There’s a difference between “moving on” and “moving forward.”
To move on means to go on to a different place, subject, activity, etc.
“Let’s put that issue aside and move on.”
To move forward means to go toward a place, point, or time. It means to look ahead. To move into a new direction from where you have been facing or traveling. To make progress.
I have come to realize that when you lose a child, it is impossible to move on, but it is not impossible to move forward.
I have struggled with this idea of movement over the past two years since losing our daughter. I’ve thought that if life moves on, then I must be moving on, too. I’ve thought that if I had a good day, a day where I smiled or didn’t cry, then I was over my loss. I’ve thought that if I experienced an area of healing, then I couldn’t have a hard day or allow myself to feel that gut wrenching ache again or enter into that space of intense grief…even if just momentarily. Did moving on mean I was “over it?”
I’ve looked for a checkmark list on how to handle grief. But there are no “how to’s” when it comes to grieving, and there isn’t a time-line either. My grief is my own. And, although painful, it is invaluable, sacred, and necessary for my healing.
Looking back from two years ago, I recognize a tremendous growth within me. This growth, I am confident, is the result of an outpouring of grace from the Holy Spirit, and the Father’s relentless love and pursuit of my heart. It has not been easy, though. Sometimes I want to wish it all away, pretending it never happened. I’ve wanted to pretend I’ve never faced such a darkness. Wishing I never knew such an ache.
Then I realize, how selfish. Losing my daughter has changed me…forever. I may not be worse. I may not be better. But I am different. And that “different” can be used to make a difference, if I allow it. She is not forgotten.
I have not moved on. I have moved forward.
Taking some time to process the circumstances of life and reality, I spent some time looking at pictures of our stillborn daughter. I needed to remember that she lived. SHE LIVED. Life is so busy and hectic and at times, all consuming, that sometimes she feels like a part of my imagination. Yes, I attempt to honor her memory practically every day, but sometimes it’s not tangible. I pulled out her knit cap from her memory box, and as I placed it on my cheek, I felt that physical nearness again. I remembered the embrace. I remembered her presence. And in that moment, the love consumed the sorrow, and my exhaustion began to ease. The sadness didn’t destroy me. I felt the intensity of love and pain and loss intertwine, and I honored it. Then, I put it aside.
I recovered. I breathed in peacefully. I released fear. I held onto the promise. And I realized…I’m moving forward. I’m moving forward to hope. To life everlasting. To where her story, her life, and this new road will take me.
I can never move on. NEVER. Her little life changed mine forever. And although the loss is a brutal sting, I’m so thankful I carried her, and that her love carries me onward, ahead, forward, and into a new direction where hope remains.