We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
After our third daughter Alexis was born still in two-thousand twelve, my husband began to pull away. Even though I had been dealing with her known death over the weeks before her birth, my husband had denied it. It wasn’t until he had her little body in his arms, that he truly knew what this all had meant. On that early Wednesday morning of May eighth his grieving process began.
Our problems started around the time we actual had received the news that she had passed away. He started to find things to do…fishing, visiting with old friends, and taking drives by himself, anything he could do to be away from the house. Anything at all that would keep his mind off of the reality of the situation. The reality that at any moment…we could be giving birth to our twin girls….but that one would not be coming home.
I on the other hand was the opposite. I didn’t want to go anywheres. I became a hermit. A shut-in. After all no matter where I went…..I had to bring her with me. I was carrying her lifeless body inside mine. I remember truly feeling like a walking casket. I began to resent my husband for being able to leave, for being able to avoid the situation, when I psychically could not. I could not avoid the new absence of kicks. I was trapped in the realness of it all.
It was one of the hardest times we have ever faced as a couple. One that eventually made us stronger and showed us what love truly was. We were proud to come out out of beaten down, and exhausted….but also intact and together.
When Audrey died people began to remind me about how people grieve differently. I remember at the time thinking I didn’t really need to listen all that well, because I had just been through this two years prior. I thought I was prepared this time, that the same things that bothered me last time wouldn’t bother me this time. That I would be able to know that it was just his way of grieving. Little did I know……I was so so wrong.
The first few weeks we stuck together. Our meals were cooked for us. We had help caring for our children. The only real responsibility we had was to focus on our healing. He became like a security blanket for me. He was the person that stayed at my side at all times, protecting me from hard decisions, and question I didn’t have the strength to answer. I became dependent on him. If I was in a room full of people I would frantically wonder where he was if I lost sight. Our relationship became a lot of me taking from him, and not giving anything back in return.
It wasn’t until our friends and family returned to their lives, our fridge began to empty, and we were once again solely responsible for the two pairs of feet pitter -pattering around us… that we slowly began to unravel.
See although I thought I was prepared for my husband to grieve the way he needed, I was not. It wasn’t until the first time that he walked out of the door that I realized how different things were this time. That how in letting him take care of all the yucky things for me, I was now unable to deal with them myself. In my grief for Audrey I had lost who I was. I had always placed my identity in who I was as a mom.
Before Audreys death, my life revolved around caring for my children, making pintrest crafts, and baking cupcakes. All my energy was put in to trying to be the best mom I could be. The day that I was left alone with my children for the first time. The same children I had raised all my life…I was lost. Making sure they had meals, a bath, and bubble guppies on the TV was the best that I could do. With half of my children dead, I felt inadequate. I no longer felt I was able to protect or care for the two beings that had been my total focus in life just weeks before.
I became angry at my husband for leaving. I blamed him for not grieving as hard as me. I would be upset that he didn’t cry as much as me. I remember thinking in my head, did I love her more. Why am I falling apart but he can go fishing. Everything that I thought I had learned before went straight out the window. My anger only worsened as I added my own insecurities to the fire.
Although I was not prepared this time, God was. I began to be able to focus on him. To be able to lessen the burden I placed on my husband and instead give it to him. I learned that not only do people grieve differently but that each grief is differently. That the way we grieved for Alexis was not even remotely close to the way that we grieved for Audrey. That all this time I had thought I was ready to handle my husbands grief but ultimately I wasn’t even ready to handle my own.
Grief changes you as a person. I know for me it stripped me of who I thought I was. Two and a half months later I am still struggling to put the pieces back together. I am so thankful that I was able to stop pushing away my husband and start rebuilding our lives together.
Death changes you. It changes your marriage. We are never going to be the same people we were the day we said I do. Life experiences begin to shape each of you differently, what has been the most life changing for me is our new combined faith in God, and the realization that in the end both of us are broken, but instead of being broken and alone….we have remained BROKEN TOGETHER.