugs

Holly Osbeck said...

Truly beautiful. I love how the Lord met you when you kept choosing joy. Love that He reminds us that our worth is found in Him, and not in what we do (or don't do). I need that reminder daily. Thank you for being vulnerable!

Amanda said...

This post is amazing, beautiful, & one of my favorites I've ever read from you. It's written so beautifully. Yet raw. Thanks for all the reminders :)

Jamie said...

What a beautiful post. You're a seriously strong woman and I think you're amazing for being able to write about such a painful topic. Thank you for being open and for providing some insight. Btw, I love that you equated God with Joy. :)

stacey said...

Inspired by you and your beautiful heart. The last line is my favorite. One day it all will be well. .. and you're right, what a reason to celebrate! Thanks for sharing.