Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grieve and Give Grace: A Family Member's Perspective

I am feeling a tad out of place writing a post to you. Reason number one is because I am not a blogger. Most importantly, reason number two is because I have, thankfully, never suffered the pain of losing a baby. I just can’t relate to you in that way. But I can sympathize. And cry… boy, could I cry with you! I have had a lot of experience just crying because tears seemed more appropriate than words when I grieved the loss of my nephew.

You have probably figured out by now that Hudson’s Bands of Hope creator, Misty, isn’t the author of this post, and for a good reason!  She welcomed her beautiful rainbow baby, Ruby Madison, into the world this past Friday morning. January 17th that is. Don’t forget that date. It is an important one and if you keep reading I will explain why.
My name is Christy. Yes, our names rhyme because we are identical twin sisters. Being twins, as adults, has been wonderful. As kids and even teenagers we would have told you that we couldn’t stand one another. Honestly we were too much alike to get along. But now we know how very similar we are to each other and we embrace it. Maybe even a little too much. Having a twin is like having a built-in best friend. You don’t have to search, she is just right there. It is great.

When we realized back in August of 2012 that we were going to be pregnant at the same time, with Misty being only 9 weeks ahead of me, we were ecstatic! Being twins had just got even greater!  It was her second, my third, but the first pregnancy to be shared at the same time. We laughed as we considered the attention we would receive from strangers as we would both be waddling around with big round bellies soon enough, especially since we looked so much alike anyway.
Laughter came to a screeching halt though, the day we learned that Misty’s pregnancy was over. Just like that. No warnings, no explanations, just done. And then this whole twin, sister, best friend thing changed. Suddenly we couldn’t talk like we used to. My pregnancy that was going strong became more of a secret guilt than an exciting adventure. Misty was devastated and I was devastated for her! Grief and guilt consumed me. Even when she assured me I should still celebrate my baby I just couldn’t figure out how. I wanted to help take Misty’s pain away so badly. I wanted to ease the ache more than anything, but it was out of my control. The only thing I could control was myself, so that is exactly what I did.

I hope you don’t think am I trying to paint some pitiful, sad story for myself. I say these things because Misty has asked me to write something in her place and because after praying for direction these are the words my fingers found themselves typing. I believe that every unborn baby has family members here on earth who love them and love their mommies the same. But they don’t all know how to cope, what to say and what not to say. It’s awkward. It’s painful! To you, mom: know they care. Know that they want to fix your pain. Some may not seem to care in the least and others may try too hard to fix the “problem” and in the end, step on your toes. Extend your loved ones some grace. We care and we hurt with you but we can’t know all the right things to say and all the things not to say.
To the grieving family members: you can’t fix this! You can’t control the situation, control yourself instead. Extend grace to that hurting momma you care so much about. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to grieve. Just let her grieve. In fact, follow her lead and grieve right along with her. If she wants some alone time, give it to her. If she wants someone to talk to, just listen. If she doesn’t want to cry alone, cry with her.  Try not to push your form of grief on her. Understand that you can’t understand her suffering, don’t even try to.  And maybe the most significant thing is: don’t forget! Remember that sweet little baby with her.

I wish I could tell you that I have done and said all the right things but I haven’t. There were and still are plenty of times where I lodge my foot straight into my mouth and pray Misty didn’t hear my thoughtless remark. I am human and Misty knows that. She has extended me grace in those situations that she could have taken serious offense. Likewise, I have extended her grace in times I could have chosen to be offended.
Here’s the thing, the grief of a mother is powerful. I only know this by watching my sister endure it. I see now the importance of Misty being allowed to grieve Hudson in the way that felt right to her. What if her husband and family hindered her grief instead of allowed it? What if she was never able to reach the stage in grieving that caused her to want to help others who suffered from the same pain she had? Perhaps Hudson’s Bands of Hope never would have existed.

So, why did I want you to remember that Ruby was born on January 17th? Because it was the same day that Hudson’s Bands of Hope was born, just one year prior. Happy Birthday Hudson’s Bands of Hope and Happy Birthday baby Ruby!
Your grief can give birth to beautiful things mom, so grieve and give grace!