I know it is true. That God is always there. That He will lead me through the valley of death. That there will be a moment in my life that I am able to say: He turned my mourning into dancing. If it is not now, then surely it will be later when I am in heaven. I know that in times I don’t feel Him near and grief is coming over me like a cloud of mist that you just can’t avoid, He still is there. And that he is even carrying me as the great poem about footprints in the sand tries to convey.
But I am not there yet. I am coming closer I think. I can see that I am not as much overwhelmed with sorrow as I was shortly after we had to bury our daughter. But deciding to let go seems to be an ongoing process of little by little, step by step.
This process started when the ultrasound showed that our little girl wasn’t growing as could have been expected. We prayed and we prayed and surrendered her to God, hoping that she would grow and thrive. But a couple of weeks later another ultrasound showed complete silence. Feelings that we’ve never had before began to wash over us and we cried out: no, no, no, God, no!
God was there. We turned to him in despair and disbelief. Realizing the ugly truth, while not able to accept it as being true at the same time. We prayed: God, how do we tell our children their sister died? God, did she suffer? God, why did she had to die? And also we kept repeating: she is yours Lord. From the beginning she was, and now she is already with you. Where she belongs. With you. No safer place. I let her go.
Two days later I had to deliver her into the world. She didn’t see the light. Her eyes didn’t see anything. We did not hear her voice. We did not see her move. I cried. She did not. Holding her tiny body, I knew I had to let her go. I lifted her up towards heaven, I dedicated her to the Lord over and over again. I give her to you Lord. I decide to let go. I surrender. God this is so hard. I want to hold her, cherish her, feed her, love on her, lavish her with kisses and give her everything, but she is not there to receive it. She’s already with you.
After a couple of days of welcoming her into the world and into our family, holding her, taking pictures, showing her to some relatives and friends, we finally had to bury her. We put her in a babypink basket, carried her to a hole in the ground, covered it with rose petals. It is just horrific. Every cell in my body screamed: No! How can I leave my child behind? It left me completely bewildered. Purely on ratio I was able to stand up and walk away while fighting against the desire to go back and dig her up again. My child. My child. I have to let you go.
Today it’s been exactly eleven months that she was born.
Some weeks ago I asked another bereaved parent: ‘Sometimes the pain is so overwhelmingly deep that it seems I can’t breathe. Do you recognize that?’ He said: ‘I do but you have to decide to let it go.’ And he went on and quoted Matthew 11: 28-30. He pointed me to Jesus to find rest for my soul.
At first, I felt condemned by his words. I interpreted it as if I should just leave it behind, ignore it, and go on. But in the last weeks, I came to see that every time grief kicks in, I have a choice. What do I do when grief comes washing over me again like a wave that is just too big to avoid? Do I become passive and let sorrow take me over, or do I actively cry before the Lord, express my grief and handle it over to him again?
Sometimes I am not there yet. Sometimes I am just not able to let it go and hold on to my sorrow by just doing something else, trying not to think about it, numbing myself. But other times I am there. Sometimes, in my mind, I lift her body towards heaven all over again and say the same words: Lord, I give her to you. She was yours from the beginning, I am glad she will not suffer anymore, I am grateful she is in complete wholeness with you.
I came to realize that this is not a one-time-thing. This is something I very well might have to do more often as over time, we’ll miss her in different ways, our grief will change. Today it is the baby we miss. In a year, she would have been a toddler and then we will probably miss our toddler. And every time that I am aware of missing her, and I feel that deep pain pop up again, taking my breath away, I can decide to let it go. And if I am not there yet, I’ll hope I will be there soon. Because I want to decide to let it go.