Letters to Taylor: On Grief and Imagination

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Letters to Taylor: On Grief and Imagination

My dear Taylor,

Each day since your graduation to heaven has left me wondering what grief lesson I have yet to learn. I could say that I miss you, but those three little words understate my true feelings. Emotional highs and lows grip my heart at random times and in unexplainable ways. To be only a five-letter word, grief surely packs a powerful punch.

My mind has gone back to your viewing and funeral time and time again, in fact all the events of the last eight weeks have replayed themselves in my head many times.  Partially because there are days when it feels like your suffering and death was all a bad dream. Like I could just wake up in the morning and go peek in on you sleeping in your bed, then move to the usual routine until you woke up. That’s how we had lived for years. But no, the reality is that things have changed, and you are in heaven.

I remind myself continually that you are well and whole, and I can only imagine how that must feel for you. Incredibly wonderful and beyond human words! But the  world here on earth feels awfully strange and abnormal without you. So much of how we lived our lives and chose our schedules was based on your care. The void is enormous and weird.

If I could compare grief to a mathematical process, I would say that it doesn’t just multiply; it multiples exponentially. Not only do we grieve you being gone from our lives, but the grief compounds when we realize so many others are missing  you too. Trying to understand the pain of others while they’ve empathized with us has been a mind-blowing experience. I’ve felt stretched. I’ve also feared that friends and family will tire of my sharing because of their lack of understanding or empathy.

Grief is teaching me to learn how to empathize with others when they don’t know what to say or how to respond. One of the reasons I share these letters I write to you with other people is so that they know they are not alone in their feelings and there is hope. A few weeks before you left us for heaven, a friend shared that some of the things said to her at her brother’s funeral were not helpful at all. In fact, they flat-out made her feel deeper pain.

Daddy voiced a few of his feelings to a co-worker, who replied with, “Yes, I know this has no comparison, but when my dog died of cancer…” Really? Then if you know it has no comparison, wouldn’t it have been better to keep it to yourself? Your sister has encountered accusation of seeking attention because she has shared her heart. I really hate that for her sake. But people are human and can only try to relate on their own level. Some of the intended encouragement and intentional criticism must pass through without evaluation and absorption. Doing this requires a ton of discipline and character from your mama, not to mention divine intervention.

There’s one phrase that I’ve found comforting. I know a lot of it has to do with the heart of the people who have shared it with me. But it’s so simple. Some have said to me: “I can’t imagine.” That phrase has brought a lot of salve to the wound because none of us can wrap our heads around the loss of another. Every person grieves differently. No loss of life can be compared to another. Each and every human is divinely and uniquely created. So, I tucked that little phrase away to whisper to other hurting hearts in the future.

Your littlest sister told me that she dreamed about you last night. This photo of you and her came up in my feed this morning. She said that in her dream, you were playing with a baby. I didn’t ask her a ton of questions, but my immediate thought was of the baby our family lost to miscarriage those many years ago.   

What was your heavenly meeting with your brother or sister really like and what are you doing now?

I can only imagine.

I love you, precious girl. God’s got you. And us too.

Your Mommy

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    1. I am so very sorry that you and your family have had to cope with the loss of of such a young child. It is not ever easy and the friends and sometimes even family will not understand or even show an ounce of empathy, which is sad in my opinion.

      My husband and I had a horrible miscarriage after 3 years of marriage, which caused us great emotional pain. Our family members were not very understanding with us and the emotional toll it was on us. Our friends were not very understanding either, which led us to have to work through the grieving process together. Our closest people were very insensitive with us emotionally. Because of what we went through has caused my husband and I to realize that within our birth family’s, the only person that we could truly whole-heartedly rely on was each other.

      It is truly amazing to me now and looking back through the almost 18 years and everything that we have been through and how much stronger we are emotionally since our miscarriage. Our marriage has it’s ups and downs but no matter what happens we are there for each other. Jesus is taking good care of the child we would have had almost 18 years ago. For us at that time it was best for our Heavenly Father to take our child up with HIM. I may not know for sometime, but maybe one of our family members in heaven may have needed that comfort of our child or maybe it was someone else that needed a child who was already in heaven. I will not know until I meet my creator in Heaven and our dear sweet child.

      My husband and I did have a child almost 10 years after the miscarriage. Yes, it took me that long to get over our loss. We do have an 11 year old daughter that keeps us busy, but when I see her get excited about learning something new in school. I always stop and think about that child that I could have had and how he or she would have reacted to learning this…there is always the thought that goes back there.

      Please know that you are not alone, Jesus is right there by your side and going through this struggle with you. You and your family will be in my daily prayers for wisdom and emotional healing. May Jesus bless you and your family.

      Please Do Not stop posting your letters! Believe it or not there may be an unsaved couple out there that would come to know Jesus as their Savior from your posts.

      Again, so sorry for your loss and keep writing those letters. The way I see these letters is a way for you to emotionally heal. God bless.

    2. Please don’t stop sharing just because there are those that don’t relate or can’t understand. I have loved getting to know you and Taylor (and your family), and it helps knowing what WAS helpful during this time. I often say “I can’t imaging”. The truth is I don’t want to imagine it. The thought of losing a child is such a raw pain that to imagine how it actually feels is unbearable. Thank you for letting us in on some of these extremely intimate emotions and feelings. It really does help us know how to relate with others in this situation. It deepens my faith seeing how gracefully you are able to get through. God is so good. I know Taylor is so happy right now, running and singing with Jesus.

    3. I too look forward to your letters, pictures and posts. I’m so far away but feel connected to you. I love hearing of dreams people have, I believe it is Gods doing. People would tell me afternoon stay head of my husband they were all kind of the same…. very exciting…. praying and sending you love… God is using you!!!

    4. Just to follow up with my comment last night, I didn’t mean to sound critical. Of course right now what you are going through its going to feel like nobody’s grief could compare to yours and so I understand your comment about the man who lost his dog, but I think that this person was just trying to reach out in his own awkward way to show that he cared. I think the letters to Taylor are very helpful to you and to those who need to hear it and you should do what feels right to you and not worry about what other people think. I have lost many close family members so I understand the road of grief you are traveling. Do whatever helps you find peace and comfort with God.
      Sending love and prayers…

    5. One of the reasons I believe I get depressed is when I have unexpressed feelings, when I hold onto false and unhelpful beliefs, when people get too big and God gets too small.
      You demonstrate a way to express all the emotion and communication you need to process your emotions, put your thoughts and heart into your words. To love your daughter. Your relationship with her hasn’t ended with the cessation of her physical body. You continue to communicate and express your love to her as you always have. That is so healthy to me. You are helping others to grieve well by example. I thank the Lord for this gift. You are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others. Thanks for doing “you” and being willing to open yourself and be vulnerable. Sometimes your pearls will fall into unreceptive hands. Nothing you need to worry about. God bless.

    6. I know people sometimes say the wrong things, but also sometimes they are just trying to share with you their experience with grief even if it involved a beloved pet, as your husbands co-worker shared a dog who died of cancer. Some people don’t have children or have the experience of losing a child but they try to relate in the only way they can, through the loss of something they loved very deeply, even if it was a dog and not a child. In your grief, Rachel, I would just encourage you not to be too judgemental of how others grieve.

      1. Are you kidding me?

        1. Sorry if you misunderstood. I was just trying to say that sometimes we feel like our own suffering and grief are greater than someone else’s when actually the pain of watching a loved one suffer and die from disease can be just as painful for someone who has lost a dog that they greatly loved. For some, their beloved pet is a family member- like a child- so we really shouldn’t judge one persons pain and grief compared to ours. We are always going to feel like our pain is greater because it’s ours. But I dearly care about Rachel and pray for her family.

    7. Valerie Rucks says:

      Dearest Rachel, you may freely share every single bit of grief you have of Taylor. It’s been 3 years since I was abandoned by my ex husband in the middle of my moms battle with metastatic breast cancer; a year later she went home to Jesus finally healed from the ravages of cancer, chemotherapy, and a broken heart Dover the son in law who had betrayed all of our family. I still grieve for my mom and I still celebrate her homegoing to Heaven. I gladly read every letter that you write for Taylor, I will also continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. God knows and HE cares. God bless you sweet sister in Christ and God bless your family and all who you are praying for.
      In HIS care,

    8. Christina says:

      Rachel … please continue to share your letters to Taylor with us. I prayed for you and your family many times over the last several months. As I would rock my son, thoughts of you and Taylor would just fill my mind. I dont know why, but I knew God wanted me to pray for you and your family in those moments. Even now that Taylor has gone to Jesus, you all still come to mind during those middle of the night wakes.

      As other readers have said, your letters to Taylor let us know how you are doing. We may not have been able to love Taylor like you did, but we truly cared about her and still care for all of those left behind to grieve. Personally, I will never tire of reading your letters, updates, and posts. I was always in awe of how you could remain faithful and thankful in some of the most unimaginable times of pain and grief. You are an example of who I want to become. Prayers, peace, and blessings to all of you.

    9. Hi Rachel, God Bless You and Your Family Always. Please continue to send the Letters they are truly inspiring and encouraging. My Mother passed away 28 Years Ago, and it seem like it was yesterday. Yesterday before leaving for Church, memory of my Mother hit me really hard, realizing how much we miss her. Rachel, you have a right to mourn your dear daughter, Taylor. I know your family truly miss her. I have learned we as society can not put a time from on when we should get over a love ones death, there is not time involved. Please know I am praying for your family, and may God continue to strength and comfort your family.

    10. Thank you for sharing every moment of your grief journey, the ups, the downs and even lower lows, and the unexpected. Most of what is unexpected is the support we think we’ll get from people closest to us, but they disappear. On the other side of this is help, support and comfort from out of nowhere. I’ve said things to people who were grieving, and heard things from other people when I was grieving that were not the least bit helpful and seemed pretty much insensitive. I’m guessing that’s pretty much to be expected. Keep what means the most to you, and the rest put aside for another time. Don’t stop sharing, something from your own experience may connect with someone who needs to hear it. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers–

    11. Sally Hodges says:

      Mrs. Rachel, I too look forward to your emails letter to Taylor. Most of us knows what your letters to Taylor will consist of, so if its depressing to you, just delete it. I can’t imagine losing one of my own daughter, but by reading your letters, I know should that day come, I know God will not leave me along. I do pray that once IF it happens you cease to write letters to Taylor, that you would consider putting them all in a book. I’d purchase one and probably a few for gifts. Praying for you and your family as you go through this season of your life. God Bless

    12. I say continue expressing your grief this way. My beloved husband also graduated to heaven a few months ago and I’ve never known sorrow of such depths or so much pain. One cannot begin to understand unless they too have experienced this grief themselves. I often feel schizophrenic because I’m joyful one moment and sobbing the
      next . Some may not be able to read the letters now but others will be blessed and comforted.

    13. please continue to share. people need to learn/know how to grieve WELL!!! not sweep it under the rug. i am also a grieving mom and have gotten all those comments and am still dealing with how much to share! if your words cause someone to become depressed then they can choose not to read. But most people out there desperately need hope!!! the church also needs to deal with grief better. i say keep the letters coming. If we cant talk about the darkness whats the point of the Light???

    14. Linda Newkirk says:

      I have had too many friends in the last few years who have lost a child and those were my exact words to them, “I can’t even begin to understand, just know that I love you!” So thank you, even as I read your letters to Taylor with tears streaming down my face, to see and share your faith in a God who has a plan we don’t understand a lot of days, gives me so much hope in my life. Thank you Rachel.

    15. Your letters are remarkable. They give inspiration, not only to you, but to others.

      I’d have to say, those who say things that aren’t helpful to you at this time, have not walked the road of grief.
      Grief is something that is unexplainable to someone whose never experienced it. It is an experience. Much like love.
      It’s easier for me to forgive those who say things that aren’t appropriate, when I know, they just have no clue what it feels like.
      I know, because, I was one of them.

    16. Kathren Klaesges says:

      Please – please do not stop sharing. As a mom, daughter, wife, sister – we all have some type of grief. We can only know of the trueness, dependability, authentic love of our God, Father, Protector, Comforter when we walk, crawl or gimp thru these struggles and heartaches. I do not feel so alone in my journey when a sister shares her grief – we can cry, shout, feel our way together.
      We will celebrate in due season. I love reading what you write – perhaps an opportunity will arise that I could actually meet you – that would bring a smile to my face.
      Big hugs to you in the meantime.

    17. When my mother passed away, her death was the first I’d ever experienced of someone so closely connected to me. The greatest word I could use to describe how I felt, was that she was, profoundly missed.
      I was told by a dear friend, that when her sister passed, she’d talk to Jesus. She’d ask Him to tell her sister, this, or that.
      I followed her idea, and talked to Jesus about my mom. I’d ask Him, “to tell her, I miss her today.”
      It may or may not be scriptural, but it truly did always make me feel better and lift my spirit.
      Time and years have passed and I find I don’t say things as often as I used to, to Jesus, about my mom.
      I hope you or someone else reading this will try it and see if it doesn’t bring the same peace and comfort to your heart, the way it did and does, mine.

    18. Please continue with the letters. They have given me comfort and hope. My husband of 45 years passed away 7 months ago. It’s the worse pain I’ve ever experienced. Hearing you truthfully tell your feelings makes me feel like I am not going crazy and that I will make it through this horrendous journey of grief.

    19. Yes, it’s true that well intended people will try to say something because they don’t know what to say. Sometimes their comments will hurt you. I found that asking God to help me look past the comment itself to the intent of the person was invaluable at times. Yes, you will find that others may tire of hearing your story. These folks are uncomfortable because they can’t relate. They are not your people for now. Keep talking about it with those who will listen. Keep talking about it with your family. You are allowed to grieve in your own way. I hope that Taylor finds my granddaughters, Rebecca and Maria, and plays with them. I haven’t been able to do that yet. I pray for God’s generous wisdom to fill your sad heart.

    20. Cherish Caulker says:

      Rachel, I know this is going to sound weird, but I actually look forward to your emails or your posts. It’s my way of knowing how you are doing. No one but the our Father himself can offer you the level of comfort you need at this time, but if expressing yourself in these letters help, don’t stop writing them. There is an audience out there that is blessed as they see and hear how God is working in your life through this season and provides hope. It’s a hope and reassurance that when we go through these valleys, the same God who is taking you through will also be with us. The letters help your brothers and sisters out here to know how to pray specifically for you and your family. You are not alone. We are surrounding you, along with the cloud of witnesses in heaven, with love and prayer….Big bear hugs for today, dear sister.

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