Friday, January 24, 2014

Mama's Heart Updates ~ 1/24/14

So, I figured I'd jot down how I've been doing lately.  I view this blog as sometimes writing to readers, but most times as a way to record my memories, special moments, and phases of this wretched grief process so that I can always look back on where I've been.

To put it plainly:  I do not enjoy blogging right now, though.  Still.

I have turned very inward.  Mostly because I feel the same…yet, maybe a bit darker even.  I think "depressed" could be an accurate term for me.  Though, you probably wouldn't know it if you saw me.  I am not typically a "woe is me" type of person.  This is the place where I spill my woes…and I even avoid it on here lately.

My anxiety keeps me home and unsocialized…as does the fear of this horrid flu that is going around.  "Knock on wood" we have not caught it yet.  I am very diligent and proactive about immune system building.  But, as you know, we have EVERY reason in the world to fear the flu virus.  I have read that there have been 7 deaths from this flu in just the Portland area!  Wow.  I have not been able to find any information on whether myocarditis was documented, but I highly suspect that it had to be the cause of at least some of the deaths.  Horrible.

When people ask me how I am I say that I am "surviving".  It's the best I can say.  It's the best I can do. Ivy distracts me enough during the "on" hours of the day when she is awake.  While I am with her I do not have the opportunity to dwell on my darkness…which is good.  I muster fake smiles when out in public.  When Ivy naps or goes to bed I overstimulate my mind with the computer (Pinterest or Facebook or research or blogs) along with some stupid show in the background.  I used to love to read. I hate it now.  Too much opportunity for my mind to wander to dark things.  I struggle to get to sleep at night.  I will lay in bed for up to an hour playing a mindless game on my phone until my eyes can no longer stay open.  It is the only way I can fall asleep.  If I just lay there, I will be haunted by recurring images of that nightmare of a morning…the last one I spent with my Precious Vienne.  And, that will lead me into a downward spiral of bad thoughts.  I can't let myself go there.

I am still struggling spiritually.  Actually, to put it more accurately - I am avoiding almost all things "spiritual".  We do still try to attend our church every now and again, though.  We love our church.  We love our "family" there.  But, sermons are very difficult for me to sit through.  I have a skeptical doubting thought about almost everything that is taught.  I still do not trust God.  How am I to learn to trust Him again?  I do not know the answer to that one.  And, therefore, I am very uncomfortable with the topic of prayer.  ….which, I think I've decided I will write about, solely, in another blog post.

My health was starting to get worse over the past few months, as well.  I have dropped over 20 pounds off my small frame since Vienne passed away.  That was not an intentional or necessary weight loss.  It's been very difficult for my doctor to determine what exactly has been causing my maladies.  I finally went in for a colonoscopy a few weeks ago.  Fun times, fun times.  And, they found nothing.  Nothing!  So shocking.  We thought for sure that they would find signs of Crohns Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  But, nope.  My doctor is sure now that my sick body has been a result of my grief and anxiety.  Crazy, right?  Crazy how that can be translated to the physical.

My anxiety has been so bad that I just cannot handle much.  Why am I not on meds?  Well, for one, I am not comfortable with meds.  But, two, I am also still nursing Ivy.  Because she and I enjoy it.  But, my anxiety has definitely taken a severe dip from last year.  I feel that I can no longer control it now, in front of others.  It is palpable when I am in a group setting.  I feel like my exterior is all just a cracked shell and I am constantly and relentlessly trying to keep all the cracked pieces in place but it is so hard and so impossible.  Then, one little itty bitty tiny misstep or trip or bump causes me to lose hold of those precariously placed pieces.  And, I fall apart.  And, then I feel ashamed and guilty.  So guilty that I made a mess everywhere - spilling my brokenness all over the place.  So guilty that I may have disrupted the moment or the mood.  And, I am full of emphatic apology as I quickly try to sweep it all back up and put it all back into place.  I do not know what else to do or how else to manage it.  But no wonder my stomach is a wreck.

Mark and I are doing well, together.  He is my safety, my strength, and my ultimate support.  This man just knows me.  And, I am so thankful that I have a safe place in him when I am going through an anxious episode.  He never takes anything personally.  Ever.  When he senses that I am anxious, he will gently and quietly rub my back, whisper in my ear that I am doing a great job, and he will take Ivy or help me out with whatever I am struggling with.  He helps to calm me.

We have taken a break from counseling.  I feel the "whys" screaming at me, already, through the computer.  Let me explain.  I know that everyone believes that we should be in counseling…me, especially.  But, why?  I have discovered that is encouraged by many because deep down everyone wants to be able to help me in some way.  They realize that they can't…but suggesting or encouraging counseling is something that they can offer.  But, you go to counseling to get fixed, for the most part.  …to fix a broken relationship….to fix a shattered self-worth…to fix emotional issues resulting from abuse or….etc.  You know.  But, I started to realize, while in counseling, that this is something that cannot be fixed.  After time, I started to get frustrated that our counselor rarely offered advice or suggestions for things to try.  But, then I also realized that if he had, I would have been irritated and offended.  You can't offer advice to fix grief over a dead child.  That broken heart is just one of the few things that cannot be "fixed".  And, even my resulting symptoms I've developed from my grief cannot yet be fixed.  It's too early.  My anxiety is normal and understandable…he knew that I need to go through this and not squelch it.  Every single feeling that I expressed to him, he would reply back with "well, yes, that seems very understandable".  It certainly SUCKS what I am feeling and going through…but at the same time, feeling the opposite would be horrifying and weird.  Calm and happy?  One year after my child died?  Um.  No.  Maybe it would be appropriate to seek further help if I am still depressed in a few years…but right now, I realized that it was kind of pointless.  He was just a listening ear to talk to.  I can do that with people in my life.  Did any of this make sense?

This is where I'm at.  Not so pretty.  I don't feel so great inside.  I still need support and love.  I know it is a struggle for people to know what to say.  But, let me say something loud and clear:
SAYING SOMETHING IS OFTEN BETTER THAN IGNORING ME COMPLETELY.
Well, that's just awkward for everyone…and, gosh, just not very kind.  Yes.  Yes.  There are the stupid things that could be said….like what is shared in this blog post.  But, if you really cared and really had a heart for our situation, you would know not to say such thoughtless things.  Those are things you say to someone when you are not really thinking…when you are not invested.  (Thank you to the "Anonymous Reader" who shared that link, by the way.)

Thank you for being here for me as I wade through this muck.



{here is a silly cute picture of my darling Ivy, wearing a face that shares how I feel.  ;)}

36 comments:

  1. Check out this link too, if you haven't already..I'm sorry for your loss and current pain. http://stillstandingmag.com/2012/05/diagnosis-grief/

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    1. Wow, this is a great link. Thank you, Kris.

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  2. I haven't checked on your blog in quite some time, and when I saw the date of this post, I thought it was a nudging of my heart to check on your writings since you'd literally just put up the post. Love you, dear friend. I see how shattered you are, and I must say that despite this brokenness, I see new beauty in you. You are the representation of Kintsugi. The art of making something broken back into something beautiful. I love that it represents that even when we are shattered beyond what we think can be repaired, we can be brought back to having purpose and function. But we don't forget how we were broken, because the lines are still there. It is still apparent that we are not who we once were. But there is beauty IN the brokeness. You are beautiful in the person you are today and will be tomorrow and how your story is writing itself. I am sorry, as always, for your deep and terrible pain......

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    1. I love you, friend. Thank you. It is so hard for me to understand the new beauty that you see…but I am grateful. At least it's not a new ugliness….all that I feel inside. But, thank you for seeing me and loving me. No matter what. I know you'd love me in my ugliness, too.
      I like the Kintsugi reference. I hope that my scars are someday seen as artistic golden lacy webs seaming together my broken heart.
      (and, of course, I understood what you were saying. xo)

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  3. OH and here is a link to an example of kintsugi http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/02/AR2009030202723.html

    And be sure to note that I am not saying that what you have suffered is beautiful, but who you are even in spite of it.

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  4. Oh, Jenny, please feel the hug I am sending your way from Tallahassee, Florida. A very dear friend of mine lost her 18 year old son on New Years Day, 28 years ago (no warning just collapsed in the living room in front of us, I am sure very similar to Vienne) She would often say that when people would ignore her, or not mention Jason at all she said it was like his life never meant anything. Although she said it hurt at times she welcomed peoples concern and the little stories they shared. Give yourself permission to cry, grieve, shout, whatever, you owe no one a explanation…….ever. You are in my thoughts, Dina

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    1. Wow, Dina, I cannot believe you were there to witness the collapse of your dear friend's son. How horribly tragic.
      Yes, I have found there are many shared thoughts and feelings amongst the club of "Grieving Parents" that your friend and I are in.
      Thank you for encouraging me to do what I feel in this moment.

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  5. Jenny, I am always thinking about you and Vienne. I'm am so sorry that you hurt so badly and feel such shame and guilt. You are right, "something is better than nothing". I hope these little notes and message help you feel how wonderfully surrounded you are by people who love you near and far. What a treasure Mark is. I am amazed by your strength together and individually. Your crafting prowess completely blows me away! You have so many beautiful things to share, even when you get down to the ugly dark stuff, you create beauty. Dear Jenny, know in all of this you are loved. I'm sorry that all this love cannot restore the one thing that you miss the most.

    Yesterday was my Grandpa's birthday, the one who passed away suddenly this summer. As my mom and I remembered him, my daughter piped up and said, "Great-great Potter is having his birthday in Heaven today. Birthdays with Jesus are the best." Reece just celebrated her 5th birthday the day after Ivy's. So, for us January is full of celebrations and rememberances. Sweet and sad mixed together in this world. I appreciate your courage in showing how you create light in your light even as you live with darknees. Sending love, Anne

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    1. Dear Anne~

      Your little notes and messages DO help me to feel surrounded and loved. I shamelessly welcome it all on this blog…since I don't beg for it from people, in person.
      Your encouragement and thoughtfulness for us always blows me away. I can't thank you enough.
      And, a sweet Happy Birthday to your Grandpa and to Reece. xo

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  6. I promise myself that I will try not to cry when I read your words, but every single time I read your blog, my eyes are wet at the end....and I longingly wish that I was near you to hug you and poor my heart out to you about how much I want to take away your pain. I can't imagine that I would be any different in your situation. In fact, I know I would be right were you are right now. I think of you so often, I see V in my day dreams....I think of your family as I lay awake at night amongst my own crowded thoughts. You are loved Jenny. Here I am saying something-I hope you can feel it.

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    1. Oh Haylee your sweet heart towards me always means so much. I do feel your love and your hugs..just through your support online. I can feel. Thank you for saying "something". Much love to you, in return.

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  7. I have no words other than I am so, so sorry that you've been given this awful and painful journey:( Thoughts and prayers to you and your precious family.

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  8. I feel hesitant to give any advice as I'm a stranger and I know that there is likely NOTHING that can touch anxiety as deep as one would experience in your situation. But as a mama who nursed and had anxiety post partum, you might consider some of those Bach flower essences (can get at whole foods etc) in your water, and Calms Forte (homeopathic, available at Walgreen's etc. in the sleep aids section). Both are perfectly safe for breastfeeding and can use as often as you want. Scientifically speaking, there is no reason they should work, but somehow they really helped me. Perhaps, it was placebo effect, but I really didn't care either way. I felt I was doing something nurturing for myself. Also, according to a vet friend of mine, there have been studies done that show the flower essences have had effects on animals if added to their water, and I don't think you can placebo effect a dog. So I think there might be something there. It can't hurt. And it makes the water taste lovely.
    Sending wishes from Texas. Just a random mama who found your blog one day. You are wise to share your needs. I hope your friends and family are present with you and able to shoulder some of your burden.

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    1. Thank you for sharing those reminders about natural anxiety remedies. I had totally forgotten about both of those. I used Bach flower essences after the birth of both of my girls. Not sure if it helped, but it is at least enjoyable. And, I've used Calms forte with Vienne in the past. This was good advice. Thank you. I went and picked up some Bach flower pastilles today so that I can keep them in my purse. ;)

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  9. I can so relate to this...to just about everything. While I still struggle with a lot of it...I must tell you that the frequency and severity is much, much less. I wrestled with God for a couple of years. I still wrestle with Him in some ways (mostly with prayers...since I prayed so hard for him to save Nate and He didn't) but overall our relationship is 10x stronger now. He has my son. I had to learn to forgive Him and get along with Him. It was a process but I can definitely see how He has grown me and the blessings that have come from my tragedy.

    The hard part is living in a world with people that don't understand. People that have a completely different perspective on life...and death because they haven't experienced watching their child die. I wish that all of us mama's with kiddos in Heaven could live close to one another so that we could provide love, support and encouragement. We aren't alone even though it often feels like we are.

    Hugs to you...XOXO
    Trisha

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    1. Like my Mama shared below, thank you Trisha for your words of empathy and comfort. It is good to hear from someone who has walked this horrid journey a bit longer than I…just so that I can be assured that this severity does fade over time. I am encouraged to hear about your relationship with God. I wonder how that one will pan out for me over time.
      And, yes, I agree that the differing perspectives in this world, especially our culture, are difficult to have patience for. It is sad to see how many choose to live in detachment and ignorance, just out of fear of "sadness".
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It really means so very much. XOXOX back to you.

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  10. What beautiful replies to this post…encouraging, supportive, loving, empathetic. Thank you to all of you that encourage my daughter through this journey. It blesses my heart, too….and encourages me in the midst of this pain as well. Trisha, I appreciated your sharing a bit about your journey, as it seems to mirror my Jenny's in ways. And it is, of course, encouraging to hear that your relationship with God is now 10x stronger…though different, I'm certain. Forgiveness is the key that lets us out of our prisons, most certainly - and understandably it can take time to get to that as we wrestle the argumentative demons in our heart and head. I have found this true for me as I slowly let God back in. The act of forgiving God at least eases some of the angst. I find I need to continually take every thought captive when my mind wanders to camp on that dreaded day...and turn my eyes to where Vienne is now, safe in the arms of the God she loved so much. I still argue with scripture and am confused - and I tell Him so. I just don't understand much this side of Heaven. But I do know He is still the God He was before Vienne passed…He is that God that I trusted no matter what, that God I know is ultimately good and knows the bigger picture. Our relationship is different now, though…and not yet 10X stronger. That part must take time, I suppose. I do find comfort and motivation in offering understanding and comfort to others that are grieving. It helps my faith.
    "I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief."
    My dear Jenny….My heart aches at your angst and pain. I am praying and believing for you…even when you cannot. You know I am here for you through every bit, unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to say the right thing or anything or nothing at all. You are an amazing woman and how blessed I am to know how Mark loves and supports you. And Ivy? She is such a beautiful reflection of both of you. I love you to the moon.

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    1. Hi Mama.

      Thank you. I do know you are here for me and I thank you. I know it is sometimes easier for me to pour out on here than in person. But, thank you for always loving me and being so patient with me as I suffer and struggle with all the changes in myself from this. I know it is not easy to be around all the time. I love you to the moon.

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  11. Jenny - I updated my computer software and lost the capability to have RSS feeds float into my inbox. With the update I lost my list of blogs that I read. I've been absent because the posts weren't being emailed to me. Do you have a way to "subscribe" to your posts so they come into my inbox? Without that, I don't remember to check. I'm sorry you're hurting so badly still, although I'm not surprised. This is a great tragedy. Thank you for the reminder to keep praying. P.S. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your mom. (not that you didn't know that already)... And because I love her, I love you. We all wish we could divide your pain among us.

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    1. Hi Jodi ~ hhmmm….I did just join NetworkedBlog.com and I now receive updates in my inbox. Maybe you can go there and search for my blog and follow it thru there?? I don't know. I'm kinda clueless when it comes to the way some of this works. If I find something out further, I will let you know.
      Thank you for checking in.

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  12. You take it a day at a time. No one is the same and grieving is different for everyone. Don't let anyone tell you or shame you into what you "should feel" or "should do". Just be you. You are always in my thoughts.

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    1. Thank you.
      And, thankfully, I don't have anyone in my life who shames me into feeling one way or another. It's all in my head. I am my own worst enemy.

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  13. I have nothing to offer except that I still hate this for you.

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    1. We will hate this always.

      Thank you, Sadie.

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  14. Dear Sweet Jenny,
    I want you to know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Bless you on your journey. My heart aches for you, and I would love to be able to give you a huge hug. Please know that you have so many of us 'out there' that pray for you and your dear family. We know that we can't 'fix' anything but sure wish we could help
    . You are never far from my thoughts and I will continue
    to hold you up in my prayers. Terry

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    1. Thank you, Terry. Knowing that your prayers and thoughts are still current means so so much.

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  15. Still here Jenny, still thinking of you and Mark every day and still praying for....I'm not even sure for what anymore. Just praying.

    Take care of yourself and your precious baby girl.

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  16. Say something, not say anything, such a helpless place for you. The ugly truth about this horrid journey you are on is that neither changes your circumstances. I remember looking for anything; words, actions, feelings, anything to make it go away and it just doesn't. I am so glad that you have this blog to get your feelings out and describe with our human words the rawness, the despair, the Hell you are going through. And I am so glad you are letting us in through this blog because through this are people who are praying, thinking of, and weeping with you. While I know this isn't the point of your writing it has changed lives, how we treat each other and how we love those people who experience a loss because of this Vienne's legacy is living on and on and on and on. Not to mention warriors out there for Mark and Ivy ( and Kate, Jeremy, Miriam, Julie, Tom, Ken, etc., etc.as well. They are all being prayed for as well. I wish so much someone could take away the pain, bring her back, and everything you wish for.

    Thinking of you always,

    Susan

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    1. Dear Susan ~

      Your words meant a lot. Yes, I totally relate to the desperate search for "anything: words, actions, feelings…" to make it go away. For a while, I was trying to thrive off of the comments I'd receive on here…and even though they MEAN SO MUCH and I would be that much more devastated without this support….you're right. There is nothing that can make the heartache go away. Nothing can fill the Vienne-sized void. But, it is a hard lesson to learn…for I keep finding myself subconsciously searching. Distraction is what I default to. But, then I let myself get obsessed with that distraction and that is not good either. I used to be such a balanced person. hahahaha

      I am so encouraged, though, to hear how my sharing in my grief and memories has helped other people in their own lives. If anything, at least there is that and that warms my heart. I definitely do not want my devastation and grief to bring others down and put a dark cloud of negativity upon people. I try to find a balance in that, if I can.

      Your prayers and presence mean so much. Thank you, Susan. thank you for knowing and relating.

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  17. Jenny hugging you in my heart everyday, love from Seattle

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  18. You don't know me but I grieve with you and for you. Prayers for you, your rock of a husband, and your little ones -- both here and on the other side of the veil. Know someone in Idaho cares.

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    1. Thank you, Tracie. I love little messages like this.

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  19. Dear Dear Jenny
    Big Huge Hug!!!
    So many thoughtful and touching replies! I am so glad you can really share your grief in this blog, as hellish as it is. And, I'm thankful, beyond words, for the loving support you receive through the replies! My heart echoes all of them for you. Reading about how Mark gets you and supports you, as he is also missing Vienne and grieving, honestly made me cry! His name means "warrior" and he has proven to be a warrior for you, valiant, loyal, and steadfast! And you, oh loving, most dedicated "mommy" are going through the unimaginable! I am praying for you, Mark, and Ivy....that you will be provided with exactly what you need in every area!! You are all so very very loved. I'm also going to pray that any sense of shame or guilt is removed....either has NO PLACE here. Big Huge Hug, Lynn (grandma Lynn to Ivy)

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