Grief At a Low Boil

Christmas 2013
Christmas 2013

We were standing in church, singing The First Noel, when I instinctively reached up and held the Ethiopian cross necklace resting against my chest. With no warning, my eyes filled with tears and my throat got tight.

I was wearing Kalkidan’s cross, the one that we bought for her in Addis, the one she wore sometimes when she dressed up. She wore it for the last time at the funeral home.

As Christmas approaches, we are continually bumping into reminders and memories.

My sisters and I make a photo calendar for our parents each year. Yesterday, as I uploaded photos, it was painful to see that I have no pictures of Kalkidan from 2015. The last picture I took of her was Christmas Eve. We had such a wonderful Christmas, but for some reason, we didn’t take a single picture. I remember feeling that I just wanted to be in the moments, not trying to record them.

As I sat at my desk, I was hit by a wave of sadness, or some sort of bad feeling. I was all by myself, but I started quietly saying, “I don’t feel okay, I don’t feel okay,” like a prayer. I pressed my hands against my chest, trying to make it go away.

In the afternoon, Beza put Christmas cards in envelopes. Kalkidan isn’t in the picture – her absence is huge. I know this doesn’t make sense, but mailing out a new family picture feels like a betrayal of her. It’s like evidence that we’ve moved on and left her behind. There is a weight of guilt in my stomach, not in my mind, I know that sending out a new picture is a good thing to do, but it doesn’t feel good.

This is a sad post, but it’s all I’ve got today. Grief is always with us, sometimes simmering low, and other times flaming up. Today it is at a low boil.

In good news, it’s Monday and we have an entire new week to walk through, preparing for Christmas, loving our families, accomplishing work. I made my To-Do list early this morning, it looks semi-reasonable, but only because I’m accepting that I won’t be able to accomplish all that I would like.

How does your week look? Anything good to look forward to? Anything you’re dreading?

I have a massage at PT in a few hours. Last time she worked on my shoulder, I was nearly pain-free for a week. Now that’s something to look forward to.

Love to all of you.

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRIĀ® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

17 Comments

  1. Em B
    December 14, 2015

    It totally makes sense. All of it. What never makes sense is the loss but your sadness and reactions and confusion all make sense. Love you. Always.

    Reply
  2. Mary Ostyn
    December 14, 2015

    Praying for you these days…
    Love you, friend.

    Mary

    Reply
  3. Emily
    December 14, 2015

    I am so sorry for your pain. So so sorry. My first thought when I read your words that your family has left Kalkidan behind was that you have not left her behind. She has left you behind. But only for a while.

    Reply
    1. Carly
      December 14, 2015

      Exactly what I thought, Emily. Love you, Lisa.

      Reply
  4. ahhodgman
    December 14, 2015

    Oh, honey…

    Reply
  5. AmyE
    December 14, 2015

    your journey of grief … So real, so authentic. I feel humbled to get to share it in some small way and think of all those grieving who are blessed by your honest words. Praying now for comfort.

    Reply
  6. Robin Douglas
    December 14, 2015

    Lisa, you're on my mind every day. I am so sorry for your pain! Our family prayed for yours last night. It will feel better someday. When our baby died, it helped me to hear that from friends who'd endured the loss of a child. I couldn't believe it at the time, but it helped me to hear their promises. Now many years from that first Christmas, I know it's true. Every year, we hang a new ornament on the tree for our girl, and my heart always aches over her absence, but it isn't the knock-me-to-my-knees pain that it used to be. You aren't leaving Kalkidan behind; she's just a ways ahead of you. Hope the massage is wonderful! Love, Robin

    Reply
  7. Melissa Joy
    December 14, 2015

    Thank you for sharing real life with us, Mrs. Qualls. I think of your precious girl every time I see orange… including this morning when my seven year old came down in bright orange from head to toe. I'm thankful for reminders like that to pray for your family, and check on your blog. May the reality of Emmanuel bring hope to you ~ God with us, even in these breathless moments of grief. I'm crying for your family. The gap between here and heaven feels gargantuan at times like this…

    Reply
  8. Kelli Strebin
    December 14, 2015

    Lisa I totally feel what you are going thru. With our Christmas cards this year there is a picture of Doug and I and the Grandkids and then individual pictures of each grandchild including Eastin. He will always be in our heart and pictures of him all throughout the house. I always feel like he needs to be in the famiy pictures. We have done a few where we hold the picture of Eastin with everyone else in the picture Thinking of you and your family especially the next few weeks

    Reply
  9. Ljohnson
    December 14, 2015

    I am so sorry for your loss. When my 4 year old nephew died last year my sister and her family took Christmas pictures with a framed picture of his smiling face lovingly placed in the middle of his siblings. Gone (for a while) but never forgotten. She gave us back the stuffed hippo that we had bought for him and it sits with his picture. We will see him again, but for now we will remember. We will cry, grieve, mourn, laugh, we will not be okay on some days, and that will be okay.

    Reply
  10. Michelle
    December 14, 2015

    I haven't posted in a long time although you constantly are on my heart. Wanted to say this makes so much sense. I keep telling you what a gift your transparency and vulnerability is in the journey. (((hugs))) Love your courage to continue with sending the cards.

    Our situation does not compare but I haven't sent cards for two years because our daughter went to birth family and we haven't seen her in a year. Although we are in her life consistently, sending a card out without her or an update on her is incredibly confusing. We literally could give no update on her due to the situation and I have just decided to not do it. Feels wrong to send it out as a family of 4 when we are a family of 5 although she is not choosing it right now.

    Honestly…this kept me for a while feeling like I could engage anything adoption without trying to explain so I just found myself stopping. Working to find the balance.

    Praying for your family through this season of holding joy and sadness at the same time. Thankful for the seasons reminder of the thrill of hope and this weary world rejoices.

    Reply
  11. Mary DeGennaro
    December 14, 2015

    Lisa, so appreciate your honesty! Will be praying for you as you and your family go through this season without your Kalkidan. What you are experiencing totally makes sense! Love you from the East Coast.

    Reply
  12. Laura
    December 14, 2015

    {{Hugs}}

    Reply
  13. Emily B
    December 14, 2015

    There's nothing predictable about grief, other than knowing that it is its own beast and has a life of its own. I'm praying for you each day. This is just hard. I wish there was some way to help carry your grief for you.

    Reply
  14. Angela
    December 15, 2015

    Praying for you during this time of year.

    Reply
  15. Erin Huffman
    December 22, 2015

    HI Lisa. I have followed your blog for several years and I have only commented a few times. A friend of mine read a post about Dimples (as I came to know her) and recommended to me as we are parenting a child who seems to have some similarities to your special girl. So many of your posts about her and your parenting journey ministered greatly to me as we dealt with so many struggles and the pain of parenting a child with special needs. When Dimples passed away last year, I was heartbroken for you all and have followed your journey of grief and prayed for you. We recently lost our fourth child, Evie, as she was stillborn due to umbilical cord accident. Once again, I find your posts extremely helpful and encouraging as we are on a different (but similar) path of grief. So thanks for sharing. I feel like I have followed in your parenting footsteps for several years now and taken cues from you. God continues to use you in that way as we grieve. So thanks so much Lisa. Praying for you today.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 23, 2015

      Dear Erin- my heart breaks for you. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby -there really aren't words to express what my heart wants to say. My prayers are with you today, as we move through our own grief in the midst of a joyful holiday. It doesn't feel right, and I can imagine that may be the case for you as well. Thank you for writing – please let me know how you are doing. A huge hug from me to you.

      Reply

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