Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Cloud

Sometimes I feel like a black cloud. Everyone knows I'm there, but no one knows what to say or how to act. There are a few brave souls who really take me on, but for the most part, conversations are shallow, frustrating, and sometimes fake.

Do you remember this post? I wrote it just 6 days after Joshua died. I'm not sure if many people read it.

I want to add to that post. I want to tell you exactly what I need (this will apply to Shane, Caleb and Hannah as well). I don't expect everyone to go along with this, but if you are unsure of what to say or do, this post is for you.

1. Remember the 16th (his birthday) and the 6th (his death). Those days are exceptionally hard for me. I relive the joy of delivering Joshua, I relive the hope and fear that his birth brought. I remember the complete devastation of his death. I try to remember the way he felt, the sounds he made, and the way he smelled. Please don't hesitate to tell me that you are thinking of him on either of those days. My biggest fear is that he will be forgotten. It also helps to know that others are thinking of him and of us on our hardest days of the month- if you are, tell us!

2. If you ask me how I'm doing, expect the good and bad. The hardest question for me is when people ask how I'm doing. I never know what to say. Do they want the real answer? Do they want to talk, or are they being formal and just asking without really wanting to know? What will they do if I say I'm having a rough morning? Just know, that if you ask that question, you may not get "I'm doing alright." Help me carry this burden by listening.

3. If I say I'm alright, that doesn't mean I've gotten over his death. If I say I'm doing alright, that probably means for that moment, or that day. There are some days that are worse than others- those days come for no apparent reason and as time goes on, the bad days are REALLY bad.

4. If I'm crying in worship, the best thing you can do is leave me alone. Usually I get extremely emotional when I'm worshipping or praying. There is a literal battle going on in my heart and in my mind. God and I are going at it, and I'm trying to get back to the point of surrender. If I'm sobbing and snotting all over the place, feel free to give me a tissue, but don't feel like you have to come and hug me. The biggest thing I need at that point is your prayer. After the service, feel free to hug me all you want. That is usually when I feel the most awkward- when people can tell I've been crying because of the tear stained cheeks and puffy eyes but don't know what to do.

5. Do not simply ignore that fact that Joshua is gone. He is still part of our family. Even though he's not here, he still has a place in our family. It helps my healing when you bring up his name. It calms my heart when you hug me silently without saying a word. To know that you are praying is huge. Don't act like he didn't exist- that is the worst thing possible.

6. Listen to Caleb and Hannah when they talk about Joshua. Caleb and Hannah have been hit hard by Joshua's death. They know that he had a broken heart. They saw him connected to tubes, wires, and machines. They saw him with his chest open. They saw him in the casket. They felt his cold skin after he died. They saw their mommy and daddy wailing. They have comforted us when we have been able to do nothing but cry. If they talk about their baby brother being dead, talk to them about it.


Anonymous said...

June 30th. July 5th. My sons birthday/deathday & burial day. It's been 22yrs. I always remember. I still have bad days. I will not be so bold to lie and say the pain goes away, because a moms heart that is broken from the death of a child is truly never pain free. What I can say is this...for me...i know that my Nicholas is pain free. I WILL see him again. He loves me. God loves me.
Joshua is pain free. You will see him again. Joshua loves you. God does indeed love you.
Joshua loves you for all you did for him. He will see you again. But don't disappoint him by giving up. Cry. Love. Laugh. Grieve. But most of all LIVE.
Sorry. I rambled.

Erin said...

I cannot relate to your pain. But I can tell from someone who never knows what to do or what to say in these situations...I appreciate your honesty and guidance. It really helps those of us who want to help but don't know how!!

I continue to pray for you and your family!!

nicugradsmom said...

I can never begin to tell you how much you and Joshua have touched my life and heart. I can never begin to feel the pain and anguish you and Shane have endured. While we came so close to that point, I thank God that he allowed Joseph to survive his hard fight. Sometimes I wonder why us...Why not all the other parents? But then I remember as you know very well, God is in control. Where He leads we will follow. I often wish so much that I would have held him that day you offered, but I wanted to protect him from anyone who I had come in contact with that day. I am so glad you offered I just wish I would have asked for a yellow gown.....
I wanted to let you know I have been thinking very hard about my job. And I think that God is pulling me in a direction that He thinks I should go. I am being "pulled" toward the pediatric cardiology field. I am sure Joseph has something to do with it but I think Joshua is also pushing me that way....Our boys ♥
Just know you are in my thoughts often and Joshua is forever in my heart....
Much Love and Hugs,

Angela said...

Good for you Jill :)

I found for a long time that going to church was very hard. I think it was a mixture of feelings. Hearing children sing makes me think of Hazel in heaven singing to our Savior. Hearing God's words for me filled me with a deep comfort and knowledge that my daughter is waiting in a place prepared for her and for me. I cannot wait to go there. Many days I wish I was there already! I, like you, have never felt mad or angry with God. But I have sobbed countless times, "I just don't understand." It is frustration with the "why" that often makes me angry.

Be patient with your heart. It is wonderful to share your journey and read the inspiring words of true faith. Faith that knows it is okay to question God because He can handle it. Faith that knows even when we don't want to go on, God will carry the burden for us. How great is his forgiveness and love! Rest in Him dear sister in Christ.


baby foot fluff said...

jill, joshua died on my 35th birthday. i will never forget him. every year i will celebrate his life when i celebrate my own. love to you, tara

Anonymous said...

The 13th and the 11th, Michael's birthday and heaven dates. I'll never forget those days.
I don't have much to say, but that I understand how you feel, and can relate.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, every time I remember my son, I remember yours.

When people meet us for the first time, they ask when we'll have children, as he was our only. Half the time, I don't respond to that question.

People that do know us and knew Michael, don't speak of him. Half the time, he seems like a beautiful dream to me.

<3 Peg

Beckytwogirls said...

I saw your tweet today about the babies in the grocery store. I like to think of those instances as times that a lost one is speaking to me. Maybe seeing those little guys was Joshua's way of saying "Hi Mama". Kudos on your potty training success too! I'm glad to see that you had a sparkle of light today.

Carolina Carters said...

Hugs and prayers....and remembering Joshua!

Charley said...

Keep on fighting for your family!

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I had this big comment all typed out. I backspaced all the way back up here because it really only takes a few simple words. Jill, I think a lot of us feel so very UNWORTHY of life. I think a lot of us have a huge amount of GUILT.
As much as I am thankful for our healthy kids, I am also feeling terrible that you, Shane, Caleb and Hannah lost Joshua. It may just be me, but I don't feel like I even have the right to complain anymore.
I don't think anyone will ever forget Joshua. It's just that we can't even imagine the pain. So, we fear that we may cause more. If that makes sence. I am glad that you posted this, because it does let people know that you need us all to not worry about hurting you, but instead help you grieve and remember your sweet baby boy. I have told you the good things that Joshua's life has done for us over here, but I should of also told you how bad we hurt for you over here too. You don't seem like the black cloud Jill, I think some of us feel like the black cloud. Prayers are always being sent up for you and your family!
Love in Jesus, Tanya

Anonymous said...

Love you! You know I am ready to listen any time you want to vent. Burson <3

Anonymous said...

I've been taught since I was little (waayy back when) that you should just leave grieving ppl alone and let them deal with his/her feelings.

After loosing my grandfather 5 years ago this year, I can say that the more you speak about the hurt, happiness, sadness, mixed emotions ect the better you feel to get it out (in my own personal experience).
Keep on doing what works best for you, bravo to you for being able to let the world know how you feel and how you would prefer to be approaced:)

Anonymous said...

12/3 and 3/13 the first is the day my daughter came into the world and left it ... the second is her due date! I celebrate both because I can't imagine not remembering those dates for the rest of my life, I can't remember not thinking of her, and I can't imagine a world without her though my reality is that! She had CHD as well and did not have the chance to fight, she was born to a mother with CHD who's body wasn't strong enough to keep her healthy! I don't know exactly how you feel but I know how I feel and it's very similar to what you have posted. I tried to talk about her with my friend, show them her photos, her baby book, her room, her everything and it felt unwanted, unwarrented, and like something that should be kept to myself! I'm sorry you sometimes might feel the same way, I know how hard and hurtful that is. I have always cried during worship as well, at first it was because I was alive to worship and now it is because she's not there to worship with me. I pray for you all the time, think of Joshua daily and want you to know I would always be willing to hear the good, bad, and ugly with you. I just don't know how to reach out because I don't want to "bother" you or make you feel like a response is something you have to do, I lost my daughter almost a year ago and I know how hard it was at first for me. Just getting out of bed seemed like too much effort, eating food seemed unfair to her, and talking or laughing seemed like I was forgetting her! I haven't moved on and I won't and I know that. This is a club no one wants a membership to but I can pray that some way or somehow we can connect and be supportive and respectful to eachother. Grief is a process and I don't know if I'll ever move on the next stage or if they even truly apply when you lose your child. I can only pray for you, and your family. Thank you so much for posting this!!

Stephanie, Daughter of the Risen King said...

Unimaginable loss. I try to relate but mostly now I am able to just thank God that I will hopefully never have to experience anything close to your family's loss. May He give me what it takes to be a great friend and superior listener. I have expressed so many times before the numerous ways in which Joshua's life impacted mine and changed me in ways that can only be from Christ Jesus. Grieving with your family has brought growth that I can't begin to get my arms around, it has yet to cease.

I am still at odds over the fact that people have asked me why I took Gabriella to Indiana for Joshua's funeral. It is hard for me to understand what could drive that question. I get lost trying to figure it out. Why not? She knew him and loved him too. She read your blog and texts over my shoulder. We share in his life. When I picked her up from school, that was topic #1 for the almost 8 weeks that he was with us. Since we lost him, I would guess that Joshua's name comes up more. In most conversations about heaven, HLHS, hospitals, and death too, his name comes up. Children are curious. Since my child is a Christian it is all relevant, in my mind, including his funeral. She knows that Joshua had a body. She also knows that he HAS a soul. Joshua is still impacting our lives, present tense. She is learning and growing too. I think that she assumes that if I shed a tear I am grieving with you for him. I think she is probably thinking about Joshua if I cry. I don't hid things from my child, is that what some people may have expected? I am not sure.

I can only wonder about Hannah and Caleb's thoughts. I wonder what life looks like for them. What do they see? How this will shape their lives? I feel strongly that they will be strong, caring, loving, compassionate followers of Christ, that they will love everyone and be so considerate of others and what their unknown circumstances could be like. I take comfort that God uses ALL things for good for those who believe.

I treasure the photo that I have of Caleb at Joshua's funeral. He is holding Joshua's photo. He told everyone "This is my Brother Joshua".

That photo is still very tender, raw, real. I thank God that we have it. It invokes pain not yet processed for me.

Hope this makes sense. I am not the master of words, a quality that I so admire. If I add a moment of emotion, my writing turns into 2nd grade. How do you write through emotion? You are probably hiding 14 english and literature degrees from me.

Josefina said...

Jill, you and I don't interact in person, but thank you. You are gracious to share this. I am still praying for comfort for you and your family. I love to look at pictures of Joshua--such a precious little guy. Thinking of you today.

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