Friday, May 18, 2012

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

The publisher has been calling here... they told me months ago they would check in in May to see how I was coming along with my book.  I've been avoiding the calls because I'm failing miserably at writing my book. 

I decided I would read some of my old posts to help set the tone for me to get back to writing.  And to be completely honest, I'm ashamed and confused. 

I wasn't faking it and I seemed to be so full of faith and trust and hope.  I feel like it was someone else writing....and it was. What happened to me??

I know part of it was my drive to share Rachel and God with others - In my protective Mama way, I was making sure people didn't pity me for having a girl like my Rachel.  I didn't want anyone to think of her as a problem... but as a beautiful gift.  And in the middle of the trial...or what I, at that point, thought was the 'middle'... I focused all my energy on showing people who my God is.  These things gave me purpose.  And that purpose got me through.

And so what about now?  Well, I don't really have an excuse good enough.  All I can do is share my heart again.....

This is way harder than I ever expected it would be, even while carrying her.  The pain has lasted way longer than I ever thought it would.  I've gotten much less long term support than I thought I'd get from people closest.  I've had to defend myself way more that I had hoped.  I guess I fell for the lie that grief doesn't last long and then you go back to your 'old life' with just a little new bit of history... "I lost a baby once". 

I guess I thought that God would stay just as close and continue to carry me.  And I'm not denying that He is still with me, but if you've ever had a serious trial, you probably know what I mean when I say the closeness of God in that valley was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  He was so real and so present that every moment of the day I was overflowing with joy from His provision.  It was still terribly hard, but I never felt alone.

And so as I continue to walk this road, it's hard to not get a little upset with Him that He seemingly has moved on just like everyone else. 

I never would have believed while I was pregnant with Rachel that I would ever feel so much anger over this situation.  If you told me that I was going to struggle like I do at times, I would have said no way... why?  Because that was what happened to other people... the 'other people' who didn't rely on God as much.  And that wouldn't ever be me.  So there you have it, I'm judgemental too.  And maybe I'm being taught my lesson...  Because here I am... angry, disappointed, and even bitter at times.... and I struggle to be positive when it comes to Rachel.  I struggle to find that silver lining that used to come so automatically.  And at the same time, even though I used to think the same thing in my pride, I get extremely hurt by the people who think they'd do such a better job if in my situation. 

What I'm discovering is that the valley of the shadow of death is darker and deeper than I ever imagined - and for as much as I grieved while I was pregnant, I had no idea what I was in for when she was actually gone.  And it's lonely too because I'm guessing I'm not the only one who likes reading my posts from last August more than my recent ones.  People don't like heavy and they prefer to ignore hard feelings.  I have a lot of blog readers who really do love me and support me (even if just in their hearts and I'm happy with even that), but in all my life I never imagined I would get hate mail.... and as my sister so kindly pointed out to me last night, I said it doesn't bother me, but it sure sounds like it does.  I guess my definition of 'bother' has been reduced to one where I have a physical reaction to it.  And since my blood pressure didn't rise, I didn't cry and I didn't want to puke, I thought that was good. 
I got an email yesterday that said this:

"THANK YOU for putting into words what so many broken hearted moms are feeling but don't think they can really say.

I don't have words that will fix the pain or make you feel better- but I'll share some words that were given to me once. They've changed how I see a lot of things.
...the pain will go away when God has used up every single ounce of it for His purpose. The pain sucks- but it's not in vain. He promises that He will turn every tear into something good. That's so hard to imagine. So hard to even want. So hard to understand. But so true. He desires to take your tears and heartache and use it."
And so today, I'm begging God to break down the shell I've formed around my heart - in an attempt to protect it from pain that, ultimately, I can't escape - and allow me to continue to FEEL my way through this.  No matter what anyone thinks about my tears.  No matter how I'm judged.   No matter if I've gone into 'overtime' with my grief according to someone else.  I'm begging Him to help me to not care about useless opinions and harsh words.  I'm asking him to use every tear for His purpose, to help me continue to be driven by my pain to positive things.  That my heartache will not be in vain, but used for His eternal purposes.  I'm pleading that He makes Himself real to me and reminds me of the beauty that Rachel's life brought into mine.  And not because anyone else thinks it's 'about time' but because that's what I want for her legacy. 

Someone sent me a link to a blog the other day that described grief as the 'realization of what you're missing' - that is going to happen to me every day for the rest of my life because she was my child.  That is the exact reason losing a child is so different from other losses....every day you realize another thing you're missing.  You don't grow past that with a child's death because with your child, there is always something new that 'should be happening now' well into when they would have been adults.  And as each of my other children grow and do new things... sit up, learn to ride a bike, tie their shoes, win drawing contests (Go, Des!), get married, have children, come to my house for Thanksgiving.... I will always know there is a little girl in heaven I didn't get to watch grow.  I will always wonder what she would have been like and how much joy I'm missing without her.  I'm happy for her, but it's hard for me.

In Deb's recent email she told me that she could "understand why my family was growing weary of me holding on to my tragedy for dear life" - and out of every mean thing she said to me, that was the only one on my mind the next day.  I wondered if it was because there is truth to that... that maybe I am holding on to my 'tradegy' and not letting go when I 'should be'.  But here's why that *really* bothers me... because I wonder if my family really feels that way.  At first glance, I thought she was crazy to suggest such a thing, just like the rest of her email.   But are they?   Do they view me this way?   I already know some 'friends' are... I've gotten the 'concerned' emails from people who never bother to check in or call otherwise.  But with our families, I'm not sure - because nobody talks of her.  And when I do or Matt does, the other end of the line is usually silent.  Have I misinterpreted the silence?  Or is she wrong on that one too?  I just don't know.

And I guess that is the last thing I ever expected to  happen along this journey.  I never thought that people who love me and loved Rachel would ever be confused as to why this pain lasts. And I never thought I'd have to wonder if they were tired of hearing about her...if they'd prefer I stopped talking about her.  I guess I never saw the negative spin on it of holding onto my 'tragedy'  - I thought I was holding onto Rachel.  And she isn't a tragedy. 

But maybe everyone else is ready to step out of the valley but me.  Maybe the shadow of death feels different for them. It would have to be, she grew in me and I gave birth to her.  Nobody else could love her like I do if they wanted to.  Maybe I should just learn to be okay with that.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord

Pastor Dave told me this Psalm was one that my Uncle Dale found comfort in during the last days of his life.  It's also one of the reasons Asa is named Asa - it means God Restores - and they read it in church the day we decided on his name.  This journey has shown me a pain that exists on earth that I didn't know before.

Someday.... not here, but there....  He will completely restore my soul.  I love my life and I love each one of the blessings I have here - And I have no desire to leave this earth, yet at the same time I have so much to look forward to in heaven.  I've quoted the Blessings song before, but this reminds me of the line that says:

"What if the pain of this life is a revealing of the greater things this world can't satisfy"

And so that's where I'm at.  I wish I felt different, but I don't.  And I am confident that contrary to popular belief, God can and will use even this.  I am certain that as I continue to seek His face in this valley, He WILL BE with me.  And one day, when I see His face and hers... I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever and the shadow of death with be turned into light.  I take great comfort that she is already out of the shadow....and dancing in His light forever.

just saw this on facebook - it went perfect with this post ♥ Thank you Lord....


  1. I Love You Stacy!You consistently share your heart with us, thinking it out as you go, there is no one like you in writing or greif, we are all so individual. Your a gift. It's to bad you couldn't just submit your blogs to be published, yet it's an ongoing journey, so there are bound to be more books to come or blog books if you did that. I've been praying since you shared about Rachel from the beginning and will continue. God Bless You!

  2. Anyone who thinks that there is a timeline to grief has never truly grieved. God is with you.

  3. I really feel your heart in this post! For some reason I have been tormented often lately at the thought that my friends and family are tiring of hearing me talk about Amelia...such difficult times...I already feel as if I have censored my grief more than I should. I REFUSE to stop telling her story, saying her name, and recognizing her as member of my family. I just finished Amelia's birth day photo book and in it I included this quote with our family pictures.

    There are all sorts of different families...some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever. Mrs. Doubtfire

    I love you!

  4. Perfectly said. Again- you're sharing your heart... the feelings of so many other moms who are walking this journey.

  5. Just wanted to say we love you the whole you, even the hurting you as you know its not easy having lost a loved one i can understand excactlly what you are saying and feeling. i too have and are still at times there. i rember so clearly how it felt like God was holding me and knew all would be ok then as time went on and he was there just in a diffrent way i felt all alone i want you to know through you i have seen so much faith and Gods love, thank you for being true and not pretending all was ok when it isn't thank you for being you. I have grown in my faith by your blog i am encouraged every time i read either to pray and or just act, thanks for all of your post.. we all love you as you i hope know. we love Rachel too. years have past and i still feel the pain of my lost however i do Know Gods there and i know at times it feels as though hes not yet he is please know we never forget your family in our thoughts or prayers love you

  6. Thank you for sharing your heart. A friend shared your blog with me today, praying for you, your grief, your heart.

  7. Stacy, I'm once again stunned about your words, your deeper insights, your honesty! Thanks for sharing Rachel and your grief! You make me understand more abiout grief and about God. You make my grow in Him! I can see Jesus in you!
    Love and hugs, anja

  8. No one knows the exact pain in your heart...not even another baby loss mama. It is so individual, so unique that there is no other person that will feel exactly the same way as another. You are grieving JUST how you're supposed to! In your own time, in your own way. There are so many of us that love and support you right where you are. Even through the saddest, hardest, most ugly times. We don't expect you to just forget Rachel or not mention her name. We love seeing how her life continues to touch others and will for decades! We expect you to cry out to God and for there to be pain, anger, grief that spills out! Take your time...we are here for you. RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE - every step of the way. <3


We so appreciate your words of encouragement!
Thank you! ♥ The Aubes