I have a couple of caveats for this post. The first one being that what I have found most helpful is just that- helpful. This is not what is bringing me through ultimately or ridding me of pain. Jesus is the only healer.
Second of all, this “survival guide” includes things that are merely helpful to me, or have helped someone I know personally. It should be noted that I have had the sweetest of souls that helped me with this list by volunteering what helped them through their losses, from adoptions that fell through to losing a parent and from stillbirth to divorce. The reality for all of us is that this world, and the life we live while here, is messy and can be hard. But the Lord gives us good gifts that can remind us of the Truth and of His character. That’s what I have been surviving on, and so I compiled a list of such because you just might need some reminding while surviving too.
Also, I want to say that what is helpful to my survival might not work for you or for your friend. And yet, if this can be at all helpful to any person then I earnestly pray that it will be.
It is balm for the soul, is it not? I really have imagined myself some days, especially my first days back at work, running out of a locker-room and onto my imaginary basketball court to the anthem’s off of Red Sea Road by my friend, Ellie Holcomb. That’s truly what it felt like, gearing up for whatever was about to come my way. “When we can’t see the way, He will part the waves…” I mean, it’s good stuff, right?
But here are some others that either myself or others have referenced as anthems in the midst of loss and grief:
- “Find You Here” by Ellie Holcomb (this is is what I listened to on my way in to surgery…)
- “Made a Way” by Travis Greene (“I don’t know why but I’m grateful”… that line gets me good every time!)
- “Beautiful Things” by Gungor
- “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wills
- “You Hold It All Together” by All Sons & Daughters
- “I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North
- “Beyond the Blue” by Josh Garrels
- “Red Sea Road” by Ellie Holcomb
- “Spring is Coming” by Stephen Curtis Chapman
- “Blessings” by Laura Story
- “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels
- “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle
- “You Are Loved” by Ellie Holcomb
- “O’ Lord” by Lauren Daigle
- “Glory Baby” by Watermark
- “Do it Again” by Elevation Worship
- “My Portion and My Strength” by Ellie Holcomb
- “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe
- “Where Were You” by Ghost Ship
- “Build My Life” by Christy Nockels
Obviously, I think words are important and can be used to encourage us as we build an abundant life, or else I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing with this blog. How valuable it is that there are people that have been through life, have processed the difficulties that we go through, and then have taken notes that were then published. The books written by these well-traveled souls can be an invaluable resource for us to read and feel our hearts say, “Yes, me too!”
- I Will Carry You by Angie Smith
- Night of Weeping by Horatius Bonar
- Swans Are Not Silent books by John Piper
- Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke
- Streams in the Desert by Lettie Cowman
- A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
- Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie
- And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick
- Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow
The same gal that wrote and sang on the album Red Sea Road mentioned earlier coined this phrase, but it’s a practice that is completely Biblical. Because, y’all, it’s the Bible. Duh! My encouragement is to make yourself a list that you can keep in your wallet or purse, or maybe post the verses on sticky notes on every mirror and surface. Additionally, I’ve kept verses as the open tabs on the Safari app of my iPhone. This makes them totally accessible and something I focus on before any other distraction. Whatever works best for your life and lifestyle. A “Fighting Words” list or document is also a great thing to pass along to a hurting friend. In the same vein, my sweet husband and I did the She/He Reads Truth app study called “Mourning and Dancing” (there it is again…) together recently. But here are some verses that myself and other sojourners have found most helpful:
- Psalm 34
- Isaiah 61
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- Proverbs 3
- Proverbs 23
- Lamentations 3
- Psalm 30:11-12
- Isaiah 41:10
- Romans 8:37-39
- Psalm 73:26
- Joshua 1:9
- Psalm 139
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
In this season I haven’t (yet) felt the need to go to counseling. However, I am a HUGE FAN! At some time most, if not everyone, should probably take a visit to a counselor. It’s such a helpful tool for processing in a way that’s helpful and healthy. Some of us, myself included, didn’t come to know healthy coping skills on their own. Counselors are trained and educated in how to do this, so why not let them help you? I have gone to both Christian and non-Christian counselors, and I will say that there is an obvious difference. Regardless though, I think if you find yourself needing some help in learning healthy coping strategies there is absolutely no shame in making an appointment. Most all local churches are a really great resource for finding a counselor in your area as well.
“Give Yourself Time”
Anyone that knows me well knows that I am certainly no expert on this. I tend to not take the time needed and rush on to the next thing as a coping strategy. However, this time around I was physically unable to do a lot until recently. I am thankful because it gave me time to have to heal in ways that weren’t just physical. So hear me say this, take your time. But also, now that I’m mostly physically healed, I’ve been pondering: movement is healing. I first heard this phrase on one of my favorite podcasts, Glorious in the Mundane by Christy Nockels in episode 35. She spoke about how many times after surgery our doctors request that you move to help your healing. In the same way our Great Physician requests that in our healing we move towards Him in order to heal. I love that!
Recognize & Remember
In the case of miscarriage specifically, acknowledgement can be difficult. I remember hearing an NPR interview on this prior to my own loss. It so resonated with me then that there are women, especially in generations prior, that after losing their babies never acknowledged them any further. In fact, the medical profession even a couple of decades ago wouldn’t allow women to see their stillborn babies in fear that it would make them crazy. They stuffed it, so to speak, and never fully had the chance to grieve. But grief has a way of catching up with all of us. It’s been noted that by recognizing and memorializing our babies we get to say a more gradual “see you later!” Some ideas of acknowledgment and memorializing your loss include buying a plant (or many… if you’ve been to my house then you know that I’m a plant lady, for sure), a piece of jewelry, a special box to fill with things that remind you of your pregnancy and baby, purchasing a piece of art (or painting it yourself if that’s your gifting), or giving to a cause in your baby’s honor. I’ve done several (okay, all…) of these things in my grieving process. I’ve also found out about a couple of really sweet businesses that can help in this process, thanks to some really dear and thoughtful friends. Have you heard of Laurel Box or Bottle of Tears? It must be noted though that part of my process has indeed been starting this blog. It gives me a way of coping while also giving my baby’s life purpose, which I am sure was part of the Lord’s intent when He opened this door and affirmed it. If you’re a writer I highly encourage journaling or blogging as a form of therapy as well.
Lastly and most truly, it is by Him and through Him alone that we survive- that we live and that we breathe.
Therefore, in the least trite way, to God be the glory forever, even in the midst of our grief process.