DWITS #7 – Chapter 4, Helping My Children Overcome Their Loss
Below, our family in 1993 before baby Abby’s birth and death in 1995. How could I help them understand and cope with our overwhelming loss of her?
I am just a common person, sometimes living an uncommon life. I am not super woman, nor am I a “saint” as some have suggested for all I have been through. I have my failings as all sinners do. The beginning of this chapter in my latest book, Death, Where is Thy Sting: Recovery from the Loss of Our Loved Ones and Preparation for Our Own Final Days, shares some of my personal struggles and how the Lord showed up to carry me when the going got rough, then even rougher for our family.
I hated being the super glue that God required me to be for our family to stick together. I had to set aside my grief, compartmentalize it, to help my family deal with their broken hearts. I would have to wait on the Lord — for His timing — to process my infant daughter’s death and heal my own crushed soul.
Thankfully, in helping my surviving children cope, I began to process what had happened and how it had changed my life — our lives — forever. Never in my 38 years of life had I considered that one of my vigorous children would pre-decease me in their childhood. It just never was on my radar. Beginning December 25, 1995, it became front and center on the screen of my life.
By God’s design and foreknowledge of what was to come, He had graciously led us to start homeschooling the fall before Abby’s death. How thankful we were that it was already set-up for us to simply stay home together every day — learning, living, becoming an even more closely-knit family who held each other up in our time of tragedy. We did a lot of reading aloud, making hands-on projects, learning life skills, and going for long walks in our neighborhood or at the Denver Zoo (someone had thoughtfully given us an annual pass and it was only a 5-mile-drive from our home). It was a perfectly situated arrangement to recover.
I let go of a lot of things I was previously consumed with, and life worked itself out fine. The house got messier than usual, the kids picked out their own clothes (and you could tell!), we brushed hair and teeth maybe once a day, but some days even those fell through the cracks in our death recovery season. I stepped back from volunteer activities, and we did not rush through the day or over-schedule our lives. We increased our family routine’s previously narrow margins to very wide ones. It was a valuable learning experience for rebooting our family life. I would not wish such a time of tragic grief on anyone, but we endured it — and by God’s grace — we lived through it, together as a family. We came out of it wiser, stronger, with more compassion for others.
(Chapter continues in book)