Parenting with a Stitched Heart

There are thousands of blogs out there on how to parent and how not to parent, and every point of the spectrum seems to be touched-on when it comes to what ‘type’ of parenting style you should choose. This post, by no means, is a ‘how to’ sentiment.

In my opinion, parenting is love put into action. It can’t be much of anything else because so much action and so much love is demanded and necessary for the job. It’s non-stop work on the soul with lots of play in between so that’s why parents are tired all the time! Love put into action can take on many forms, and parenting is full of different stages and purposes so for that reason I will not even bother painting an image of what parenting should look and feel like because I’m not sure of it myself, but recently my husband and I have felt called to share our perspective on parenting after loss. In opening up about our parenthood with a new awareness of life’s fragility, our hope is to let you know that you are not alone in these thoughts and worries, that you do in fact encounter a strange kind of bereaved-parenting, and that hope can be pulled from the scars.


Laying in the dark, listening for noise, leaping out of bed to check once again that your child is breathing… Bracing yourself always, for the worst.

Flashing back, flashing forward, immediately worrying that silence or a phone call means death. 

Fearing the worst when your living children complain of anything out of the ordinary.

Saying no to anything too far out of your control for fear that you may be saying goodbye to your loved one for the last time.

Absolutely cringing when you witness people doing anything dangerous or taking their children’s lives for granted.


 

This list could go on for quite awhile but you get the point. The main commonality my husband and I have noticed when listening to other bereaved parents is the appreciation for every day/moment we are given and the anxiety of knowing that life is so very fragile and can be gone in a second.

Living with these fears can cripple a parent and their relationship with their God, spouse, children and peers. I remember listening to one mom describing her struggle with OCD and another couple who couldn’t bring themselves to have children again since losing their child in utero. It is hard, hard work to keep the fear in check. I, for one, have struggled with an anxiety that can effect me physically, so know that I do not pretend to have figured any of this out.

This new place we find ourselves in as parents means realizing new things about ourselves, about this life, and about death (which obviously has been around forever, but is different when it takes a child). I recently read an article from a Grieving Mom to a NON-Grieving Mom that put into words what our hearts were already experiencing. It might shed some light on how learning to live with this ‘anguish’ would affect everything about you, including your parenting.

 

Have you ever been in a store, at a park, in a crowded area filled with strangers and turned around to suddenly realize that your child has disappeared? Do you know the feeling of panic that ensues? Are you familiar with that terror? That ‘aloneness’? That horror? The utter confusion that envelops you? The trepidation that is felt in every fiber of your body? That momentary feeling that your heart simply forgot its next beat? The initial denial that is suddenly transformed into terrifying anguish?

. . .

If you can relate to this, then imagine it continuing on for hours, days, weeks, months, years…. Imagine being forever lost in this endless torment of crying out with every fiber of your being for your child that has disappeared. If you are able to relate to this for even a moment, you have for this moment, tried on my shoes.”

 

Much of the pain we encounter in our parenting with stitched hearts is this crying out for a child who is no longer here. It is love, wanting to be put into action for that specific child, but with nowhere to go, so it often manifests itself in a fear of some other impending death or a struggle to have joy because the void cannot be filled – the ‘crying out’ will not be silenced. It is a battle to stay present, to refocus over and over again on what IS and to leave the rest to God’s power and will. What is God’s will in all of this anyway? This place where our family feels broken but is also continuing on? I know that evil would like to rob us of any good, but God has much to give through our parenting children on earth and in heaven.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 

For example, when we watch our living children play, we soak in the moment like none other because this moment is a gift from God. We snuggle extra long, we kiss our babies EVERY night, we don’t hesitate to say something kind, deep or sometimes challenging to others because NOW is the time to say it. We let the small stuff slide – life is too short to avoid not getting dirty, staying up late, and experiencing hard but good things. Life is too fleeting to put God aside for a more convenient time. Heaven is real in our house – our children’s brother lives there so we talk about him and his joy as if we were talking about the neighbor friend going to summer camp. We wonder about what he’s done ‘today’ and we send him love notes in our prayers every night.

Speaking of prayers, parenting with stitched hearts means praying A LOT. Asking God for help, for the ability to trust, to love like him, to teach our living kids well and to help us all to heaven. Like all parents we worry if we’re doing it right and with the added fear and “down days” when your heart is so broken, it’s easy to fail in one way or many. We have found that praying from the heart as a family brings about the closest thing to healing and it allows us to reflect on our day, to be thankful, and to ask God and our saintly brother for guidance.

Fear is most definitely NOT the answer, nor the parenting style or lifestyle my husband and I wish to use. It is a symptom of the scars, it can be valid, but it should not be the inspiration. On our good days we remember to question what it is that we fear and why. If death is what we’re fearing, with faith that fear should be consoled. Death is not the end, only a spiritual death is worthy of being feared. Ecclesiastes 3:11 is so profound… “He has set eternity in the human heart;” Hasn’t death been stitched into our hearts? Pierced by the pain of realizing that life is fragile and fleeting? That we will never get to kiss our children again? On some days none of it seems to have a purpose, just so. much. pain. Rather than death, we must realize that eternity is what we are being made aware of, it’s absolutely brutal, but good, so good that “…no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

God has set heaven on our hearts as bereaved parents and our lucky children get to be there sooner than we do. Soak this thought in, and let that love wash over you Mom and Dad, let it inspire every day of your life here, every encounter with others, every act of love for your children. Living with this fear and struggle is in no way easy, but it can be good too. We pray for you!

Love, The Edmans

 

 

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St. Zélie Martin and Overcoming Grief in Hope by MICHELE CHRONISTER – Article

“You know that the only hope of reunion is heaven, and with a renewed sense of purpose, you journey to heaven as a family. Your family life becomes divided, with one foot on Earth, and one in heaven.

Heaven can no longer be dismissed as “someday” if it is the present reality of a member of the family.”

http://catholicexchange.com/st-zelie-martin-overcoming-grief-hope

My Cup Runneth Over

“…Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORD

for endless days.”
_____
“My cup runneth over” when I dwell on how much He loves us in His sacrifice, but when I forget Him it overflows with anxiety, loneliness and despair. Today Psalm 23 reminded me that we are never meant to do it without Him. Appreciating that even the difficulties can mean His pursuit, can draw us closer to His love and mercy and eternal home. He wants our hearts! And with Him we need not fear anything. #hopeinheaven #donotbeafraid #lifeloveloss

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Dear, Brave Mama (a continuation)

“A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me.


Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

-Jesus (John 16:20)

“A little while…”

I’ve been trying to find the words to describe where my heart and mind are at in this grief journey as we come upon the 2 yr mark since we buried our child and experienced what I can only call an earth shattering paradox – my innocent baby is dead and God is good. I still am not sure how to express it.

Yes, earth shattering, worldview changing, something that cannot be fully grasped, something that seems to shock me more the longer I come from the time when it happened. I can say in many ways, I don’t mourn the loss of my son as much as I did at the beginning. I wish I knew him, I can imagine what it might’ve been like, but I don’t stay there for long because I can’t know and it wasn’t. Could this be healing?

Much of my comfort is from forward thinking, focusing on the hope that one day I can know him and experience with him the full presence of our Lord. Hoping that one day I can experience that joy that Jesus tells us about. Heaven truly is a consolation. But where does that leave me today?

Well, moment by moment I have to choose to be brave.

. . .

DEAR, BRAVE MAMA,
IF YOU ARE EMBRACING THE JOURNEY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S EASY TO FORGET YOU’RE GOING SOMEWHERE.
IF YOU ARE LOVING ANYWAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, SOMETIMES THE SCARS FEEL CRIPPLING.
IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH PURPOSE, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT WOULD BE EASY TO LET GO OF THE DEPTH THAT KNOWS YOUR PAIN – WHERE GOD’S LOVING PURPOSE IS FOUND.
IF YOU CONTINUE TO SEEK GOD, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, HIS SILENCE CAN BE HEARTBREAKING.
IF YOU CAN BE OPEN TO NEW LIFE, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S SO SO DIFFICULT AFTER EXPERIENCING LOSS.
IF YOU CAN SPEAK/LAUGH/CRY ABOUT IT, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THE WORLD WILL NOT UNDERSTAND. *you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices*
IF YOU REACHED OUT TO A BEREAVED FRIEND/STRANGER IN NEED, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S A VULNERABLE PLACE. 
IF YOU HAVE SOUGHT COUNSELING OR THERAPY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S HUMBLING TO ASK FOR HELP.
IF YOU MISSED YOUR CHILD(REN) IN HEAVEN TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THE YEARS CAN MAKE YOUR GRIEF FEEL LIKE A FAILURE.
IF YOU EMBRACED YOUR LIFE AND THE LOVED ONES WITH YOU, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THIS ROAD CAN BE SO SELF-CONSUMING AND FORGETFUL OF THE MANY BLESSINGS BEFORE US.
IF YOU SOUGHT JOY TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, JOY IS NOT ALWAYS GIVEN. *keep trying*
IF YOU HAD GRACE FOR YOURSELF TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S EASY TO FORGET THE GRACE AND MERCY GOD HAS FOR YOU.
. . .

 

So often, still, do I fail at being brave. It’s so easy to try to run away, to hide, or to give up on the cross or the path set before me. I am a work in progress for sure, but hopefully my journey brings company to others in a similar place.

When I wrote my first Dear, Brave Mama letter I was a little more frustrated and impatient with where I was at. I had expectations of healing, standards that have proven to be difficult to attain, at least for myself. I chuckled when I read the part about my endurance being tested… “Oh honey, that endurance you thought you’d had, try throwing another year on it.” And I’m sure somewhere down the line, 5 years, 10 years, 30 years from now, that slice of our lives, that void of his, that ache that can’t grasp ‘why’ and the faith that sometimes struggles to trust that heaven is real, will show that this is a lifelong cross…

It just is. There are things we can do to help heal, to help cope and I’m trying to seek those out, but part of me is just learning that to be brave is also to accept the cross and to do your best to let it carry you to heaven. “In a little while” Jesus will resurrect us from our crosses. “In a little while” we will see that He saw us. “In a little while” we’ll know that this suffering was nothing compared to the glory He has for us. “In a little while” we’ll feel whole. But until then, learning to love God for who He is and how He loves us will be a full time job. Until then, learning to live joyfully and to find purpose and inspiration in our crosses will take energy. Until then, learning to love others without expecting comfort in return will be an active choice. Until then, we will have to keep being brave.

Click here to view the first Dear, Brave Mama post: https://lifeloveloss.org/2016/05/24/dear-brave-mama/

Jesus Falls the Third Time

So much of the life of Christ should shock us. The fact that God would take on our humanity and suffer everything for the sake of making heaven available to us once again is shocking enough.

In addition he took on our frailty, our weakness, our vulnerability… He fell THREE times on his way up Calvary. The SON OF GOD fell, when obviously he had every power to keep it all from happening. Why would Jesus go through this?

I’ve always been taught that it was out of love for us and the more I stumble through life the more I realize that he did so so that we would have a guide for our own walk up Calvary… Because we all have crosses to carry, don’t we? Like the soldiers to Christ, we all suffer persecutions, judgement of others, our own self-deprecation even? We meet people along the way, some help us, some weep with us, some just stand by and don’t know what to do. But we all know deep down that we must walk this walk. And what’s at the end? Well, death, and hopefully after that, heaven. But death is the hurdle that we must all face.

Jesus so lovingly shows us that in no way is this walk easy. Sometimes we get bursts of strength, sometimes we get a helping hand, sometimes we fall… And if Christ himself fell three times then you can bet I’m going to fall innumerable times. But he showed us with such strength, that could only be inspired by love for others, that we must get up and keep going.

I’ve already fallen many times in my short years, and the last couple of years I’ve struggled with the temptation to just stop trying altogether. These feelings of tiredness or hopelessness is all that’s left when I think of how hard life is. It’s when I look beyond myself at Christ and the beautiful people in my life and the ugliness too that I realize how badly we all need each other. I’m inspired to look at Jesus and fight to the death like he did. I’m inspired to be a Simon to someone else in need. I’m inspired to be the good thief on the cross… Looking at God with humility and gratefulness and trusting that we will beat the cross and be together in paradise when the time comes.

Don’t lose heart if you feel like you’ve fallen. We all do, even Christ. With his help we can get back up and win this race with passion and a love that beats death. #lent #lentspiration #holythursday #lifeloveloss

Meet Our “Stormy” Rainbow Baby!

On January 17th, 2017 Clark’s younger brother was born! He is our “Stormy” Rainbow Baby because he had to spend two weeks in the NICU before being allowed to come home and meet his oldest brother, Gabe – a joyful coming home to say the least!

Lazarus James, “Laz” for short, has captured our hearts just like his brothers before him! His name, the name of Jesus’ best friend, means “God is my help.” Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11) and it is said that his tears were for all of humanity. Then he prayed to the Father and called Lazarus out, ALIVE. What a testimony to the resurrection and life we have in Christ and a mirrored reminder of God’s loving plan for our sons, and all of His children.

As difficult as it was to stand by and watch our Laz struggle in his early weeks of life, we could feel his big brother Clark with us in that tiny NICU room as he reminded us of what a gift it all is – even each breath. Today, we are loving life at home with two darling boys while continuing to love on our sweet one in heaven.

Needless to say, we are thankful beyond all measure and each moment with our Rainbow Baby has been such a gift. Thank you, thank you for all of the prayers from our friends near and far!!

Love, this Rainbow Mama 

“Jesus works miracles for His dearest friends only after He has tested their faith. He let Lazarus die, even though Martha and Mary sent word that he was sick. But after the trial, what rewards! Lazarus rises from the dead.”

– St Therese of Lisieux

Sirach 2:1-11

“My son, when you come to serve the LORD,
stand in justice and fear,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
incline your ear and receive the word of understanding,
undisturbed in time of adversity.
Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Accept whatever befalls you,
when sorrowful, be steadfast,
and in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold and silver are tested,
and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way;
keep his fear and grow old therein.

You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the LORD, love him,
and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.”

Sirach 2:1-11

Life & Strength Amid Loss – Article

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A recent article that Cameron and I wrote about life with sweet Clark. Thankful to Mitchell Palmquist and the Diocese for wanting to feature our story (beginning on p. 12) in their beautiful magazine. With each little ‘Yes’ his life continues to direct us heavenward. Love you precious son 💙
http://faithdigital.org/Spokane/SPK0117/mobile/index.html?doc=A03FEDE68C21B522DF5988E335DDFF89

January 31, 2017

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” -Mark 5:41

Many wounds are being kissed by Jesus right now, places in my heart that seemed dead. So thankful for all of the prayers and thankful for this moment. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 💘 Heart is overflowing and praying for all of you too. #lifeloveloss #gabrielwalker#clarkjob #lazarusjames #thankfulforeachday #hopeinheaven

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Interview: Clark’s Story Parts I & 2

We recently had the opportunity to share Clark’s story with our dear friends Jake and Lindsay in southern Idaho on Salt and Light Radio, their show is called Where Faith Begins. If you’d like to hear Clark’s story from our lips feel free to click on the podcast below which features Parts 1 & 2 of Clark’s Story.

Being able to talk about our sweet son and all that he has done in our lives is such a gift and we hope it brings love and inspiration to the many out there who are suffering themselves. God is close to the brokenhearted. He is with us every step and asks that we reach out to hold His hand in trust. Praying for all of you and still passionately waiting to embrace God and our loved ones in heaven! Love you Clark Job

Part 1 of Clark’s Story:

https://secure-hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/5/7/d57cbf88715bc124/Where_Faith_Begins_Show_7_111016-PODCAST.mp3?c_id=13284680&expiration=1481681349&hwt=0436b1aab89a1922245dcc6a4c5e1c14

Part 2 of Clark’s Story:

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/1/8/b189e10c3619ae71/Where_Faith_Begins_Show_8_112416-PODCAST.mp3?c_id=13286658&expiration=1481681129&hwt=4d101b8809a23dcf91635d292f0e1d2c