Death is so hard to deal with. Was talking to a friend today and she reminded me about how none of us really know how to deal with the death of a loved one or how to comfort a friend when they are mourning the loss of a loved one. Even having had my own child die all too soon, I still am speechless with others who are experiencing a loss as well. None of us are ever prepared for it, unless we are morbid we don't go around expecting people to just die on us. I know I personally hope that everyone I know will stay alive forever! But I know all too well that this doesn't happen.
When I was a kid, I used to mourn the loss of my grandpa. He passed away a month before I was born in his 40's and from a heart attack, but when I was like 7-9 years old I started to really feel that loss. It started with the death of a pet cat, it reminded me of the death of my grandpa. I would think of all the great things that people said about my grandpa and I knew that I loved him too, even though I had never met him, hugged him or anything.
Later when I was out of high school I experienced first hand the loss of a loved one. In 2001 my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and was told he would only have about 6 months to live. This shocked us all. I remember my aunt was so strong when he was alive, I wonder now if she was just shocked and numb and that it didn't really sink in until he was gone and we were saying good-bye at the funeral home. My sister recently told me that our aunt was talking to her about the loss of her husband, and how I was using the same words to describe the loss I was feeling with my son.
A few years later my other grandpa passed away. He was in his 90's and had Alzheimer's and I wasn't shocked at all when I heard about him passing away. We had all been expecting it, he had been in a nursing home for 7 years at this point, he didn't remember any of us when we went to visit him and it was sad to visit him. He was just wasting away in this building full of other older people who also were deteriorating in front of us. I was sad that he was gone, but the sadness happened slowly over time, because every time we went to go see him he was different, and not quite the same man that he used to be. His eyes were vacant when he looked at you, he didn't remember us, so any love or spark of emotion we used to see was no longer there.
Couple of years later, just a few years ago, I lost one of my best friends to mental illness, and she committed suicide. From time to time I spend some time thinking about her, and her life, remembering her from our college years. I try to not think about all the regrets and time that I could have seen her but chose to do something else instead. She was in her mid twenties when she died, and had so much more life that could have been lived.
And then there are the little ones that have been lost, my son, my sister's child, my sister in law's child, and all of the babies that my cousin's lost. It's sooo hard to think of that little life that is now gone, that never got a chance to live its life. Of course we aren't the only ones who have lost children, lots of women have. Either they lose the child through miscarriage (before 20 weeks gestation), or they lose the child through stillbirth (after 20 weeks gestation), or their child passes away as an infant (any baby that is born with life and passes away at any point after their birth). I've joined a few forums on Baby Center and I am truly shocked at how many women suffer from the loss of their babies, and some of these women have consecutive losses. I really don't know if I want to get on a soap box right now, but I will step up for a moment and just say that something has to change with our healthcare. I don't know the exact number but I do know that thousands upon thousands of the women who suffer from multiple losses shouldn't have to go through this pain. There are a lot of non-invasive blood tests that can be done to determine if a mother is at higher risk for losing a child. Also if a mother loses a child in the second or third trimester there are ultrasounds that can be done more often to monitor the cervix length, to look for blood clots, and other things. Sometimes it's just a matter of the mother being put on bed rest, and given a cerclage and then she can rest easier knowing she is doing all that she can for her child. But many women aren't even given the chance for this type of care.
I don't understand why more people aren't raising their voices about this. Lots of people raise their voice about abortion and protecting the innocent lives of those babies... but what about also these that are lost that didn't need to be lost, where the miscarriage could have been prevented with better care. Ok... I am going to step down for now, let folks read and think about that. It's something that I just get really frustrated with because I am one of those women who has lost a child to miscarriage, and sometimes really do feel like it could have been prevented.
Back to why I started this post in the first place... Death, what do you say and what do you do for someone who has lost a loved one? I think there are definitely some good things to say... and some bad things. Definitely let the person know you are thinking about them and praying for them to feel some comfort. Knowing that people are there for you is a great help. Be there for a hug if they need one, I know I always feel better after hugs from friends and family. Let them know that if they need anything, or anyone to talk to that you are available and willing to talk. Hardest thing for me is that sometimes I think that maybe people are tired of hearing about my loss, they want me to just... move on, stop dwelling on the loss. Well it's not as easy as that, I can't just make a decision to move and and then be done with it. LOTS of things remind me of my baby boy, lots of times I am caught by surprise by it. So yes I still want to talk about him sometimes... I think I use my blog for that most of the time or forums because I figure people can choose whether or not to continue reading or not, if they don't want to hear about it anymore then they can stop reading. Easy as pie! :)
The thing is... when someone has lost someone they love, there aren't very many things you can do or say that will make that person feel better at that moment, all of it takes time and for me lots of prayer and reading of the Word of God. Meditating on the Psalms has helped me, there are some that really do express how I am feeling or at least parts of the Psalm that do.
My sister gave me a little notebook that she had made for herself after her miscarriage, and it's filled with verses that helped her with her grief. Some I find helpful and others not right now but maybe later.
Some of them are...
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40: 8
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1: 3-5
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
"The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore." Psalm 121:5-8
And with that I say, Amen.