Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

A Hiatus of Sorts

This post is being written for the sole purpose of transparency on my grief journey.  I only ask that you consider this piece in its entirety and not take bits out of context.  Here goes …

For approximately the past eight weeks I have been on a hiatus of sorts.  From what, you ask?  

From focusing on the positive.  From turning it all back to praise.  From always seeing Evie’s death as a part of God’s good plan.

Please hear me out.  I know that sounds repulsive, sacrilegious, irreverent even, but it happened.  Let me explain.

For whatever reason, at about Evie’s four months in Heaven mark I just needed a break.  I needed a break from the songs and the prayers and the thoughts that reminded me so much of the difficult, uphill battle I have been on since July 2012.  My mind was weary and I needed a break.

Instead of the uplifting worship music of Chris Tomlin, I needed carefree, dance-in-your-kitchen Taylor Swift. 

Instead of listening to sermons or devotional clips while I crafted, I needed episode after episode of Phinneas and Ferb.

Instead of praying earnestly for strength and deliverance from my anxieties, I just wanted to peruse Pinterest and add new recipes and project ideas to my boards.

And, instead of constantly shifting my focus from the sad reality of Evie’s departure to praise and thanksgiving, I just needed to focus on the sadness and the fact that it really, really, really stinks that my daughter is not here to enjoy.

I needed that.  So much more than you might imagine.  For months and months I hardly allowed myself to fully embrace that reality for fear that I would somehow be dishonoring to the Lord by just letting myself bask in the awfulness that is death.  But it became a necessity.  

Since hearing of Evie’s diagnosis last summer, I have been trying desperately to pattern my thoughts after those in the Psalms: heartfelt quandaries and inquiries as to why bad things happen to good people and then praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.  I always thought the praise and thanksgiving needed to immediately follow the questions and woefulness, but now I see differently.  

I went through an entire season of woe; a full season of feeling sorry for myself.  And now, weeks later, the praise and thanksgiving is starting to come again.

I went through a season.  A fairly sad season and I knew it couldn’t last long.  I was starting to feel it, Josh was starting to comment, and I knew it needed to end.  But I honestly feel it was a necessary season for my grieving process.  And when I talk to the Lord about it, I don’t feel condemned.  I feel very much like He understood my need for a break and I knew He would be there for me when I was ready to get back on track.  What a mighty God we serve.

Most certainly my break didn’t involve anything regrettable or kicking the Lord out of every facet of my life – I still talked to the Lord regularly – just, very simply put, when given the choice between choosing joy and choosing to dwell in sadness, I chose the latter. Just for a time.  And I think my brain and my heart both needed it.

Please know I am not encouraging anyone to follow my footsteps – I just want to say that it happened.  And since no temptation has taken us except that which is common to all men, I assume someone out there has experienced or will soon experience the same thing.  And I don’t necessarily think it’s all bad … just don’t let it last for too long.

Let me try to summarize the main ideas here …

  • There was a period of time for about six to eight weeks when I really felt the need to allow myself to be fully sad for losing Evie and visualize all the would-haves and should-have-beens.
  • I was never irreverent toward the Lord, just allowed myself a break from the thoughts and songs and prayers that I had been clinging to so hard for so many months.
  • Toward the end of that time, I started to feel very withdrawn.  Josh made a comment about me seeming “worse”.  And I knew that meant I needed to stop.
  • I have talked to the Lord about it and really feel that He understood my need.  He knew my heart wasn’t malicious, just trying to feel its way around the dark cave of grief.  And I was reminded again that our God doesn’t judge us for human inadequacies.
  • To snap out of it, I started reading Mended, by Angie Smith and One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  Two books I couldn’t recommend more for emerging out of a cocoon of sadness.

Just something I wanted to share from the depths of my grieving mommy heart.  If you find yourself in a hiatus of sorts, I pray the Lord will grant you the wisdom and discretion needed to know when to get yourself back in the game.  Don’t check out for too long.  

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God, our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, and dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen.  Jude 1:24-25

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  • Lauren Casper - Beautifully written, Sarah. I understand completely. I've had my own periods of time when I just needed to be sad about things for awhile. When I came out of those times I felt like they were so necessary. It's all a part of grief and no step can be skipped if we want to truly heal. I love you and you know I am continuously praying. <3ReplyCancel

  • The Tylers - Glad you were able to go through that time without guilt, and also glad you can return to thankfulness and praise as well. Thanks for sharing so honestly about it.ReplyCancel

  • My name is Heather. - I was the same way, for a few weeks. my husband actually asked me if I was becoming an atheist. that's when I knew I needed to make the choice to choose praise. it wasn't easy at first, but after a while, I clung to it to stay out of the hole that is grief. I allow myself to fall into that hole every once in a while. my heart needs it, my head needs it. and I know I always have my God hovering over the top of that hole ready to pull me out when I choose pull myself out again. I think grief is a life long cycle when you lose a child. I have not read mended yet. but it's on my list. a few if you haven't read that are amazing is "Heaven" by randy alcorn. get the notes version :o) and also "I will carry you" by angie smith, and "Choosing to See" by Marybeth chapmanReplyCancel

  • ~Sarah - I don't want to be that person that compares your loss of a child to mine in a failed relationship, and I'm not. I'm comparing the experience of needing a season of grief. I think I actually slowed down my healing process by trying to force the praise and thanksgiving too soon. It was only after I allowed myself to be sad and angry (for a time) that my heart started to let go of (some of) the baggage. (12 years later and I still get surprised by stuff I've held on to). Obviously, a failed relationship is so different from losing a child but I completely understand your need and even see the wisdom in it. Thanks again for sharing so openly and honestly Sarah, your story is a help to so many.ReplyCancel

  • Musings of a Childless Mama - Thank you for sharing. I found out that I couldnt have babies over a year ago, and I think I need time to greive properly…I am a new reader to your blog, and I am enjoying your words. I love your babies, and your heart.ReplyCancel

  • Darla - very well written, I think you shared your heart well:-) It's always so hard to find words, when words don't exist to describe the things we think and feel. Healing comes, and God is faithful to us, through it all – even the "darker sides" of grief (if there are even any "brighter sides"?). So glad you are using wisdom as you navigate the shaky waters of healing that surround you.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you …
    The process of grief is just so messy and strange. Thank you for understanding. <3ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I am thankful as well … praying for you always <3ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Oh! What a great recommendation … I'll have to check out the Marybeth one. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you Sarah and thank you for sharing a bit of your story.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you so much. I'm sorry for your news. Take all the time you need – in the end I think it's best to face grief head on than pretend it's not there.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Thank you Darla … it's a strange road, this grief one. Thankful for God's wisdom to guide.ReplyCancel

  • David Rieke - The fracturing of your soul is not a subject for our condemnation, nor is it an example for others to follow. It just is what it is.

    For purposes of comparing and contrasting, here's a summary of Adoniram Judson's "dark night of the soul."

    On November 4, 1825 Adoniram Judson was suddenly released from prison. The long ordeal was over – 17 months in prison and on the brink of death. His wife's health was broken. Eleven months later Ann died (October 24, 1826). And six months later their daughter died (April 24, 1827).

    But now that his wife and daughter were gone, darkness began to settle over his soul. In July, three months after the death of his little girl, he got word that his father had died eight months earlier.

    The psychological effects of theses losses were devastating. For three years utter despair overtook his mind, and he wondered if he had become a missionary for ambition and fame, not humility and self-denying love. He began to read the Catholic mystics, Madame Guyon, Fenelon, Thomas a Kempis, etc. who led him into solitary living and various forms of self-imposed suffering. He dropped his Old Testament translation work, the love of his life, and retreated more and more from people.

    He often refused to eat. He destroyed all letters of commendation. He formally renounced the honorary Doctor of Divinity that Brown University had given him in 1823. He gave away all his private wealth.

    In October, 1828 he built a hut in the jungle some distance from the Moulmein mission house and moved in on October 24, 1828, the second anniversary of Ann's death, to live in total isolation.

    He had a grave dug beside the hut and sat beside it contemplating the stages of a corpse's decomposition. He ordered all his letters in New England destroyed. He retreated for forty days alone further into the tiger-infested jungle, and wrote in one letter than he felt utter spiritual desolation. "God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not."

    All through the year 1830 Adoniram was climbing out of his darkness. And you recall that it was 1831 – the next year – when he experienced the great outpouring of spiritual interest across the land. Is that a coincidence?

  • Whitney - i love you. Thank you for being so open about the journey. Grief is a hard and confusing thing.ReplyCancel

  • Larissa - I love both of those books! Also "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo.ReplyCancel

  • Mrs Ried - I know that sadness, the kind that just envelopes you and even though you see the light and happiness you just can't participate in it. I wish no one ever had to feel that sadness but I do think it is so important to feel it. I don't know you besides the words you share with us here but I think about you often and pray for your family. I am relieved for you that your hiatus is over and I hope this next season of your life is happier if even just a tiny bit!ReplyCancel

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