October 11, 2014

Day 11: Altar

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Day 11 of #captureyourgrief is Altar.  In CarlyMarie's terms, this is a place in the home that one honors their baby that has died.  

We don't really have anything like that, at least not yet.  There's not just one part of our house where I sit and think about Jackson and Lily.  I think about them everywhere!  I am working on a small wall that I will put my newly framed pictures on, and maybe an anchor and a shadow box with some memories, but I am not sure I'll call that an altar.

I'm not fully comfortable create a place of "worship" for my dead child.  My worship is for God.  That's a personal choice though, and I think its very sweet to build an altar to honor a baby, if that is something that is going to help someone through this mess.  While grief of a baby dying connects us all (who are doing this) and we are unified in that, it's also a very personal and private road as well.  There are so many things in "grief work" that can help us through this, and we can pick and choose which ones we want to integrate into our journey.

For me, my "Altar" is God.  The feet of Jesus.  Prayer.  Worship.  And I DO spend time with my baby during these times.  I pray for him, I am thankful for him, I ask God to watch over him and let him know how much I love him and miss him.  This altar is all over my world.  In my room, in my kitchen, in my garden, on my walks, in my car, at work, in the shower...everywhere.  I feel like I have had a constant conversation with God since June 12th.  I hardly ever stop talking to Him, or thinking to Him, there is a running commentary in my head to him all the time.  Jackson weaves in and out of those conversations too, many times a day.

Praying to God is a beautiful way to keep Jackson alive in my heart.  Learning to live a life of purpose and meaning and love is a way to keep him "alive" too.  He may not be here, but the memory of him is and... for him and for God, I want to live a good life.  I want to help others.  I want to make meaning of all of this.  I pray daily for that.  I watch for signs of how to help others, and what I can make of this grief.  

So no, I don't really have an altar for Jackson.  But I do have one.  It's existence is everywhere in my life, because Jesus is everywhere in my life.  I know that may sound cliche or cheesy, especially if you don't consider yourself a believer in any of this, but I promise you that life with Jesus is a life that is worth living.  No matter what terrible things happen, no matter who dies or leaves your life.  Jesus makes it better, Jesus makes you stronger, and Jesus will guide you and carry you through it.  He is my anchor.  He is my altar.

Need a place to start?  Try the Bible.  He'll show you the way!

P.S.  As a believer, I do not always agree with the statements that some "Christians" offer us as bereaved parents, such as "God has a plan" or any statement that starts with "At least..." or something like "God let this happen to teach us..."  

Do I believe that God has a plan?  Of course.  But do I like hearing that from someone else when it comes to my baby dying?  No, I'll just take my baby, thank you.  Forget the plan!  I'm not sure that Christians understand that these statements, especially to someone who doesn't believe in God, just push God further away.  And no one likes to hear that at least we can have other babies, or at least we have other children or at least blah blah blah.  I'm sure all these types of "Christian" statements are meant well, and not intended to hurt but to help.  

I think God can work good from bad.  I think He can take heartache and turn it into amazing, beautiful love.  I think He does have a plan, but that's because my baby died, that He can make something wonderful out of something so terrible.  Did He let this happen?  I don't even know how to answer that, as a person of faith.  I do know that He will help me through it, help me understand it, and help me use it to become a better person.  

My hope in saying all this is, that if you are reading this and "on the fence" about faith or God or Jesus, please don't let the insensitive things that Christian people may offer you turn you away.  Seek Him out yourself, and I am positive you will find peace and relief.  Remember that humans in general may say things that make them feel better about the situation, because their hearts are in the right place and they want to help, even though it may not be helpful.  I know it's very hard for someone who has not experienced this specific grief to figure out what the heck to say to us.  I hope that makes sense!  I'm not great at talking about this stuff, but I really wanted to get that out into the grieving parent world.  Jesus loves you, and can and will get you through this, all you have to do is ask, and forget about everything else! 

God bless,

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