Last night was a very special night for me. I donated some drawings to a local organization and they held a reception for me where I shared about my life and work. These drawings were done in 2002, 15 years ago! This spring someone from my past mentioned that she had seen them when I initially drew them and that they have helped her in the grieving process through the years since she lost her teenage son in a tragic car accident. I started thinking, "why do I have these drawings still stored in my studio when they could be bringing healing to others?"
I decided I would find a local place where that would become their new home. I was connected to a place around here called the Grief Care Place in Stow, Ohio.
"The GriefCare Place opened its doors in June of 1997. It offers a SAFE PLACE where those grieving the death of a loved one can find support, education, understanding, and a caring place to heal. The center serves individuals of all ages, offers a home-like atmosphere and is a non-denominational faith based organization where those of strong faith or those of none can come comfortably. The GriefCare Place educates participants about grief and provides caring volunteers who walk alongside and companion them during the grieving/healing process."
Almost 18 years ago I had my first born son, Finn. He was such a joy and I loved being a mother so much! When he was around 6 months old I was already wanting to bring another baby into the world! I found out I was pregnant soon after and, if that wasn’t exciting enough, this time we were expecting twins! My husband Brad and I were elated and couldn’t believe our ears!
3 months into my pregnancy I went in to my check up and I had a strange feeling that morning before I went in that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. When I went into the doctors office they did an ultrasound and it was there that they told me that the babies had stopped growing since my last appointment. When I realized what this meant, my eyes welled up with tears and I couldn’t believe what was happening. The feelings of shock and sadness overwhelmed me. The days and weeks that followed were very emotional as I grieved the loss of my babies.
During that time in my life, I was in college in the process of getting my art studio degree. I was taking a drawing class where we had freedom to draw anything we wanted to for our project. One day as I was driving my commute to school, I had a vision of these drawings. I feel like every once in a while God drops a vision in my head of something that he wants me to create and share with the world.
These drawings are self portraits where I express the process of my pregnancy. The joy, the wonder, and finally, the sorrow.
My grief process didn’t end with sorrow. There was more to my grief journey than that. The way that I was able to find peace in my situation was through having my hands open to God. I needed to surrender the babies that I lost to the Lord because they are His anyway. I felt like when I was able to release them to Him, that is when healing was able to take place.
After we lost our twins, I still wasn’t done with my struggles. I wanted to be pregnant again right away so badly. But that wasn’t what God had in store for me. It was month after month of disappointment as I struggled to become pregnant again. It was a constant state of surrender that I had to be in during this time as I had to trust God that he had a plan for my life.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
It was a year and a half of disappointment month after month of trying to conceive and then finally I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Sully. I was elated!! It was quite a journey during that time of waiting and God really taught me a lot during that time of my life. He taught me that His ways are higher than my ways and that I had to trust Him with everything in my life. It is hard to not have control over things and through this experience I learned that I had to give over the control to God. I had to be in a constant state of surrendering to the Lord with my hands open to him instead of having my hands in a tight grip holding on to what I wanted for my life.
Not every journey has a happy ending, but even in my case after being able to have kids, I still feel like I have to work at the idea of surrender. I can live in fear worrying about all the things that could happen to my kids and keep a tight grasp on them and try to control things by worrying. Or, I can try to live every day with my palms open in surrender where I surrender my kids to God for Him to do with their lives what he pleases. It is not easy to do, but there is a peace that comes from surrender.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Since marrying my husband almost 20 years ago, God has blessed me with 4 boys who I adore and I am so thankful for every day I get to spend with my family!
Art has been a wonderful therapy for me to help me with expressing feelings and emotions that can sometimes be hard to express in words. It is a way for me to permanently record my grief journey on paper. I would encourage everyone to find a way to express your own personal journey in some tangible form because there is healing that comes when you are able to do that, and it will look different for every one.
It was so moving last night to talk to people and hear about their own personal stories and I feel honored that I had this opportunity!