When we think of “miracles,” most often we think of a happy ending to a personal challenge — a prayer answered, or an unexpected divine intervention. And yet, as C.S. Lewis would say, “God shouts to us in our pain.” He does indeed answer our prayers, but His answer isn’t always “Yes.” Sometimes it’s yes; sometimes it’s no; sometimes it’s, “Wait.”
As mothers, the waiting can become unbearable. Craig and I waited for three years, for example, for our children to become available for adoption. Three years of not knowing whether they would go back to their first parents. Three years of waiting to see whether an extended relative would step forward. Three years of not knowing if we would be together for another birthday, another Christmas, another summer. During that time, I learned to practice detachment, of living in the present moment. It’s a skill every Extraordinary Mom knows well.
One of the most important ways, I’ve found, to live in the present is to capture the memories as they occur — whether through blogging, or journaling, or through letters. Jane sent me this link to a post she had written about her daughter, whom she lost more than four years ago to anencephaly. More specifically, it’s about the connection between blogging/journaling and grieving.
As Jane points out, you have to actually endure the grieving process before you can write about it fruitfully. (Though I must admit that some of Amy Welborn’s Facebook reflections, and Johnnette Benkovic’s writing about her husband Tony in the wake of his death, that make me think there are exceptions to this.) At any rate, I’m grateful to Jane for taking time to share her experience with us.
Emily died in July and I had her website up by September, but writing something deeper and more reflective took time. I don’t think I fully explored in fiction the emotions of losing a baby until I wrote Winter Branches (in 2005) and you can see even there, the feelings were translated. (Before someone brings up “Damage,” I’ll note that “Damage” had the same situation but none of the grieving. It’s the frame of the house without the furnishings, the carpet, or the drapes.)
My point here is just, if you’ve endured a tragedy, give it time before you try writing. Maybe years. If you want the processed, final product, those precious resolved feelings, you need to resolve them first.