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Hurting, yet healing

As a trained counselor, we discuss grief in grad school. I went to Professional Development with the topic of “grief” and even experienced a student dying at one of the schools I worked at. NOTHING can prepare you for losing your own child. In my opinion, there is no amount of schooling or knowledge that can possibly and completely prepare you for burying your baby. It is imperative to take care of yourself and be patient as you walk through grief. I would encourage anyone who works in the field of mental health to not let their ego get in the way of expressing feelings and working through the wide range of emotions that come with grief. We all grieve differently and there is no timeline. You can read those words and think that “sounds about right”, but when you experience first hand losing someone you longed for very much and love with all your being, it takes things to a whole new level. My husband and I got pregnant in 2019 after trying for an entire year. We were so excited to find out that we were having a boy! I prayed every day during that pregnancy for a safe and healthy baby: “Lord, just keep Drayke safe and healthy.” I’m not sure why I prayed that, but I did. The pregnancy with our Drayke Hunter was good too. I was sick in the first trimester (same with our firstborn). Once I hit that second trimester, things were so much better. I did develop a rash, but after using some cream it went away. There were no red flags, no doctors had/shared concern, and we were rocking and rolling for our sweet baby boy to come in January 2021. It was Friday November 13, 2020 when I didn’t feel Drayke move; I was almost 29 weeks pregnant and he was suddenly stillborn. “Do not judge the grieving mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS but she is not, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”- author unknown Reading and journaling really helped me after losing Drayke. I stumbled upon Lysa TerKeurst and realized just how amazing of an author she is. I think her book, “It's not supposed to be this way”, helped me the most actually: “When His timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention seems hurtful, and His promises seem doubtful, I get afraid. I get confused. And left alone with those feelings, I can't help but feel disappointment that God isn’t doing what I assume a good God should do. There isn’t any timing that seems like the right thing to be shattered into dust. There isn’t any plan God could present where I would willingly agree to be broken into un-glueable pieces. If I want His promises, I have to trust His process.” “God sees things we can’t see. He knows things we don’t know. Lord, because You know all things, I can rest safely in the knowledge that I don’t have to know everything.” “Trying to maintain control in my situation makes me feel like I’m trusting God when, in reality, I’m just counting on Him to the level that He comes through for me. Having faith doesn’t mean we have all the answers, it means trusting God especially in the midst of uncertainty.” “When we are going through a season that requires us to be long suffering, it is easy to get into this pattern of expecting the next bad thing rather than looking for the next good thing. How do we begin seeing hope again? I’m discovering that when the possibility of hope is what I want to look for, hope is what I will see. When I start to notice it, that noticing has a multiplying effect. Joy, hope, and peace are around us. They are God’s gift to us. Let's look for them, friends. Let’s ask Him to help us recognize them with great intentionality today.” This screams mindset and perspective to me which is something I really chose to work on the year after losing Drayke. I really appreciated a post from Lysa that was so real. She said, “I think we all want to be able to say just the right thing to a friend who is hurting. But I also think we have to be careful about offering packaged Christian answers. Those that tie everything up in a nice, neat bow and make life a little too tidy. Because there just isn’t anything tidy about something awful and sad and so incredibly evil things that happen in our broken world. This is why we must, must, must let God direct us. In His time. In His way. In His love. When things are awful, perhaps we should just say, “This is awful.” When things don’t make sense, we can’t shy away from simply saying, “This doesn’t make sense.” Because there is a difference between a wrong word at the wrong time and a right word at the right time. Yes, there is a place for a solid Christian answer from well-intentioned friends. Absolutely. But then there’s also a place to weep with a hurting friend from the depths of your soul. A time when there really aren’t any words that can help the pain. God, help us to know the difference.” FALSE statements that I want bring attention to:

“God gives his toughest battles to the strongest soldiers”. I don’t believe this statement. “God did this to teach me a lesson… this happened for a reason.” I don’t believe this. Sometimes bad things just happen. It is our perspective on the matter.Recognize that some things happen for NO REASON. I have to tell myself, “It still doesn’t make sense. I would really like an answer but I’m ok with not knowing. Instead of asking why?? What's the reason? Ask how I can use this hardship to bring glory to God? Hebrews 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31 talk about it. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I don’t believe this. The Bible doesn’t address it. I know that God is always with me and can help me through tough times. “I can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies… that doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies”. - The character of God from the amazing movie, “The Shack.” I had to learn to give myself grace and others grace throughout this grieving process. Pg 162 in “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” says, “The ability to forgive and love are weapons God has given us to enable us to live fully, bravely, and meaningfully in this less than perfect world.” This is a good reminder. This quote is so true and has grace written all over it: “They don’t understand our pain because their world didn't stop when ours did.” Approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:12-16 says, “Look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” The what ifs and whys will eat you alive. I struggled with these questions for a solid three months after losing Drayke. I SLOWLY realized this was going to get me nowhere. Instead I tried to cling to what I KNEW was true. This is what I know. I know that God is our ever present help- His hand is reaching out to us always… we should grab it! Do you feel like something is too much? Reach for Him. You have to actively search/work but believe me HE is always there. Just take hold of a finger if you can’t reach his hand yet... Colossians 4:2 is easy to understand, “Devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.” Pour out your heart to God. Lay concerns at his feet and then stand up even if you quiver and grab ahold of God's outstretched hand! I have this image of God. The Father is hand in hand with me as a nervous child. He comforts and reassures me with His presence and love. This imagery really helped me… I can’t lie and say I haven’t experienced anger through this process. Man, I get upset sometimes. Especially towards people who have kids and treat them poorly, or don’t care for them/love them… It has always been sad to me but now it feels personal. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we would be great parents and there's people out there having kids left and right who don’t truly care for their kids. It makes me mad… why?? Fear is usually masked behind anger, right? Well, I felt so much anxiety and fear especially because we got pregnant six months after losing Drayke and had an early miscarriage. How much do you try to control?! I remember being at such a loss because there were so many people praying for us after losing Drayke and knowing we were pregnant again. I just didn’t understand and felt at my lowest. “Relax in my healing presence” I can hear God say…. TRUST ME (the phrase that came to me several times when I was pregnant after Drayke. It hit me like a ton of bricks… never experienced anything like that before. I would get anxious and hear these two words). I know God speaks of “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. I would love to feel refreshed and renewed. God is before me and alongside me. I know I will have trials and distress…. But God says you can rest in my presence… my peaceful presence. Through this grief journey I have also learned that joy and sorrow can mix. There was a lot of sorrow in the beginning. I was mad. I was jealous. Thank the good Lord that my heart softened, and I healed so I could love on my nephew who was only two months younger than my Drayke would have been. I love him so much. I hope we always have a special relationship. Every time I’m around him I think about what my sweet boy would be doing right now if he had lived. The light of God can be shown to bless others: giving to others is my way of mothering Drayke this side of heaven. I have found so much hope in helping other mamas. John 16:33 assures us that we are ok because Jesus overcame the world so I can overcome and move forward with my trials, hardships, and grief, because Jesus gets it!! “Healing is weird- some days you are okay and you are doing just fine. Other days it still hurts like it’s fresh. It’s a process with no definitive time frame. You just have to keep going and know that when all is said and done, you’re going to be okay”. - Unknown author

Allyson Dodds, M.S., MAT

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