October 25, 2008

Getting Help

Dear Friends,

Last week, Ryan attended a Critical Incident Stress Management workshop at the fire station which taught firefighters how to recognize individuals who have difficulties dealing with stressful situations associated with their jobs. Issues like post traumatic stress disorders and dealing with death were among some of the subjects discussed.

Of course, Ryan thought of me and our situation as he learned about many of the signs and symptoms of someone struggling with coping issues.

During one of his classroom breaks, Ryan phoned me to let me know that, perhaps, we needed to seek help in dealing with our own grief over Christian's death. I'm not sure why, but I was mad at him as he rattled off the laundry list of symptoms he'd just learned about. I kept insisting that his class didn't apply to me because our situation was different. Christian was our son and I had a right to feel terrible. I had a right to feel depressed.

I was so defensive during our conversation and I could hear his frustration building as his loud sighs permeated through my rantings of denial and pain. And, although the tension was mounting between the two of us, Ryan pressed on telling me about the instructor in the class and how he thought she might be the person to help us with our pain...my pain. It was at about this time when I completely shut down and stubbornly tuned him out out... I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear that I needed help. And it completely crushed me when I realized that my husband was worried about my own emotional well being. I felt like a failure because of my inability to cope with the loss of my son.

After we hung up...I paced around the house screaming out my frustration. I yelled and cried out loud...wishing I could purge the hurt and pain that has occupied so much of my life these past several weeks.

MY SON DIED. I've been to Hell and back these past several months with endless hours of worry, sadness, anxiety..and feelings of loss. Ryan and I have been on an extreme roller coaster ride for the past year. So much sadness and unbelievable joy in such a short period of time. Not to mention that, physically, my body is still adjusting back to normal after 9 months of pregnancy. I am a mess and I have a huge emotional battle scar on my heart.

As I vented my anger out loud and alone in my house, I fell to my knees started crying. I cried like I'd never done before. I released every bottled up emotion I'd been hanging on to over the past several weeks. I let it all out and I let the tears fall until I had nothing left... my spirit was truly shattered at that moment...I was broken.

And then, I started praying. I prayed to God for help. I prayed for strength. I prayed for my marriage. I prayed for other families who are experiencing the same tragedy and I prayed for healing for all of us.

It was some time before I actually picked myself up off the floor. Ryan was right, we needed help... I need help.

My friends, I am not proud of the way I've dealt with Christian's death. People tell me that I am strong and I am an inspiration. But the truth is I am not strong at all. I cry privately...afraid to show my tears because I don't want people feeling sorry for me. I cry in the shower when Ryan is at home so he won't look at me with sad eyes...although I know he knows. I've been hiding out at home...afraid to run into people who don't know about Christian.

For some reason, I feel as though I deserve the way I'm feeling. Ryan and I went down this path with our eyes wide open. We knew our son would not survive Trisomy 18. We chose life even though we knew it would ultimately lead to pain and heartache. Even now, I would still make the same decisions over and over again...because my son was worth it. He was worth every tear I've shed since his death. I love him so much! I just didn't know that it would be so hard to pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together again after he died.

No, I have not dealt with this very well at all.

Yes, I do need help. I've been too stubborn to admit it. I realize this now.

I only want to honor my son now that he is gone. I want him to be proud of his mother and that means I need to help myself. I need to take this experience, hold it close to my heart and become stronger because of it. It doesn't mean I'm moving on...but, it does mean I have to move forward. I must for my own sake and well being. Christian would want that.

When Ryan came home from class I began asking him questions about the doctor and told him I wanted to see her. I think he was surprised by my willingness to hear more about her. But I also know he was glad that I was receptive to getting help.

So here it is, my friends. I am taking it one step at a time... no more denial... I am seeking out help because I certainly don't have all the answers. This is too big for me to handle on my own. And so we move on to another chapter in our story...

Love,

Leah

26 comments:

The Powell Family said...

You are inspriring and strong. Christian and his life story are inspiring and strong. Forbid we ever begin to believe that tears and fear indicate weakness. Christian's life still matters. God took him home. We are still here and that is hard. Authenticity is strength. You are nothing if not authentic. You give me strength because it spills over from your core. Thank you for sharing your strength with me, a total stranger.
Your sister in Him

Amber said...

Your strength has nothing to do with...not showing tears or sadness. That is humanity. You are surviving...something the rest of us don't know if we would be able to do. We don't ever want to find out either. You are to be loved and admired....you inspire us in your ability to be real in the pain and sadness.

I am so very glad God has brought you to this place of readiness...to press on and move through it...at whatever pase that happens to be.
Much love and prayers your way.

Darlene said...

Oh Leah, you are such a wonderful mother. I love how you say, Christian would want that. If that is so (and only his mommy would know!), then you are so faithful to your little boy.

I pray that God works through everyone you reach out to. Your cries out to Him will not go unanswered.

I think of this verse, Matthew 11:28-30 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Praying for your family,
Darlene

ruebs said...

I know I comment a lot on your entries, but I can't help it. I think by letting you know you're not alone I remind myself that I'm not alone either. That I'm not the only one who feels they don't cope very well even though I knew what would happen. Even with my experience I can do anything to make this much easier. All I can do is offer typed support and encouragement, and prayers for your family. We do the best we can and keep trying to do better. You are doing just that. Taking the therapy is just another step in helping yourself. You are brave don't convince yourself otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I am still here, reading or at least checking your post daily! I pray for you to find peace and strength daily (well, a couple times a day).

I am so happy to hear you and your husband our getting some help!

Love,
Patricia

Kathy said...

A great step Leah. We are all proud of you for seeking the help that I believe all of us would need. It's a good thing to do, it will help to talk to a professional.

I pray that you relate very well to this therapist and if not that you not be discouraged but look for someone that you can really relate and trust.

You are an inspiration. I love that Ryan is so concerned for his beautiful wife. I hope that he too will spend some time talking with this therapist as well. We all grieve differently.

May you feel the Lord close by at all times.
Love,
Kathy

Anonymous said...

You and your husband are such an inspiration. I think it is so cool and so "God" that the training came through your husband's dept.~perfect timing. Earlier and you might not have been ready. I love your blog and look forward to watching you grow. I am so moved because there are still people in this sinful world who choose LIFE and honor God, even when the outcome is not OUR plan. Your story is a testimony over and over. I will be praying for you in the days ahead as you move along.

Janelle said...

i have not been through what you have, but i have also taken the step this week of "getting help". it felt so good to finally get to the place where i believed in myself enough to realize that getting help was the best thing for me.
i pray that as we learn new things about ourselves, and as we start to heal our hearts, that God will walk with us, and carry us, and hug us, and show us His goodness.
i'm super proud of you.

So Blessed said...

I admire your honesty and your bravery. God works through many different avenues to help us, including counselors and doctors. I am praying for you and your husband as you face these difficult days of grief.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped." Psalm 28:7

Susie

Anonymous said...

Leah
You are strong, going for counselling is a huge step. Moving forward is not forgetting Christian. He will be with you every step along the way.

Lisa

Anonymous said...

Leah,
You are an inspriation to all of us. You are a wonderful person, parent. Please dont think that you experiencing grief means you are weak. You have more strength in you than you even realize. If you didnt you wouldnt have brought Christian into this world. Thinking of you.

Lady-in-the-Making said...

*Stands up and applauds you*

Dearest Leah,

You HAVE been through hell and back. You HAVE every single right to grieve, Dearest. You don't EVER have leave your sweet Christian behind. Just take him forward with you. :)

I'm so darn proud of you. I knew you would get to this point even though I haven't ever met you. You'll do it, Hun.

Courage isn't the absence of fear but doing it in spite of the fear.

Hugs to you today!

boltefamily said...

We are only as strong as the One who provides our strength. I used to get so frustrated when people would comment on how strong I was or how much I inspired them. I now know the strength they are seeing is not my own.

I am here praying for you and standing in the gap when you are too weary to pray for yourself.

Kenzie said...

Leah-

Sweet friend... each of us needs help! We all need help in different ways and it comes in different forms from different places, but there is absolutely NO WAY any of us would be able to do this alone. So glad that all of us have the LORD and we know that we aren't truly ever alone. God heard you when you cried out to him, on your face, on your knees... Some days feel like 1 step forward and 10 back, but each day is new and God's mercies are new each day as well. I am proud of you! The strength is God-given... and we LOVE you, Ryan and your sweet baby with the Lord.

Praying!
Kenzie

Kenzie said...

Leah-

I am so proud of you sweet friend! We all need help in different ways and it comes in different forms for each person... however, there is NO WAY we could do this alone. Thankfully we each have our faith in the Lord and know that we are never truly alone. He loves you. He heard your cries. He is leading you on the path to healing and in many ways it is so hard to see the possibility of healing through the intense grief. Remember, He is there! We love you so much and are so proud of you and Ryan for choosing LIFE for your precious baby boy!

Love you and praying,
Kenzie

Anne said...

Leah,
You don't know me, but I found your blog through a friend of mine who also lost a baby to Trisomy 18. I want you to know how sad I am for you and your precious loss. I want you to know how brave and smart you are to be seeking out help. My mother died when I was 15 years old. I went to counseling when I was 17 years old, but didn't feel it helped much. I went back to a counselor at 30 because it was time. It was the best decision I could have made. It is so empowering and relieving to speak to someone about your loss and pain. I am so happy for you that you too will receive the power and feel the relief that comes from counseling. All my best to you and your husband as you move forward on this life-long journey of healing.

Anne in Nebraska

Radar's Mom said...

Dear Leah,

It isn't easy and it can be so frustrating to ask for help. Having always been a "strong" and independent person, I had a similar reaction when I had to deal with loss. I just wanted to believe that somehow, some way, I'd snap out of it and the strength to deal with the weight of my depression would come back. As a result, I spent month after month as someone else. Someone who didn't want to leave the house. Someone who avoided even friends and family. Someone who pretended to be ok for those that I thought expected me to be ok. And when I finally did ask for help, it was a crap shoot because some of the prescribed methods to deal with depression don't always do the trick until you're at a place where you have the strength to really participate in the fight. All I can say is that now that you've realized that you need help, don't be discouraged at how very hard the journey continues to be, even with help. Just open your heart and mind to the help that comes your way and follow the path that makes the most sense to you. Whether it's friend or professional therapy, God, antidepressants or all of the above, there is no magic cure to human grief... it is the very hardest part of this blessed, complicated life we are so lucky to live.

And please don't ever worry, not for a single moment, that Christian is anything but proud and filled with love for his Mommy! It's not until we finally become angels that we can look down and appreciate how hard life can be. As angels we no longer need to pass judgement, but can look with absolute love, compassion and forgiveness on those who are doing their best to find the right path through life. Christian doesn't want you to be strong, he only wants you to be well and to find your path back to happiness. And he will be eternally patient as you slowly find your way back, no matter how often you doubt and stumble along the way. He will never nod his head and say, "come on Mommy, get up for goodness sake.." He'll just send you repeated angel kisses and say, "I love you Mommy... every day... every second..."

I'm sorry for rambling on like that and I hope it's not too silly or presumptuous... it's just that I believe our angels love us and truly are our guardian angels. I'm praying for your heart as I do every day!

Love,
Christena

Melissa said...

Isn't it just like our husbands to point out just what we need just when we don't want to hear it! Guess that's why God decided we were meant to be together and to be partners through the toughest of times. I haven't walked your path, but do understand how hard it can be to acknowledge the need for help. Definitely not easy, but I just continue to pray that God will show me the way according to His timing. Your son is beautiful and his life will stay with you as you move forward. God has given you and your husband a third "partner" to help you through the tough times and what a wonderful addition! My prayers are with you as you begin this next step in your journey.

Marianne said...

Leah-
Thanks you for sharing your heart. I am praying that you can start to heal but never forget your baby boy. May God bless you and Ryan always!!

Debbie said...

You are amazing and I am so glad that you are getting the help you need!! Satan wants to shatter your marriage, don't let him have it! Joy is in the Lord, let Him heal your hurt!!!

connie said...

Leah,
Even though I know no one wants to be told they are strong when they feel so weak, I do actually believe it isn't an embarrassing weakness, but a "strong" weakness that you show by being as honest as you are in your blog. Yours are the kind of emotions we can understand, and that remind us to pray for you in the specific areas you mention. The best thing my OB ever did for me while I was pregnant was find me a therapist/priest. I read what you wrote, and think I need to start going there again.
I love you.
connie

Penny said...

Leah

I am glad to see a post from you. I understand and remember so well the weeks of staying in the house out of fear that someone would see me and realize that I was no longer pregnant. I just didn't want to see those sorry eyes.... the ones that make you feel worse. Good for Ryan seeing to your needs. I fought and fought the counseling.... I was FINE! What I was had nothing to do with fine. It was classical depression and now I can see it but back then I had a right.... I was entitled. Well that is what I told myself. I didn't understand that help didn't mean forgetting my sweet baby.

I pray for you both daily I hope that your heart can start to heal and you can start to move through your new normal easier.

Becky said...

Leah -
How wonderful that although Ryan was in the process of learning, he was also thinking of you and how what he was learning could minister to both of you. He's a keeper for sure.
Grief has no time limits. No definitive ways of what is appropriate and what is not. I do know that you will make new memories. Like riding in the boat during the sunset. Christian will be missing, yet there. Always there. How often I wish that my plans were always God's plans. Unfortunately, they are not. Sometimes He has other plans for myself and those I love. Trust is knowing that those plans are always best even when I don't understand the why's.
Your sharing is a blessing to me. I am praying for you Leah.

Cathy said...

Oh Leah, I have been away a little too long. But I think of precious Christian so much and your arms who long to hold you boy. Thank you for choosing life and saying even though you are in much pain you would do it all over again. I am hoping that seeking help will help you process your grief, but I think you loved so deep that the pain has to be unbearable.

Deb D. said...

Leah: I wish we lived near one another. I know I would want to be your friend. You are a beautiful, vulnerable, honest, woman who clearly wants to live life honorably. I admire and respect that in you so much. I am so happy for you that you have found the strength to get help and for knowing that it is time for you to do so. No one could make that decision for you, but clearly God was working to bring people into your life to help you as you have asked Him to do. I do think you are hard on yourself, and I hope your new confidant will guide you with tenderness and care through this very painful experience of your life. Thank you, again, for sharing. Though many of us are strangers to you, I think I can say with them that we care for you. God bless you always.

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