This week we are sharing our first steps into the sea of grief. (My original post can be viewed HERE.)
My grief journey began before Carleigh died. The grieving began the moment I found out that my daughter wasn’t going to live. Your heart starts preparing yourself for what is ahead. The days following the fatal diagnosis were tough. I cried a lot of tears and was trying to make sense of everything that was happening to us and our daughter. I did a lot of research and listened to various songs, especially the song I Will Carry You by Selah.
We got the diagnosis on December 15, 2008 and we left for a family trip to Hawaii on December 19th. It was a trip that we had been planning for 3 years. I think that trip was exactly what we needed and I don’t think it was merely coincidence at the timing of it all. I resolved to leave our “problems” behind us and just enjoy the trip and that’s exactly what I did. In doing so, great memories were made and weren’t overshadowed by sadness. I got to enjoy a vacation where Carleigh was actually with us.
When we got back from the trip I started planning for the road ahead of us. We starting making pre-arrangements for her funeral and I even started this blog to document our journey and keep people updated. I really did want to enjoy as much of my pregnancy with Carleigh as I could instead of being clouded with sadness. I knew from reading stories of other parents who walked this road that I only had this time we were given and I didn’t want to look back with a lot of regret. Thankfully, I have very few regrets in the decision that we made and the regrets I do have are ones I can live with and not have them eat at me. Of course, I had moments when I was carrying Carleigh that I was sad. I didn’t want her to die and I wished I could have done anything to make it so that she didn’t have to.
The day came for Carleigh to be born and our hope all along was that we would get time with Carleigh alive. On March 28, 2009, our Carleigh was born still. We weren’t given time with her alive in our arms but I honestly ok with it and I was ok with it then too. It was more important to me to have her in my arms after waiting for her for many months. The time in the hospital with her wasn’t sad for me until it came time to leave. I cried dressing her and driving to the funeral home is not a drive I ever thought I’d have to make. The hardest moment of my whole journey was handing Carleigh over to the funeral director and walking away. Broken doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt in that moment.
Her visitations and service went well. I held her the entire time, which was a great comfort to me. I did ok during the visitations but I cried during the service. Putting her in the casket and closing it was so hard. Walking away was even harder. I never wanted to let her go but I had to.
In the days that followed I seemed to do ok. I think that is mostly in part to my daughter Kyndra. She kept my hands and mind busy and didn’t let me dwell long in grief. She allowed me to smile and laugh and feel good on days when the missing was so much. God continued to carry me and I felt Him. Around 6 months after she was born the grief became more intense and I felt farther from God but I managed to get through it and things got better.
I didn’t like to leave my house much and whenever we went out into crowds it always put me in a bad mood. Thankfully, this did get better but only after I recognized what was happening and that I wanted it to change. It was a slow process and it didn’t happen overnight. I just wanted to feel like me again even though I knew the old me was never going to come completely back.
I’m still on this grief journey and I am approaching 3 years. There are still ups and downs. The downs happen less and less as time passes but I am always missing her. I still think of her every day. I still wonder who she would be today if she had lived.
I know my grief on this earth will always be present but I am glad for the hope of Heaven. I know one day I will be reunited with my baby girl. I will get to walk with her and Jesus one day. I look forward to the day we can be together again, but until then I will continue to live this life the best that I can without her here.