November 8, 2011

When the Pain is All Around Me

If you’re visiting from P31, come in. We’re taking a few days to share conversations about grief… of all sorts. Please welcome my friend Jane, who graciously is guest posting today. To know Jane is to know her family dresses up in 80’s garb and has dance parties. She threw me and her baby Noah a duo-birthday party {delighted we share the same birthday–30 years apart}. And Jane listens and laughs and cries and talks and dreams with the best of them. I simply love her,  her husband and their children… all eight, including David and Ruth. I do so hope you’ll connect with Jane on her site, Over the Cobblestones.

Here’s Jane… I just put a cake in the oven. No big deal, really. It’s the first day of school and I’m planning a special dinner to celebrate. I look forward to sitting around the table listening to stories of the day. My favorite way to celebrate just about anything is with a good meal. I love to cook and I love even more cooking for my family and then sitting down to share that meal. The smells, the warmth and laughter and yes, even the occasional fights around the table. It’s all real. It’s something I can hold onto. Something I can see and touch and taste.

It’s the 20th anniversary of my twins birth and death. David and Ruth. They were our firstborns. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I wanted to somehow mark this day, to set it aside as special and remember them.

I haven’t been able to think of anything. My dream would have been to be at Wrightsville Beach on the dock where we held their memorial service. I would have sat and watched the water, smelled the salt air, listened to the birds and remembered the words our pastor spoke as he talked about heaven being closer, now that a part of us was already there. Steve and I held each other and wept as we thought about David and Ruth. It was only the beginning of a long and painful grief.

The grief has had a way, like the ocean, of ebbing and flowing. There are days where I felt I would drown under the weight of it, like a huge wave crashing over you and spinning you over and over under the water. You come up gasping for breath and feeling like you’ve just wrestled with the wave and lost.

Your nostrils burn from the salt, your bathing suit is twisted and in places it shouldn’t be. You’re left to take the “walk of shame” out of the ocean, praying no one saw you get completely thrashed by water.

Then, gracefully the days come where the grief recedes like the tide going out. You can safely play on the shore with no fear of losing your balance.

The best days though have been the days when the pain is all around me, lapping at my feet. I’ve stood at the edge of the grief and just let it slowly rise as I take baby steps deeper and deeper, slowly feeling it engulf my body. In the distance I can see mercy and grace so I walk towards it. I’ve always loved sandbars at the ocean. They seem so magical to me. You go into the water and before you know it you’re swimming because you can’t touch the ocean floor, then you can! I love that. Those are the good days. The days when the grief is real but somehow, magically, like a sandbar you’re standing on the waves.

Today, as I put the cake in the oven I thought about how I never made a birthday cake for David and Ruth. I thought about how today has been a day of slowly being engulfed by the grief and honestly not seeing the sandbar, not yet anyway.

I miss them. I miss who they would have been and I miss celebrating them.

From where I’m sitting at my computer I can see our dining room table. I can see the chairs around it, ready for our family to fill them. Perhaps this is my sandbar today, my moment of grace and mercy? I think it is. I think this is the best way to remember them today, to sit with my family, their family around a meal and celebrate the new.

Happy Birthday David and Ruth.

Thank you, Jane. Your bravery and honesty are lyrics in a beautiful song of hope and healing. We appreciate you letting us in to your story, and encouraging us to let our guard down. Friends, read more {and make sure to ‘follow’ for updates} from Jane in her journey of healing at Over the Cobblestones.

We’d love to connect with you. Feel free to leave a comment here or on the P31 or Jane’s blog.

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  1. Jane ~ Absolutely beautiful. Your transparency in this guest post is a blessing.

    Praying that the Lifter of our heads, the One who quiets the storm, the One who loves perfectly, the One who sees us fills you with His perfect peace today. May you know He is guiding you always to your desired haven ~ Himself.

    Psalm 107:28-31
    Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
    and He brought them out of their distress.
    29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed.
    30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and He guided them to their desired haven.
    31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love
    and His wonderful deeds for men.

    Warm hugs,

    • Sharon, you are beyond precious. To me. To Him. To others. Love you and love your kindness. Thank you!! xoxo, Sam

  2. I never thought about celebrating the birth and death the same day of our daughter almost 32 years ago. Like you, she was our firstborn. We didn’t know if she would be our only but God blessed us with three healthy children. The words of Genesis 1:31 brought me comfort at that time: “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” Bless you Jane.

    • Eva, I’m so sorry for your loss. And thankful God restored what was taken … times three. Thankful He’s held you with His truth all these years… Gen. 1:31 is a beautiful promise. xoxo, Sam

    • I love that Eva, “God saw all that he had made….” In the same way no pain or grief escapes his comforting Holy Spirit. Thank you for that verse.

  3. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child… but we know the Father does. I pray He continues to uplift you and hold you securely within His loving grasp. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us. Such a treasure to behold.

  4. Thank you Jane for sharing your beautiful heart in the beautiful post! Your writing breathed fresh life and a longing into my heart – to cherish each day – to hold close that which we love and even that which we must let go of. Gifts of joy and grief.

    And thank you for loving our Sam so well. She’s precious to us too!

  5. Jane, you are blessed with a gift for expressing your feelings like a beautifully woven tapestry. Thank you for sharing your painful story about the loss of your twins 20 years ago. I lost one of my two twin boys 18 years ago. The one that survived is a definite blessing and is thriving in life, but struggles with some learning disabilities, but I feel blessed beyond words that he survived.

    I am new to blogging, or expressing my feelings on line, even though I know my way around navigating the internet. However, I still feel somewhat timid about sharing my feelings and my story. But this isn’t about me. It’s about others who have endured so much more.

    Please fill me in about how I can receive comfort and encouragement from others on this post, or on another one. I only e-mail and do not have a Facebook account, nor do I tweet, or any other type of posting….just e-mail. I am old fashioned that way,.

    Anyway, there is so much more to my story that I wish to share, but it would take some time. I have tried journaling, but I do not feel that has worked for me. I have so much pain inside of me from years ago when I lost the one twin and then my dad 2 1/2 months after our other twin was born. Also, I lost my mother last year, but only was met with criticism and unkind remarks, as well as being rejected by my inlaws and told to stay away 6 months after my mother’s death.

    My husband lost his job after 30 years in the same business and a job well done, and no less worked for a so-called Christian organization. Thankfully he found another job in the same line of work in a different state, but this job is highly unstable and incredibly stressful for him. I tendered my resignation to move to be with him, but have not been able to find work since June of last year, 2010. We have a young man who is a senior at a private Christian academy, but we have no idea how we will pay for his college education, since my husband makes $20,000 less than he used to.

    I am presently seeking guidance from a very wonderful Christian counselor, but still I battle with depression and a complete sense of loss. We have no friends here, and I still miss our friends where we moved from. We have lived in the same area for 30 years.

    There were too many losses to count. There is more to this sordid story of mine, but too much to share here. I feel like I have already burdened you with more than is necessary, but there is really no one to poor my heart out to, other than my already overly stressed husband. I am so lonely here and when I think I am connecting with potentially new friends in the area through our church, my loneliness just starts overwhelming my thoughts all over again, because no calls, no one comes to see us. I guess it’s hard to find new friends at our age. My husband and I are 54. Being older parents doesn’t help the matter either.

    I am lost in a busy world and just don’t see a way out of my depression, since I have no other support than for my counselor, which is only limited time with her.

    Lonely and forgotten.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I pray to God for your encouragement.


    • Nancy, you have suffered many losses that need to be grieved. I am so sorry you are in this place that sounds a lot like despair. I have been struggling to get through some painful experiences that needed grieving which I chose to ignore. Please give yourself permission to grieve. It is biblical and quite necessary to heal. I won’t give you any pat answers because I know during loss and grieving they are just that, pat answers. I will pray the Lord brings someone into your life and close to you who will understand what you need to walk through in order to heal. The only thing I will encourage you with is that God is our healer. He promises He is and He CANNOT lie. He loves you so. Cry out to Him in your pain. He will hear you. It will take time to walk through your pain but if you stay with it, I promise you, it WILL NOT stay forever. Just a lot longer than we would like. We feel our way through grief and unfortunately we live in a society that would prefer to sweep it under the carpet or intellectualize it. Samantha has got it right on. Your pain is your pain. Your loss is your loss. Do not minimize or deny it. You can either pay now or pay later. Trust me, I know what I speak of. Again, I will go to the Father on your behalf and ask Him to bring that special someone into your life who will understand and not try to convince you just to “get over it”. It’s not that easy. Loss is difficult to say the least. One resource I would recommend is Griefshare. They send daily emails that have helped me. I pray for you dear sister in the Lord. You will get through this. Reach out to the one who loves you more than anyone else in the entire world.

    • Nancy, I hear you and want you to know you didn’t burden any of us. I am so sorry for the pain. It’s a hard thing to bear pain alone, especially so many miles away from your life-long friends. Loneliness is a fierce beast and hard to slay alone.

      Would you be willing to join an online Bible study? That might be a great way to be part of a community for you, though I know you don’t want to venture far from email. But I have a few to recommend if you’d like to give one a try… One is Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible study… It’s on her blog, which you can find at Right now they’re studying “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.

      Also, I’m HUGE on face-to-face friendships, but perhaps Facebook would help you stay connected with your friends in your home town? Just a thought.

      Friend, I hope just writing your comment brought a sense of hope and relief and I pray hope rests over you like a mama shelters her babies with her wing.

      xoxo, Sam

    • Nancy, I so appreciate the courage it took for you to bear you soul to us. Thank you!
      As I read what you wrote I felt these could have been my words at different points in my life. In 20 years my husband and i have moved 7 times. We’ve lived in 4 different states, left behind many good friends and been far away from family. It is not an easy place to be. As overwhelming as it feels to you I encourage you not to isolate yourself. I know how hard it is to reach out but I believe so strongly we need the body of Christ to carry us to wholeness and healing. Finding a grief support group or a local bible study could be an way to connect. Believe me, when I say I know it is not easy but I have spent too many years hiding behind my depression and grief. There is hope!

      I will pray for you. May the God of ALL comfort, who comforts us just as WE need be the lifter of your head.


  6. Nancy, I had one more thought for you. I know you said journaling does not work for you. It really didn’t help me much either but I did finally find something that did and that was drawing what I was feeling with felt pens. I was amazed at the emotions that I’ve been able to express through my drawings. I am not an artist by any means but even my rudimentary attempts have been an incredible outlet for my pain, anger, guilt, lonliness, you name it. It also helped my therapist know what I was dealing with. So, you might want to give it a try and if that doesn’t work try something else until you find what works for you. Also, music so speaks to my soul. When I feel like I’m stuck in emotions that don’t want to be released, I can put on Christian music or any music that touches my soul and quite often the emotions are then released and more healing takes place. Just don’t give up. A few other things that have helped me are being quiet before God for five minutes a day and just listening to Him, fasting to hear Him and prayer (both from me and any place I can find it). And Soaking (check out Graham Cooke on utube). I truly hope any of these suggestions might be of some help for you and to know that others share in your sorrow. You are not alone, EVER. Hugs being sent over the internet to you! And lastly, DO NOT JUDGE your grief against anyone elses. Grief is so very personal and no one grieves in the same way or in the same time frame. Just take really good care of yourself right now. You deserve to be loved. Ok, I’m done for now. Love you dear sister.

    • Rochelle, I love these ideas. I’m going to try the drawing. Music has been a powerful source of healing in my life, also. There have been many times when I have sat in the car in my driveway sobbing and listening to worship. Misty Edwards, Jonathan Helser are a couple of my favorites. Also, I love Graham Cooke.

      • Nancy, if you google Graham Cooke be sure to check out Inheritance. It is a powerful word of God’s love for YOU.

  7. Your story truly grabs my heart Jane. I know how difficult it is to put your broken heart out in the open for all to see. Grief can be very lonely. Even in a room full of people one can feel very alone, as if you are on the outside looking in, never able to completely enter in.
    For me, Grief is also very sacred… to be shared with “the man of sorrows”.
    What you said about the birthday cake is so profound. I was blessed to celebrate 17 birthdays with our daughter Katie. She died while returning home from a Chrysalis Sendoff (Christian Youth Retreat). Her absence is a constant presence. But, to paraphrase David, “She cannot come to me, but someday I will go to her.”
    Until that time I want to cherish every joy fully.
    I do not know the author of this poem, but it has meant so much to me:

    Death may hide, but not divide,
    Thou art but on Christ’s other side,
    Thou in Christ, and Christ in me,
    Together always we will be.

    Thank you again for giving others the courage to share.
    Blessings to you and your family,

    • Carol, Thank you for sharing your story and the poem. It is beautiful. The David passage is the one our pastor spoke on at David and Ruth’s memorial service. So meaningful to me.

  8. Jane, I am so glad you liked the ideas. A very powerful tool for me in the healing process has been playing music while drawing. Oh, the tears that flowed as I drew a mother whom I lost to mental illness with no ears to ever hear me. And no mouth to tell me how much I am loved. No arms to hold me. Just a face with eyes that are closed. I’m wondering if playing lulabys while drawing would be powerful for your healing process.

    I am so sorry you are in this place of grief and for your loss. I think we can both agree that unresolved grief will rear its ugly head at sometime. I will remember you in my prayers as well as you feel your way through to God’s promise of turning our sorrows into joy. What would we do without His promises to hold on to.

    Also, thank you for the names of the two artists that you enjoy listening to. I will google them and perhaps they will speak to me as well. My favorite of Graham Cooke’s is The Nature of God. I will check out your suggestion. Many blessings and prayers are being sent your way. Thank you for your honest sharing.

  9. The grief of losing a child… matter the circumstances, it is grief. Your story is like a balm to me as you are describing just how I feel. Let me just share a bit here. I started doing foster care for a bit over three years now. I’m not a veteran foster mother by any means, but a mother nonetheless. I have three girls of my own, 22,19, and 15. Love them dearly but wanted to care for the orphaned, as Jesus calls us to do. So my journey began with fostering. Our first baby was with us a bit over two months. Precious one that we cared for and mentored the parents. The day he left us, though we were happy for him, was also more painful that I expected, but we were sure they will thrive so we moved on. Our second one was brought to us as an infant, just 7wks old. Though the system was working hard to reunify, things were not looking up. So time went by…..almost three years. She was my baby, and I was her momma. But due to a selfish system that has no care for the child, it was decided I wasn’t to adopt the child, though I had requested so. To make a long story short, under a lie the child was removed from my home and placed in another pre adoptive family….all while I had no idea of intentions and was waiting for the child to be returned. It was only three weeks after the child was taken, was I informed of this decision. I have never felt so much pain in my life….the way you describe it is just so…. Only by the grace mercy and love of my Father and His Son that I get up every day and face each day….wondering if she calls at nite for me, or wonders what happened. God tells me he has a plan and beauty will come from pain. As we approach her bday in two weeks, I pray fervently that she is loved and cared for…even if it is not me. Thank you for sharing and now I don’t feel so alone.

    • Sara,
      I can’t imagine the courage it takes to be a foster parent. You are so brave! I’m sorry for your loss and you are right it doesn’t matter the circumstances the pain is real. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone.


  10. Katy Larsen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. I lost my daughter Hannah. She was born still a little over 2 years ago. I truly don’t know where I’d be without His grace and mercy.

    Happy Birthday in Heaven David and Ruth.

    • Thank you Katy.

      A friend of mine- who was about to die had the courage to ask God to give her a picture of heaven. She was afraid it was going to be too much like the book of Revelation. A few days later she had a dream and in her dream she saw a field with many women of all ages. They were taking care of and playing with small children and babies. When she woke up she knew this was the picture of heaven God had chosen to give her. It gave her great comfort as she had a grandchild already in heaven. As I am reading all these post and thinking of all our sweet children already there it gives me great comfort too.

      Happy Birthday to Hannah… and all the little ones!

  11. Thank you for sharing. What you shared hit close to my broken and raw heart. My husband and I lost 5 babies before we could meet them. God brought me through those losses I still don’t understand but He made me stronger. Then we were blessed with our little boy Nathanael, who is now a busy two year old. A little over a year ago we found out that we were having twins. Things were going great and our specialist and family and friends were so happy for us. Then this time last year we finally got our family together for pictures but before pictures I had a quick regular ultrasound with our specialist. Everyone written the office was so excited and I couldn’t wait to have a peek at our babies again. The technician stopped talking and told us there was only one heartbeat. Our specialist sat in the room with us and cried. We still did family pictures and then told them afterwords. I can’t look at those pictures to this day. The real kicker is that my cousin and a friend at church were pregnant with twins the same time with twins and had there babys. The rest of my pregnancy was rough. I was hospitalized with preeclampsia the last couple of months. I am so thankful that God blessed us with Ruth and that she is healthy and growing like a weed. But my heart hurts so bad and I don’t understand why we lost Thomas. But what makes so mad is that nobody seems to understand my heartache of the loss of a baby before their duedate. Even in the Christian circle where they claim that a baby is a baby as soon as the baby is concieved. It’s been almost six months and I’m at a loss I don’t know which way is up even though I’m praying and spending time with God. I’m sorry for rambiling on and would probably keep going but we help at church with a celebrate recovery at church and I need to get the kiddos ready to go. Thank you for your honesty.

    • Rebecca,

      I understand your pain! I once read an article written by a woman in your exact situation and she said the hardest thing was that no one ever mentioned the twin she lost. No one ever spoke of her grief or even asked if she was grieving. She was supposed to be happy because she had a baby! I’m sorry for your loss of Thomas. I know you miss him.

  12. All the words of hope and promise … They ring a dull tone.

    Our only biological child was born still 8 years ago in January and the grief has been especially hard the past two years for some reason. I known my precious Lucas is in the arms of Jesus, but my own arms ache so … still. (We have adopted two amazing children since his death.) Hearing that twenty years later there is still a great depth to Jane’s grief was over whelming. I wonder if I’ll survive.

    Where we lived previously, there was a great support group, but there is not one where I am now. I have prayed, sought counseling, participated in bible studies, journaled, etc, etc. and am on medication for depression. Grief is still a very lonely journey and one that no one can ever really prepare for, but I never knew it was this hard.

    And realizing that it continues … how does anyone survive?

    • Chris

      I’m sorry for you loss. I totally understand you want Lucas to be with you not God. I get that!

      I think the reason there is great depth to my grief all these years later is that I didn’t allow myself to grieve in the days and years after. I pushed it aside and moved on with my life. Grief wont’ allow that!
      Eventually, it will rear it’s head again. IF you want to read some more of my story and see how things are going… go to my blog. Honestly, this 20th year has been one of the most painful but I have had too many years in between where I felt nothing. I’ve decided feeling the pain is better than feeling nothing, or feeling depressed. I still have hope that one day this place in me will be healed.


  13. I too lost a set of twins, Gabriel and Gabriella, this upcoming January will mark 19 years. I too struggle with how to remember, without drowning in grief. It is singularly the hardest event I have ever had to endure. But the moment of my death, will be my moment of crowning glory. For not only will I walk with Jesus hand in hand, but I will finally, FINALLY hold again those babies, who as we speak wait in heaven for my arrival. My heart goes out to you, and my joy will follow, for the day will come when you will be together again. It will be a day of glory. God’s Peace be with you.

  14. Your words tugged at my heart. We lost our 4th daughter, living only 9 hours. I never even got to see her, she was flown to another hospital. Have always wondered what it would have been like to raise 4 daughter, what she would have been like to grow up in our family and praying some day I’d see her again.
    My husband of 40+ years is dying from brain cancer and he will get to see her first! It’s been a really hard journey of 20 months, him battling brain cancer and now that the end is near, he’ll get to see Rachelle in heaven. She was born and died on 7-17-1975.

    • Margee,

      Much grace and peace to you in the days ahead! God grant you strength and courage. You are his beloved!


  15. Really informative post.Really getting excited about read more. Awesome.


  1. […] the new year is a new start to consistent blogging. A few weeks ago I shared about loss and pain. Death and sorrow. Today, my dear friend Leigh is graciously inspiring us from a place of deep grief, and peace-filled […]

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