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Have you walked through miscarriage? This episode is dedicated to you. As I share my story I hope to encourage and empower you, whether it's giving yourself permission to grieve or supporting someone who is. Click to listen to this episode of The Wellness Crossing!

What I Want You to Know About Miscarriage

Today’s episode of The Wellness Crossing is dedicated to Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month.

Two years ago my husband and I found ourselves with a surprise on our hands: we were pregnant.

It wasn’t planned and it wasn’t the best timing, but we were thrilled.

And for those few weeks that we knew we were pregnant we felt so much happiness and joy and excitement. Because in a season where my health felt anything but good, this news of a baby was a gift of light.

But as the title of this post prepared you, we didn’t have a happy ending to our pregnancy. Around 9-10 weeks our baby stopped developing and I miscarried during week 12.

It was an experience I’d seen others walk through. One I ached to not be a part of my own story. Yet there I was, losing my baby.

Miscarriage, like any loss, is a pain you only know if you’ve been there. And there are a lot of misconceptions about what it’s like and how to be there for someone who’s navigating this experience.

So today I decided I’d open up about my story. It’s raw, honest, and deeply personal. Yet I felt it was important to talk about this topic that so many would rather skim over.

Because it’s often in the telling of our stories that change happens. Perhaps more people become softer when comforting someone who’s lost their baby. Or another mother feels less alone in their grief.

None of us are exempt from feeling pain. So today as you listen to my story, may you be reminded that, yes: our experiences are altogether unique. But they are also what can bring us together and remind us we are never alone.

Listen…

To listen in on my story of healing after miscarriage, just hit PLAY below. Or visit The Wellness Crossing on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Play!

Have you experienced miscarriage?

I welcome you to leave a comment below with the name or due date of your sweet one so we can all remember the little ones that made us mamas.  <3

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month & today I want to talk about some of the things I learned about miscarriage from my own experience. And I'm sharing some things you need to know if you're trying to support someone who's experienced this loss. Because you CAN help someone, but you need to know a few things first. Click to listen in!

These are 5 things you should know about miscarriage: what it's like to lose an unborn child and some of the ways you can support someone you love as they grieve. Click to listen to this epsioe!

Have you walked through miscarriage? This episode is dedicated to you. As I share my story I hope to encourage and empower you, whether it's giving yourself permission to grieve or supporting someone who is. Click to listen to this episode of The Wellness Crossing!

Walking through the grief that comes with miscarriage can often feel like a lonely road. Today I'm sharing some of the things I've learned through my own loss and some of the ways to support someone who's gone through miscarriage. Click here to listen in!

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When God Feels Silent

Holding On In the Storm: For the Moments God Feels Silent

“If this is your way of joking, God, this is really NOT funny.”

The words spilled out of my mouth as I read through an email that had landed in my inbox. I was being invited onto a fellow blogger’s podcast…to talk about what God’s been speaking to me in the midst of this life of illness.

I’d never been a guest on a podcast before and instantly felt worried about how much Lyme would affect my ability to communicate effectively. But that wasn’t the part I felt was a cruel irony. No, it was the fact that I would be talking about what I’ve been hearing from God.

And I was sure that my response would be a short one: “I’m going to go with ‘What is NOTHING’ for $100, Mr. Trebek.”

Contrary to the wildly popular idea in many Christian cultures that there is a very specific formula for feeling/hearing/sensing God in our lives, I’ve mostly experienced the opposite effect. I’ve read, prayed, asked, sought, begged, cried, you name it. Read the Psalms or Job and you’ll probably find me there. In the ashes, crying and saying all the words.

And nearly every time I’ve reached out: Silence. Distance. Heartache.

The three moments I felt I heard from God? They were in moments of tragedy and chaos. Three times in three years, all within a five month span. And in the end it wasn’t as peace-giving as we always hope and envision it to be. One of those moments was, in fact, more painful than reassuring in the end.

My experience with faith in the midst of suffering has been far different than the stories and books I’ve read of the joyful warriors. The ones that profess being at peace with whatever comes their way in the darkness of illness.

The things that I’ve been hearing from God? All the “lessons” I’ve been learning? They don’t fit into neat and tidy theological quotes or overused cliques.

If I’ve heard anything from Him, it’s come in the silence. When I’ve felt Him, it’s come from the arms, care and words of the loved ones around me. And if I’ve seen anything of His beauty, it’s been in the hills, the green of the trees, the colors on the passion fruit vine outside my home, the generosity of those giving to our medical fundraiser.

It’s in the stillness that I’ve sought after answers to the questions most, or all, of us ask in the trials. The wondering of where God is in the suffering, loss, and heartache. Does he cause it? Why doesn’t he rescue? Isn’t healing one of things he DID when he was earth?

Wasn’t it kind of his thing?

When God Feels Silent: Holding on in the midst of the storms of life.

I’ve ridden the waves of “why” and “how long” and “will you ever heal me?” Only, I’ve never been able to ride it long enough to hear the answer. Or maybe it’s simply been drowned out by the roaring of the waves. Muffled by the winds of this storm.

But the thing I’ve been clinging to? The words that have been giving me comfort in recent months? It’s found in the following truth:

It’s not unholy to be in the darkness.

Be it a traumatic ER visit or unending waiting for healing and relief. It could be loss or pain, feeling cast aside. Or maybe sadness, loneliness, depression or fear.

That darkness is not unholy or evil, my friends. Hear me: It is human. It is honest struggle. This place is not a rejection of God or faith or hope (thought they might feel faintly present). It is simply a reflection of the very place our heart is sitting. The wounds we are bearing.

If you’re pushed hard enough, you fall flat on the ground. Cut deep enough, you’ll bleed. If you hurt long enough, tears are bound to flow.

We aren’t choosing this darkness anymore than our heart is choosing to beat.

We didn’t invite the trial, the heartache, the disappointment to come. Yet here we often find ourselves sitting. In the cold, wet, muddy mess of pain – the result of ongoing or aftermath of a storm.

And yes: life can still exist here. But I’m finding the picture looks different. I still laugh and smile most, if not every day. Some days more than others. I can even find beauty in the simple things like the daisies growing on my front step or the silly antics of my pup.

Yet the sadness still comes. Physical pain and suffering are always here. The loss illness has caused is all too real some days. And so you’ll often find me here, holding onto dreams and promises with both hands. Facing the day’s storm with all the strength I can muster.

In the end, I agreed to chat with my fellow blogger (and now friend) about this life with Lyme and some honest truths about my experience with faith in illness. After all, our stories need to be shared to remind others they aren’t the only ones to have faced the darkness.

And that it’s not unholy to be here. For it doesn’t take too long to see:

We’re holding on with all we have. 

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To the Mama With Empty Arms on Mother’s Day

To the mama with empty arms or a scarred heart, I’m thinking of you this weekend.

This holiday can hold so much pain for us.

Our stories have all brought us to this place in different ways, but we share this same vein of heartache.

The pain of longing. Of loss. Of distant dreams.

Whether infertility, miscarriage, or longing for a child in singleness or sickness – our hearts know how deep this ache can reach.

This Mother’s Day I would be holding our nearly three-month-old, Ricki. I should be holding him or her.

But I’m not.

I have a succulent plant we bought on our baby’s due date that I care for in remembrance…it’s one of the few indoor plants I’ve kept alive this long. There’s no doubt it’s received the best care yet.

I also wear a ring on my right hand engraved with the letter ‘r’ that daily reminds me of our little. It’s simple, but it’s brought me tiny ripples of comfort. Moments of knowing Ricki won’t be forgotten, held near mama always.

This is not how things were supposed to be for me. And I’m sure they aren’t how you envisioned for you, either.

A letter to the woman struggling on Mother's Day | Living Grace Blog

I want you to know that your story is important. The quietness on this subject in real life is palpable and it may have shamed you to hide away your pain.

But I see you.

I know your bravery in the moments where you make it through another hard day of grief. Of persistent tears and a very real pain in your abdomen where your sweet one should be.

I am touched by your strength when you are genuinely happy for another mama finally holding their own newborn. I know the ache remains, which makes your courage shine even more brightly.

I have cried my own similar tears of the why, the anger, the frustration.

I’ve felt the shame in not handling my grief the right way. The Christian way. The positive way. Whatever any of that’s supposed to look like.

I have prayed the prayers in desperation before loss and after. I have said the things that can only be uttered from mama to unborn child.

I have sat in the moments of wishful dreams and the ground covered in ashes.

And though my arms be empty, and my heart forever scarred by this pain…

I am here.

I am present in this moment with you, mama. This weekend with the mixed-est of emotions.

I have gratitude for the women in my life who have mothered and nurtured me through the years. Happiness for those I love who are holding (or carrying) new babes this holiday. Joy over my newest niece, Madeline, who is the same age Ricki would be.

But we can say it, mama. We can say it.  This. Is. Hard.

We can feel the achey feels and find space to grieve if we need it. We can love well and still be allowed to feel sad.

But will you say something together with me? Will you claim this truth for yourself?

WE ARE MOTHERS.

Grief and infertility on Mother's Day

Our arms may be bare, longing for the one we lost or have yet to hold. But our hearts are the hearts of mothers, filled with so much love.

Love for those babes we lost. For those we have yet to carry.  For the nieces and nephews we adore, the friends and family that we hold so dear.

We are the wounded, the broken, the valiant. And we have so much to offer our world.

We know pain and we know compassion.

We have walked through the deserts of grief and understand that this pain cannot be “cured.” That in our grieving, we learn to carry the scars with us.

We can recognize heartache and offer comfort. We can love BIG and embrace those hurting in a way others cannot.

A mother is one who nurtures, who protects. She loves, forgives, affirms, and is forever a cheerleader for her tribe. She is real, she is honest, she is brave and she is loving.

And, friend, we are this description. We are all these things and more.

Empty arms or not,

broken or whole-hearted –

WE ARE MOTHERS.

So this Mother’s Day I’m thinking of you. I’m thinking of all the twists and turns of your story that have caused you pain and broken your heart.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying for us. For healing on this road of loss, longing and unrealized dreams.

And I’m sitting here on the other side of the screen in awe of your beauty, your unforgotten babes, your awesome mothering heart.

In awe of YOU.

Today I send a tender Mother’s Day hug to you as I shed a knowing tear. I have so much love for you, deary.

XO

 

Have you downloaded your free eBook from me?! Click here to get your copy of Embracing the Raw: Pilgrimage of a Healing Heart!

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carrying our burden

Some Things Can Only Be Carried

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
– Megan Divine

That quote. So much wisdom in so few words.

When I first read it, I breathed it in like ocean air. I read it over and over again, allowing each word to be soaked up like water to a sponge.

Some things can only be carried.

I want to be well. As long as I’m sick and fighting this disease, I will crave wellness and pursue healing. I will continue to try new treatments as needed, listen to messages my body sends, and care for my soul.

But I cannot fix my disease in the same way that I can unclog a drain.

I miss the ability to be more active, to explore more freely, to eat the foods my body now reacts to. I grieve the loss of freedom and the limitations my illness has set.

Yet I cannot take away the sense of loss the same way I can pull weeds from the soil.

So many of the harder things in life involve complicated healing timelines. There’s no road map to grief. There’s also no single cure that will eradicate every sick person. We can’t wish away the scars, the bruises, the tender parts of our wounds.

Going into fix-it mode seems to be our go-to when we are faced with hardship. Somewhere along the way we learned to believe the answer was to fix our situation or even the circumstance of someone else. We label the emotions that often feel all-consuming as “stuff we need to get rid of.”

Maybe the desire to get it together comes in the form of a new cure we just have to try. Or maybe it comes out that we aren’t grieving the right way and someone wants to change us. Someone else thinks we aren’t embracing enough hope or wanting to be healed and that’s why we aren’t better.

In response to so many remedy motives, I’ve endured many bouts of shame along this fight with illness. Some sparked by well-meaning, but unhelpful words from others. But many others that I’ve put on myself or learned somewhere along the way.

The root of the shame I feel? This subconscious belief I battle that I need to be fixed.

I’m bruised from the trauma. I’m still sick. I have scars from loss, tenderness from dismissive doctors. My dreams can be scattered with nightmarish memories of ER visits.

Each of these, and many others, have become a part of my story.

I can spin my wheels trying to find a way to fix the broken pieces I’m left with, but what if I am missing the bigger picture?

What if some things were meant to be carried?

changing how we view burdens

These sums of a greater part of my story, are just that: they are pieces of my reality, not flaws.

They are writings of where I’ve been, stories of my present struggle. They spark a flame of hope for my future, for healing of all kinds.

Together, they have contributed to who I am today.

The pain has shown me a strength I never knew I had. The scars of loss have increased my compassion and empathy.

My sickness has spurred me to seek out what I most value in this life. It’s also given me time and space to pursue a dream I’d buried for years.

The less I struggle to fix my emotions and circumstances, the more free I am to embrace where I’m at. I learn to carry the things I cannot fix and let go of the things that hold me down as I walk, even crawl toward the future.

Carrying my sickness doesn’t mean I have given up on healing. It means that I’ve accepted it’s a part of my life for now. I can shoulder it’s weight as I connect with others who are suffering and allow what it’s taught me to share compassion and understanding with them.

Carrying my grief doesn’t mean I don’t have room to also embrace joy, laughter, and goodness in my days. But it does give me permission to feel and process my grief as I need to. Instead of shame for my tears, I can give myself grace and acknowledge that my losses are all as real as my joys.

So maybe some things in life can’t be fixed…at least not yet.

Perhaps by throwing them over our shoulder and bringing them with us, they become a part of what makes our souls more real and our hearts more relatable.

And for the burdens that are too heavy to bear alone, we can remember that we have each other.

 

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Miscarriage

My husband and I clenched hands as the doctor pulled back the curtain to my small corner of the emergency room. Every word that spilled out of his mouth I so desperately wanted to shove back in. He was confirming our worst fear: we were losing our baby.

As we drove home, silence and tears filled our car. It was the kind of silence that feels deafening. The sort of tears you can’t hold back.

That bright August day felt like such a stark contrast to our hearts. In the midst of fighting Lyme disease, this surprise pregnancy had felt like a beacon of hope. So when we lost baby Ricki, it was as if all the lights were turned off.

The added layers that this grief has brought to my already challenging days goes beyond words. Trevin has been of great comfort to me as I’ve waded through the tears, the anger, the hurt, the painful comments – newsflash, there is no “silver lining” in losing a child – and the big questions that go unanswered. He has given me the gift of freedom to process any and all feelings that have come with this loss. That freedom has allowed me to wrestle honestly with all the emotions and grief, without reservation and without fear of judgment. To my Trevs: you and your grace are such a sweet gift in my life.

My sister, Chelsea, and I found out early on in our pregnancies that our due dates were only a few days apart. We were thrilled at the thought of having little cousins the same age. Sharing our pregnancy symptoms, memes on motherhood and adorable phrases on onesies were our jam for those first few weeks. It was so special and something I treasured.

Her little babe, Madeline, will now be entering the world very soon and already is so loved. Chelsea has known the awful pain of miscarriage herself, losing three sweet little ones over the past few years. I can imagine what a gift and joy this baby has already been to her and my brother-in-law, Brent, after such heartache.

I’d be lying if I said my emotions weren’t all twisted up in a tangle of joy and deep grief this month. I can say with sincerity that I am grateful and delighted for my dear sister and brother-in-law. If anyone deserves this happiness, they surely do.

Yet, I have also quietly struggled through every milestone in her pregnancy as it’s been a natural reminder of what I can’t share in. Of the one I lost and already loved so deeply.

Every big moment that my sweet niece celebrates in the coming years, my heart will think of Ricki. The first time she smiles, says her first word, takes her first steps. Her first birthday. First day of preschool. School plays and weekend soccer games. Her sweet sixteen. The moment her name is called on high school graduation day.

There will always be sadness, yes. I swear my heart grew during the short time I carried our little one and now that extra space feels achey, lost. Yet, I have found some comfort in thinking of her as the very real part of our family that she was and is. We may not have met her face-to-face, but she is every bit our daughter (or son).

I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned or that I found helpful as I’ve been walking through this heartache of miscarriage. I will preface this with the truth that we are all different in how we process and experience our grief. What was helpful to me, I realize may not be for you. I in no way believe there is one “formula” for navigating this heaviness, but believe that in hearing each other’s stories we can experience the validation and community we need.

Coping With Miscarriage

 

Grief Doesn’t Have a Road Map

I really, really wish this weren’t true. I would have loved to know exactly how long it would last, when it would hurt less, and how on earth I could get there. The reality is that while having the same vein of miscarriage, our individual stories of loss will affect us all differently.

It takes some of us longer than others to get past the daily crying (hand raised) and I chose to accept that it’s okay. I eventually cried less and there were even moments where I could have a good laugh about something. I needed those glimmers of joy. It didn’t mean I wasn’t still hurting, and it didn’t mean I wouldn’t shed tears minutes later, but it did give me a dose of relief. Other times I wasn’t in the mood for funny and I (as well as Trevin) gave myself the space I needed.

It’s Healthy to Ask for Help

After I lost the baby I invited some close friends into the pain with me. I wasn’t up for being around most people, but them letting me know they were in it with me through text and email was comforting. It reminded me they were thinking of me, acknowledged my loss and were feeling some of the pain with me.

I knew I also wanted to bring my counselor into the struggle with me, as my heart was already heavy from the battle with disease well before this loss. She provided a safe place to unpack the harder conversations of grief, raw emotions, frustrations, and my struggle with where faith fits into this. I needed that. A friend had encouraged me that if I needed help processing the grief or if it became too heavy, to ask for help like she had during miscarriage. Such wise advice and I pass it on to you, friend.

A Token in Memory Can be Good for the Soul

A few days after the miscarriage, I also ordered a personalized ring. It is monogrammed with an “R” and I wear it constantly. It has given me a way to feel connected and close to the memory of my babe, always holding her close (this mama’s hunch on gender).

After miscarrying I struggled with the fact that I had very few things to tangibly remind me of my baby. I had a sonogram picture and empty cloth diapers. I didn’t share this with many people at the time, but I slept with one of the cotton diapers under my pillow for a couple weeks and would pull it out periodically to hold in my hands or close to my chest in my tear-filled moments. I felt embarrassed sharing it at the time, but it honestly became key in helping me cope and it brought me comfort.

Never being able to hold your baby is hard to process and having something tangible to hold helped me in some way. Maybe having something to hold will help you, too or maybe you would find comfort in writing a letter to your unborn child. Perhaps making a memory box of your sonogram pictures and any other mementos you have could help in your grieving. You’ll always have it to remember the very real person you once held inside.

Sometimes I Need to Talk About It

This one has been hard for me, but I have to remind myself that it’s awkward and difficult to navigate from the outside. Several people have told me they stopped asking how I was doing with my loss because they were afraid they’d be “bringing up the pain” for me. The reality is, the pain is always there. I think about my baby everyday and sometimes I need to talk about it. I know that it can be uncomfortable for those of you who care for us to see us in tears or pain, but it’s such a gift to the grieving when you listen and sympathize with our ache.

As time went on and hardly anyone asked me anymore, I kept my grief mostly hidden within the walls of my home and I treaded lightly with who I spoke to about it. I hid a lot of the “baby” from my social media feeds for awhile. I took a break from accepting most visitors, especially if they’d never acknowledged my loss. While it may have been hard for some to understand, I have surrounded myself with the space and support I’ve needed in this healing process. I’m thankful for my sister and other dear ones who became a safe place to share this with.

A note if you’re caring for someone who’s miscarried: we don’t need to talk about it every time we meet. We just need to know you’re in it with us, be reminded from time to time that you haven’t forgotten and that our baby mattered.

It’s Okay To Set Boundaries

After the miscarriage my margin for rehearsed phrases and insensitive comments became nearly obsolete. There were only so many times I had the emotional allowance to remind myself that most people meant well. While I have the responsibility for my responses and actions, I was also reminded that I have the freedom to set healthy boundaries for myself, especially in the midst of navigating grief.

If someone is insensitive to your pain, twists things to make it about them or critiques how you handle your grief, you have the right to care for yourself and even ask for the behavior to change. I so struggle with this because I’d rather suffer silently and never enter into conflict with anyone, ever, period. Yet, as my husband reminds me, if we don’t ever say something, the situation will never change. And if they love us, they’ll want to learn how to support us well.


Comfort for those grieving after miscarriage: your story matters. | Living Grace Blog

If you’re grieving your own loss, I hope that somewhere in this post you’ve found even an ounce of comfort or validation. That you’re reminded: you’re not alone. From the core of my being, I ache that you’ve had to know this unimaginable pain. It is heavy and so deeply unfair. Wherever you’re at in your grieving process, I hope you know your story matters. Your baby is important and loved. Within the memory you keep alive of your sweet babe there is a message of sweet, all-consuming love.

If you’re someone on the outside of a grieving mother’s story, I hope this gives you some understanding of our struggle and pain. That it would inspire you with ways you can offer the kindness and support we so desperately need. May you love your friend, sister, daughter, co-worker or anyone else in your life in the midst of her grief and not leave her to navigate it alone in silence.

For all the unborn babes who never made it into their mother’s arms…you will never be forgotten. I impatiently await hugging each of your faces and playing chase with you through fields of wildflowers when I finally reach heaven. <3 <3 <3

 

XO

Kam

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coping with invisible illness

Land of the Broken

I could wait until I’m in better spirits or able to sugar-coat this post, but I decided raw is where it’s going to be for this. Too much filtering leads to people getting the wrong idea and right now, we could use a little less of that in our lives.

Fighting disease is brutal. I can’t paint it any other way.

This journey season broken life Trevin and I have been navigating these last few years has been painful, lonely, heartbreaking, and vastly misunderstood.

Many friendships have faded, or in some cases completely vanished. Some family have largely stepped out of the picture, while others have stepped up (shout out to our parents).

We’ve grieved many things the last few years, and this feeling of being forgotten is one of them.

 

The life I used to live and the life Trevin and I shared has changed so much I wouldn’t even know where to begin in describing it all. Not now, at least.

And this year….this has been the year with the most of everything.

The most ER/hospital visits, middle of the night scares (the ones that don’t end up in the hospital, but are only slightly less terrifying), loss, grief, sadness, tests, pain and so much more.

A few weeks ago we ended up in the hospital for our second life-threatening cardiac event. It’s not the first or the second, or even the third time I’ve literally tasted death – when I’ve had this gut-wrenching awareness that things were so.not.right in my body.

I remember looking at Trevin in the moments before the ambulance arrived, soaking in every inch of his face, convinced it was the last time I would see him. The pain and weight in my chest was unbearable.

How do you translate the kind of pain that leaves you without feeling? I guess it’s as simple as you can no longer “feel” the pain because it’s overtaken your body, leaving you in and out of consciousness.

The most frustrating part of it? Lyme has so wrecked my body that somehow I can feel like I’m dying, but many of my vitals will check out normal. Which leads to open ended questions, puzzled doctors, and repeat hospital visits. If I never had to be wheeled through hospital doors again…

The overwhelming weight of this year has felt like too much – no, it has been more than we could bear.

And the phrase that’s been passed to us more times than I care to admit? The whole “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” line – yeah, that one. It’s entirely unhelpful and I truly believe it’s a misrepresentation of the passage the phrase was derived from. (<—click there to read the passage for yourself.)

God didn’t give me this disease, for one. I don’t believe that. It’s not in his nature and when you say those words, that’s the message you’re sending. When I read the passage, I hear that God isn’t going to leave us in the midst of being tempted towards evil things/actions without giving us a way out.

Trevin and I aren’t feeling tempted to do anything immoral through our pain, we’re simply hurting. We’re desperate for comfort, for care, for healing. We know God can handle the rawness of our emotions and depth of our need.

I’ve been wrestling with this phrase for some time.

I’ve talked with my counselor, trusted friends and read through articles by others written on this same subject. What I’ve come to understand is this: that in our human condition, we weren’t created to face the weight of grief, loss, pain, disease, heartache.

We were designed to co-exist with God in this beautiful world, experiencing a life full of harmony, love, peace, redemption and community.

We weren’t built to handle every single awful thing life throws at us.

Yes, our bodies endure tremendous pain and it’s amazing how much strength the human body and spirit can manage. But under the weight of so much hardship at once – the grief, sickness, heartache – our bodies and souls struggle because it becomes far more than we can handle.

So, I vote we lose the phrase and speak more truth, like how God’s heart hurts with the hurting and sick, breaks with the broken and grieving, and comforts those who are forgotten and lonely.

navigating loss in disease

When we feel overwhelmed with the load of the hard in life, that’s when we, as a community – be it family, friends, neighbors, the church – should be entering the picture.

It’s an important part of how we heal and cope with the heavy challenges we face. We lean on God and we lean on each other.

If you’re struggling with finances, someone steps in to buy you groceries. After you’ve had a baby your families and friends set up a schedule to bring meals. When a relative passes away, you’re sent flowers, condolences and offered a listening ear.

Yet, in chronic illness a different scenario usually plays out.

In the beginning, you share the struggle and your needs and people try to find their outlet to support you. The first few weeks after your health takes its first drastic turn, people notice you aren’t showing up.

They may offer a meal or a visit, or even generously help in giving toward the enormous cost of continuing treatment. (We’ve been exceptionally blessed in the way of generosity for my treatment this past year – you can read our first-year treatment fundraiser story here).

Over the weeks, months, and years, things change. What happens when you’re too sick, too tired, and too worn to “rally the troops” for yourself is that you inevitably begin to fall through the cracks.

And that’s not just our story, but that of so many others facing debilitating illness. While facing a load that is too heavy to bear alone, you are pressed under the weight because you simply.can’t.hold.it. on your own.

Life with chronic illness, disease, mental illness – it’s so gravely misunderstood and overlooked. Society just doesn’t get it.

The advice and critique regarding treatment that is given in place of care is often hurtful and inappropriate. The blank stares and quick changes of subject because people aren’t willing to listen? It’s heavy to experience on top of what you’re already suffering through.

If I had a dollar for every time someone happily told me something along the lines of “You look good! So glad you’re feeling better!” I’d be buying a fabulous meal for us tonight. And cry through it when I remembered how we paid for it…let’s just say emotions are riiiiggghhht under the surface over here these days.

There’s an ignorance that is potent and saddening, and it’s causing far too many people and churches to miss the mark and leave a hurting and grieving community of the chronically ill to fend for themselves.

We didn’t choose this life for ourselves, yet we – and our spouses – are facing it as bravely as we can. Often on our own. Feeling like we have to cover up how bad things really are because people can’t “handle it.”

With our latest hospital visit, we recognized just how broken and worn we are at this point. Trevin wisely took an extended leave of absence from work and we are focusing on rest and taking care of us – emotionally, physically, spiritually – both as individuals and as a couple.

We have had many conversations about who we want to be now and especially in our hopeful transition into wellness. Our hearts want to help others learn how to address the overlooked care of – and ministry for – the chronically ill and others that are long-suffering.

Those in our same boat, facing Lyme or any one of the multitude of other invisible illnesses, shouldn’t have to feel like they are alone. They shouldn’t be forgotten or avoided because it’s uncomfortable for those around them.

For those who feel it’s uncomfortable listening to how heavy and painful this life with illness is, consider how it feels for us to live it every day? Just as much as we can learn and be encouraged by you, you can receive the same from those of us who battle a chronic illness (or the spouse/family member that lives it with them).

I think a lot of people don’t know what to say or do for the chronically ill, and I understand it’s tricky and maybe even awkward for those on the outside. I actually wrote a mini-series over a year ago on caring for the sick that may be helpful to you in learning how to walk with the chronically ill in your life.

But, I would also venture to say that you may need to stop overthinking it: you’re simply caring for a human who is hurting, who may also need tangible help you can offer.

I’m not writing this to point fingers, truly I’m not. It’s probably going to make some people uncomfortable, while offending others, and though I wouldn’t wish to hurt anyone, this needed to be shared.

This post is coming out of years of navigating illness, largely on our own, and I feel that silence will never change the tide. I have many other chronically ill friends who are sitting in this place with me, and this post isn’t just to share Trevin’s and my own struggle – it’s to shed light on their struggle, too.

It’s for the thousands of sick among us who feel they have to hide their disease because society has told them it’s not important enough to care for. Not serious enough of a disease to deem them worthy of assistance.

For the ones who are afraid of sharing honestly how they are doing because they’ve been told to “stop feeling sorry for themselves” or have had their pain and struggle minimized before.

I’m sharing for the ill one who hasn’t been physically able to make it to church, let alone go through an entire service. Then, sadly, because he can’t make it, he’s forgotten.

There are a million different reasons, excuses, whatever you want to call them, for stepping out of a friend or relative’s life when illness strikes. But I promise you this: they’ve never needed you more and you need them and their story just as much.

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Sitting in the Ashes.

A few weeks after my hospitalization for cardiac issues in May, we began to wonder if we might have a surprise on our hands – or in my belly, rather. God spoke to my heart a couple nights before we took a test, telling me I was indeed pregnant and that I could rest in Him.

I felt such peace melt away my concern and I was grateful, but still hesitant to believe I was expecting. However, a pregnancy test proved our suspicions right. We were expecting a little one, due in February.

It was unplanned so it floored us…we’re having a baby now?! Yet within moments, our surprise and fear was overwhelmed by happiness and deep joy. A burst of sunshine in the midst of a long, dark season was more than welcomed in our hearts.

We were going to be parents and we were thrilled.

We knew this would be hard in the season we’re in. In my battle with Lyme, my body continues to be very limited, but we were met again and again with peace that “everything would be okay.”

We had lots of help if we needed it and we knew with treatment we were heading toward me getting better eventually. It’s hard to think about those reminders of peace now. In the aftermath, our hearts are more pained by those memories than anything.

grief in losing an unborn child

We had told our parents, siblings and some of our dear friends our happy news. It was such a joy to have friends enter into our news with excitement. Early offers of babysitting and help were warm and comforting.

The whole being a new mommy thing is an amazing feeling. I was taking weekly bump pictures of my tiny little expansion and had purchased a few gently used maternity pieces off eBay. I created several secret Pinterest boards to organize the hundreds of pins I was heart-eyes over.

I even decided to forego waiting until later and made a couple of early purchases for baby because the deals were too incredible to pass up. (Super planner here).

And then, around the start of week eleven, my body started sending us messages that something wasn’t right. After nearly a week of progressive symptoms we found ourselves in the ER early on Saturday morning, hoping it was unrelated to baby.

After multiple tests and dealing with far too many insensitive doctors and nurses, we met our greatest fear head-on.

We were losing our baby and there was nothing we could do about it.

Everything pointed to a terminated pregnancy and though we knew we could pray for a miracle (and we did), our situation felt hopeless.

There was no heartbeat.

My pregnancy levels were incredibly low on the blood test.

Our baby had stopped developing in the 9th week, even though I was now on week twelve.

Out of all the physical pain I’ve lived in and experienced, nothing has felt more emotionally crushing than those moments of miscarriage and this gut-wrenching after-pain of losing an unborn child.

In the hospital, I held Trev’s hand through the intense cramping and wept openly in that hospital bed while others moaned in their own agony throughout the ER. I told Trev I didn’t understand why this was happening and that I was hurt and feeling angry with God. He assured me I wasn’t alone and we gripped each others hands as silent tears fell.

As we waited to be discharged, nurses in the room next to us discussed in detail the miscarriage that had been taking place several feet from me. Seeing the agony on my face as I tried to cover my ears, Trev asked them to stop.

When the doctor told us I was starting to miscarry, he said “you want a healthy baby, though. you’re young, so you’ll have more babies.” 

The insensitive comments of finding the “silver lining” in the depths of grief and pain are beyond understanding for me…I don’t understand how those are thought to be appropriate in a time of sadness.

If you find yourself wanting to tell someone who’s experienced miscarriage that “God has a plan in this” or “everything happens for a reason”, please don’t. 

It’s more hurtful than helpful to hear those words. Few things can comfort more than being reminded that we aren’t alone.

surviving child loss

We believe God is sitting with us here in the ashes. We are frustrated with him and hurt, but we know he can handle our honest emotions and bring us healing. We believe he grieves with us over our loss.

There seem to be reminders everywhere and they’re painful. This pain has felt all-consuming for both of us.

On the day of our follow-up appointment with our OB, a package I had ordered for baby arrived at the front door. Later that day the OB confirmed the baby was gone. Another package arrived today, carrying tiny newborn cloth diapers and I cried painful tears as I unpacked each one. A simple touch to my belly reminds me it is empty, even though it has a small bulge where baby was once growing.

We see babies in strollers, pictures on Instagram and Facebook, our sonogram picture framed in our living room that we can’t yet bring ourselves to take down. All reminders of the little one we won’t be able to hold. The baby we already loved so much and couldn’t wait to meet face to face, skin to skin.

The ache is deep and the questions hollow without answers.

I’ve struggled these last few days through false senses of entitlement. After all of the depths we’ve been wading through these past few years, why couldn’t we have this gift? We didn’t plan to start our family for another year or two, but now after our surprise and then joy, we have to sit crushed by the weight of this blow?

We are wise enough to know that life often doesn’t allow us the things we feel we deserve, or dream of, or feel entitled to, but our hearts aren’t strong enough right now to understand the why. In an already heavy season it was easy to embrace this bundle of happiness. And it is even harder to let it go.

We decided to name our little one Ricki. It was too early for us to know the gender, so we chose a name we would have been happy giving to either our son or daughter. We wanted to be able to remember him or her by name and not just refer to them as “baby” and there’s something comforting about having a name for our little love.

There’s no “silver lining” in losing a child and in these heartbreaking moments (or any moment beyond) we do not have to look for one.

For now, we grieve in this season of loss. Our family and friends grieve with us, for they knew how precious this gift was. We invite you to pray for comfort and healing, grace and strength in the weeks and months to come. And instead of words that try to fix the pain (which is impossible), words of comfort and love are welcome as we try to navigate this ache and loss.

Thanks for walking with us. We are thankful for those who have been brave enough to step into our struggle these last few years and have also embraced us in this new season of grief – some of you that I’ve met through blogging. We are very grateful for the measures of kindness and support we have been shown. <3

Much love,
Kami & Trevin

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For All You Moms. And Those of Us Sitting Over “Here.”

mums

While in honor of Mother’s Day, this post is truly for all women. The mothers, the aching child-less hearts, the grieving one who lost their precious babe(s) and to the woman who never plans to have children. We all have a role to play and a reason to be loved this Mother’s day and everyday.

My Mom lives a solid 9 hour drive from me currently, so I’m wishing her a happy day from afar today.

She is one of the most giving people I know. She’s given away more free furniture, gifts and time than I could ever think possible for one human to give. She even gave away her wedding dress one year to a bride who wasn’t going to be able to have one for her wedding. I’m pretty sure giving is her superpower.

She strives to always be a phone call away for her kids –  excuse me, her babies, as she reminds us (thanks, mom) – and I would say she excels in that area. She tried working outside the house for a couple of years during our childhood and simply felt her calling was to be at home with us kids – all four of us. So she left her job and came back home and I’m thankful for all that she sacrificed to do that.

I have fond memories of how fun she would make summer vacation and all the ways she tries to make our birthdays special. Her mashed potatoes will forever be untouched.

I’m also blessed to have my mother-in-law, Joyce, in my life. She instantly welcomed me into the family fold, offering me their spare room to live in during our engagement months.

She is kind and generous and has helped us so much in these last two years of fighting this disease. From weekly doctor’s visits to helping out in the home, she hasn’t thought twice about helping us in any way she could.

We share a love for country music, and even though neither of our guys are a fan, we still have managed to sneak it into the car mix on a couple of road trips. Because girls must stick together. I’m thankful to call her mom, too. <3

Mother’s Day can bring such a wide range of emotions to each of us women. For some it is a time of gratitude for the children they’ve been blessed with. For others, they are celebrating the mothers in their life today and the beauty of their relationship as mother-child.

Yet, it’s a hard holiday for those who have a strained relationship with their mom, or maybe don’t know who or where their mom even is. And for even others, there is grief on this day. Grief over the child(ren) who’ve been lost or the desire of motherhood yet to be fulfilled.

It’s a day where motherhood is needed most. Sensitivity and compassion can often be replaced with questions of “when are you going to start having littles of your own?” or “are you going to be a mother this year?!”

The simple phrase of “happy mother’s day” can be every bit as happy as the words suggest, or it could be the very thing that sets off a flood of tears and pain. But, the act of mothering, of caring for another – that is what is most needed today.

Let’s muscle up those mothering hearts we’ve been entrusted with as women and remember to be sensitive to the fact that not every woman can easily have children. There are also women who may not want to have children of their own.

Let’s resist our knee-jerk questions and phrases and replace them with compassion and awareness, love and listening. Let’s embrace the mothers in our life while also being soft to those who are hurting.

If you are a mother reading this today, I wish blessing and love all over you. Hold those precious littles (and bigs) tight today. You all are amazing and fulfilling such a beautiful calling, even on the days of overwhelm when you feel like you’re just not quite giving enough. I declare you are rocking the mom gig!

To the single or married woman who doesn’t plan on having children, you, too have such an important role. I’m sure you’re tired of the disbelief and questions of why you don’t want to have children of your own. But I’ve seen you. I’ve seen the way you inspire and give so much of yourself, the ways you invest in the children of friends and family and give their parents a beautiful breath of fresh air through adult conversation and encouragement. Keep being you!

And for you, sitting here with me in the land of dreams or aches or grief. I see you and I hear you. This holiday can be so hard. The questions, the waiting, the wondering “will I have my moment? Will I have this gift?” For some this day brings back memories of what we’ve lost and it cuts to the core. I’m sending big hugs and so much empathy and compassion your way.

Wherever you’re sitting as this Mother’s Day approaches, I pray you feel loved and reminded of your value. Your heart has much to offer this aching world.

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