Remembering Doria

One Father's Journey after the Death of his Daughter

Reflections on the First Trimester

5 Comments

It’s been 3 months now since we got the news and heard the silence, 3 months since our little Doria died. I thought I’d look back at the first trimester of our new story at some things I’ve learned along the way.

1. It’s hard. There you go. It’s hard. The trouble comes in various ways that I’m learning to live through:

a. Losing focus. I love to read, and that ability is just now coming back. I won’t be where I was for a while yet, but it’s getting better. Apparently, it’s quite normal to lose track of things mentally, which is tough to take when your life revolves around reading. If you can’t read, history is tough. That’s led to periods of frustration, and it’s probably good that we don’t have a dog (metaphorically speaking).

b. Caring. I read right away that it’s easy not to care about work after losing a child. They were right. On the other hand, I have an army of enthusiastic students, and that helps me to care. In the quiet times, it’s real easy to look at a book and say “I just don’t care.” That’s a new experience for me. I can’t say that I like that. I don’t cheer the same for sporting events, either. It’s fun, and I love it, but it’s not the same.

c. Emotional ups and downs. I’m used to living like a robot emotionally. I’m not used to ups and downs. Just this past weekend, we got takeout from KFC. They screwed up my order. Big deal. I could hardly have been angrier. Somehow, that led to a massive bout of “I can’t even have chicken right” and pouring out my heart to (or at) God on the way there. Fried chicken ticked me off. Thankfully, I was much more peaceful when I got there, and the counter guy was smooth. I could have chicken. It’s something.

d. Getting tired. I’m used to 16 or 18 strong hours a day, getting some sleep, and then plowing right through whatever is on my plate. I can’t do that yet. I’ve had a couple of days like that, but not 100 or so like I’m used to by this point in the semester.

2. We’re surrounded. It could be so easy to think that my wife and I are alone in this, but we’re not. I’m surrounded by amazing people. Without Doria’s death, I never would have realized how amazing they are.  I think that I would have been OK without knowing, but it’s not changing now. I’ve never seen support and wonderful things from people like this. One example: I’ll never forget checking Facebook after announcing the news, and seeing people that we know on every continent but Antarctica praying for us, and then people that we don’t know on each continent praying for us. That’s amazing, and I don’t think of that everyday. I’ve gotten phone calls, messages, and e-mails from ministry friends in Jamaica that are fantastic. We have a support network that actually does cover the world, and we wouldn’t have realized how powerful that is without this experience. I’d still rather have Doria, but this is awe-inspiring.

3. Pain is real. That doesn’t change. Since Doria isn’t coming back, it won’t. I just get to learn to move along. That said, my pain can help somebody else, and there’s a blessing there. It’s not one that I wanted, but it’s there. I’m in the club now. Might as well redeem that time. That said, those moments where I realize that Doria really isn’t coming back stink. There’s no getting around that. Pain is a big part of the new reality. I’ve said to people before “welcome to the world” when something disappointing happens. Well, me, welcome to the world. Pain is real.

4. Grace is good. I was a fan before. I’m a fan now. In fact, grace is actually Doria’s middle name. She was and is a gift of God’s grace to us. We saw our hearts change, and we like that. We saw that what we knew of grace was good, and what we’re learning of it now is greater. The way that people have poured out to help is astounding. Seeing meals, time off, flexible schedules, hugs, offers, trees, grave markers, all these things that we never considered before really opens the eyes. I always thought that we were good at giving, but now I’m seeing a whole new level of that. The way that I’m seeing more and more that God still cares is wonderful beyond all my words. I always knew it, but experiencing it is great. It’s very reassuring that He doesn’t abandon his people, even though life hurts.

5. We want another child. Neither of us wants this story to stop at the grave. It’ll be awkward explaining that our next child has an older sister, but we both want that. It’s a problem I’m willing to deal with, and so is Becky. We’d like to see the process through, and bring home the prize this time.

6. Life marches on. Nothing changes that. No matter how dramatic the event, life marches on. Doria’s death changed our lives forever, and life marches on. I’ve got a huge day of reading ahead, right after a cemetery visit and grabbing lunch. It’s been a wonderful morning of mourning, and now life marches on. That’s a simple phrase, but it’s staggering in its implications. At some point, things need to be done, and life just keeps marching on. That said, it’s time to get in step this afternoon and do some marching myself.

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5 thoughts on “Reflections on the First Trimester

  1. We will be praying for you esp for having another child. For William baby Nicholas has been a part of his life. While he does not totally understand he says thing like baby Nicholas is in heaven and we will see him. The best was when Chris asked William who his cutest brother was? William replied, Nicholas!!!

  2. Hi Erik, I ‘enjoy’ reading your blog as a fellow grieving parent. Doria is such a sweetie, thank you for sharing her photos. (My parents almost named me Doria!) We are 10 months in after our son Toren died of an umbilical cord accident just before he was born. It’s not easy to talk about and not easy to write about, but I think it’s so important. The silence around stillbirth is starting to get a bit deafening. The stigma is painful. I didn’t fully realize how bad people are with grief and death, never mind when you’re talking about babies who die before they are born. Keep writing. You and your wife are not alone, as you are probably finding out. I wish you peaceful moments on this difficult path. I wish you joy in your efforts to have a sibling for Doria. Our daughter knows her baby brother and she will move forward in her life with him as a very real presence. She feels a purer joy about him than we are able to yet. Warmest wishes to you both, Andrea.

  3. Erik,

    It was good to see you and Becky at church on Sunday–even though we didn’t really get an opportunity to chat with you! Dottie Hatfield gave me the address for this website. I just finished reading what you have posted thus far and it’s amazing to me to see the similarities between our situations, but still the uniqueness that comes along with each individual and couple’s grief. I am so thankful to serve a God who is good and faithful and true; a God who can and will make meaning out of all this. I don’t know what kind of music you guys like to listen to, but Matt Hammitt recorded an album called “Every Falling Tear” which has a few songs that have struck me as well as the album “Come Weary Saints” by Sovereign Grace Music. I used to be an athlete and the Come Weary Saints CD acted like my pre-game warmup music on my way to the hospital each day while Malachi lived. We miscarried during our second pregnancy at 13 weeks (Jordan Hope) and our son Malachi Stephen died just shy of turning 7 months (born with abundant medical complications). I was about 13 weeks pregnant with Jackson (now 2) when we buried Malachi–talk about surreal. I’m hoping to keep up with your writing and hopefully I’ll be spurred to continue writing myself. My husband said he’d like for me to include his email jdsharbs@gmail.com as well. Not sure if that’s something guys do, but I have a friend of a friend who is a couple years forward in this grief adventure whom I’ve never met and it’s been an encouragement to me. I was able to find Becky through FB and would love to be a listening ear if she ever wants to send a message of joy, sorrow, frustration, etc. with a sister in Christ who is also “part of the club.”

    Marissa

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