Exactly one year ago, I began my grief journey. 1 year – 12 months – 52 weeks – 364 days – 525,600 minutes. And I have felt the weight of every single minute.
It is strange how something which happened so long ago can be so firmly ingrained in a person’s memory. It still hits me like a freight train sometimes, like getting the wind knocked out of me. No one expects to walk in for their 14-week prenatal appointment and hear the words “no heartbeat.”
When you lose a child, you miss out on so much: the milestones, the “firsts,” the birthdays, the hugs and kisses. My grief was wrapped up in not only the loss of a child but the loss of life experiences with that child. It is not about forgetting but about remembering.
Yet my grief more often than not ended up in a mangled, twisted ball of confusion. It felt like I had fallen down a rabbit hole.
Since I was a little girl, I have always been captivated by the story of Alice In Wonderland. Published in 1865 by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen name of Lewis Carroll, it received great success and is known still today as a classic children’s book. There are many movies, plays, musicals, etc. that depict various off-shoots of the original, and trust me; I fell in love with them all.
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But as I began my grief journey, I started to realize the unintentional connection I felt to Alice. Like Alice, I had tumbled down a rabbit hole into a strange new and confusing world where everyone was “mad” or sometimes thought of me as the “mad” one. After entering this world, Alice experienced changing shape from normal size to small, then to large, and then back to small again.
I remember when I first heard the shocking news in the ultrasound room, the whole space expanded. The walls got farther and farther away, and the ceiling lifted higher and higher. I felt as if the world around me was growing bigger and swallowing me up in it.
In Chapter Two, Alice swims in the pool of her tears. Need I say more on this subject! Then there is the Mad Tea Party where the characters rotate seats and perform mundane tasks for no reason at all.
When grief is involved, the daily act of life is much more monotonous, and life keeps moving even when you don’t want to move. Not to mention the Cheshire Cat… who sometimes helps guide Alice and sometimes confuses her more.
At the beginning of my grief, I felt like that was God, dragging me around a chess board, deciding where I should go like a pawn about to be sacrificed to strategize for the team. Disappearing and reappearing at random, smirking at me with his curled-up smile.
But now I realize that is false. That is what I thought at the time, based on my feelings, and we were never meant to govern our life by our emotions. Now that I look back, I realize how God was comforting me, encouraging me, making me part of His plan all along the way.
Related: Where Was God?
Joni Eareckson Tada, in her introduction for the book “Scars That Have Shaped Me” by Vaneetha Rendall Risner (which I highly recommend by the way), explains that we do not always see God’s hand in the midst of difficult times until we peer over our shoulder and look back at our life. It is only then that we see how God carried us with His amazing grace.
He allowed me to hurt so deeply that only He could be the one to help. It may have been confusing at the time, but God sees it all as crystal clear, unmuddied by the world’s demands and criticisms. No, God is not the Cheshire Cat to me anymore; He has walked with me in the darkest valleys. The Bible verse that has consistently come to my mind is Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
When I was a child, the character I was most terrified of was the Jabberwock from Through the Looking Glass. A make-believe creature which is dragon-like with “claws that catch” and “jaws that bite,” it originated from Lewis Carroll’s poem titled “The Jabberwocky.” Honestly, I was pretty much terrified of mostly everything as a child, but that is an entirely different blog post.
In my grief, I felt like I was stuck on the side of the mirror with the Jabberwock tormenting me and keeping me fearful of the future, my children on earth, what would happen in my life. I remember a desperate scene in a movie reconstruction of Through the Looking Glass in which Alice can see her mother and her real life on the other side of the mirror. She hits and bangs on the mirror, all while shouting and crying for her mother to see her, but she is separated from her.
I felt that way with my grief…as if I could see my old life in my past, and all I wanted was to get back there, to walk through the mirror to the other side and be with my child.
Yet nothing in my power could achieve that.
Much like Alice’s world, the world in which we live is inverted. God never planned it to be this way. Things are very different now than on Day One of the world. However, human beings chose to leave God behind and take their path which leads to death and destruction. The only way this inverted world will ever become right side up again is in Heaven through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
And so I wait (some days more patiently than others) for that day when I will see my baby again in Heaven. Just a year ago, my baby was inside me, and now, he or she is waiting for me in Paradise. Every day, I get closer and closer to seeing my baby.
Losing a child changes you. Grief changes you. If it didn’t change who you are, then what was lost was not important.
But my baby is important, so down the rabbit hole, I go.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
About the Author: Julie is a mom by day and a dance studio owner and teacher by night. She lives with her husband and 3 daughters in Indiana and dreams about the day when she will hold her son in Heaven. Through her life, she has dealt with infertility and second-semester miscarriage. She hopes her journey and writing can educate and inform others about the compassion and kindness necessary in comforting a loss mother’s broken heart. Her blog is: https://refinedbyfire2.