When I read about the loss of Lillian in the Samaritan Newsletter, my heart broke for your family. While I have suffered a miscarriage in the past, I won't pretend that I can imagine what you are feeling, the pain of losing a child you have held, loved and cared for. Angie Smith's story has been a vital tool on my journey to healing, not just from the loss of our baby, but also from the many hurts and disappointments this life has dealt. When the time is right, I pray God can use her book in your life, too.
I now understand that many of us come to you feeling the need to help "fix" how you feel with our words and even scripture, but the simple truth is, we can't. I realize "our faith gives us the sure hope of seeing [Lillian] again, but the hope does not take away the pain." (Gregory Floyd)
So I close with a long-distance hug and assurance that I and many others have been and will continue praying for you.
Isn't that such a sweet note? Of all the books we received on grief, this is the one I wanted to read the most. Yet I was unable to even read the back cover without crying. I picked it up numerous times in the last 2 years, teared up, and put it back down. Finally I determined early last week that now was the time. Lilly's 4th birthday was coming up, making it her 3rd without us, and I just felt like I was ready to read it. That I needed to read it.
Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith, the lead singer of the Christian group Selah. When she was 18 weeks pregnant, they found out Audrey had a number of conditions that earned her the dreaded label "incompatible with life."
Angie described the roller coaster ride that her pregnancy was. She cried. A lot. I was struck by this and all the many similarities between what happened with her family and Audrey and our family with Lilly. But I dealt emotionally with some things differently than Angie. Honestly Angie probably took the more healthy approach. She cried and talked about what was happening a lot. I didn't so much. While pregnant with Lilly I put my numb/detached wall up and refused to think anything other than "I will bring this baby home from the hospital."
Audrey was born by c-section. She was tiny - 3 lbs. And much to her family's delight, she lived for 2.5 hours. They loved on her, talked to her, sang to her, and extended family was at the hospital to meet her. They dressed Audrey up and had beautiful pictures made with her through Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
[NOTE: I got all the photos used in this blogpost today from Google Images.]
|The Smith family with Audrey|
|Notice the hat for Audrey|
In the back of the book, there is a section that Todd wrote for fathers. I think this was such a good idea to include that since I think in general, fathers do not get the attention and help that mothers do, in the grieving process.
Angie also has a chapter on helping children grieve. As we've done a number of things that she talked about, I can say that "yes" they are things that helped. Angie noted that her girls often drew pictures with coffins in them. That reminded me of how Hunter went through a phase of playing funeral. He would "bury" his stuffed dog Sam. Hunter was 3 when Lilly died, and in the 6 months proceeding her death, we had also buried Frank's father and uncle. Then a few months after burying Lilly, a baby at church died and Hunter asked "Oh, did that baby have Trisomy 18 too?" Hunter was 4 when he cried about Lilly. Children process things differently, depending on their ages and maturity level.
And really, adults process things differently at different stages too. I doubt there are two people in the world that grieve in the exact same way at the exact same time.
Finally, Angie has a section of helpful resources. Books, websites, and memorial ideas.
You may recall that earlier this year, I gave away Angie Smith's children's book Audrey Bunny for Trisomy 18 Awareness Day. (My post is here.) This is a book about a bunny that has a mark on her heart and she tries to hide it. But when her "owner" finds it, she loves the bunny anyway.
This bunny is based on the real stuffed bunny that Angie and Todd bought for Audrey when Angie was pregnant. They had found a bunny with a mark on it's heart and in spite of pressure from the saleswoman at the gift shop to buy one without a mark, they bought it anyway. It was the perfect bunny for their little girl with the heart issues.
Angie and Todd took the bunny home and showed it to their little girls and explained that Audrey's heart had "a boo boo." The little girls put bandaids on the bunny's heart. Isn't that sweet? And I think a very helpful tool in teaching those little girls about their sister.
I'm so thankful I finally got the courage/strength to read this book. Tabby took it from me the day after I finished it and read the whole book in a morning. She liked it too. I think it is a helpful book for anyone. Even if you haven't lost a child, I Will Carry You can help you better understand those that did and how you might help.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. - 1 Corinthians 4:16-18
note: This blog post contains amazon.com affiliate links. If I ever make any money from book purchases through these links, the money will be used to bless others through the Lilly Memorial Fund. :)