Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning to breath again

If you ask me if I think it is going to be easier the second time through the grief process my answer will be, "Yes," and, "No."  Is it easier to recover from breaking a bone the second time around?  You know from experience that there will be an end to the intense pain.  You know there are things you can do to help with the pain.  You know the pain will not always be intense pain, but may change to a dull ache that is there occasionally or that may worsen at certain times.  You know healing will occur as long as you take care of the injury.  But you may also be afraid of the pain, anticipating it.  You may hurt more because your tolerance for injury in that bone is lower in some ways.  Because you know the pain will continue for a while, you may grow weary, aware enough about the injury to know that you cannot do anything to speed it up or make the pain stop.  The knowledge may help in many ways, but may also make it harder in other ways.  It's a bit like childbirth too... I thought my knowledge of the process would make it easier the second and third time around and it did in many ways, but it certainly didn't take the intensity of the pain away!

This is what I am finding this time around so far.  I have learned a lot about how to manage our grief, but I have also learned ways to stuff it.  I like to call it self-protection or dosing, but sometimes it more closely resembles "stuffing it."  Before Piper was born, I got to a point in my grief with Drew where I could talk about him and think about him easily when I did so at a "mind level."  It would be a different story if I went to the "heart level."  I got to a point where there weren't so many undiscovered land mines or triggers that couldn't be anticipated and where I could choose when I wanted to experience Drew at the "heart level."  I could almost choose when I wanted to cry, when I wanted to let my heart feel the pain again.  I don't say "pain" as if it's a bad word though, because the tears I would cry were often cathartic and reminded me more keenly of my love for him.  I just learned that I couldn't afford to function at that level all the time.  It would take a physical and emotional toll on my body.  I think learning this was a good thing - I had worked through the grief enough to feel good about where I was at, but I had also learned how to manage the pain.  If I am honest about the situation though, I would have to say that there were times when I probably should have opened Pandora's box and decided not to.  Now we are back at a place where you cannot close the box.  Where you have to function at a "heart level" in order to keep breathing.  It hurts.  The knowledge of the process is not helpful right now because it's still too raw.  I know it will as I delve into the work of grieving but right now I just want to feel how I feel and not try to manage it.  Ug.  I sound like a 2-year-old.  "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!" 

It has been easier in a way because I know there will be an end to the intensity of the pain.  It has been far harder in another way though and I couldn't have predicted this.  When we said goodbye to Drew's body and walked out without him we didn't feel the permanence of that because we were in shock and didn't know what we do this time.  This time, when we had to watch the funeral home staff drive away with Piper's body it was all I could do to let it go, even though it was just her body.  With Drew, I didn't want to kiss his body after he was gone... it didn't feel like him.  With Piper, I knew it was all I had left of the physical aspect I had known and enjoyed so much.  I wanted her in 3D!  I felt so conflicted... I wanted to be in the room with her, holding her body or being near enough to see her, but I could feel that she wasn't there and I didn't want to be there.  What was worse?  I knew that once they took her away that would be the last time I would get to see her little body, no matter what it looked and felt like.  That was the pain that foreknowledge brought Saturday morning.  I did not have such a hard time with Drew - I was able to imagine him in Heaven and happy and be happy for him.  This time, with Piper, I tried to let that be enough, but the injured part of me agonized over the fact that as soon as I let her go I would, from that moment on, be one step further from the reality of my physical relationship with her with every day that passed.  Ug.  That hurt the most.  Thankfully, my father-in-law reminded me that I was also one day closer to reuniting with her spirit but that didn't take the edge off the pain Saturday.  

I recognize so many parts of the grief process and have names for them this time, but that doesn't make experiencing them any easier.  It just makes me a bit frustrated that I have to do this work again.  I will. And God will help.  But right now, I am frustrated and sad.  And I need to allow myself this.  It seems like this must be how a psychologist would feel if they had to go through something like this, or if a doctor had to have an illness they knew too well.  I am sure the experience will be different this time and I know it will enrich my life in some ways, but today I would just rather hold Piper.

On a brighter note, for those who think I must go through the day in tears, that's not really the case thankfully.  I may burst into them unexpectedly, but they are fairly well contained to those trigger moments and moments where I am sitting in Piper's room or holding her blanket close (or a few other moments...).  I am able to enjoy the sun shining on me and Peyton's vibrancy.  Peyton makes me laugh and Jordan anchors me.  I think I feel everything more keenly right now, both the up's and the down's.  I said after Drew that he made me go from seeing everything in black and white to seeing everything in full colour, and that feeling is even stronger now.  I feel the whole spectrum more intensely.  Yesterday, I could hear Peyton puttering around before I climbed out of bed and wondered what he was up to.  I heard him in Piper's room and thought, "Uh oh.  It sounds like he might be trying to put stuff away!"  (We have put all the things we had for her at the hospice in and around her room but not away.  I wanted time to go through it all.)  I felt awful for him having to do that by himself with all the emotion that would be attached to it.  Then I heard him leave that room and go putter somewhere else.  A few moments later he came by and closed our bedroom door, thinking I was asleep and wanting not to wake me.  I laid there trying to restrain myself from investigating because it was Mother's Day, and I didn't want to ruin the possible surprise that seemed to be in the making.  I finally nudged Jordan out of bed and coerced him to go check it out, to determine if it was ok if I came out.  When they let me out, Peyton was just brimming with pride.  He grabbed my hand and showed me what he had been up to.  I had visions of a kitchen splattered with breakfast makings or a Lego work of art and all it's trappings nearby but it was better than that.  It was beyond my expectations.  It took me to the brightest end of the spectrum and the opposite all at the same time.  First he took me into his bedroom and showed me that he had cleaned it all up - it was beautiful!  Then he took me into Piper's room.  He had cleaned it up too.  He put away all the clutter and moved a few bags of clothes behind the rocking chair, and rearranged a few of the other bags alongside the wall on the other side of the room so they were out of the line of vision.  But the true work of art was the crib.  He laid the blanket he used to use but had given to Piper to use a few months ago in the crib, then he emptied the bag of stuffed animals she had with her at the House and gathered some others that were around the house and lined them up all around the outside edges of the crib.  The work he did in his room was beautiful but in hers it was a work of art, created with love and absolutely perfect.  Gut-wrenchingly exquisite.  How do I keep the tears in, when he is wanting to see excitement and pride in my reaction?  With great fortitude and a fair amount of acting.  I was so proud of him and so excited, I just knew I wouldn't be able to explain why I responded with tears when he had worked so hard to make me happy.  All over the spectrum, in a moment.  

Favourite moment of the day today... laughing our hearts out while playing baseball in Jordan's parents' back yard tonight.  The bat alternated between being a roll of garden fabric or a broom depending on the size of the batter and the ball was a lightweight plastic one.  The gloves were plastic whiffle ball catchers.  Between Uncle James leaping around like a ballerina, Jordan sliding into home plate and swinging that 6 foot bat around, Peyton giggling like crazy and me trying to play outfield with a tree in my way we ended up laughing until our sides hurt.  From crying to laughing.  Learning to breath again.


  1. What an amazing little boy. How heart wrenching to cover the whole spectrum of emotions. My heart aches for you Kari to have to go through this again. I know there is nothing I can do or say to change that, to say I'm praying seems so inadequate but I am. And your bravery and honesty is inspiring me and encouraging me to live life differently, to not take time for granted. To live purposefully.

  2. Someday I hope I can meet Peyton. It is obvious that God so specifically crafted him as a gift to give you and Jordan. What a thoughtful gesture he did for mothers day. I wish I could be there on Friday to celebrate Piper's life with you. Know that your family will be on my heart.

  3. continue to amaze. I'm so happy to hear you are allowing yourself the frustration and sadness, but able to "laugh until your sides hurt". God is good. And that Peyton, what a wonder he is too, I can't imagine how that Mother's day gift felt. I'm so sorry for the circumstances, but I am so happy to be able to see you on friday. My soul aches to the core to give you the biggest hug my body can manage.

  4. Oh, Kari, your words are so full of wisdom and encouraging to all who read them. Sounding like a "2 year old"? I don't think so. I remember feeling I needed to remember the pain. I thought if I quit hurting it would be like I didn't love Shane enough. I have told others to "go ahead and wrap that pain around you like a blanket--for a while. But, the things that were important before are still important." Those of us with other children don't have the "luxury" of staying in bed and sleeping our grief away. Thank God for that!!! Others need us and we need them. Peyton is blessed to have you for a mom. You haven't ignored him but have allowed him to be a part of the joys and the tears. Some children feel they aren't as loved as the child that died because the parents never get over their "obsession with the grief." It is obvious that Peyton will not feel that way. I hope my children never felt that way. I thank God that He has given you and Jordan such loving families. I pray that you will be surrounded by love from family and friends and that you will cry and laugh when you need and want to. I pray that you can feel in your heart all the love that is being poured out to your family from people around the country, some who only know you from your blog. If God ever sees fit for us to see each other again on this earth I will give you a big hug and we will laugh and cry together as mothers with a unique bond--that of having children meet Jesus before we did. Take care of each other, and take care of yourself. Love and Prayers, Beth

  5. Kari, you express your feelings so beautifully! I am so thankful you choose to share with us; we are blessed by your blog posts. What a sweet boy you have there! I have tears after reading how hard he worked to do something special for his amazing mama. I am thinking of all of you almost constantly and praying for you!

  6. Kari, my heart aches with you as I've read your blog over the last few weeks and I know what you mean about experiencing both the highs and lows more intensely as you grieve. Just trust the process our loving Father designed for grieving and let Him comfort you. So glad to hear Peyton is finding and giving you joy in the midst of it. We will keep praying for you and your family!
    Bonnie (koopman)

  7. I was bawling my eyes out until the part about James jumping around like a ballerina. What a cool family you and Jordan have- in that sweet Peyton and all of your parents and siblings. I'm thankful you are being surrounded by them right now. I love you, Kari.

  8. Thank you for being so vulnerable, raw, honest and faithful at the same time. Praying and loving on you all ~ from afar. We grieve with you,and we will be ever mindful on Friday as we cannot be in person to communicate our love and support. We love you guys.

  9. Dear Kari,
    it seems to me that your Peyton has learned a love that only you and Jordan could have taught him, both by the way you love him and the way you love your Drew and Piper. A love that has come from what few, if any, may fully understand, but what so many of us are in complete wonder of. I have been praying that where there cannot be an abscence of such immense heartache at this point along the journey, that there be a far greater amount of that amazing love surrounding and sustaining you.
    After reading so much of your heart and soul in this blog, I keep picturing God saying to you and Jordan, "Well done." Well done for loving life, teaching joy, exemplifying unshakeable faith. You've earned every tear, every emotion you feel.
    We who have never even met your family are sharing in part with could we not be so touched, and changed by what you've shared and taught? I wish so much that there was some way to be helpful. Know that so many of us are "weeping with you who weep." I will continue to be faithful in prayer for you and all of your family.
    love, Brandi

  10. I will not stop praying for Peyton, what a journey he's already had.

    I love you, Kari. What an honor it is to enter into this with you. You process like one with the mind of Christ.

    I feel like Sweet Piper's ripple will go on forever.

  11. Sweet Kari, thank you so much for sharing your heart... I pray that this space here is a place where you can come to process, knowing that those of us here reading come with open hearts, ready to listen, cry with you and laugh with you, and carry you to the throne room of our Father... you are an amazing woman, only wish I could say that to you face to face! Blessings on you Kari!

  12. Kari and Jordan, Knowing you so well and then reading your words, has moved me to new places, emotionally, spiritually, just in all kinds of ways. We all here want to help you both in some way, to be able to make some difference that helps those painfilled moments. I see it all through here as I read others comments. I know they are feeling what I feel. And I read what Beth says, knowing she knows something that I don't know...the loss of a child. I am thankful for her and know she offers something she learned from experience. I am also thinking of that crib, and how it must have looked when you walked into the room. What is it in that song, the Christmas song, the Little Drummer Boy, he gave his best gift he could, playing that drum. It seems like that is what Payton gave you, and I am so proud of him for that. What a boy! I love your total honesty, to feel exactly what you need to feel. I pray for your strength these next days. See you soon. Love you to pieces. Barb

  13. Kari, you are a truly beautiful spirit. Through your words Little Drew and Piper have given so much to so many in such a brief time. Peyton has been blessed to have you both to guide him through so much loss when so young. I can only imagine the man he is becoming.
    Love to you all
    Jennie B x

  14. Hi - I was thinking about Piper and Drew as I was driving to work this morning. I read the book Heaven is for Real and also got the kids version for Angelina and Caden. You may already have it. I was thinking about how Coulton met not only Jesus and God any everyone else in heaven but he also met his big sister and his grandpa. Coulton said his sister wouldn't stop hugging him and I thought about Drew. Although you are so said I bet Drew is just brimming with joy that he has his little sister with him. He probably can't stop hugging her either. :) I was thinking of Ray as well and I know he was there to welcome Piper home as well. Isn't that a wonderful comfort - Piper and Drew are home. I hope you find comfort in the thought that they are together. God bless.

  15. You, Jordan, Peyton and Piper have been in our prayers for a while now. We will continue to lift you up. Thank you for being so brave on your blog. You are a gifted writer and should write a book about what you have experienced and learned through these past few years. It would be used by God to reach so many people just as you blog has reached right into my heart and filled it with light. Love you guys!!