The Grief Spinwheel

February 25, 2022

At the time I’m writing this, it has been one week since an ultrasound confirmed that my baby’s heart had stopped beating. Three days since the D&C surgery which left me empty and broken. It almost seems like the enemy took my bold attempt to “take joy” no matter the circumstances as a personal challenge. I am no stranger to grief, including this particular brand of grief. This being my fourth pregnancy loss, I (kind of) know what to expect from my grief and emotions.

You’ve probably heard of the five stages of grief (sadness, anger, denial, bargaining, and acceptance). I have absolutely flown through each of these stages in the past week. Which is not to say that I’m at the acceptance stage. The stages of grief are not something to be worked through in a straight path, because grief itself is not linear. One day we might find that we are doing okay, and the next day we may find it difficult to even get out of bed. With everything being so fresh, I find myself waking up each morning to play The Grief Spinwheel.

The Grief Spinwheel is this super fun game where I wake up and wait to see which will be my overarching emotion for the morning: debilitating depression, numbness, rage, or denial. Mornings are the hardest, because I wake up and have to face the day with the knowledge that my baby is gone and life for everyone else has just gone on. Each morning I am affected by this differently. For example, yesterday was a really hard day. I cried most of the morning and could barely manage to peel myself off the couch. Today, on the other hand, I feel frustrated and angry and like everything and everyone is annoying.

I think the key to managing life with The Grief Spinwheel is first of all to identify and acknowledge what I’m feeling and why. This morning, when I felt like screaming, I reminded myself that it was normal and okay to feel angry. Simply naming the feeling and allowing it to exist helped me feel slightly less rage-y.

Basically what I’m doing here is parenting myself the same way I parent my children. In our house, all feelings are okay. When a four-year old is having a meltdown, I usually say something like, “you’re feeling angry. It’s okay to feel angry.” This doesn’t always help but frequently I find that this speeds up the time until the tiny fury is calmed. The same goes for me – when I okay my own feelings of anger or depression, it soothes me. I know that what I’m feeling is normal and allowed. I don’t have to try to pretend to be okay. My feelings are valid and I’m allowed to express them in appropriate ways.

I think that I’m just sharing all this because I want you to know that if you ever find yourself playing The Grief Spinwheel, then you can at least identify what is happening, and maybe just doing that will help you to feel more in control. I hate feeling out of control in any situation, but particularly when it comes to my emotions. It’s a challenge on a normal day to be in control of our emotions (that’s really what started this blog in the first place), but add in the grief and the pregnancy hormones which are doing who knows what at the moment, and it can feel like a losing battle. But God. I know that I have the power to change how I feel, which doesn’t mean that I will not mourn and feel sad and miss my baby. Grief, of course, is love. But it does mean that God can help me feel peace no matter the circumstances. I take Him at His word and when He says that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (That’s Phil 4:7). I have a lot of questions for God about these four little babies of ours (actually I just have a LOT of questions in general…) but the one thing I know to be true is that when I ask God to change my heart to be more like His, He always answers my prayer.

I have hope that He will somehow use these losses for good, for His glory. But I can’t pretend that it’s not awful. And yet tomorrow when I wake up and play The Grief Spinwheel once again, I know that He will be watching and waiting for me to ask Him for what I need, whether it’s peace, or strength, or just a place to rest my weary soul.

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