Letters to Taylor: On Pain

Letters to Taylor: On Pain

My Sweet T,

This morning I woke suddenly with severe chest pain. For a split-second, I thought I was having a heart attack but once my brain kicked into gear, I realized that dreams and thoughts of you had clashed with my body as I was waking. The deep pain was the heartache of missing you. It’s happened several times since you left us for heaven, but always during the day, when I could pray and ask the Lord to calm my mind and body. This morning’s mental anguish morphed into anxiety, which caused the chest pain.

When you graduated to heaven, I worried that I might forget how much I need the Lord. Your needs and my lacks have kept me close to God for many years and I’m so grateful. A part of me thought that without you here, I might be tempted not to spend time with God, or I would forget how desperately I need his presence. In the last few weeks of your life on earth, I could feel the Holy Spirit so close to us, especially in your room, that I didn’t want to lose that. I know it seems a little crazy, but I feared that losing you would mean losing the sense of knowing and experiencing God’s presence so intimately.

But that hasn’t happened, except for a rare, small moment like this morning. No, my girl, instead I have been drawn to whisper continually to our God, communing with him, relying on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me when I have no words. After walking through the valley of suffering and death with you, the continued valley of grief has only strengthened my faith and the pain is but a reminder that yes, I still need the Lord and yes, he is always near to those who call on him.

I’ve thought a lot about how God wired me and how writing these letters to you has been such a wonderful catalyst of expressing grief. Sharing them makes me feel exposed; the responses and observations of others have tempted me to squelch and try to bury the grief. Stuffing it deep down instead of exposing it feels like it would be so much easier. Feeling it and revealing it is much harder than burying it. I think the judgment of others, both real and perceived, is what makes those who grieve become stuffers.

One of the things you’ve taught me on this journey is a sympathy for those who grieve and have no outlet or way to express their grief. Without expression, grief has a way of gripping tighter and tighter while the life of the griever becomes smaller and smaller. More than ever before, I understand the importance of finding healthy ways to express emotions.

I’m so glad that we lived the way we did when you were with us, savoring each day and doing our best to make the most of it, both for ourselves and in light of eternity. I think in the process of living that way, we learned how to express emotions in a healthy way and there are multiple ways of doing that. I guess I’m just saying that I see so many hurting hearts who continually internalize their grief instead of channeling it into expressions of love.

This week my expressions of love included having coffee with another mom who has a child affected with MPS, meeting with a ministry leader who wanted me to share the specifics of our special needs experiences within church environments, paying more attention to the care I give to your daddy, brothers, and sisters, and getting the annual summer gathering of MPS families scheduled and venue reserved. I could name off many other tasks, because as you know, I’m a doer. But one of the things love so much about you is that you taught me that life is less about doing and more about being.

So, I promise, I’m spending more time just being than I ever have. Though the pain of losing you and missing you presses into my soul, the signs of God’s peace, presence and power are more real than ever before.

I feel confident you’re saying the same, only on a level I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I love you, sweet girl. Beyond words.

Your mommy

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    9 Comments

    1. Hi Rachel,

      How thankful I am to read your letters to Taylor. When you expressed about how we express our emotions, I have been so hesitant since I feel like I will be exposed about my failures. But how true it is to share the pain with godly people and receive the comfort. Many times I felt like I am judged when I share my heart. Thank God I am not alone in this. Thank you Rachel for opening up your heart.

    2. i understand the feeling of not wanting to expose my grief to others. Gaging if i was going to write again based on peoples responses! it is sooo hard to be transparant with a loss that most people will never deal with or comprehend…if God leads I encourage u to keep writing without worrying about the results!!! That is Gods job??

    3. Kelly Lee says:

      Dear Rachel,
      Please don’t let other people change who you are… Keep writing!!! When you are ready, “Letters to Taylor” is going to be an amazing book to bring hope to thousands! I lost my sweet brother just a few days after your precious girl. Tim went to heaven on Jan. 7th I share this post from another writer because it really describes my feelings since losing my sweet brother Timothy… Nicole Gabert writes:
      Grief, after the initial shock of loss, comes in waves… while you’re driving alone in your car, while you’re doing the dishes, while you’re getting ready for work… and all of a sudden it hits you – how so very much you miss someone, and your breath catches, and your tears flow, and the sadness is so great that it’s physically painful.

      Rachel, I pray that God will continue to wrap you… and me…in His love as we continue to travel this journey of grief.

      God’s blessings…
      Kelly

    4. Thank you. That is all. I need these letters to Taylor as much as you need to write them.

      God bless you in your obedience, and in your mother heart to share your love and grief for Taylor. All our lives are richer for sharing in your journey

    5. Rachel,
      You are right in the valley, and He is right alongside of you. Your hurts, His strengths.

      I too experienced that same type of hurt in my heart area when my sister passed. I truly believe there is a physical connection in our heart that responds to the pain in our souls. The soul lamenting until our voice laments. The hard cries mimic anxiety like a pressure wall bursting.

      Please keep your letters coming. God orchestrates, you write. You are grieving healthy. Dont let naysayers block it. I can’t think of a better place to share grief, than to be with sisters of faith to share your grief. We are called to step in your shoes as if it is us suffering. Your journey teaches us for our own times of grief, and also teaches us how to respond to others who grieve. I need both teachings.

      In an earlier post you mentioned you no longer need Taylor’s clothing as you were folding them up. Yes you do! You need it as you sit and draw them close to your face and let memories flow. You need them as you savor the scent and give thanks to Father for each memory in each outfit. You need them because Taylor was a part of those fabrics.

      I often look back and recall without fail when moments of lamenting was more than I could take, it was then my Heavenly Father put His arms around me and tucked me under His wing. And He will for you too, because He loves you.

      We all admire you for your service in your time of grief. It has sure taught me a thing or two. Praying God’s peace over your family.

      My special daughter’s name is Taylor too. We also call her TayTay! That was a warm fuzzy when I first read that. =)

    6. Rachel
      Please keep writing to Taylor….some people, like myself express myself in writing except when I recently broke my shoulder and then kidney tumor removed. Then it was conversations with God and me and learning to rely on the Holy Spirit to “himself groan for me.” Because I couldn’t write. I had to talk. Holy Spirit became so much more to me in interceding .
      I am 68 and finally felt free to lament and to talk to God about suffering…during this time I felt closer than ever instead of bottling everything up…after all He knows what I’m thinking. I did learn that not everyone understands laments and grief being shared verbally so I shared with who I could….but I always had God to talk to. God loved me through all the questions and brought insight and healing. I didn’t get a complete answer on suffering but He let me realize I am not God and He is and He sees the whole picture . I went through the “I don’t understands” until I realized I don’t have to…I have to trust.I saw our Great High Priest, Jesus..suffering in Gethsemine and weeping when Lazarus was dead and on the cross “ My God, my God why have You forsaken me.?”
      Our Savior understands . Our Jesus understands. Praise God.
      I think this is a beautiful legacy to the many years you had Taylor so keep going and as with my dad eventually it may go down to once a week etc. But you’ll know when. You had many years with her so talking to her now is so natural. And those who grieve a different way….well, whatever brings healing to them in the hard time of grief.You are a wonderful mother and follower of God and I have been blessed by you. Thank you for sharing your life and family.

    7. Sally Hodges says:

      Mrs. Rachel, I’ve signed up once to continue to receive emails for the letters you write to Taylor. Do I need to sign up again, or when I did so the first time I will continue to receive them. Please know I continue to pray for you and your family and I know that God is there with you as you take the lonely road. There is always some thing that I “grab” from each of your emails (letters to Taylor) that I need for my personal life. Thank you ever so much for sharing. God’s blessings!

    8. Thank you for your courage to share these. They truly are setting ppl free. Love and prayers.

    9. Hi Rachel,
      Ive followed you on instagram for a bit but this is my first time reading one of these letters here on your site.

      First i just want to say Im so sorry for your loss, i cant even begin to imagine how awful n gut wrenching it must be. ?

      And i also want to say thank you for sharing your grief journey! I have several friends/family that have seen their little ones go up to Heaven and i know how much this might mean to them.

      Im praying for you and your family and for all parents who are grieving the loss of their little ones. May God’s presence and peace be felt every moment of everyday. In Jesus’s Name Amen ??

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