The other night my family and I were driving home from Dreamland BBQ. Our 2.5 year old twins were giggling and singing, "Baby shark" in the back of our mini van on repeat. I looked back at my beautiful son as he said, "You sing it, mama." I proceeded to join in with silly hand gestures and facial expressions. Then, my sweet Ruby girl let out the most adorable belly laugh. She has a lot of different laughs, but that one's my favorite. Roman joins in with giggles and as I look back I can see his big dimples and pearly whites as the car's tail lights in front of us are shining on his face. There was so much joy in that space.
But then I noticed something. I started counting quietly in my head. "It's January....so our baby would have been 1...2...3...4...4 years old...4 years old..." I sat quietly for a moment. Apparently, it was longer than I realized because my husband noticed that I stopped singing. "You okay?" he asked. I was silent for a few more moments and then looked over at him, "Do you ever think about how old our baby would be?" He quickly replied in a somber tone, "Yes, I do."
I was working on my Master's degree in Counseling and unintentionally signed up for a course on grief and loss the semester that I miscarried. I learned a lot during this time. One thing in particular that stands out to me is that grief is messy. It can't be contained. Of course you can sweep it under the rug- that's your choice. But, it will remain there, demanding to be dealt with, demanding to be felt, heard-to be understood. Yes, there are technically 5-steps to the grieving process, but you can't cookie cut your way through them. Grief isn't here one day and gone tomorrow. Grief is dealt with in waves. It comes in ebbs and flows. C.S. Lewis says, "Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley, where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape."
Grief is unpredictable. I would have never guessed that such a happy moment with our twins could trigger thoughts of our unborn child. But then sometimes, that's how grief works. It comes when you least expect it. It comes out of the blue. It comes during should-have-been birthdays and would-have-been holidays with that extra person sitting at the end of the dinner table.
A year after our miscarriage I was not in a good place emotionally. "Shouldn't you be over this, Kelly? I mean, it's been a year. God has blessed you with a beautiful life." I had falsely formed a belief that one day I would wake up and just be "over it." But, how could I? We are talking about a precious life here-a baby that we never got to hold earth side. I believe my belief was mistakenly influenced by how society views death.. We live in a culture that really doesn't understand how to respond to suffering and people who are grieving. Comments like, "it will happen for you one day" or "miscarriages are very common" are at their core dismissive statements that prevent the individual from being able to express and process their grief in a healthy way, further delaying their ability to heal.
Don’t let the world’s poor understanding of suffering and loss prevent you from processing your feelings in the healthy way that God intended you to. Contrary to what the world may tell you, grieving isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and spiritual and emotional maturity. It takes courage to look your feelings in the face and actually deal with them.
My prayer for you is that you would give yourself time and space to heal. Be kind and patient with yourself. Turn your eyes away from how the world responds to suffering and look to Jesus Christ as your example. When Jesus discovered his best friend, Lazarus died one of the very first things he did was weep. Jesus wept (John 11:35). He mourned with his friends and family. Upon hearing that His cousin John the Baptist was murdered we learn that Jesus withdrew to a quiet place (Matthew 14:13). We don't for how long, but one thing is for sure is this: if the Jesus Christ, the Perfect God-man needed time away to mourn the loss of His friends, than we need to give ourselves the grace to process our loss, without judgment and without expectations.
When you grieve it is my prayer is that you do not grieve without hope. Can hope and grief co-exist? If you’re a child of God, than absolutely they do. You can grieve with hope knowing that God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). You can grieve with hope knowing that you are not alone and God will strengthen you and uphold you with his right hand (Is. 41:10). You can grieve with hope knowing that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). You can grieve with hope knowing that nothing can separate you from the love of God-no death, no loss, no fear-nothing (Romans 8:28-29). We can grieve with hope knowing that you can cast all of your cares and anxieties on the Lord and He promises to sustain you (Psalm 55:22). You can grieve with hope knowing that one day Christ will return and he will wipe every tear from your eyes and there will be no more mourning and no more crying (Revelation 21:4).
After our miscarriage I felt like I was drowning in a sea of darkness. Obbie would come home from church and our sheets would be soaked with my tears. I was angry, bitter and depressed. But, God did not leave me alone in my despair. He pulled me out of the pit and gave my heart a reason to hope. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent (Psalm 30:11) For me healing came when I stopped putting my hope in a positive pregnancy test and instead fixed my eyes on Christ and His promises that were true for me even when I couldn’t make it out of the bed. Friend, you may feel hopeless in your loss. You may be angry. You may feel like you are drowning in a sea of darkness. But, remember this: God isn’t scared away by any of your big emotions. He understands every single one of them. He is with you. He is keeping you under His wings and His love will never let you go.