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Embracing the Pain of Losing a Child

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CHRISTA BLACK
Christa Black

I woke up this morning and poured my cereal like I always do, making my eggs like I always do. But as I pulled a chair up to the table, my mouth and heart began to water for something I haven't craved in a very long time.

I wanted whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey, where my head finally swims with nothingness and my body passes out without thoughts.

Thoughts of how she smelled up against my skin.

It's been two months since my baby girl Luca Gold came into the world, laying warm against my chest for the greatest and most horrific 40 minutes I've ever experienced. We had no idea she had a condition called anencephaly where the top of her skull and brain didn't form, leaving us stunned, panicked, and wailing the moment she emerged from my womb and into our arms. As the midwife took her stethoscope away from Goldie's tiny chest for the last time, lowering her eyes to the ground and shaking her head, our nine month anticipation of the sounds of life quickly vanished into the haunting silence of death.

christa black

And every day since that day, I've wanted to eat chocolate. Mounds of chocolate. And then pound cake, and a hamburger or two, maybe a pizza, followed by chocolate again -- crying for a bit, then longing to return to the old enemy called bingeing that temporarily fills my body in an attempt to numb the agony in my soul.

I've wanted to check out and watch things I shouldn't watch on the internet. I've wanted to buy things I don't have money to buy. I've wanted to find a pill in a bottle that could make all the memories swim away.

But more than anything, every second, every minute, every moment that the clock has ticked since Wednesday, March 5, at 11:40 a.m. when her heart stopped beating, I've simply wanted my little Goldie back in my arms.

I don't know how long I'll sleep with the blankets she was wrapped in, her scent now long gone. I don't know how many times I'll hold the nightie she wore, touching the spot of her blood, knowing it's the last trace of her life on this earth. I don't know how many days I'll Google adoption agencies, searching for baby girls who need a mommy who is ready to love, or spontaneously erupt into sobs at the grocery store checkout line without any warning at all. And I definitely don't know how long my soul will scream for every old, numbing trick I've ever tried over the course of my life.

Logic screams at me with its shaming tone, especially since I'm the girl who's already beaten the eating disorder, and then gone on to write a book about it. I'm the girl in ministry who's spent the last four years of her life traveling and speaking all over the world, teaching thousands to walk into freedom themselves -- my old memories of drugs, alcohol, and food as medication becoming more of a distant story that I tell than a reality I once knew. But as the chasm widens inside my heart, digging down to a depth of pain I never knew was physically possible to endure -- and as the fire of death burns away my last facade of strength, I'm also the girl who, once again, is craving every old trick in the book knowing that they do, in fact, provide temporary relief.

But then I remind myself that they don't fix.

I remind myself that they don't mend.

I remind myself that they don't heal. And Jesus, I want to heal.

I can see why people run to old vices in the shadow of pain. They're familiar, they're close, and they're quick. But every time the ache in my heart cries out to be silenced, and every time the grief slashes like a jagged knife -- every time the weight of sorrow seems to suffocate or the emptiness wraps its black hands around my neck, causing me want to run to something that will medicate the hurt, but never heal it.

I stop.

I take a deep breath.

I turn to face the truth -- that my baby girl is gone and it hurts like hell rolled over on me. I open my empty arms, throwing them around the pain, embracing the suffering, and scream out, "I don't want to be numb -- I want to FEEL EVERYTHING."

I've been screaming a lot lately, screaming in conversations with God. But it's not what you think. I'm not screaming at Him -- I'm screaming with Him. He's just as angry as I am that I, his little girl, missed out on a life with her little girl -- the one he knitted together so delicately in my womb.

"God, I'm ANGRY that I'll never see Luca smile for the first time, or hear her say 'mama,' or ride a bike, or fall in love! I'm FURIOUS I'll never get to take her to get a pedicure, or watch her face as she sees the ocean for the first time, or hold her in my arms again and kiss her soft skin. I KNOW she's in a better place, BUT I DON'T CARE! I STILL WANT HER BACK!"

I still want her back. And I always will. And that's ok.

Whiskey, drugs, bingeing, sex, spending, movies, Internet, medicating my broken heart with substances that end up causing more harm than good -- no thanks. They'll never bring my Goldie back. I've tried their tricks before and it took me years to finally walk into freedom. This time, and with this level of pain, I want to feel every moment of the agony, to experience every second of the grief.

In her honor. In her memory. Because she's worth it.

christa black

I'm learning that there's no road map to "grieving well." But grieving does mean feeling every wave as it crashes on top of you, holding on for the ride, and being as real as you can possibly be. And instead of pain being something I'm running from these days, it's become an unexpected friend that I'm turning towards in the process of healing. My memories with Goldie are in the pain. The moments with my baby girl are immortalized in the agony of those 40 minutes, and I'll never let them go. Instead of running to the old things that destroyed my life -- even as the random cravings for whiskey hit me out of left field at 9 a.m. -- I've found something, or someONE, who not only holds me inside of the blackness, but always cries more tears than I do.

God is closer than He's ever been within this loss, and heaven is so tangible in her death, sometimes I feel like I can reach out and touch them both. My mother's heart longs for an eternity where I'm reunited with my baby girl again, but for now, as I wrap my heart around the unfathomable anguish of watching my child die, this God who also watched His son die, wraps His healing arms around me.

And together, in this place of constant tears, I begin to heal.

christa black

Psalm 34:18
The Message (MSG)
18 If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there;
if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath.


A version of this post was originally published at ChristaBlack.com

This story is part of a HuffPost Healing, a Huffington Post series about physical, mental and emotional healing. Have you had an experience with healing? If so, we'd love to hear it. For Christa, it was embracing the pain of losing a child. What was it for you? Reach out by e-mailing healing@huffingtonpost.com