Thursday, July 9, 2009

Walking with You - Our Earthly Goodbyes

Warning: this post includes our final picture of Seth, taken at the funeral home during visitation.

I'm trying to participate in "Walking with You" at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace. I missed the last two as they were about experiencing a difficult pregnancy and meeting our babies. While my pregnancy with Seth was high-risk and stressful for me in the amount of appointments and the uncertainty of his medical issues, once we knew he had HLHS, I felt assured that he would live. When he was born, our meeting was brief due to his being rushed off to NICU, but we had lots of time with him before he went to Heaven, months, and I thought we'd have longer. I did join in on the first one and you can read about our First Steps on our journey with Seth here.

So today Kelly suggested we share about saying goodbye and the memorial service. (How long do you have?). We said goodbye in stages and I've shared about some of it here on my blog as we journeyed through it. I've just spent way too much time reading through those posts trying to find one to link back to. Let's just leave it at read anything in October 2008, okay?

So, we asked for a DNR and put Seth on comfort care on October 2, 2008. I spent much time that afternoon tearfully calling family and friends telling them Seth was dying. My mom, sister, and dad who all live out of town, rushed to our sides. We didn't know how long we would have and I asked my mom & sister to make some preliminary phone calls, telling them I would like to have Seth buried in "BabyLand" at the cemetery closest to our home.

Leland and I basically moved into the hospital during that time. I was so grateful and Seth's last night with us, he spent in my arms. That was extremely special for me because, while I had slept at night with ALL my babies in my arms at some point or another, I didn't often get to with Seth. He was on a g-tube and a continuous feed at night and that made it difficult to cuddle him at home as the tube would pop out and leak, etc. So I got to hold and cuddle Seth the entire night, from midnight (when the nurses and Leland called and had me rush back to his room) until 5:30am, when Seth went from my arms to the arms of Jesus. That was Sunday morning, October 12, 2008. After phone calls to family and close friends, Leland and I packed up our hotel hospital room and went home without our baby.

We told our big boys that their brother was now in Heaven. Our pastor and his lovely wife came to our house that afternoon. I was and am so grateful for the gentleness and kindness of our pastor as he guided us through planning a memorial service. We offered some suggestions for scripture we would like to have used, Leland and I picked the worship songs we wanted to sing. My mom and dad ordered the casket from Trappist caskets. It was hand carved and prayed over by monks.

As I look back on it, I wish we had thought to do a balloon release. Other than that, I have no regrets. I remember actually being shocked at the number of people who were there and SO thankful. Several of the hospital staff attended, a few of Seth's doctors were there. Mostly though, I remember being numb. There was an element of "I can't believe we're doing this". At times, it just felt like going through the motions.

I remember the day of the visitation & burial and the memorial service almost in "snapshot" moments. The boys and I picked out items for them to give Seth. Cary picked a small stuffed animal. Sean wrote Seth a letter. Together the boys and I went to the florist and bought flowers for the burial, because Cary had specifically asked if he could pick out the flowers. (Cary had also asked if Seth could be buried in our backyard!) At the cemetery, our pastor did a short graveside service. I remember that Leland walked off for a bit, overcome with emotion. My friend, Cathey moved up to sit with me.

At the memorial service, I remember Cary crying through the slide show. I don't remember much of the actual service, which makes me sad. I do remember walking out to the parking lot at the end of the service. We were almost last as I remember not wanting to leave the church. As I think about it now, I didn't want it to be over. It felt like our last chance to publicly remember Seth and I didn't want it to end.

I don't have much to recommend in the way of resources. Kelly offered quite a few suggestions at the bottom of her post. We did receive quite a few books and I can recommend some of them. My FAVORITE book was Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan (and given to us by our pastor). Also read From Grief To Glory by James Bruce. I also signed up for the daily emails from GriefShare, and I still receive those and find them helpful.

I only have one real prayer request. Well, beside the "usual" which is for fully restored joy. I long to find a ministry to honor Seth. I don't know what it looks like but I almost envy Kelly for Sufficient Grace Ministries. I yearn to do something like Micah House. But mostly I want to do what God wants us to do to honor our boy and our journey. Prayerfully, we'll find it.


L Harris said...


I, too, see our life immediately after Harvey's death in snapshots. I don't remember much but those snippets of time in the days following.

I am so glad that you have this Walking With You to walk you through your grief. I wish we would have found such a support.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Kathryn...thank you so much for joining us. This post was tender and beautiful. My heart is aching with you and all of the mothers this week. Saying good-bye is so hard...unspeakably hard. It's one of my favorite things about heaven. No more more good-byes. Your time with Seth was so precious. I am so glad you were able to hold him close...especially that last night as he went from your arms to the arms of Jesus. He is so beautiful. I am praying for you...for the Lord's leading and blessing for a way to honor Seth's life and minister to others. Thank you for sharing this request...and thank you for your beautiful heart, Kathryn. I am so glad you're walking with us. Continuing to pray for you...


hillfamilyms said...

I understand your desire to find the right ministry to honor Seth. My husband and I are hopeful that we will find way to remember Aaron by creating a ministry in his honor as well. We just have to trust that it will come in time. :) His plan is perfect, after all...

Jennifer Ross said...

Your little Seth is so sweet and beautiful. It sounds like you had a really beautiful service. I can tell in your words how much you love him. Thank you for sharing your heart. God Bless.

HolliLynn said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers! Seth is beautiful, and letting people know about him has not ended as you once spoke of. The funeral was the beginning. He is precious and so is your family. Keep honoring him, and you can always do a balloon relase in october.

Lauren said...

I love that you used a line from "Glory Baby" on his stone.

Holly said...

The casket is so beautiful. I love that it is hand carved wood and had been prayed over. That is really nice. A balloon release is such a neat idea. I didn't think to do that either. I understand not wanting it to end b/c I felt the same. I didn't want the time to come for my child to be in the ground.

I hope you can find the way that you want to honor Seth and that God guides you through this.

Steph said...

I felt a lot of the same things after Annika died--the numbness, going through the motions. It was so hard to comprehend that this terrible thing was really real. Annika died in my arms too. I remember how hard it was to walk away and leave the hospital without her. I couldn't bear it if I didnt' know I would see her again.

It sounds like you're doing well with this difficult journey--I'm glad.

Millie said...

Great idea to have an organization to honor Seth. You are in my prayers constantly!

jinx said...

I know that we never thought to do a balloon release at a family members death-she died suddenly at 9 monthes-and they did one later one a night they all felt as though they wanted to send her a message. Maybe you could still do one, they do a few a year now, 3 years later.

I love the casket, thank you for sharing. I am thinking of you.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

My heart hurts for you but I am thankful that you shared this with us.

I will continue to pray for you as I know this is something that doesn't go away. I pray God's blessings on you mightily.

Shannon said...

Thank you for sharing this. It's difficult (emotionally) to remember such things and put them in writing, isn't it?

I promised my daughter that I would do my best to bring her Daddy to God (he's agnostic) so we all could be one big happy family in Heaven someday. That's my current ministry. I hope you find the right ministry to honor your precious Seth.


Rebecca (Ramblings by Reba) said...

What a beautiful post. I can tell that Seth was beautiful!