Last year I wrote Thankfulness in the Face of Grief. It was written with a knife. The pain in my heart as I struggled to praise God was nearly unbearable.
Is it possible to experience thankfulness when looking back?
It’s hard to comprehend that an entire year has gone by. 365 days of grief, sorrow, pain, love, peace, anxiety, and joy. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be where I am now, I would have called you a liar.
We could feel nothing but hurt, anger, sorrow, and emptiness. I was desparately struggling to find my faith, the very faith that had let me down. I felt alone, forsaken, and convinced that I had died along with my daughter. My boys were my only reason to live, to get out of bed every morning, to attempt a normal life.
Did you notice that I included love, peace, and joy in my feelings from the past year? I never thought I would feel them again and allowing them into my heart was nothing less than bravery. It is easier, safer, to not feel. To shut myself up with anger as my defense. Bitterness is never something I’ve embraced, but if it could keep me from such horrible hurt, than it was well worth a try.
This year I am going to list what I am thankful for from the past 12 months and even though this is also written in tears, it is not a struggle. Somehow, I am in a place that is less dark. The hole in our family remains. That will never change and I don’t want it to. I don’t ever want to stop missing her, to stop thinking about her, or to stop wishing she was beside me.
Our hearts are slowly healing and we are accepting that we will never be the way we once were. We also accept that we can’t change what happened to Rebekah, we can only continue on with our lives and live them the way we were meant to.
For all of you who are into the November thankfulness stuff, here is my list!
With all of this in mind, I have decided to title this blog post “Thankfulness in the Face of Hope” because it is hope that has pushed us forward and carried us through. Without hope, we have nothing. It is the hope that I will one day see Rebekah again that comforts my heart. It is the hope that my boys have good experiences inspite of the awful pain they’ve had to live with that pushes me out of my dark place.
I am thankful that I had my Rebekah for 8 ½ years.
How many mothers have been forced to kiss their newborns and place them into the ground? They will always wonder who their child would be, what they would’ve looked like, and how their personalities would develop. They never had the opportunity to be excited about their first smile, steps, or words. I cuddled my sweet baby girl as she nursed to sleep. I listened to her endless chatter and played dress up with her. We colored pictures and went shopping together. Yes, I still mourn her future, but I’m thankful for all the memories and the time we spent together.
I am thankful for the wonderful people I have in my life.
You know who you are. The love and support I have received has carried me more than you will ever know. My advice now to those who are in the midst of grief is to surround yourself with people who love you. Love is a powerful emotion and it goes a long way in comforting the broken hearted.
I am thankful for Caleb who makes me laugh.
He is the most sensitive to my moods and the first to help me whe he sees I’m overwhelmed. I am finding this preteen age to be both fun and frustrating, but knowing he’s by my side and I’m by his makes my days brighter.
I am thankful for Micah who snuggles up to me.
His love language is the same as mine and having him here always ready for a hug goes a long way in healing my heart.
I am thankful for Joshua’s energy and love for life,
Sometimes that energy is a bit challenging to harness, but it keeps our house lively and sunny. Just like a beautiful little girl I know.
I am thankful for Joel’s constant smile.
I spent months clinging to him and crying. Hopefully he doesn’t need therapy some day because of it! He has a knack for warming my heart at the exact moment I need it most.
I am thankful for my husband who takes wonderful care of me.
He has loved and supported me, but most of all, he has grieved with me. Everything we needed for healing, we did together.
If you could look into the past year and watch the way our family grieved, you would be in awe. We held onto each other, we supported and loved each other, and we endured life’s worst storm together. I am so so so proud of my boys and my husband. Thankfulness flows from my heart when we are all together.
I am thankful for the adventures we’ve had this year.
Trips we’ve taken, new people we’ve met, experiences we’ve had. With each one we talked about Rebekah and how much we wished she could be here with us. I was a wreck as I packed for Florida back in March, convinced we were leaving her behind, but I discovered something. It’s impossible to leave her behind. She’s just as much a part of me as the boys are. I carried her below my heart for 9 months. Death does not separate a love like that. She is always with me.
I am thankful that joy is still possible after overwhelming pain.
People said all kinds of comforting statements, but none of them really mattered at the time. I saw no comfort, no hope. Just as my love for Rebekah did not end when her life did, my love for my boys did not either. They are alive and experienceing life just as they should. I can be happy because of the life around me.
More importantly, I can experience joy because my joy is not based on this world. This world is cruel and dark and unforgiving. I believe that we have a God who is love and mercy and peace.
“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” is true. I weep a little less and I rejoice a little more.
So there you have it, my friends. Thank you for continuing this journey with me!
You might also enjoy Treasures from the Waves which I wrote about our Florida trip.