Grief, Marriage
comments 3

Honesty: Grief & Trauma

You know that old adage- “Honesty is the best policy”? Well, sometimes I wonder if we’re truly honest with ourselves. Are we truly honest enough about our own frustrations, failures, and fears to… change? Change what, you might be wondering….

Three and a half years ago when my husband and I got married, we would never have imagined we’d face the hardships we’ve experienced. Not only do we have opposite personalities, we also come from very different upbringings, and we have very different interests; every newly married couple has to work at understanding each other, but add to our scenario the fact that my husband was gone (military training) more than he was home the first two years of our marriage. We didn’t have time to get to know each other, to invest in one another, to build a life together. The tension was mounting between us, but we had our first unplanned baby on the way. And then she suddenly died a few days after she was born. We were already disconnected – add to that trauma, grief, anger, hurt, fear, and hopelessness!!!

All the odds were stacked against us.

Deep down inside we wanted to do the right thing and we wanted to get help. We knew after Heidi passed that we weren’t going to make it on our own. Our marriage wasn’t going to survive let alone our individual hearts. We were wounded. We were raw. We were burned.

So we had to be gut-wrenchingly honest with ourselves- What are we going to do to handle the extreme situation we’re in? What are we going to do to change so that we not only survive but thrive? It’s hard to imagine ever facing tomorrow after losing a child; it’s hard to imagine ever wanting to live after suffering heart-wrenching pain. Nevertheless, we knew all the odds were stacked against us….

In the days that followed Heidi’s passing, our families and friends gave us tremendous support and encouragement. My husband was severely traumatized by the night he administered CPR on our infant daughter. We sought immediate professional intervention. In our case, we weren’t comfortable with the long term implications of medications. Instead, we chose to pursue EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – which is a type of therapy that veterans of war, victims of trauma, and the like benefit from. For my husband this involved a series of sessions with the EMDR-certified therapist, regenerating all the details of the event through memory and visualization, addressing each feeling associated with the trauma, and developing a steady and stable state of mind. Was it easy for him to go through all that? No, absolutely not. It was terrible. He didn’t sleep well; he had night terrors; he didn’t want to eat; he felt ill and exhausted and angry all the time; he withdrew and shut down. But over time, with each session and passing week, he gained more clarity of mind and came out of his shell a little more and opened up to those who were reaching out to him.

In addition to crisis management through EMDR, we also began Christian counseling to process our grief and tackle our marriage. In the beginning, I remember that our counselor let us cry as much as we wanted and he reiterated with us over and over that it was a profound loss; he walked with us through our pain and he helped us accept the gravity of our situation; he listened long and reasoned slowly and repeated truths and prayed over us at the end of every meeting. Was it easy for us to drive an hour to counseling, sit there for an hour and a half, grieve heavily and feel everything and walk away realizing how broken we were? No, it was tragic. But we had already hit bottom and there was nowhere else to go. Either we were going to face our sorrow and trudge through the pain or we were going to let it destroy us to our very core. Our counselor has not only helped us accept our grief, he’s helped us work through it to become stronger and healthier and more confident individuals. My husband and I have learned how to understand each other’s grief, how to meet each other’s needs, how to express our feelings effectively, how to avoid the common pitfalls of destructive habits, how to become better parents for our second daughter.

Even though the odds were stacked against us, we were honest about our loss and our suffering and our inability to cope. We needed help to heal.

My friend – if you’ve suffered trauma, abuse, rejection, loss, a pain that permeates your whole life – you are NOT beyond hope! Your depth of despair does not have to ruin you. Your heartache does not have to rip you apart. Your addiction does not have to hold you in chains. You.Can.Break.Free.

Be honest with yourself. Do you need professional help? Do you need help to not only survive but thrive? Do you want to have hope in the midst of your suffering? If all the odds have been stacked against you. I encourage you and I urge you to be honest with yourself about that. And to honestly seek help so that you will heal.

  1. Find a professional counselor in your area. The American Association of Christian counselors is the best resource for locating an appropriate counselor for your needs. Go to http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/
  2. Immerse yourself in uplifting, encouraging thoughts – listen to positive music, read inspirational books, start a workout course that energizes, confide in a few healthy and safe friends.
  3. Stay strong and confident even when it’s hard work and even when it hurts so deeply. Do you have children? Are you married? Do you have a relationship you want to keep? I’m sure they want you to be the best person you can be.

My husband and I have changed more than we would have ever dreamed possible and this is just the beginning of our journey without Heidi, as grieving parents, as victims of trauma, as survivors of profound loss….

We have not allowed the odds to stack even higher. We’ve looked for help, we’ve sought refuge, we’ve invested our time and energy into healing. If we can do it, so can you. And guess what? We’re going to counseling today even a year and a half later. We’re taking our baby daughter with us. We’re doing this for her and we’re doing this for each other.

Are you being honest with yourself?


 

Below is a message of hope for me and for you. Believe me, I need constant encouragement to keep going, to keep embracing hope. No matter the pain, God is big enough to handle it and God is more than able to walk with us through the fire. Jesus wants to heal us and give us hope….

 

 

Signature- BB Mama

3 Comments

  1. This is so good, and so full of hope! Thank you for helping us realize that we aren’t alone in our suffering.

  2. Mama (Darlene) Lestmann says

    I have cried and prayed for you both over the years and wished we lived closer to help you and love on you dear girls. Your stories are gut wrenching but inspirational, and I know God can and will use you along life’s journey to help many others in the same situation you’ve had to face and in the process help you to recover a little more. I know your pain will never go away so I pray for you often to feel the Loving Heavenly Father’s strong arms around you. Love you both, Cari Jean and Trisha.

  3. Cathy Ponder says

    Precious child of my dear friend…. Thank you for sharing this. As I’m sure your mother has shared, we are struggling to help my younger sister face and deal with the death of her son. Though he was 41, having him die in China leaves her with no closure. Your words of wisdom and information will be a huge asset.

    Know you are loved beyond measure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *