Last night, like many nights, my dog stood over my face, crying. She needed to go out and as I stumbled out of bed and opened the sliding glass door, I was greeted with a cool calm breeze and silence. Mind you, it was 4:00 AM and the earth was still. I looked out to my back yard, which faces a busy street and there wasn't a single car driving, a single person moving or a single bird chirping. It was cool, calm and quiet.
I paused and took it in. "This reminds me of something," I thought to myself. And then it hit me.
When you wake up the day following losing a baby (or two in my case), the world stops. It's frozen in time and you feel like you're walking a dark empty road that's cool, calm and quiet. You're alone there. While visions of bodies moving around you come into play, you look and truly, you're the only one standing there in the dark. Alone. And that breeze that greets your face is actually grief swallowing you whole like a gust of wind blowing your hair around and engulfing your entire being. Grief met me like the stillness in the night, cool, calm and quiet. It snuck up on me and I felt like I couldn't escape it.
"Hello," I yelled, wondering if anyone else was awake in the middle of the night. "Can you hear me?" And one by one, I heard their voices in the distance. All soft voices of women, who too were met by grief, feeling alone.
"How do we get out of here," one yelled back?
I glanced around trying to remember the way out, and without hesitation, I looked up. Ah yes, that's the way.
How do we get out of here? Out of the grief and onto the other side? How do we begin to trust Jesus again? How do we actually believe what the word of God says to be true? How do we continue in a world that keeps on moving, when we feel alone in the stillness of night stuck in our grief?
Friends, here me when I say, "Look up." I too was one of the women yelling, "How do we get out of here," and someway, somehow, I heard someone in the distance reminding me to keep my eyes up & soon, He guided my path. At times my path was just like my backyard at 4:00 AM, lonely and still, and others, well those were loud and almost felt as though I was stuck in the middle of a metal concert and the screaming inside was too much to bear.
So when and how did I find myself on the other side, able to blend in with the moving bodies that surrounded me? Well, I don't think I blend too well as much as I once had hoped, but I think I'm finally okay with being new and in my own world. A world that's full of moments kept close to my heart, that I fully embrace, no matter how small. And how did I get here? There are many tools, one being the grace of God, that pushed me to keep my eyes up and heart out, ready to be put back together again.
If you find yourself lacking community, oh sweet friend, please, please, with all your might find one. Whether it be your church, a facebook group, your best friend, small group or whatever it is your heart needs, allow yourself to be surrounded by others so they can lift you up. I found myself stuck with a one-word prayer, "Jesus." I didn't know what to pray anymore because I had prayed so hard and my prayers weren't answered the way I wanted them to be. I was handed two no's when all I longed for was one large yes and two full arms. My community prayed for me when I couldn't. When I questioned God, they poured the truths back into my heart and reminded me who He still was. They allowed me to talk without receiving judgment in return. They allowed me to heal, on my own time, but showed up every step of the way. If you do not have a person, stop what you're doing, right now, email a friend, or heck, email me, and find a safe place to be broken. Find your community.
If you're local, in the Orlando area, here are the two of the programs I swear by:
reGROUP by Summit Church
(I actually want to attend again. There's something about sitting in a circle full of women who are willing to admit their brokenness and need for a savior. There's something about looking straight into her eyes, literally feeling her pain and then thanking her for sharing because her story is your story, her broken heart is your broken heart.)
GriefShare at Northland Church
(This. So much this. This is a place where all those grieving a loved one can walk through each stage of grief together while embracing the memory of their loved one. This was the first group that openly asked for me to share photos of our boys and my heart soared. I was remindedthat our boys lives truly mattered not only to others but God Himself.)
If you're not local and looking for more of an escape but hoping to find God while you're there, I beg you to attend a Pursuit Conference. Majority of my healing took place there. I literally fell to my knees and gave it all away. I looked up.
Not everyone is a writer and that's okay. It doesn't have to sound like a poetic historical collection, but rather writing allows you to spill your heart, for your eyes only, (unless you decided to share) and to go back and see how far you've come. My blog is my journal. When I miss the boys, I go back and read their birth story. When I question how far I've come, I read about my struggles with anxiety and depression and compare it to where I'm at today. My writing has become a timeline for me. A place where I can express my thoughts and see where I started and how far I've come. Take a shot at it. I promise, after spending an hour with those pages you'll feel a ton lighter.
I know what you're thinking. "Jenna, do those actually work?" And with all of my being, I shout, "Yes!" My main struggle during my darkest grief was an anxious heart. I literally felt like my heart was going to race outside of my chest. It left me paralyzed in bed unable to catch my breath most days and confused on the others. I remember I would hold my chest begging God to make it stop. A lot of you don't know this but I experienced this same anxious heart after Cohban. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. Unlike my experience after Cohban, the prescribed medications didn't work with the boys. I tried a few different kinds, and I knew it was time to pull the plug when I found my eyes drifting as I drove my car. It made me sluggish and tired, and I couldn't handle it. Being a mom of two busy kids, I needed my energy and the drug was sucking it out of me. So I declared an end with the drugs and tried a more natural path. Stress Away, Lavender and Lemon were my go-tos. To this day, I lather myself up in Lemon (wrists and behind my ears) to help with any anxiousness I feel. I bought some rollers and rolled Stress Away along my spine and instantly I could feel my mood change. Lavender is what helped me sleep at night. I also stumbled upon Vetiver to help my son focus in school, and before I knew it, I was in need of my own bottle. I rolled this down my spine as well when I needed to focus on emails or long work days. This allowed for grief to co-exist with my normal to-do list without letting me get stuck in the fog.
Young Living Essential Oils
AND SHARING MY STORY.
It felt so lonely keeping my story in and pretending our boys never happened. First and foremost, why would any mother want to do that? Pretend their children never existed? Not a single one I can assure you. Our goals as moms is to brag about our children, show them off to the world, and when you feel like you're being told to stuff in it and pretend it never happened, you'll find yourself yelling, "How do I get out of here?!" Share my friend. Share your heart and share your story. I can assure you there's someone who needs to hear it. She's calling for you, looking for a way out, and maybe, just maybe, your story is the one she needs to hear to remind her the way out is to look up. The road may feel dark, cold and lonely, but listen closely and you'll hear their voices in the distance. We're all searching through the fog, trying to find our way home, trying to find our way to them. Let's guide each other. Let's call out for each other. Let's interrupt the cool, calm and quiet and let's look up. Let's get out of here.