Thursday, January 25, 2007

Article to be published

The following was written on December 29th. I've been meaning to post it but.... This was written for myself but also I had been asked if I would be willing to write something for a book that a program we were connected with at the hospital is putting together.

Six months ago (today) I was holding my (almost 3 months old) daughter as she was dying. I’ve been dreading this day. Amazingly it’s now the end of the day and I haven’t cried. I haven’t cried for awhile. Does that mean my heart is healed and the tears are gone for good?
No, of course not. But, God heals my broken heart a little more each day.
The first couple of weeks after her death I felt numb to most of the pain. It hurt and I cried but I felt like everything was going to be okay. I was in the “this happened for a reason” mode. I still felt strong. A big part was that it didn’t feel like reality.

Then, all of a sudden it hit.
It hit hard.

The hope that this was some sort of nightmare and I would wake up was gone.

It become reality.

I became depressed.
This feeling lasted a long time. Eventually with the help of my faith and some anti-depressants this feeling lessened.

What did I feel in between the “this really isn’t happening” and the “it hurts so much I’ll never stop crying”?


I had known from the day Olivia was born that her time was limited. They wondered if she would make it through her first night. She spent 74 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was home with us for only 14.

I regretted not spending more time at the hospital with her. (Though I know that I did what I could considering I had Olivia’s twin sister and 17 month old brother at home. I wish that I had held her more. We took a lot of pictures but I regretted not video taping her.

Many of the regrets had to do with the day she died. I didn’t realize when we called the funeral home very soon after her passing that the men would be there right away to take her.

People had told me to take my time holding her even after she died. I probably would have, but when I knew they were coming in less than 20 minutes I didn’t have much time. I changed her outfit because I wanted to wash what she was wearing. It was one of my favorite things on her and I (thought) I wanted her to be buried in it. Turns out, I wish I had kept the outfit.

I regret not giving her a final bath and dressing her myself for her burial. I didn’t know what to expect or what to ask when the funeral arrangements were made.

(I’ve been writing for half an hour. Now it’s getting difficult. The words were flowing smoothly. Now I find my pen stopping and my mind wandering. Remembering. Regretting. Missing)

Those few hours after her death would have been the last time I could hold her body. The funeral home (men) had said that I could bring the outfit I was washing and put it on her the next day. I was going to but I didn’t take into account the changes her body would experience over night. My husband was with me as I started to undress her. He stopped me and said, ‘ We should just let them do it and remember her as she was.”

That was probably a wise thing. It was too late. I has missed my chance to dress her.
I wish I had known to take her blanket and some of her things to cover her casket. I hadn’t known what to expect at her graveside service. Different places may do it different ways. We arrived at the cemetery just moments before everyone else. We were faced with a bare, little, white casket sitting on the ground. It was so little.
I felt so unprepared. My motherly instincts were in overdrive. My daughter’s body was inside that box. It was a hot day and she was wrapped with a fleece blanket. I wanted to open the casket and take her out and hold her to my chest. I couldn’t of course.

She was really gone. All hope for a miracle that she would be healed was buried in that box with her.

I miss her everyday. I can be doing really well and then I’ll sit and look at some pictures. The tears fall. It hurts.

One of the biggest things I’ve had trouble with is falling asleep at night. That’s when I think a lot. My body is tired, but my mind decides to run a marathon.

Every situation is different , I know. Some losses are expected…others without warning. The hurt, though, is still the same.

My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and my trust in His ultimate plan for my life has been the solid rock on which I have been able to stand on during the most difficult time of my life. Even when I have been too weak to stand I have been able to fall into his arms of grace and know that I will get through this - one moment at a time.

My husband and I started a webpage while Olivia was still in the hospital. To read about her life and how we have dealt with her death you can visit (to follow the story chronologically start with the April 2006 archives.)
Written by Amy Ritchie December 29, 2007


naomifrank said...

You write beautifully. My heart goes out to you. I sincerely cannot imagine what you go through ever day, but I know I can pray for you and that I do.

Laura said...

You have written such a beautiful and real thing. I cried so hard reading it and feeling your pain. I know so many mothers can learn a lot from reading it and knowing that someone else has felt the same way! My heart goes out to you, and my prayers are always with you. ((HUGS))

Shannon said...

What a beautiful thing to help other parents get through this impossibly difficult time. Your faith and strength is inspiring. This is such an amazing way to honor your precious Olivia. She is very proud I am sure!

I am so very sorry for your pain. Your story has forever touched me and I want to thank you for sharing what you have so eloquently written. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. I am so sorry that you even have to write about something as sad and hurtful as this subject.

Your daughter is just beautiful and I know that Olivia is watching over her, your family and her brother.

I need to write out how Im feeling about losing my son as well. I look at my little guy, who is now 5.5 months old, and I wonder quite often-what if. There SHOULD be two, not one. But, Im blessed none the less. There could have been zero, I tell myself. Its a tough mental thing. I just believe God will pull me through this.

Again, so sorry for your loss. 6 feels like I was reading about it yesterday :(

Vicki (from momo)

angie said...

I've read your article twice now and I think it is absolutely beautiful. I think it is wonderful that you are willing to share your experience with others and help in a way that that so few can. I have followed your story for months now and want you to know your family has touched my life.
From a fellow momo mom

Scott Samson said...

Amy, You have written so well the emotions that have in yours and Brian's hearts. Your article shares more for those who have suffered loss even of other relatives and how the littlest things matter so much later in our memories. I am praying as this goes out that this ministry God has given you and Brian will grow and show that Olivia has touched so many people for His glory.

Anonymous said...

Dear Amy (and Brian,)
Thank you for sharing your hearts and for sharing Olivia.
God is with you all every moment. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'm just getting to reading this today- tears running down my face. This is such a beautifully written healing process for you but, amazing help to others. God bless you Amy. -ren