Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grieving Over Loss - Life and Expectations

Grief is a strange thing. It never really goes away but it matures. In the beginning, things might seem unreal. Perhaps you haven't truly accepted this new life you will be living. Perhaps you are in a fog.

When I talk about grief it might be different than your grief. My grief is not over loss of life. My grief is over lost expectations. That might sound shallow compared to a loss of life, but those who have a child with special needs or have gone through another trial related to hope being deferred in this way, understand that it truly does as the Psalmist said, "make the heart sick." (Proverbs 13:12)

The grief of being pregnant and finding out that your child has a medical condition that will render them disabled or severely developmentally delayed is difficult to experience. It is not for me to compare it to the loss of a loved one or child, because I only have my perspective on it. I do believe there is a grieving process involved in both cases.

For me, it all came gradually. It began with the initial thought that his brain and kidneys might have issues. Then it was his heart. Then he was born, and his heart was worse than originally thought, his brain was okay, and his kidneys were okay. His hearing wasn't. We were told he was blind as well. He couldn't swallow, so he needed to be tube fed. I dreaded the rounds at the hospital to the point of no longer wanting to be there for them. 6 weeks after he was born, we brought him home.

At that point, I don't think I had really grieved over my expectations. I think my grief built up over that first year. There were times when things were going okay. There were scares during the first year. I really tried to stay positive to people and not talk about the hard times. I came to a point though where I realized I needed to share. I needed an outlet, and that was when this blog began. Sometimes my grief is most prominent when I feel sleep-deprived. Sometimes it is when I go on Facebook and see kids his age and all the things they are doing. There are moments of grief, but then there are moments of joy. That's the way grief is. As it matures, there are more and more moments of thankfulness and joy that were not there in those first days. There is hope even in knowing he may never do what others can do. He can do what he can do.

God is very important for grief. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:3-6, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. " I can't even imagine the grief of God as He sent His Son down to our filthy earth to be born but to ultimately die for our sins. He knows all about grief.

Through my grieving process, I have learned something important about God's grace and His mercy. I've talked about it in other posts, but it was mind-changing for me. In the early days of Trenton's abdominal migraines, they were a mystery. We couldn't figure out why he would be lethargic for a week at a time and vomit. We figured what most parents would figure that it was the flu or some other normal sickness. During those weeks we were beyond frustrated. I found myself often being angry with God and my grief was high. Before bed, I would beg for a full night of sleep without him gagging. The threat of aspiration was a major concern. Hebrews 4:16 was the mind-changing verse for me, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." I realized something through this verse. We need to pray for mercy and find the grace that he has already given. We need to pray for the mercy that we don't deserve. I didn't deserve a normal baby. Nothing good in me made me worthy of a perfectly healthy child. God promised me that the grace would be there, so in those most difficult days thus far, I often prayed for God to be merciful and was willing to accept his grace if He chose not to be merciful. There was a reason for that difficult time, but I know it was for a reason. He has mercifully taken away the migraines.

Whether you are grieving over a lost loved one or grieving over lost expectations, God offers grace to make it through the early grieving process, and you will be amazed at how it changes and becomes something better. Let God be your stronghold in the time of trouble and be prepared for the attacks of Satan. He will use grief to make you angry with God, and it will creep up when you think your grief is fully matured. 

Don't be afraid to share your grief. Nothing turns to anger and bitterness faster than grief that is held in and bottled up.

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