My mom sent me a text Sunday that she was thinking of me and praying for me. We had been at their house the day before. She said, “Hope everything is all right. I see the sadness in your eyes.”
We were at a friend’s house and I had to go to the bathroom and sob for a moment.
I never really noticed what she was talking about until I looked back the day before at some pictures I took after doing my “fall look.” It was an eye opener for me, and I thought, “Wow! The eyes really are the gateway to the soul.”
PTSD is real. Trauma is real. Loss is real.
My daughter Zoey’s 1st birthday is coming up and I have NOT been okay.
Grief is such an important subject. For a lot of people, it is a lifelong journey. I think it may even be safe to say that it is a lifetime process.
For some reason, I noticed that when someone either loses a baby during pregnancy (like we lost Sheldon) or has a baby in the NICU (like when our little Zoey was born), not much is said. Maybe I noticed because they both happened to me, and I was more vocal.
I also noticed that when I was more vocal, others became more vocal. This opened a safe space for conversation and relatability to take place, which is a beautiful thing for anyone who has experienced loss or disappointment of any kind.
The Battle of Our Thoughts
During those times, I battled with a few of these thoughts:
“I don’t want the attention.”
“This is embarrassing that I’m upset; others have been through worse.”
“I don’t want to cause others pain.”
“I shouldn’t feel this way.”
The list goes on.
Zoey’s first birthday is Monday, and I have been feeling similar feelings like the day we found out Sheldon was no longer with us.
On that day, these feelings started even before the ultrasound appointment though, so we didn’t know that our baby was with Jesus at that point.
We had a gender reveal party planned the same day as the ultrasound. I know it’s horrible, but I didn’t buy ANY decorations. I didn’t buy ANY food for the party. I didn’t even clean my house. This is very unlike me. It was as if I knew he was already gone and there was nothing to celebrate.
Those feelings of not wanting to do anything for the gender reveal party are the same feelings I’m having for Zoey’s first birthday. Why? Why would I feel this way? She is alive and well! She is worth being celebrated! So why do I feel this way??
It wasn’t until I began to tell these things to my husband and best friend that I recognized the PTSD and trauma that I had faced almost a year ago. Let me be crystal clear. I am so thankful. I cry all the time because of how thankful I am. So, hear my heart.
We Need to Feel Our Pain and Grief
The redemption and miracles do not replace the feelings of loss, PTSD and trauma. These feelings are very real and when they come, we cannot give in to shame, call our feelings stupid, say we need to just be grateful for XYZ, or to just “get over it.” We need to feel them and process them with Jesus and with our safe people.
You see, Jesus knew I needed to read the story of Lazarus hours before we found out Sheldon was with Him, because He knew the impact that story would have in my life even now. That was a massive miracle in and of itself.
August 7th, 2018, the day of our ultrasound, where nothing was cleaned, decorated or prepped for a gender reveal party, the Lord nudged me to crawl into His lap in our chair and open the Word. He said, “Come be with Me.” And as I did, I flipped through the Word and read about His connection with His disciples. I ended on the story of Lazarus, and I fell asleep. And the Lord is reminding me today that Jesus knew His friend Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead, yet He still wept. He felt the grief and sadness of those around Him and He, too, was sad.
So, He felt, and He cried. He is always the perfect example.
God knows what we need before we know.
He prepares our hearts and reveals His perfect ways through whispers like, “I have a plan. Trust Me.” He reveals His goodness through onesies that say, “tiny miracle.” He redeemed SO MUCH from August 9th, 2018 when I had to give birth to a baby who would never take a breath on this earth.
On September 14, 2019, the nurse who had been with us through every step of Sheldon’s delivery was the same nurse who was in the room during Zoey’s emergency c-section. My doctor was not on call. She was not even in the hospital, and I so desperately wanted to text her. I had her number from after losing Sheldon, but I knew that would be a breach of something, so I decided that the Lord knew. He knew which doctor was going to be here, and I trusted Him.
As they were about to do the surgery, I had tears of relief as I heard my doctor’s voice! She came in just for me. Was that a coincidence? I don’t believe in them. I believe Jesus cares about what we care about. He is delighted when we put our trust in Him. He also is delighted when we trust Him with our feelings…good or bad.
We Need to Process Our Pain and Grief
The redemption and miracles were not meant to cover the feelings of loss, disappointment, PTSD and trauma. They are meant to carry us through them. Process your feelings with Jesus. Process them with your spouse, and/or a safe friend. This is vital to your spiritual growth. No more feeling bad for feeling! Jesus felt it all for us. Your feelings matter.
When we process and feel these hard, sometimes scary things, there is beauty and new perspective that Jesus brings.
I wanted to exclusively breastfeed and I wanted to deliver our miracle girl naturally. These were 2 BIG DESIRES that I laid at His feet. I remember driving and speaking these things out loud to Him. I remember saying, “Lord you know what is best for me. You know what is best for her. So, I lay these wants at your feet. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I didn’t get to deliver her naturally. It wasn’t peaceful. It was chaotic. It was traumatic. It was anything but what I had pictured for our redemption testimony. I think we can get so caught up in how we want things to look, that when things don’t look that way, we begin to doubt His promises. Even when there are miracles wrapped around it all, we can lose sight.
I didn’t get to exclusively breastfeed. I’d been pumping from day one. I surrendered those things to Him. Little did I know that those precious desires were my burnt offering to Him, and it hurts! It is so painful to not have things happen the way we want them to.
If we aren’t real with these feelings for the fear of not seeming grateful or being selfish, etc., it may hinder us from experiencing His true joy over us. So, feel my friends. I release you from any expectation you may have of yourself or that others may have of you.
Your Feelings and Your Pain Matter to God
Your feelings matter to the Creator of heaven and earth. And when your feelings haven’t caught up to the truth yet, trust Him. I believe one day they will. Because the truth is, God is good. And He is not only good, He is good to me.
Say that with me. “God you are good to me.” Say it. Sing it. Write it on your mirror. Your feelings will eventually line up with the truth!
I have a memory of breastfeeding Zoey when we first brought her home and she took in three ounces. That was the first and last time she took in that much from exclusively me, and I will treasure and be thankful for that memory forever.
This is my prayer, that I hope at some point you can pray for yourself as well.
Jesus, let the feelings of disappointment, pain and sadness be processed through, so I can experience your goodness, faithfulness and joy. Create in me a heart of thankfulness. And when my feelings don’t line up with what is true, I will trust you enough to process them through until all that’s left is thankfulness, because You are good!
It doesn’t mean I won’t grieve for Sheldon the rest of my time here on earth, but it does mean I don’t have to stay trapped in the trauma of his loss. I will see him again, and for that, I am especially grateful!
Erica Mitchell is a daughter of the King. She loves being a wife of 9 years to Justin and the mother to 3 sons: Shylo 8, Shay 6, Sheldon (growing up in heaven) and rainbow baby girl Zoey. She believes worship is a lifestyle and loves to create with lyrics, music, and makeup. She has a calling and anointing in her words and voice to encourage and bring freedom to others in their personal relationship with Jesus. Her faith and heavenly perspective are contagious and overflows into all areas of her life.
If you are struggling, we would like to send you a printable PDF of 30 Ways to Give Yourself Comfort and Take Care of Yourself. This will also allow you to join over 1,000 other bereaved parents who are receiving a Weekly Word of Hope (which you can unsubscribe from any time).
Expressions of Hope is provided by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
- Check out the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope weekly podcast
- If you are a bereaved parent, we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook.
- If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.
- Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube channel.