By: Kayla Leibner
Life can be exhausting. Some seasons just seem to never stop moving. I am in a season of my life in which there is always something that needs to be done – laundry, dishes, cleaning, meal planning, school, bills, groceries, errands… the list could go on and on. I often have a difficult time falling asleep at night because I have a constant marquis scrolling in my mind to remind me of all the things I need to do tomorrow, this week, next week, next month, and so on. “Don’t forget… Don’t forget… Don’t forget…” More often than not, sleep eludes me because of these never-ending thoughts. I’m sure that sounds excessive, but I have been this way as long as I can remember. It’s difficult and sometimes near impossible to shut my brain off in order to find any kind of mental or physical rest.
Since losing Melody and Jamie, I have realized that now a considerable amount of this overthinking is spent considering my babies. I think about how life would be different if they were here. I wonder if they know how much I love them. I hope that they are proud of me. I think about how I can’t wait to see them again someday, and I often imagine what it will be like to finally hold them and get to know them when we’re together once more when I join them in Paradise.
Sometimes thinking about Melody and Jamie brings me comfort, but other times I am left feeling restless and uneasy. It can be incredibly difficult to come out of this troubled state of mind, which can be so very exhausting. Over the last few years, I have been able to discover a few different things that I can do to find peace and rest even in the midst of these disquieting moments.
Visit. Sometimes it helps me to be able to visit my babies. This isn’t ideal as I’m trying to go to sleep, but I can plan to do this during the daytime hours if I’ve consistently had trouble sleeping or being able to rest my mind. I know that not everyone has this option, but I am so fortunate that my little loves are buried less than a mile from my home. They’re so close that I can walk to the cemetery, if I wish. I have found it to be important to make time to be there with them, and sometimes I need to make it a priority to go there alone. When the weather is decent enough, I like to take a blanket to sit on so I can stay a while. Then I talk. I talk to my babies. I tell them how much I miss them and how much I wish they were here with us. I also use this as an opportunity to let down my walls and allow myself to be vulnerable. As a mom with living children also, I find it difficult to allow myself to do this even though I spend much of the day on the verge of tears. I feel a need to be strong for my kids because I know they often rely on me for strength and guidance in their own grief. Dedicating the time and opportunity of privacy to truly feel everything and to be outwardly emotional is an absolute necessity for me from time to time.
Sleep. As obvious as this may seem, sleep is not always simple. We all carry our grief with us every day, but our day-to-day stresses and responsibilities can really add to the weight of our emotional and physical exhaustion. As I mentioned before, sleep or mental rest is often out of reach because of the constant whirling of thoughts in my mind, no matter how exhausted and bogged down I am. I’ve considered the analogy of a computer that is running slowly or isn’t functioning properly. I imagine that call to the IT department – what’s the first thing they ask? Did you try turning it off and turning it back on? As unhelpful as this can be with computer issues, sometimes this is exactly what I need to do for myself. I need a reboot. When sleep escapes me, I turn to certain techniques to help empty my mind of these busy and sometimes worrisome thoughts so that I can get the physical and emotional rest I desperately need. I’d like to share about my “go to” for times like this.
Write it. If you’re anything like me, your body may just need more sleep or more quality sleep. However, if sleep evades you the way it does me, you know it isn’t always an easy task to take a nap or go to bed early, as I just recommended. This is when I have to dump it all out – all the thoughts, the worries, the things I need to do, and things I don’t want to forget (or even things I’d very much like to forget). When I am unsuccessful in obtaining rest because of my constant thoughts, I grab a pen and a notebook, and I write it all down. I write down the thoughts that are haunting me, worrying me, and bringing me stress. I also jot down the things I need to remember to do the next day or later in the week. I find that the physical act of putting these things on paper usually helps me to empty my mind of them, at least for the moment, so that I can seize that much needed rest.
Scripture. As a Christian I believe that the Bible is the most important instruction manual for my life. I search it often for many different reasons – to find peace, to gain wisdom, to learn ways to deal with difficulties of life, and more. During the beginning of my journey as a bereaved parent I combed through my Bible, desperate for something that would bring me comfort. I return to these sections of scriptures time and again to give myself spiritual sustenance for this journey. This one has been a constant reminder that I am not alone and that I do not have to carry this heavy burden of my grief on my own.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
(Matthew 11:28-29 NASB2020)
“And you will find rest for your souls.” What more could I ask for when my soul is often so weary from grief? The comfort I find in this verse (and so many others) cannot be found elsewhere. It’s something I can only find when I seek rest and comfort from God. I know that God is in control of my life, so I don’t have to be because He will carry me through when I am too weary. I don’t have to do it alone.
Prayer. My faith is such a big part of my life, so it’s no secret that prayer has been an essential resource during my journey of grief. Prayer is a special time that I set aside to share my deepest struggles with God. I tell Him about my pain, the ache for my babies, and my sorrow for them still. Laying down my burdens and giving them to God gives me relief that I can’t quite explain – a peace that surpasses even my own understanding. When I talk about these things with the Lord I often find myself inclined to also recognize my many blessings. I know that God instills these things in my heart to bring me peace and to remind me that there is still so much joy to be found in my life.
Finding ways to give yourself rest and relief is so imperative, but it’s not an effortless process. I found that it takes a little trial and error to find what works well. There’s no end to the grief you feel for your child. I am all too aware of this. However, these things do help me to achieve some serenity and solace when I’m struggling on my journey. Peace and comfort won’t necessarily be found in the same places for everyone, but it is my hope that you’ll find much needed and much deserved rest for your soul.
About Kayla Leibner
Kayla is a Christian, a wife, a mom, and an educator. Faith and spiritual health are a top priority for her and also for her family. She strives to cultivate a supportive and spiritually uplifting atmosphere for her children at home. Until the summer of 2020, Kayla was an early childhood educator, but she lost her job due to the Covid-19 pandemic when her school was forced to close. The loss of her job turned out to be an unexpected blessing when she and her husband realized that she would be able to be at home with their oldest children as they completed school virtually.
Kayla and her husband have known one another for sixteen years, have been together for eight years, and have been married for seven years. They have four children together. Jace and Kiley are their older children. Melody and Jamie are their younger children – and also their angel babies.
Kayla and her family have been on their journey of grief since August 2017 when Melody died shortly after birth, due to complications of a CHD. Jamie was lost in May 2018 when Kayla suffered a miscarriage. Their family has worked together and relied heavily on God for guidance and support through their losses.
Kayla enjoys music (writing, singing, and playing instruments), art (sketching, drawing, and coloring for stress relief), and writing in her free time. She began writing for Sharing Magazine in 2019, and she feels so blessed to be able to contribute to such an amazing platform in honor of her babies. She hopes that her articles are able to provide support and comfort to families who read them.