Do you know this grief?

You are not alone. We honor you, too.

In the midst of all the (well deserved) cheer and hype for mothers on Mother’s Day there is another truth too often hidden because it is painful and pain makes us uncomfortable (so we pretend it isn’t there and keep mostly silent). This post is a small attempt to say “Open your eyes. Open your hearts. Share your love.”

Open your eyes and hearts to women like “…your cousin in Houston whose fertility treatments are failing, your next-door neighbor who had a stillbirth three years ago, or your grandmother who lost a child but could never bring herself to tell anyone about it. For all these women, their hoped-for child comes regularly to mind, and each one will cry on [Mother’s Day] in a way that surprises her.” —Serena Jones, a woman who remembers a longed-for child on every Mother’s Day. She begins her remarks this way:

This Sunday morning, my daughter will make her annual bedside delivery of a “For Mom” greeting card. What fun to guess what sort of handwritten promises she might include: an always-clean bedroom, perhaps, or 365 kisses? Whatever she says or does, I know I’ll give her a big hug, and get misty-eyed.

Fifteen years ago, however, my tears were bitter. In fact, I woke up on Mother’s Day of 1995 and couldn’t get out of bed. I hated the thought of motherhood. In fact, I probably hated all mothers.

My wretched state back then had nothing to do with my own mother. Rather, it was caused by a feeling of personal failure, and a sense that my own body had betrayed me. Only four days earlier I had miscarried a much-wanted, seventeen-week pregnancy. Just as I’d begun to grasp and even revel in the reality of new life, this thrilling possibility ended. Suddenly, I wasn’t “expecting” anymore. The grief felt unbearable.

Worst Expectations by Serena Jones

If you, or someone you love, someone you know, someone you work with, play with, or worship with are touched by this unique loss, this ‘unbearable grief,’ please read the rest of Serena’s (2010) post,Worst Expectations. Her’s is the compelling voice of experience … and hope.

An Additional Online Resource

Saying Goodbye (SG): “Saying Goodbye is a charity offering Support & Services, for anyone who has lost a baby in pregnancy, at birth or in early years.” It’s Mission is “To offer support to all those who need it – whether they have personally lost a baby or are supporting someone who has lost.”

Finally: A Saying Goodbye Film | Every Baby Matters | Spoken Word —

Let us pray for, and love, ALL Mother’s, especially those who are grieving, on Mother’s Day.

The Give-and-Take of Grief « Michael Newland | This I Believe

Today, while on a Wild Goose chase, I came upon this wisdom shared by a father who gained this insight in a way most of us will never experience, but all of us who are parents can imagine. I offer it as an encouragement, an inspiration, a way into and through grief—all kinds of grief, not just the grief of a parent for a child. Do not be afraid to listen. Do not be afraid to feel. Please read or listen to Michael Newland describe his journey:

I believe that grieving is good for you. As a culture, I feel we’ve forgotten how to grieve, and last year, I had the opportunity to remember.

My wife was seven months pregnant when her blood pressure spiked. Her liver started to shut down, so the doctors performed a Cesarean and our son was delivered to save both of their lives.

The first time I saw my son, he was in an incubator with nurses clearing his airways. He looked at me, like a dolphin surfacing to look at a fisherman, and then resubmerged when the team took him away to stabilize him. He was the smallest, most fragile baby I’d ever seen. …

Go to: The Give-and-Take of Grief « Michael Newland | This I Believe.

Holy Innocents

A compelling truth of the biblical writings handed on to us is this: there is no flinching when facing truths that are painful, revealing of human weakness and wickedness, and even violent. So it is that every year the church remembers the events recorded in Matthew 2:13-18 in which we are told “[Herod] … killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under” (v. 16)

This day (usually remembered on December 28th) is called the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Collect of the Day remembers and intercedes in Christ’s name: “We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace;”

It is in stories such as this one, it is in Feast Days like this one, that I find the weakness of the “Prosperity Gospel” and find the flaw with those who see Christianity as a way to escape suffering and pain or, worse still, as being uncaring about the suffering and pain that surrounds all of humanity. From the time before Jesus, in his own day, and in every day since and yet to come, the faithful are acquainted with pain and suffering. And yet, in every age, including our own day, women and men of faith have not been defeated by evil, by pain, or by suffering. There continues to be a hope expressed by the Psalmist that “Our help is in the Name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8 (the Psalm appointed for today).

For all who have had to bury a child, for all who have had to bury a grandchild, my heart goes out to you. Earlier today I tried to express my gratitude to those men and women who have touched my life while having to face this terrifying pain and walk through this dark valley. I tried to tell them, as I tell you now, how much I have learned from them about life, about living, about faith in the face of death, even the death of a child.

I do not know the depth of their pain nor the depth of the threatening darkness, I can only imagine what it must be. However, I am well aware of their faith; I am well aware that they have not been defeated by even so great a loss. I am in awe of their faith and their ability to go through the pain (for I have learned from them that though it lessens in intensity over time there is really no end point to the pain and it still can surprise and stun a person years, even decades, later). I am humbled by the faith I have witnessed. I am indeed grateful for the teaching of these remarkable women and men.

I pray that, even in the threatening darkness of death, especially the death of a child, we will find each other and together confront the darkness with the faith that says in death life changes it does not end. I pray we will find the truth of the presence of God to comfort and heal and give us light enough to find our way while finding those companions on the way who will walk with us in our moment of need.May  God bless us all.