Terrifyingly confusing

It’s been so hard to write.  It’s been so hard to grieve.  It’s been so hard to process Winnie’s death.  The past few months have been very hard, and we’ve been relatively quiet about how we’re doing.  

Clive’s and Winnie’s deaths were so different, and our response has also been different. 

Clive’s body failed him slowly.  It was traumatic to watch him suffer so greatly.  His body was so incredibly broken.  We held him.  We said goodbye.  We watched him close his eyes one final time, and breathe his last breaths.  We ushered him from our arms into heaven.  We were devastated, but we had a measure of peace knowing he was finally healed in heaven.  God’s presence was with us in that hospital room and went with us as we left the hospital and headed home. 

Winnie, though…  Winnie’s death was a violent shock. She was here, and then she was gone.  Like a vapor.  9 days were really just 7, as she was born so late in the night, and died so early in the morning.  Most of the days she was under the phototherapy lights for hours, with a little mask over her sweet eyes.  We got a call in the very early hours of the morning, and rushed across the street to the hospital.  We had to try three entrances before we finally got in through the ER and hurried through the long hallways to the NICU.  We didn’t say goodbye.  Her final moments were anything but peaceful.  She was gone so suddenly. I held her body for hours after she passed.  We were wailing and weeping.  I was begging God to let my heart stop, too.  Please.  


I read an article about losing a child and gaining something greater in our closeness to God and our understanding of his suffering.  (http://www.iamsecond.com/2016/01/we-lost-a-child-and-gained-something-greater/)

I get it.  I get the gist of what they are trying to say.  I actually would have resonated with it a lot after losing Clive.  I felt close to God.  I felt a small measure of understanding.  I felt a remarkable and surprising peace.  It hurt so incredibly badly, but I felt the sense that good was happening in midst of our painful story with our son.  And it was.  It did.  It still is.

But, Winnie.  Winnie’s death has broken me open.  Winnie’s death has not made me cling to God in that way.  Winnie’s death has brought utter confusion and complete terror on a new level.  Winnie’s story was supposed to be an expectant one.  It was to be one of restoration and hope, of renewed joy, of prayers answered.  We were so hopeful of healing.  I remember being so glad that this time I wouldn’t be the ‘scary NICU story’ and that I could have a place to reach out to NICU families from the other side.  We had so many plans for that little girl.

I don’t feel that I gained more in losing her.  I lost more.  I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why things happened the way they did.  Sometimes there is no ‘silver lining’, no reason, and no ‘better’ to come of it.  Sometimes things feel so devastatingly broken and completely shattered. 

Processing her death has been terrifyingly confusing.  Sam has described it so well: it’s as if I have just placed this traumatic event on a shelf in my mind, unable to register it or process it.  Every so often, I take it off the mental shelf, and open it up.  My brain freaks out, sending it straight back onto the mental shelf.  

Terrifying confusion.  I have no other words to describe it.  
My perspective may change.  My healing may bring some different understanding and some peace.  I hope for this.  I desire this.  I’m pressing into Him.  

But, in my completely honest and vulnerable heart right now, I feel an unrest and lack of peace.  

I feel anger and indignation.  

I feel jealousy and frustration and bitterness.  

I feel darkness and abandonment.  

I feel exposed, abused, and cast out.  

I feel many, many things that I didn’t feel in the same way after losing Clive. 

I feel that I understand both sides now.  I understand the people that watch others grieve with peace, understanding, and acceptance and think “How is that possible?  What’s wrong with them?  What’s wrong with me?”  

And I understand the people who have peace that surpasses understanding.  

But right now, that is not me.  

And if that is not you, either, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I’m with you.  

It is so very hard.  It’s hard to feel so uncertain.  It’s hard to sit across from a friend and say. “I need you to know that I am not okay.”  It’s hard to do some normal things and feel that people may interpret it as being ‘better.’  We may smile, but we absolutely ache inside.  We are not better.  We are not okay.  And that is to be expected.  Our children are dead.  We shouldn’t have to be okay.  

Right now, it’s hard to hope.  Hope has disappointed us.  Each day is a struggle for both of us.   We’re very unsure and unsteady.  But, even on the days when darkness is incredibly heavy, we are showing some hope.  Right now, hope is evident in working, eating, sleeping, and just living.  Hope is evident in the fact that we have plans for the next month and that we haven’t given up.  

We still have so much hardship ahead of us.  There is so much we could share, but struggle to even find the words to communicate.  It’s hard to be in a familiar place of devastation again, but find that many of the tools that worked last time are too painful or ineffective this time.  Healing and grieving is looking different, and it’s hard to figure it out.  

I’m in different and separate places in my grief with Clive and Winnie, and it’s confusing to sort that out mentally.  I’ve processed and grieved Clive’s death so much more than Winnie’s, and I’ve figured out how to mother, love, and remember him.  But with my sweet daughter, I am stuck.  Healing is so hard.  It takes a ton of effort and energy and I just feel so tired.  

I sat in a heap of rubble after our miscarriage, and slowly allowed healing to happen.  It took time and effort, and I witnessed the rebuilding and restoration.  The walls fell again when Clive died.  I found myself again sitting in the debris.  I slowly created something with the ruins.  Rebuilt and healed.  It took so much effort, but I saw the hope and joy slowly restoring.  But after the walls fell again, I feel incredibly defeated.  Healing is hard for me, because it’s been followed with more pain, more damage, and more destruction.  Healing is tiring.  There’s a thousand stones around me, and I’m just taking one small stone at a time.   

Thank you for continuing to reach out.  Even when texts and messages and calls go unanswered, it means so much to us.  Thank you for taking the time to write to us at Christmas and share how our story has impacted you.  We’re still slowly reading those comments and emails.   Thank you for continued prayers.  We still need them.  

7 thoughts on “Terrifyingly confusing

  1. Kellie says:

    I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your story, but I can relate so much to what you are going through. Our stories are different, but the same in so many ways. I lost my daughter at full term because of a fatal defect. We struggled to conceive after that and when we finally did, I felt like the new baby was our redemption. Almost our “reward” for handling our loss with Lily with grace and acceptance. And then there was no heartbeat at eight weeks and losing that baby broke me in a way I didn't think possible. In many ways I grieved more that baby lost at eight weeks. A life is a life after all. But it was more that it brought out anger, resentment, jealousy and so much more that I didn't know I had.

    I don't mean to make this about me…I just want you to know, you are not alone in your pain. I think and pray for you and your husband every day. This side of Heaven, I will never understand any loss, but especially when a family has to suffer this much. I'm so sorry you lost your precious babies and I'm so sorry you are hurting so much.


  2. Lea says:

    Thank you for sharing in your suffering, about what the dark Valley feels like. I only know the loss of 1 child after 6 healthy, and I need to hear these things so I can understand, love and pray for others more specifically. I am so thankful that God knows your suffering and is not ashamed of His own in their pain and brokenness. Much prayers for a new season to come soon, bringing fresh hope and healing to you both, brave, dear parents of Angel babies.


  3. Davilyn says:

    Me too. I am with you in the rubble. My losses are different but had the same effect. I am so sorry. No matter what angle I look at from I cannot make any of my mess okay. And slowly I am learning to live in this new reality, where what happened was not okay and there is nothing good about a single piece of it. My comfort is that one day all these tears will be wiped away. One day…and every day is one day closer to that place of complete healing. Until then I will remain broken, in the rubble, doing the best I can with what I have right beside you.


  4. Eva Fritch says:

    I'm so sorry Rachel & Sam! This is so wrong, so unfair. I don't have words to encourage or comfort, but I do want you to know that Cory and I grieve with you. We pray for you so often. Whenever I'm missing my Camden, I pray for you both. I am just so sorry. Thank you for sharing. It helps as I pray for you


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