Mourning into Joy 

I have the honour of being a part of a series called mourning into joy stories started by Sharon McKeeman (@sharonmckeeman on instagram #mourningintojoystories). As I began to write, I realized that there was more I wanted to share than a few sentences on instagram hence this blog post. I feel like sharing my own process might help someone out there.

*Disclaimer, this post is super raw and real and deals a lot with loss, mess and mental illness. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, please feel free to avoid this post!*

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2017. We’ve now entered the 7th year since we lost our daughter Eisley. In some ways it definitely feels like it’s been years, and in others it feel as though it was just yesterday. Here is a bit of our journey and my own honest process through loss.

At 13 weeks pregnant I bled, they found a blood clot which ultimately killed 2/3 of my placenta by week 19. And so began our journey with our Eisley-girl. Nearly every day for months we were told that we would lose her (due to the lack of nourishment to her body). That we should abort her and get on with our lives. But she fought, she held on longer than they’d ever expected. So much longer that the day before she passed away they shared with us that they’d deemed her “viable” and they would deliver her the next Friday. While her potential death had been lingering in it minds for months, it was still a complete shock to our systems when she passed away. It felt unbelievable – she’d held on for so long (7 months). We were so close. We had prayed and believed with everything in us. Many around the world prayed for her. And yet there we were, suddenly thrown into a world of loss: deciding how to birth her (we choose induction and she came 3 days later), preparing to meet her only to say goodbye, planning arrangements for her body, a memorial service to honour her life… and then the years of grief that have followed since.

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At first, I felt peace. Along with many, many things and I let myself feel through them all. I thought I was grieving “well”, to be honest. And then year after year I noticed my heart growing harder, I realized my prayer life had died along with our sweet girl. I didn’t even know how to pray and even how to believe for the best anymore. I denied these things, of course. Until the ache and bitterness inside me seeped out. Into my marriage, my family, my friends. My dreams and desires had changed, even my beliefs shifted. 2015 was my toughest year – I found myself depressed beyond what I’d ever imagined. My marriage was falling apart due to distance I’d created. I felt angry and bitter at everything, especially with God.

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I found myself living defensively, afraid to be broken again – believing I couldn’t possibly live through anymore brokenness and I’d do my best to control all things to avoid this. Having control seemed like the place to be. It seemed safer than giving anyone or God the reigns, that much was certain. So I clenched my fists and held on. But what I found instead was I felt out of control trying to maintain control. I was always angry (still struggle with this bad habit), always defensive and overly protective, always building new walls, all while trying to appear as though I had it all together. Trying to show loss hadn’t broken me beyond repair, that God was still on the throne of my life, that having two healthy pregnancies after Eisley had “redeemed” many things. Yet beneath the hardened shell was a broken Jami who didn’t even know if she believed in God anymore, and she certainly didn’t believe the sayings she’d heard others speak over her to cover her grieving and broken heart. Beneath it all was a girl who felt she’d scarred her marriage, her children and her own life beyond repair. A girl who felt all hope was lost and constantly wondered how she’d carry on.
I hit rock bottom March 2015. I entered the new year pregnant yet lost the baby at 8 weeks. Less than a month later, our daughter Everly (almost 1) was hospitalized with RSV and it triggered memories of loss and I imagined the worst case scenario possible during the scary times with her. Though she was only in for 4 days and recovered well it triggered grief I’d shoved away and it all felt too much to handle. And to be completely honest, the best option I saw was to leave this world of pain and heartache. I walked my husband and family through hell on that terrible night in March, when I felt I couldn’t continue living the way I was.

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But Jesus met me in my brokeness. When I felt all hope was lost. He met me and I didn’t feel hopeless even though I didn’t know what was next. My husband and I started counseling. I got on medication for depression and anxiety. And we fought: for life, for restoration, for hope, for dreams.
By the time 2016 came I still felt broken though healing was happening. Ted had to move away to Alaska to provide for us as a family and I suddenly was thrown into parenting alone and actually two of my worst fears were combined: I felt so alone. And I felt judged and misunderstood by those around me.
It was unfair to place expectations on others to look after me, especially when I wasn’t honest with where I was really at emotionally/mentally. But I did. And guess what? I was wounded and expectations weren’t met. And I felt utterly alone – so alone in fact it felt physically painful.
And He met me again. Jesus, without any amount of phony sayings to get me through suffering, He just met me in my broken mess. I picture it like this: I’m sitting on the ground with huge glass mirrors shattered all around me. No one wants to come close because of the mess and the fear of being hurt themselves, but here comes this guy I’d rejected so much in the past few years. He didn’t care about the mess, the chance of being wounded… He cared about ME. In fact so much that He joined me in the thick of the mess and brokenness.

“In brokenness I see your face, the colour of your eyes and the taste of your ways.”

(I wrote this years ago and it’s so very true. I realized how close He really was. He’s in my suffering with me.)

Finals-14(September 17, 2013. Eisley’s 3rd birthday, and pregnant with our second daughter, Everly)

Suffering is so complex. And I still have my doubts, I still have questions, and still have no full answers but one thing I do believe with everything within me is that He meets me here. In this mess, in the suffering. He doesn’t shun me for asking the hard questions or for having doubt. He can handle me at my worst and is unashamed of me. He is not disappointed with me. He’s WITH me in my suffering.
Whatever you are going through currently or still processing from years and maybe decades past, HE is with you in your suffering. And anyone who tells you that you must have blind faith, and accept that He “gives and takes away”. Let it go. It isn’t true. He is a good and loving Father and He didn’t do “this” to you. (Seriously, go and watch the sermon on Job by Greg Boyd called Twisted Scripture – it wrecked me in the best way!)
People may not be able to handle you at your worst, but Jesus sure can. Go to Him, He will walk beside you until you find your feet and even then He stays put, helping you as you walk through this journey of loss, heartache and pain.

Through every ebb and flow of grief’s waves. Through every memory that still stings, through every present ache that exists.

He is with you, carrying you, holding you, crying with you…

He will be with you always.

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He can turn your mourning into joy.

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Since the loss of our Eisley-girl, we have since welcomed two healthy pregnancies and babies into our family. While they do not take the place of our sweet girl or perfectly redeem what we’ve walked through, their precious lives have helped in our healing process. We are so grateful for who they are, and how much they’ve impacted our family!

Shailo Valour (5) – We were terrified during his pregnancy yet felt so strongly that he was everything we named him, Shailo (Shiloh) – God’s gift, a place of peace and rest and worship in a time of battle and Valour (Valor) meaning courage in the face of fear/battle, brave. He has truly, even from the womb, been our brave little gift from God in the midst of fear/anxiety/battle. Seriously, our lives are so much more full, exciting and adventurous with Shailo Valour in our lives.

And Everly Selah (almost 3) –  I remember crying out to Him one evening and journaling my heart out. There was a part of me that felt we would have another daughter someday, and I decided on that evening her name would be a reflection (of who He is to us, to her and who she is to Him) and a declaration that would mean “Forever Amen”. I knew that I wanted her name to declare that He is forever sovereign, good, loving, caring, worthy, etc, etc, etc… amen. We wanted to declare that even though we’ve walked through the darkest valley (for us) He is still all of the beautiful things we believed He was. Despite our suffering and loss, He was still good and caring. We were still His and He was still our Father who loved us. I decided I wanted our next girl’s name to mean forever… so I decided on Ever and added ‘ly’ to fit with our Eisley-girl’s name. Though she ins’t here with us on Earth, I still, very much so, wanted her to be apart of our family. Even when it comes to names. 

We are now 30 weeks pregnant with our 3rd son, and we are hopeful and believing he will be joining us come early March! 

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Finding the beauty beneath.

(May 2014)

One year ago today we moved to Colorado Springs! And oh what a year it has been for our family! We spent time reflecting on the past year in “the Springs”, our new city and home – it has been uniquely beautiful, even though it wasn’t anything like we’d imagined.

Jesus has been seeking after my heart, pursuing me over and over again, meeting me where I’m at, in ways that might seem so small but are significant to me. Lately, it has been in nature, while being down on my knees, wrist deep in dirt, yanking up weeds, planting seeds and flowers…The last year has been a season of what reminds me a lot of weeding, actually. It has actually been THE hardest and the best year simultaneously. I touched on this a bit in one of my recent posts (click here to read) – We’ve moved, yet again, and found ourselves in the same place as before: broken, struggling, lonely, avoiding painful things and busying our lives in such a way we don’t have to face them.

Until, like weeds, these things have begun to suffocate us over the past almost 5 years since Eisley’s death. Taking over our lives so much so that it was hard to even see the beautiful things now hidden beneath the mess. It was beginning to be hard to remember they were even there anymore.

We’re currently walking through the thick of what springtime brings – figuratively and literally speaking;  sunshine and rainy days begin to be more and more frequent, flowers, buds and trees begin to blossom, and also these icky things called weeds begin to grow as well. IMG_7752

(The ‘before’ of part of our front yard)

It might sound odd, but weeding is one of my favourite things to do in springtime. It can be tedious, it is guaranteed to be messy, and is even painful at times but working hard removing the weed – digging deep, finding the root and digging it out completely, it’s truly rewarding. Even when you’ve finished just a small area, and step back to take a look at your work, it’s encouraging! You begin to notice the plants or flowers that have been hidden yet have still tried to make their way through the thick of the weeds.  IMG_7735

(Hard work pays off!)

It isn’t perfect and weeds are bound to pop up now and again, but what if we pulled them as they appeared, rather than avoid them? Imagine how much more beautiful and freeing that would be!

Have you ever noticed how the weeds you decided to avoid the spring/summer before seem to come back twice as big and hardy, and maybe even multiplied? This is the perfect picture of what the past (almost) 5 years have been like for us.  Gnarly weeds growing and taking over areas that were once full of life and beauty.

When we moved to The Springs, I had high expectations for what moving meant for us. Expectations of the busy life slowing to a more simpler, family centered life where we could find healing. I had these ideas of what it “should” look like and thought maybe, just maybe THIS will be the place we find healing, and truly begin to move forward and not backwards. Not long after the move I began to notice familiar patterns and again we were in a constant struggle, and yet another season of “too busy” to face things that need faced head on.

And to be honest, this fall, I crumbled.  And then we added more loss and more heartache in January with the loss of another baby (I should be 24 weeks now). And I just felt done with it all,  to the point of no return. The journey of seeking after healing after loss felt so hopeless when loss continues to pile up on us. And time slips away so fast we aren’t able to process, or perhaps choose not to because we just don’t know where to begin.

We hit rock bottom soon after Everly’s 1st birthday.  We were truly suffocating from the “weeds” and it was time to either face what needs to to be faces, or to allow them to suffocate us.

But this time we’ve chosen to face things head on. To dig deep and yank up those damn roots that have been growing deeper and larger each year! For once we’ve actually taken steps to move forward and OH HOW HEALING that alone has been.

I think we all some type of  “weed” in our lives that’s suffocating us, am I right? Maybe one’s we’ve avoided for so long, we can no longer see the beauty hiding beneath. Or perhaps they are small ones, just beginning to appear.

 Let’s dig them up, friends!IMG_7753

(Shailo showing me how tall the Iris has grown – it’s rare when he wants his picture taken or he’s actually looking at the camera haha)

Spring time is here, and I can’t wait to see the beauty that unfolds from our hard work!

Lessons at the Royal Gorge.

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(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

We’re facing some huge mountains and even deep valleys in our lives. (pun intended with this post, but I’m also quite serious) ‘The mountains’ being decisions we’re having to make and ‘the valleys’ representing the areas we have yet to face that we are afraid to, or “haven’t had time” to. We are weighed down by life’s punches and blows, the sudden ones and the old blows that still ache with each breath. Today, we just knew we had to get out – literally.  Where better to run to in Colorado than to the mountains? It’s always our favourite escape. We begin our trek usually not knowing where we are going – letting go of (almost) all control (which is why Ted drives in such circumstances), we drive until we decide where to go and what to do. More often than not, our kiddos fall asleep within the first 20-30 minutes, we roll our windows down to take in the fresh air and just listen to music.

After some time, one of the two of us speak the vulnerable, powerful words that carry so much…”I’m so sorry…”and reach for the other’s hand. Hot tears stream down our cheeks.

Here we are again, and again, and again.

So much pain and suffering shoved to the side, overlooked, or perhaps avoided, raising it’s ugly head in words spoken to one another. And life, oh life hasn’t been gracious to stop to say “Hey, it’s okay to grieve. Let’s talk. Let’s cry. Let’s scream. Let’s write. Let’s take time to heal.”

It’s been brutal. And boy, are we done.  But not done with LIFE and with LIVING. We are done with SUFFERING. Suffering, not just due to the losses we have had, but mainly the suffering due to the choices we’ve made along the way. Ones of avoidance, choices made to choose the busyness of life so not to feel and face the valleys, the deep and dark places that terrify us.

The first few months of this year have been incredibly painful, filled with sickness after sickness, hospitalization of Everly, and amidst all of that the loss of another baby (I would entering my 2nd trimester this week). From the outside looking in, we appear to be okay. And it makes sense why people around us have thought we’ve even moved on. Appearance… oh my. What a joke, am I right? How many times do we (you?) lie through your teeth “I’m doing good!”? We just keep pushing through and going and going and going. But is that strength? We know, we are anything but strong right now. We had given up just two weeks ago. We wanted to call it quits on everything. And those moments, our “rock bottom”, have led us to this moment here…

Now, we are making choices for our family that aren’t easy (the mountains) which don’t look anything like we’d imagined, or planned for. Or where we’d imagined. It actually might seem like a rather simple life, from the outside looking in. Or like we’ve given up on our dreams, our calling even. But we know this is not, and that this is the first time we are deliberate in choosing to face this “valley” that we haven’t fully faced, and that is no small or simple or weak thing. It is strong to decide this path, though it’s more painful and requires more faith (for us).

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(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

I stood today and looked down into the depths of this gorge. And my stomach sank due to fear (especially with my kids near!) yet once I recognized how truly safe we were, the fear naturally dissolved and I began to see the beauty everywhere. There was beauty even in the depths where the river raged below. I almost gasped, it was so stunning. I suddenly realized it was no coincidence that we were there. I felt like this was a picture of where we are at: A picture of us, facing this gorge, this valley and feeling fear as we look down. Fear of falling and being unable to get back up, or worse. Fear of the unknown in facing the raging river. But from above I can see there is also beauty below. Though it will be difficult to crawl back into that valley and face these things, the beauty that will meet us amidst all of this pain and fear, is undeniably healing.

Now, if you had told me I would get this kind of an amazing picture, just even a week ago, I would have scoffed, honestly. I have put up some major barriers in my relationship with God in my search for answers. Searching for peace and understanding in every season of life and feeling as though I come up empty handed each time, or worse – suffering more loss. And that is painful and confusing. I want to be in a place where I can trust Him wholeheartedly, again. And with this picture, I feel like once I can do what He’s wanting us to do – to truly face this valley – our fear will begin dissolve, our trust will begin to build up again.

He’ll walk us through this valley. He will be with us.

And perhaps, for now, that is my answer. That He will be with us each step of the way.

(taken with my iphone)

 And for these little eyes that are watching, and looking into the gorge but not truly knowing what their momma and daddy are giong to be facing (and honestly, I don’t want them to fully know!)… I want to do this for all of us. I want to show them that though you will face these gorges, and have to walk through these valleys, you need to and you WILL come out alive.

We are more than conquerers with Him.

 We can do this.

However difficult and painful. However long it takes.IMG_4959

Time to face this valley.

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I’ve written posts with talk of this kind of having hope to face this. Talk of facing giants and valleys and mountains and fears, etc, etc, etc… but this time we actually have steps in place to help us. Such as long term grief and marital counseling for this year. Which is a first, the longest stretch we did was almost 2 months, and it was our healthiest 2 months since the loss of Eisley. Grief and lingering sorrow have truly seeped into every area of our lives: health – we are both the most unhealthy we’ve ever been physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s seeped into our drive, our passions, into who we are and how we live.

I told Ted today, for the first time since Eisley passed away, I have felt it is time to move forward. I need to figure out how to say goodbye, which is something I haven’t been able to let go and to do yet. Almost 5 years later… I don’t know what this will look like, but I am ready to move forward and begin my trek through this valley.

Thankful that Jesus is walking before us.

Thank you for reading this novel. :)

-J

The part where I gave up.

Until 2014, I have prided myself in being “adaptive”.  5.5 years ago I had our first baby after what (at the time, before having lost a baby) I felt was the worst birth/labor ever., 14 months later we lost our Eisley-girl, 14 months after that the birth of our surprise/gift Shailo, 28 months later we had our sweet Everly!

Aside from having 4 BEAUTIFUL babies… we have moved 8 times, one of which was overseas (during my pregnancy with Everly) where I attended a counseling school. We have each had jobs simultaneously, or we have struggled along as Ted had worked his bum off. Add college for Ted for 3 of those years. Add unpredictable grief. Add all of life’s in betweens…

I felt I had (we had) taken the ebbs and flows of life pretty darn well …*pat pat pat*…

Until 2014… we entered 2014 having just moved back from Amsterdam to no home, nothing but a few boxes of memorabilia in storage. Our plans of moving to Alaska suddenly changed and we found ourselves living with family… again. (They are amazing thankfully, we were so blessed!) We had Everly just shy of 2 months into the new year, and that was INCREDIBLE. We added baby number 3 (4th baby, really. … will I ever be able to just be okay saying the number of kiddos that are with me? Probably not….) and Ted had to go back to work just a few days later. We also went through the process of finding and buying a home. Many  5 hour drives (round trip) to visit homes, and then finally at the end of May we moved and have since planted some roots.

We have a home…

And then it happened… the adaptive, roll-with-the-punches Jami snapped this fall. I have lost it.  I guess I had huge expectations that we would now have time to process the dark times of our life in a healthy way… FINALLY. And that we would have more time as a family period. But honestly, our life is so insanely busy right now, that we barely have had time to process everyday life let alone the really gnarly parts.

Also the whole “keeping the me in mommy…” I haven’t done but maybe 5 things for myself this fall, like blogging, it’s been way too long! Normally by the beginning of a new year I share a post with beautiful moments throughout our year and also a new word for our year. I’m really not in a place to do that right now. My positivity is really quenched. Maybe someday soon, or maybe this is as good as it is going to get this time around. And I’m okay with that…

This is just a season in our lives, one that I know I will look back on and be so grateful for A) making it out alive and B) I hope to make it out a stronger person … and as a stronger family. But I guess I’m kind of over the surviving and I really want to deal with the fact that we. have. lost our. child. Our Eisley-girl.. I want to STOP and just BE sometimes.

It’s ugly, it’s messy, it’s painful. I’m unbearably miserable to be around (Ted basically pushed me out the door to have time alone and to write).  I go to bed feeling guilty and I wake feeling overwhelmed…wondering how I can keep putting my family through this debilitating depression, anxiety and anger. I wish someone could shake me and scream “get ahold of yourself woman!” and I’d just simply snap out of it. But i know it’s not the simple.

I feel guilt and an ache inside when I look at my beautiful little girl as a smile brightens her face… this twinge of guilt knowing that if I continue down this path, I will look back someday, and even now, and realize what a precious time in her life that I just allowed myself to survive, instead of truly live, breathe and enjoy  these precious and fleeting moments, like I used to.

For the first time since I’ve been a mother, and particularly since we’ve lost Eisley, I have completely lost myself… even physically look in the mirror and I cannot believe my eyes. Not just the weight, but my actual eyes, seem different. You know that saying “Your eyes are the window to your soul” … it sounds dramatic but it’s almost like even my body has had enough of me trying to hold everything together over these years. It’s like screw being adaptive! Let’s face this! Every season of life we’ve entered, even when it felt impossible I always been this “I’ve got this” person and I just did it. I don’t even know how, i just thought “Well, I can’t give up” and I (we) made it.

I’ve shared briefly and vaguely on the blog about my struggle with depression. But never this transparent. Perhaps because of the stigma attached to mental illness. And even as I write that “mental illness”, I cringe. It’s like I feel I’m saying “I’m weak” but in reality I know just how strong I’ve had to be. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. I have seen MANY family and friends walk through depression and they are some of the strongest people I know.

I hide it because frankly I feel ashamed.. I feel like there is this Jami everyone thinks they know, but that’s a version of me I want people to see. But even that facade is beginning to crumble. I find myself less and less able to hide… especially in a community where you are around people all. of. the. time. I want to hide away in our home, but I actually can’t, like it’s not even a possibility due to our schedules. Which maybe is a blessing in disguise (no). But I want to just hide away from the world. I don’t want people to see me failing and falling apart. (Yet, here I am sharing! HA!)

This is a part of my journey and my process. It isn’t for attention or for people to feel sorry for me. This is just me. I want to write it out loud (and believe me this isn’t everything). I also want others who struggle with depression and anxiety and anger to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one wants to share this part of themselves. We always want to share the parts we feel we have all together, or appear to have figured out. I have a deep respect for those who are humble and honest with where they are at. It is beautiful to come together in these difficult and dark valleys as well as the mountain top experiences as well.

I think we often fall trap to the lie that if we share these things people will run from us or worse, stay and say something christian cliche when all I want to do is scream Do you not know the same Jesus I do?! He walked through the messy, the gnarly. I know I feel weary of the runners and cliche words hence sharing very little until now. (Unfortunately I have been a runner or a cliche talking fool myself at times!)

I didn’t make a huge list of goals this year, like last year and the years before. I actually have made very few (and that was only with the encouragement of my girl Britt!)

This fall I started believing that I just can’t do this anymore and to be honest, ALL of the members of my family have felt that. Jami – the me, the wife, the friend, the momma, the homemaker, etc…. she’s given up.

But I can’t stay here… I want to start believing that I can again even when it feels like I can’t.

Yet, I also want to be real and honest with where I am at and work through the things I need to as they come and even the moments that have past and are the darkest.

And I want to be gentle with myself along the way (I’m the hardest on myself…)

I also want to do more of the things that are me and that I love and miss.

This is a declaration…

And I’m saying it with faith because I truly don’t know how to get back up from here… but I WILL.

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For my wounded/confused/amazing husband, for my beautiful (probably traumatized) kiddos… for me.

Here’s to a year of BREAKTHROUGH …  here’s to 2015.

Sharing Eisley (on sharing child loss)

This week Chase asked me about Eisley… again. His curious mind, wondering and trying to process things he either vaguely remembers, or things he’s heard and seen. Pictures, memorabilia, even the breakdowns I’ve had (that I can’t say I’m overly proud of).

I remember before I had her as the fear of losing her became greater and greater, I struggled with wondering, do I tell my almost 14-month-old anything? I mean he wouldn’t even remember, right? I knew he wouldn’t understand but would he feel things?

While I was in labor with Eisley, I was given a nurse who had two stillborn babies,her first baby and her third. She had children between and after her losses and she shared with me that she and her husband had decided to tell her other children. They were a part of their family, and they would celebrate them each year.

But what would we do? And if I don’t share now while he was little, then when? Do I ever?

Then I had Eisley, and to be honest, I didn’t really have time to think things through… clearly, anyways. It was all kind of a blur, a fog…a nightmare.

I think I knew deep down, not sharing about her wasn’t really an option. I felt so close with her, and now I felt like a part of me was missing. How could I not share her?

And even the moments, like this week and and the weeks to come – where the haunting anniversaries arrive, memories resurface, pain feels raw all over again,… I don’t ever regret sharing her…

and I especially don’t regret sharing Eisley with Chase, and now Shailo and some day, Everly.

There is truly an Eisley-shaped hole in our family that not only are Ted and I learning to live with. But also our children. They don’t feel the magnitude of what we felt and feel, but they feel something. Chase remembers some things from that time, though he was little.

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And more than that, they too, are processing the questions that arise in them that their minds can’t wrap around. It’s funny, in a childlike way, he has had some of the same thoughts/questions I’ve had for my Heavenly Father.

Like this last week when he said to me, “I know Eisley is with Jesus… But I wish she could come here and stay in our new home with us.”

Oh my heart.

I found myself wanting to say something comforting like, “but she is in heaven with Jesus and I bet she has a super cool room!”

But I just couldn’t. Validation, Jami, it’s what helped you when you needed it most, “yeah, me too, buddy.”

“Well, we can pretend she’s here!” He said and pulled Everly’s little rocker into the hallway.

I didn’t really know what to do or to say. So I didn’t. I didn’t move the chair for hours. But when the house was quiet as all 3 kiddos napped and I spotted the sun shining perfectly on the little rocker. It just broke me. I fell to my knees, put my head down and wept on to the empty rocker.

Even in these painful moments and memories, I still don’t… And can’t… Regret sharing her with her siblings.

Or sharing her with you along the way.

I had this fear she’d be forgotten, like she’d never existed, when we first lost her.

I wanted people to know of the beautiful little girl we held for 45 minutes. I wanted people to know of who we felt she was and to remember how she impacted us and also those who prayed for her.

To not share who she was, who she is and how she impacted our lives, felt like an injustice. For her, and honestly, for myself too. I always desire authenticity, even here on my
Blog. It has helped my grieving immensely, to write about her life and my struggles since she passed, and how we are moving forward as life is speeding by.

I realized, almost four years later, the ache is still ever-present and though it seems different, it isn’t any easier to process. We are still learning how to live with this ache, with the questions that arise in ourselves and in our kids/

This week I have felt so thankful that we decided to share her life with our other kiddos. And that we don’t hide behind close doors with our grief (though at time, we do). That even though the sudden questions may take us aback, we address them.

I haven’t been proud of many moments in my grief these past four years, but this is an area I am very thankful we allowed.

That we accept this as a part of our lives and say it’s okay to grieve and to talk about her. To ask the questions that linger.

We are learning what it means to share her life, to grieve and rejoice, together. Though each grieves so very differently, it is together as a family. And for that, I am beyond thankful.

I wanted to close the doors on my emotions this year, for some reason that I can’t quite pinpoint. But Chaseyboy’s questions and that moment in the hallway broke me.

I’m thankful. So thankful, as we are less than two weeks away from anniversaries.

Thank you for reading my emo blog post. I guess I just want to be sure I keep sharing. That I don’t close the door to the blog world, too. I know this blog has touched so many grieving mommas. I want to say to you that it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to share and to be heard and feel validated. Your child’s life happened, your loss happened. Speak it, cry it out, scream it out if needed. Be heard by at least one. I’m not saying you must write a blog in order to validate their life and your loss, but I just want to speak it out for you mommas, especially those who feel weak… don’t shut the doors to your grief, don’t fret that you will mess up your other kiddos if you cry in front of them.  It is okay to share, it might even help those around you too.

Sharing has helped in my healing. Sharing has helped in our family’s healing. It’s still painful, but it does helps.

Love,
J

 

3 years.

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember and remembering, {I keep a grip on hope.}

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning, how great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.”

Lamentations 3:19-24

eisleysbirthdayballoonrelease-53 years ago this morning we found ourselves in a place we’d never imagined. The morning our sweet and strong Eisley-girl passed away.

In some ways I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already. But honestly, it many ways, it feels like a lifetime since I held her in my arms, since we said our hellos and goodbyes.

We miss her so very much.

The ache, the ‘Eisley shaped hole’ still ever-present.

Even 3 years later, in remembering, it feels hard to breath. I sometimes still want to stomp my feet like a child, it just doesn’t seem fair. Or cry until I can’t anymore as if it would help ease the grief. Or veg out – like I did first thing this morning – to be completely honest. My boys woke super early. I walked to the living room, made them breakfast and then turned on a season of Project Runway. I didn’t want to think. I knew where my mind would go, and I was afraid of that.

That horrible morning still takes away my breath if I allow myself to think about it. The past few years I’ve found that I push Ted away, when this week comes around. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why until today. Even with all of my months of grief and trauma counseling, I still can’t fully “go there”, to that morning, to having my fears confirmed, to what it felt like to feel alone; to be away from Ted when I heard the news… How do we wrap our minds around this? I mean, can we? Do we even really want to? And add to that, our circumstances of that day which didn’t allow Ted to be with me when we lost her. I couldn’t even muster up the courage to call and tell him myself. Which I’ve forever regretted.

I realized today that when this anniversary of her death comes around, I want to push Ted away, shut him out. I was alone when I lost her and feel confused and alone even still, but that isn’t HIS fault. He is incredible; he practically became a single dad over night, while going to College and working full time. I mean, come on. Our circumstances just totally sucked, for lack of a better, non-profane word.

I realized today, I need to let him in. I need to let those who want in, in. Just because I was alone the morning of her death, doesn’t mean I have to be alone in grieving her. Ted was alone that day too. Most of our family and friends were alone too when they heard.

Eisley’s birthday is Tuesday September 17th and we will celebrate her life. I think on the 14th it will always be especially difficult and painful, because it was and in many ways, it still is. I think I need today and each September 14th to really just let it out, grieve and not hold back. This year I am not. The past two years I’ve forced this or that to happen and this year, I’m rolling with it. This morning I needed to veg. Now, I want to feel. Ted sent me off to a cafe to have time to myself. To journal and blog and do whatever I need to do. I am so thankful.

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(Chaseyboy on the 1st anniversary of her birthday. September 17, 2011)

I’ve been somewhat of an open book here on my blog, about the loss of Eisley and our journey through grief. I’ve come to accept that this is me. This is who I am and what I have felt has helped me process. And I just run with it. Thank you to those of you who’ve allowed me to just be me. Who haven’t judged me, or at least not to my face ;) Over the past 3 years, and in all my sharing, I’ve only ever heard two comments of negativity towards my sharing. Thank you for never shutting me down. Thank you for listening and caring.

Thank you mostly for remembering our sweet girl with us. We are forever grateful and honoured that she too touched and inspired your lives.

Much love.

Jami Joann

 

 

Pregnancy after loss: Where my feet may fail and fear surrounds me.

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Above: Little Baby Davis #4, making his/her first appearance on the blog :)

I thought it would be a little easier this time around. Being pregnant after loss and after having had another healthy pregnancy. I think at first, I felt it was easier. Maybe it was because even though we had tried for this baby, we didn’t really have much time to sit and process being pregnant again. If that makes sense. Our summer was a whirlwind. It flew by and here we are entering out second week of September already.

The truth is, it’s not easier this time around. And walking through another pregnancy after loss, I’ve come to realize and accept that it will never be easier. Our pregnancies will never feel safe again. I was reflecting on my first pregnancy with Chase and how unafraid I felt. I truly loved being pregnant. I miss that so very much. I am so thankful that at least one of our pregnancies was blissful. We hadn’t yet lost our innocence to what could happen.

The thing about fear for me, is that it’s paralyzing, debilitating. I struggle with major insomnia this pregnancy, and I feel it’s due to this fear. I also struggle with wanting to connect with this little one, even thought naturally I do. I want to, I just throw my guard up as if it would be easier if something were to happen. Which I know that it wouldn’t be any easier. My heart, though afraid of the risk, loves this little one so much already.

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Last month Ted introduced me to this song called Oceans by Hillsong. It’s been on repeat every day since. I just absolutely love it. The bridge is so perfect, I resonates in me.

 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,

and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Saviour.

When we lost Eisley, though the pain was beyond anything I have ever experienced, I feel my faith was made stronger. I remember when we lost her I felt like everything around me had shattered and there I stood, broken and confused …but there He stood with me. The picture I get it me standing in a room of darkness and broken glass and Him beside me. I felt for the first time, that I trust Him. Even though my daughter was taken from me, I trusted Him with everything in me. I knew He knew what was best for her even if it was painful for us.

I still feel this way and please, do not mistaken my fear in this pregnancy with lack of faith. I think it breaks my heart further when people speak words over me about my faith, etc. I have the faith and I also have this fear. I have trust in Him, but I also know that trust in Him doesn’t make me immune to suffering and pain. I accept this, I know this and I love Him. He is FOREVER good, even in my fear, even in my pain and in my weakness.

I guess I just wanted to get on my blog again (I miss blogging) and declare that even though – like this song states – my feet may fail me and fear surrounds me, I trust You, Father.

 

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I trust you with this little one, even if it means heartache in the end.

I feel He gave me this word this morning, the first word I’ve felt in a while:

“Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”

God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Better yet, on the Day God heals his people of the wounds and bruises from the time of punishment, moonlight will flare into sunlight, and sunlight, like a whole week of sunshine at once, will flood the land.” Isaiah 30:20-26

 

The 3rd year anniversaries of our Eisley-girl’s death and birth are coming up next weekend. While I can’t  believe it’s been 3 years, I also feel like it’s been a lifetime since we met her and said our goodbyes which breaks my heart. “But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home and it’s all you’ll ever know…”

triggered trauma + declarations

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The past few weeks have been pretty trying for our family. “When it rains, it pours” describes it best, I think.

So many things that were out of my control. Chase and Shailo somehow caught Whooping cough (Pertussis) … like an actual documented case. This was after learning Shailo had Pneumonia two days before (a result of the whooping cough). I had a sinus infection – not a big deal, just tiresome and annoying on top of everything else. Ted just had sinus surgery yesterday, which thankfully he’s recovery wonderfully.

Just a lot at once. And all of it, totally out of my control.

Since we’ve lost Eisley, I’ve really struggled with things being out of my control. Sometimes even more than one should. I used to take pride in being adaptable and adventurous and after September 14, 2010 – I felt as though those parts of me vanished.

My adventurous spirit is slowly rising up again, I can feel it. (Even my dad recently commented on seeing a bit of it again) I remember the exact day that I felt I dreamt again. I was at a little coffee shop with my friend Chey, late February. We were talking of future plans and I just felt excited, for the first time since Eisley’s passing, about a particular piece of our dreams that I thought I’d lost. Since then, I have felt even more adventure and courage rise up in me. I am moved to tears even now, with gratefulness.

But it’s also a struggle when things like the past few weeks come flooding in like they sometimes do.

I’ve struggle a lot in the past year. June of 2012 I started on anti-depressants. I’ve since had an on again, off again relationship with my meds. I hate that I need to take them to keep on moving, but I do. When I don’t, it’s really, really rough and dark. For me and for my entire family. I don’t like putting them through hell every time I’m not well, so I’m back on them.

And, yes, here I am sharing publicly… well, within the “privacy” of my blog and those who want to read it.

Monday, I sat in front of my counselor with this incredible weight on my chest. Tears wanted to burst through but again, I felt I needed to keep it together, be strong.

He said the words, affirmed what I feel deep down, but rarely affirmed. What we went through was horrific and traumatic and it’s okay that I (still) feel the way I do inside.

I told him I often feel crazy. I know deep inside that what we went through with the loss of Eisley was awful. I know this, if I let myself, I feel this. I’ve struggled feeling like I am crazy, because it’s not spoken of, most often it’s been ignored or I have been ignored. I get it, it’s very awkward, but I feel like it’s so much more than that.

I’m not crazy. I’m hurting. I’m still broken in many ways.

Trauma is triggered in moments like the past few weeks, when things are so difficult and out of my control. Obviously on a scale of 1-10 the things recently barely registered compared to the things we’ve walked through with Eisley. But my brain doesn’t know any different. It just triggers my trauma and I flip out, or shut down.

Friday May 31st, I sat in Shailo’s ER room, my hand on his little sleeping body and my head on the bed, tears pouring out my face. I knew he wasn’t in a life or death situation, but it all felt so scary. And to make matters worse, we were in the same hospital I lost Eisley in. Normally, I fet a little bit of time to prepare my mind for walking back in that hospital, but this evening there wasn’t time to “prepare” my mind and heart. A few different moments, it all felt too overwhelming. I just wanted to leave, but if you’ve ever been to the ER you know, it’s not a quick in and out experience.

I sought His peace but also felt so hurt and somewhat betrayed. I know He never leaves us or forsakes us, but there is still struggle and heartache.

That morning, before I realized how sick Shai was, I woke around 4am cramping and bleeding. The worst part was that we had just learned – 5 days before – that we were pregnant again. They were faint lines, but lines nonetheless. It all felt to odd, because if I’m being honest, initially I cried. But then wanted to be strong because the reality is that we didn’t really even have a confirmed ultrasound pregnancy – so it wasn’t a big deal, right? I had convinced my mind that it wasn’t a big deal, but my heart was so burdened and sad. Just days before we were talking about having our first February Baby and then here we were.

A friend helped guide me to truth and validation; we had a chemical pregnancy – which basically means I only knew via tests that we were pregnant. I guess it’s pretty common but most of the time woman think it’s their period starting late. I almost wish I hadn’t known I was pregnant, but then another part of me is glad I did know.

Talking with my counselor about it, I found myself choking up, tears filling my eyes, ” I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I’m crying.”

“Of course you would cry. Why wouldn’t you? You lost a baby. I would be worried if this didn’t affect you.”

Hearing that, the walls broke and so did I. Validation.

It’s not even been 3 years since we’ve lost Eisley and I just cannot keep living, denying my feelings and grief and the trauma anymore. The trauma is too much to bury and if I do, I wouldn’t be myself. I’ve seen it. If I continue to face this grief and trauma (in counseling like I have), perhaps I will continue to find peace and healing – and maybe even the pieces of me that I felt I’d lost will come back slowly. I know that I am forever changed by the loss of our Eisley-girl but I am not crazy. I am a broken, hurting, traumatized, emotional momma. But I am not crazy.

Declaring it. Standing firm in it. Choosing to walk in truth and face what needs to be faced.

Declaring that I will trust Him.

I wasn’t going to share about our little “Glory Baby”  – but within the “safety” of my blog – I know the people are read are ones whom I know what to hear what I have to say. Thank you so much for stopping by and listening to my ramblings.

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When my broken world caves in
And the darkness covers over
With a love, love, love that heals

You come, You make us one
So, Jesus, stay with my heart, stay beside me
You are hope for my soul, You complete me
You make us one
You make us one
When Your tenderness surrounds
And Your gentle whisper finds me
With a love, love, love that fills
You come, You make us one
When the beautiful unfolds
And my longing touches heaven
With a love, love, love that fills
You come, You make us one
You are love, You are grace
You are kindness and compassion
You are love, You are grace
You are God

-Stay Beside Me by Future of Forestry

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I will bring praise, I will bring praise!
No weapon formed against me shall remain!

I will rejoice, I will declare; God is my victory and He is here!

All of my life, in every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship!

-Desert Song

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And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
What could stand against?

-Our God by Chris Tomlin