What a year, am I right? This has definitely been a crazy year for all of us in different ways.
When coronavirus started to spread in the beginning of the year, I thought that was the worse I would have to face this year, but little did I know what was coming.
First off, let me just say, you guys, I HATE Alzheimer’s! It’s plagued my family for many years now. My grandmother from my dad’s side got Alzheimer’s when I was little and I never got to bond with her and build memories with her without her having Alzheimer’s. One of my other grandmothers (I’m blessed with more than two) has it now and I’m so grateful we did get some time to bond before the disease took over, however it wasn’t that long before the disease crept in. It’s such a heartbreaking disease to see those you love just fade away right before your eyes.
This year in February, I lost one of my aunts. She had Alzheimer’s for several years and in combination with other health conditions, she eventually went home to be with God. I know we’re not supposed to have favorites in our families (but who are we kidding here, right?), but she was my favorite aunt. I hadn’t talked to her in some years (not for any grudges, but her condition had accelerated quickly), but growing up, she was another motherly figure in my life. I didn’t grow up with my biological mom when I was little, so she definitely filled a motherly void. As a kid, I would spend summers in her house in Puerto Rico and she always showered me with so much love and affection when I needed it the most. She’d make me my favorite meals, laugh with me, and spend time with me. Her smile was infectious, she was so humble, and always willing to help those around her. I was so attached to her as a kid to the point where I would cry every day for like a week to my dad saying I wanted to go back to Puerto Rico to be with her when I had to go back home to Orlando.
I hadn’t been to Puerto Rico in 12 years and when I landed it felt so surreal. During her viewing and funeral service, none of it felt like real life. I was reunited with family I hadn’t seen in years at the viewing and it all felt so surreal. We were reminiscing, catching up, loving on each other, and we even had moments of laughter. While people were giving their eulogy, I felt like I had so much to say about my aunt and the special place she held in my life, but when they opened the front for anyone to say any last words, I couldn’t find any words. As we said our final goodbye, I felt like I couldn’t fully let out the sadness I felt and had a sense of numbness.
It wasn’t ’til the plane landed in Miami that everything started to hit me. My aunt was gone. I wasn’t going to be able to hug her again or eat any of the special meals she would make just for me or hear her stories again. I remember tears falling down my face in the car on the way home, but I didn’t “let it all out”. It was actually days later that an episode of “This Is Us” (*spoiler alert* the mom has Alzheimer’s) helped me release all the sadness and grief I was holding in from that loss. [I never thought a show would help me grieve, but it really did.]
Within the grief and sadness, the fact that my aunt loved God gave me peace. I’m grateful that God blessed me with the opportunity to spend time with family that I hadn’t seen in years and I got to witness a unity that I hadn’t seen between some family members in years and it was so beautiful. It was sad that it took a loss to bring all of us together, but God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Fast forward to June, aside from the anxiety of quarantine and what was going to happen, things were looking up, especially when I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. My husband and I have been wanting to have another baby and my daughter has been asking for a sister (not that we can control the gender lol), so it was like an answer to my prayers. It was the week before Father’s Day, so I didn’t tell my husband right away because I wanted to surprise him on Father’s Day. I ended up surprising him the morning of Father’s Day and shared it with my parents as well, which led to talking about a “birth plan” (because we live 3 & 1/2 hours from each other). After sharing it with my parents, my excitement went to a higher level. Unfortunately, by that same night, I started to miscarry. My first thought was that I was glad that I hadn’t told my daughter right away because her little heart would’ve been shattered and I wouldn’t even know how to explain what or why it happened. That numbing feeling took over again and everything was very surreal. I remember thinking, “How could something like this happen to me?” Sometimes we go through life thinking, “That could never happen to me” when we see certain tragedies happen to other people, not realizing how quickly we can go through the same thing. It was definitely a humbling experience to go through as well. I remember praying and saying, “God, I prayed for this. My first was a surprise, but I prayed for this child! I wanted to have another baby SOOO bad!” It had taken me a while to actually want another child (I had this fear of not being able to love my second child like I love my daughter because she’s my whole heart) and I felt like I was robbed. The few people that knew about the miscarriage would check up on me and ask me how I was feeling and I didn’t even know how to put how I felt into words because part of me was disappointed and confused, but now looking back, there was a period of dissociation that I went through. I felt disconnected from my thoughts, my emotions, and the people around me at times.
It was a very lonely time for me because I felt like I still had to keep myself together for my family, for people who lean on me as their “shoulder to lean on”, and I felt like I didn’t know how to pray or get out what I was feeling. The way I usually process things is by writing in my journal and just let everything out, but not this time. I only managed to write one page. I felt so disconnected from the world and I didn’t know how to get back to myself. My heart wanted to feel something. I couldn’t cry it out or scream or do anything. Nothing would come out. I’m used to being emotionally strong and it’s very few people who have seen me breakdown. I didn’t know if anyone could handle me breaking down. (What a crazy thought, right?) I’m usually the one people break down to and I kept thinking, “Everyone else has enough going on in their life and I don’t want to add to their stress or worry.” I tried to pray, but I felt so disconnected that it was so hard to. There wasn’t a moment that I blamed God or was angry at God because I know it’s never God’s will for a child not to be born, I was just so disappointed and disassociated that I couldn’t figure out how to pray. I felt like I was holding my breath waiting for something else to happen because they say that things happen in “three’s”, right?
Four days later, I get a phone call that my nephew had passed away. My first nephew. The one who made me an aunt at 7 years old. My nephew was only 22 years old. This wave of guilt hit me in the face. I felt so bad that I didn’t get to spend more time with him over the years. He wasn’t really raised around me and I didn’t make the effort I should’ve to keep in touch and to be in his life. All of a sudden all these thoughts just flooded my head. “Why wasn’t I more involved in his life?” I used to see him as a kid when I would go visit Puerto Rico (where he lived as a child), then when he was in Florida, I didn’t make an effort to reach out and meet up with him and spend time with him, and again, I felt robbed. He was only 22, his life was just starting, why didn’t I have more time to spend with him? To get to know him as an adult? The days that proceeded were very tough. I went to be with my family in Orlando. All while I was still processing my miscarriage and trying to keep up a strong face for my siblings who I hadn’t seen in years, my niece who just lost her brother (and I also hadn’t seen in years), my nephews, my dad, as well as my husband and my daughter. (I think my husband was also worried I was going to breakdown at any moment with everything that had happened already.)
I remember sitting in the funeral home as my sister gave her eulogy about her son. I felt like time stood still. My heart broke for my sister. There are very few times in this life where I have ever seen my sister cry. I couldn’t find the words to say to her, I didn’t feel like words were worth saying because nothing I said was going to bring my nephew back and I felt like I couldn’t say anything to heal her pain. Aside from already feeling this overwhelming sense of guilt as I heard people share their experiences with my nephew and memories they had with him and my mind just drawing blank. I felt a sense of loss in two way, a loss of getting to know my nephew as an adult and the loss of his life.
Just like when my aunt passed, it was devastating, but some beauty came from those ashes. I hadn’t seen some of my siblings over 10 years and I was able to see them and spend time with them. We were able to come together and clear up some misunderstandings, laugh together, reminisce about memories shared, and they got to meet my daughter and my husband.
The Monday after the funeral, I was home in Miami and my church had prayer service online and I just felt so broken and emotionally exhausted that didn’t even want to put it on, but I knew in my heart that I needed to join. Let me tell you, God can and will use anyone regardless of the age to get His message to you. That night, my five year old started insisting that we needed to put on “worship” (that’s what she calls church) and she just would NOT let up. She loves worshipping, so she knows when the services are, but this particular Monday she was persistent in her insisting. When I started trying to connect to the service, my television was not cooperating (technology, always there to mess up when you need it the most, right?… but also, the devil is a liar!), until finally it loaded and the pastor whose turn it was to pray had just gotten the microphone. When I tell you it felt like he was praying just for me, it LITERALLY felt like he was praying just for me. Everything he was praying out was what I was feeling in my heart and it was in that moment where I was able to just let it ALLLLLL out. I sat there in my living room floor for like 10 minutes straight just pouring out my heart to God and crying. The disappointment, the pain, the hurt, the shame, the guilt, the anger, the frustration, and confusion all just poured out of me. It literally felt like God had unclogged my heart from holding all those things inside. It was in that moment that I felt the tightness in my chest loosen and God’s peace just to pour over me.
So far this year has processed me with things I never thought I would go through. It taught me the value of family in a fresh way. All my losses this year were at different stages of their life. The loss of my aunt taught me to embrace the memories and just as quickly as I grow older, so do my family members, which means that now is the time to love on them and value the time I have with them. My miscarriage broke me and humbled me in a way that I didn’t know I would be humbled. It reminded me that I’m not invincible to the afflictions of this world (which the Bible says there will be many), but in the midst of confusion, disappointment, and hopelessness God is there and He can handle our pain, numbness, and hurt. The loss of my nephew made me want to be more intentional about seeking out my loved ones, both family and friends. That loss also opened the door of reconciliation and open conversation with my siblings that I never had before, which reminded me that even when we don’t understand, God is working.
If I’m 100% honest, I went back and forth about writing this blog post, it is very vulnerable for me. I wanted to end the post with something like, “And now I’m pregnant!” or some amazing miracle at the end, but that’s not the case.. not yet, at least. I’m sharing my experiences with you all to let you know that, even in the storm, the pain, the struggle, the confusion, the disappointment, the shame, the guilt, the depression, and the hopelessness, God is with you and will not forsake you. Sometimes in our pain, we don’t feel like praying or maybe we don’t know what to say, but God sees the depths of our heart and He will meet you in your pain. He will find a way to you and sometimes use someone or something that you least expect. In Isaiah 61:3 it says that He will give us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning and those words rang so true through all the grief. I don’t know how I would’ve survived everything I went through this year without God’s never-ending and overwhelming love.
“Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,
But the Lord rescues him from them all.” Psalm 34:19
Most of this year has been filled with hardships and perplexing circumstances, but I will say that God has been faithful and has come to rescue me just in time… and if He did it for me, then He CAN and WILL do it for you!
***Please never hesitate to reach out to me through any form of social media if you need prayer or just someone to talk to! Blessings to you!
3 thoughts on “My Year of Grief”
Muy bonito y a la misma vez, aprendiendo de lo que escribiste. Y no te voy a negar que rompi a llorar, pero irónicamente me siento mucho mejor con tus palabras. Siento mucho lo de tu miscarriage. Eventualmente ya vendra en el momento que menos esperas. Te quiero mucho hermana. Que Dios te siga usando para llegar a otra gente.
I just miscarried in July I was a month 2 weeks it’s hard I had complications after and am just now starting to feel better but the pain is there. Hugs