Friday, April 6, 2012

On Open Letter to My Children

Dear Caleb, Hannah, and Luke,

I want to write to you, in hopes that some day you can read this blog and truly know the woman that you call "Mom." I want you to read the good and the bad about my life and learn what it is to truly live, lose, and love.

I want you to know how much I love you and how your three lives have saved mine.

I also want to apologize for these past few years of your life.

Caleb and Hannah- I have needed you. In the early days after Joshua died, you were the very essence of my survival. You were the reasons that I got out of bed every day. You were the reasons that I had to keep going. Without you, I'm not sure that I would even be alive today.

That was and continues to be a huge burden for you to carry. You gave me life, even when I felt like I didn't want it anymore. You gave me joy when so much of my life was filled with sadness. You gave me love when I felt like my heart couldn't possibly keep beating any longer.

Your lives saved mine.

Luke- I didn't know how much I needed you until I knew you were joining our family. I knew that we needed to get back up and try again, but I had no idea how much we needed YOU. Your life has brought new joy to our lives. You have given your brother and sister a chance to be a big brother and sister to you. You have given your daddy a chance to be a daddy again. You have given me a chance at life again. Your smiles and your giggles bring the smallest amount of healing to my broken heart. Your birth was exactly what I needed to feel some normalcy again.

Luke, you are perfect and beautiful and treasured beyond measure. You are our joy in the sadness, our light in the darkness. It's because of you that I can smile again. It's because of you that I can breathe again. It's because of you that I can HOPE again.

But, I want the three of you to know something. You have seen the best and the worst sides of me. You have been with me through 2 very significant losses in my life- first, your brother, and second, your grandpa. You have seen me weep and mourn and you have seen me overwhelmed with joy. You have seen me grieve and you have seen me celebrate. You have seen me live, and you have seen me want to give it all up.

I want you to know how sorry I am for not always being the mother that you need me to be. I want you to know how sorry I am that you have had to see me cry, mourn, and grieve. I'm sorry that you have had to see how difficult life can truly be. It's not fair to you and I'm sorry.

I want to tell you how sorry I am that you have had to carry the burden of my depression and sadness over these past few years. No child should have to comfort their mom as she cries. No child should have to remind their mother that it's ok to cry because she's sad. No child should have to be strong when their mother simply hasn't got the energy to be strong any longer. No child should have to see their mother fall apart time and time again.

I'm so sorry for all that I haven't been to you. I'm so sorry for not being able to care for you the way that you have needed me to. I'm sorry that I have been too completely overwhelmed and exhausted to do anything extra for you or our family. Please, forgive me.

Caleb, Hannah, and Luke, I love you very VERY much. I'm working my hardest to get myself well so I can be the mother that you need me to be. I'm working hard to overcome my grief and be able to live life again, allowing you to simply be children and enjoy life. I'm working hard to restore your childhood.

My prayer for you is that these years will not affect you negatively. My prayer is that these years of struggles will give you compassion, love, and understanding. It is my prayer that these years will soften your hearts and allow you to minister to others. It is my prayer that God will use these years that have been filled with sorrow to somehow bring healing and Hope to others.

I love the 3 of you so very much. I am honored and privileged to call you my children.

Love Always,

Your Mama


Auntie M said...

Oh Jill! Precious, brave, tender, vulnerable, courageous, uncertain woman & mama!

I can see plainly from this letter how much you love your children: all 4 of your precious ones.
I can see that you truly are honored to be their mama and from other blog postings, I'm quite certain they know that, too.

I highly suspect that even though you have grieved in front of them, they don't know how deep or piercing that grief goes.

However, I think that by letting them into your grief, you have given them a gift of love. If you loved Joshua that much, they can be assured of how much you love them.

If you loved your daddy that much, they can be assured of how much you love their daddy and, therefore, them.

By crying in front of them, you gave them permission to cry & grieve in their own ways.

You gave them a gift in allowing them to comfort you~you didn't shut them away or out. You taught them how to comfort one another.

By experiencing joy in the midst of sorrow, you showed them life goes on and hope does come to those who wait.

You didn't sugar-coat this part of their childhood, neither did you paint it with a black brush; you didn't give them too heavy a load to carry. You didn't try to make them grieve just like you did. You didn't tell them how to feel or how to express what they felt~you helped them find the right words for them.

You didn't stifle their joy. You allowed them to dance, create, play, be free, be happy, be sad, be worried, be scared, be lonely, be safe--to be children. Children with honest parents don't have to be scared of the unknown or wonder what may happen next--they aren't in limbo. They are healthy. From how you have described Caleb & Hannah, they sound very healthy.

So, do not feel guilty or ashamed for having been real & for having been There for your children in the midst of it all.

Much, much love to you.
~Mary M

PS~I'm going to FB message you a longer response, hope that's ok. xoxo

Suzanne said...

Auntie M said it perfectly (again). Amen. I have been a teacher of young children for 32 years, and I assure you that children whose parents love honestly and sincerely and who work together - even when it feels all they can do is hang on - always produce strong children. It is not those who have endured tough times, as you have, that are negatively effected. It is the ones whose parents go their self-centered ways trying to be young and cool, or who openly mistreat their children, who worry me. Your children are going to be just fine, Jill.

Anonymous said...

Do you talk to your church members or pastor about your grief and depression? What do they say?

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

Yes, I do. They actually feel that while it is true that I am really struggling, none of what I am going through is completely un-normal or unnatural. I've lost both my son and my dad in a matter of 14 months- it's normal to feel this way.

They also know that I am not suicidal or homicidal and feel that despite the circumstances, I am functioning at an acceptable level. I'm also doing everything I can to get myself to a better emotional place- weekly counseling, medication, and surrounding myself with family and friends who support me and allow me to grieve how I need to grieve.

Part of the downfall of this blog is that you guys only get a small glimpse of my life. Most of what I write here is my way of processing through the sadness, which usually has a depressed or sad tone. You guys don't really get to experience the laughter and joy that I experience on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering, because in my past in the Christian church, if someone was feeling the sadness that you do, they would see it as a lack of faith, and they may feel like it was their Christian duty to tell you that you are in "the wrong" and thus make you (or anyone with depression) feel worse. I have never seen a Christian circle be very supportive of people with such long lasting depression, even if it is grief over a child. (A Christian would be expected to take confort in a belief in heaven, not somuch long lasting grief.) They have not questioned your faith at all? Please be aware, I am not projecting any kind of judgement from beliefs I have but what you would have gone through in the Christian environments I was in.

Anonymous said...

And I admit I am a little jealous. You have a supportive husband and church that I definitely did not have, even though in the end I got beauty for my ashes.

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

I don't feel judgement from you at all. I'm actually glad that you are asking. :o)

I think the people who see sadness and depression as a lack of faith have never truly gone through real trials and pain. Those who condemn people who are struggling don't have a grasp on what true faith really is. They also don't understand what it is to come along side another Christian and walk through the pain and grief with them. I think they also have many insecurities within themselves to have to beat down someone who is struggling all in the name of Jesus. That is not how believers should be.

Pain and struggle is not a lack of faith. Faith is simply believing that God loves you no matter what. Once you become a Christian, life does not automatically become easy. Life still happens and the Christian is not immune to the sufferings of this world.

While it is expected that there is some comfort in knowing that our loved one is in Heaven, we are still human. We still experience human feelings. We will struggle. Sadness is a natural (and healthy) response to loss. Even long term sadness is a completely normal thing. I think our culture has really screwed up the view on grief. The grief we experience from losing a loved one is not something that can be pushed aside and erased. We have to allow ourselves to experience the emotions that comes with grief. We cannot rush through them. They will eventually catch up to us.

There have been some who have questioned my faith. There have been some leaders in previous churches who actually told me that I was not grieving well. But they have never faced the struggles that I have faced. They don't understand what it is like. It's been a long road, but I have found a few good people who are willing to get messy with my struggles and not take my questions as a lack of faith, but rather take my struggles as a learning opportunity for both myself and them. (I hope that made sense...) It's unfortunate that there are some people out there who feel the need to cast judgement on things they don't understand or are afraid of.

I don't claim to have the answers or even be remotely close to right. All I know is that I believe in a God who loves me despite my struggles. I believe in a God who is bigger than death. I believe in a God who can handle my questions of faith, my sadness, my tears, and my harsh words. It's through those things that I can draw close to Him and experience His true love and forgiveness for me.

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

I'm sorry Danielle...that is not right. I'm not sure where I would be without the few who have stepped up and walked through this with me.

It's so easy to cast judgement and point fingers- it's not easy to walk through grief with someone. I'm sorry that was done to you. <3

Chris, Diana, Elena, and Sadie said...

There are functional and dysfunctional forms of grief, that's true. However, I think what many people forget is that separation of body from spirit. Of course, all who have the hope of Jesus Christ know that their loved one's spirit is in heaven. That's worthy of joy. But those who are left behind are grieving the loss of the body. I don't think as a society we acknowledge or give validation to that. Yes, you rejoice that Joshua's and your Dad's spirits are in heaven. But you don't have their bodies, their persons, here anymore. You don't have them to hug, hold, watch grow old. You've lost their physical presence in your life. Grief for that loss is real and should be recognized, because it hurts. It's not selfish or sinful to admit it. I just don't think people understand it. Hope I'm making sense...sometimes it's hard to put into words.

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