Posts Tagged ‘sorrow’

I sat trembling in the waiting room of the doctor’s office; my breath came in short bursts that left me dizzy. Don’t cry, not here! I repeated the words over and over in my mind as I tottered on the brink of wailing hysterically. Digging my nails into the palm of my hand, I tried to distract myself from the emotional pain that threatened to engulf me.

Only the night before, I’d suffered through a miscarriage. I had cherished that life growing within me, and now, my little one was gone.

It was in those days, weeks, and months following my miscarriage that I experienced God’s beautiful love through the hands of His people. During that time, I also learned how raw and fragile the hurting are. God has used that experience to soften me and teach me how to better serve those who are suffering. It is my prayer that others will also be blessed by the lessons I learned in the refiner’s fire.

1176769_26727429Some of the best words are a simple, “I’m sorry for your loss.” In those painful weeks, I can remember walking into a room and have everyone in it go silent. The loss of my baby was the elephant in the room. People often don’t know what to say to someone who is suffering. Next time you are in the presence of someone who is hurting—and the room goes silent—be the person who gives them a hug and whispers, “I’m sorry.”

Don’t say you understand someone else’s pain unless you’ve suffered in a similar way. While it is comforting to talk with others that have come through similar trials, the words, “I understand your pain,” ring hollow when you haven’t experienced that grief.

Be a shoulder to cry on. I had never before met the doctor who cared for me after I lost my baby, but she was hand picked by God to minister to me in my time of suffering. Alone in the office, I let my tears flow freely. The doctor entered the room with her ankle length skirt wrapping her in radiant colours. “Can I give you a hug?” She reached out and squeezed me tightly; I was astonished to see tears in her eyes. “People will tell you to get over it, but the most important thing you can do right now is grieve.” Often the hurting will just need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and permission to mourn.

Don’t offer platitudes. Words like “It’s probably for the best,” can just cause more pain. Even bible verses can be hurtful when they are offered flippantly. God doesn’t tell us to cheer up the hurting—but mourn with them.

Offer practical help. Independence is considered a virtue in our culture. Make it easier for the hurting to accept your help by offering clear-cut examples such as: “Tuesday is my town day. Can I pick up some items for you?” or “I’d love to come over and help out with the housework, if that’s okay with you.” A home cooked meal is not only practical, but it’s also a beautiful gesture of love.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the pain or loss. Experiencing pain can be very isolating. After my miscarriage there were very few people that were willing to talk about it with me, even though the healing took many months, and it was often on my mind. On the other hand, be respectful of those who don’t want to talk about their pain.

These points aren’t meant to be rules, but general principles in ministering to the hurting. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who gives comfort, but He often chooses to use us as ministers of His love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

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Life was very, very busy for a time. When Ethan and Owen were born, I had 4 children under 5 years old. When they were 6 months old, we moved into a tiny cabin while my husband built us a house. It didn’t take long for my baby addiction to rise to the surface though. By the time the boys were 3, I was longing for another baby in the house. I was praying for a baby and so were Myra and Melanie.

Within a few months I was expecting our fifth child. We had moved and were now over an hour from the hospital that Ethan and Owen were born in. I didn’t have good memories of that hospital and we were hearing a lot of positive feedback, about the hospital in our small town.

We decided to have our baby here in Vanderhoof, but that meant we wouldn’t have a midwife. I was alright with that decision, but it was very important for me to have a female doctor. As far as I knew there was only one woman doctor in our town. I went to the clinic and asked for that doctor, but I was informed that she wasn’t taking prenatal patients. So…. back to square one.

At this time we were really seeking God, asking Him for the right doctor. I was visiting with a friend that I don’t get to see very often. She was pregnant as well, and I was able to see her ultra-sound pictures. It was so much fun to share our excitement. I asked her if she had found a doctor, and she said that God had provided her with a wonderful and caring doctor. This doctor had been highly recommended by a friend of hers. I felt sure that this was the doctor for us and eagerly made my first prenatal appointment. The appointment was made for 10 weeks gestation.

At about 8 weeks I had some spotting. This didn’t concern me too much, as I had had this in all my pregnancies. One day though, there was a blood clot and this was very upsetting to me. I pleaded with God, “Please God, please God, protect my baby. Please don’t let me have a miscarriage.” A miscarriage was one thing that I just didn’t know if I could deal with.

I stayed in bed that day, but I was still bleeding the following day. We decided to go to the hospital. It was Sunday, so we asked some friends to take our children to church with them while my husband and I went to the hospital. The doctor performed an ultra-sound, but he wasn’t able to find a heart-beat. He told us that this didn’t prove anything, as it was still early and the equipment he was using wasn’t very accurate during early pregnancy. I still clung to hope and prayed fervently. This went on for several days, and I stayed in bed during this time.

One evening, I started to have terrible cramping. I knew that I was losing our baby. I had been in labour 3 times before and this seemed much more painful, maybe because it accompanied such grief. The cramps were like contractions and each one felt like it was tearing at my very soul. I have never before or since, experienced such acute agony and anguish. And then it was over, my little one was gone from my womb, into God’s hands.

Our children’s grief was very intense. They loved this baby, they had written him notes and drawn him pictures. It was very difficult, to see the depth of their sorrow.

I knew that I should see a doctor about the miscarriage. I decided to keep the pre-natal appointment that I had made weeks before. It was for the day following the miscarriage. I felt very anxious as I sat in the clinic waiting room. My emotions were very raw. I had just miscarried my precious baby only 12 hours before. Here I was, supposedly for my first pre-natal appointment. I was trembling, afraid I would start wailing in front of all these strangers.

I was called into the office and a nurse soon came in. She started asking me questions about my pregnancy. I began to sob. I managed to say between the sobs that I had had a miscarriage. She looked very uncomfortable. “Um, I can see your very upset,” she said, before running out the door. I was left there alone again. Her reaction made me feel that my grief was inappropriate. I just wanted to leave and curl up in my bed.

In a little while the doctor walked in. I had never met her before, but her eyes, when they met mine were very kind. “I’m so sorry that you lost your baby,” she said, her voice gentle and sorrowful. She asked if she could hug me and then she wept with me. I was so astonished that this woman, who was a stranger to me, and as a doctor had to deal with painful situations every day, would weep with me.

She told me that if she could, she would bear my pain for me. For over an hour she sat with me, rocking me and stroking my arm. She shared with me her own story of loss. She shared about her struggle with infertility and the in vitro fertilization she went through. Of the ups and downs of hope and disappointment. She told me of her own miscarriages, three of them. One of the miscarriages was a little girl, still born at 27 weeks. She told me that God, had used those terribly painful trials, to make her a more compassionate doctor.

After we had talked, she prayed for me. She prayed that God’s peace would rest on me. And it did. At that very moment, God’s peace wrapped around me like a blanket. The pain didn’t go away, but the turmoil was replaced with rest.

One of the most important things that she told me that day, was to grieve. She told me that it was good and right to grieve and that not everyone would be comfortable with my grief, but she encouraged me not to rush it.

I told her that we were going to have a ceremony and bury our baby. She told me that that is something that she really wished that she had been able to do. The hospital policy, where her little girl was born, was to allow parents to bury their babies if they were after 28 weeks gestation and not before. She vividly recalls leaving the hospital empty-handed.

At home we talked about naming our baby. We had chosen the name Jonathan for a boy and Ruth for a girl. Both of these names are in the Bible, and both Jonathan and Ruth had been faithful and self-sacrificing friends; Jonathan to David and Ruth to Naomi. I felt that our baby was a boy, but Kevin felt unsure. After praying though, Kevin also felt that our baby was a boy.

We talked about where to bury Jonathan. The first thought was to bury him on our property. This really began to bother me though. What if we ever moved? I would hate it if I wouldn’t be able to return to his grave. We decided on a place, that is very beautiful and special to our family. It is a place that we can go to at any time.

I wrote Jonathan’s name on a piece of paper to put in his grave. It is something that we gave him. Kevin read some passages from the Bible and we prayed together. Kevin had brought some flat pieces of stone that we put on Jonathan’s grave and then everyone chose a small stone to place there as well. I stayed alone at the grave after everyone had left. I knew that it was time to leave, but it was very difficult to walk away. In a sense, that first step was about moving on and I didn’t feel ready to move on yet.

In the following weeks, we quietly mourned as a family. There were many tears. We wanted our children to be able to talk freely about Jonathan. We wanted them to feel they could come to us at any time for a hug or a cuddle. Slowly, we began to heal. My laughter came back and at first it seemed very strange and out of place. But I knew it was time.

One thing was still very hard for me to deal with though; I would cringe inside when I saw a pregnant woman. It was strange actually. It seemed like there were pregnant women everywhere. I believe that God was opening my eyes up to what was happening within me, the bitter root that was growing in my soul. He wanted to do a complete healing, but I needed to know that I had a need first.

I had always loved seeing a pregnant woman, or a baby and I realized that I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t want to feel hurt and sadness where I had felt joy before. I asked God to heal that hurt. I asked him to forgive me for letting bitterness creep in, and I made a decision to respond with joy when I saw a pregnant woman or new baby.

I am thankful for God’s healing. A couple months later, the friend who had recommended our doctor to us gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I was able to hold that sweet baby, talk to her and delight in this precious gift from God. I am so thankful that that moment was not marred by envy.

A few months after my miscarriage, I had a very clear image in my mind, (I hesitate to use the word vision, but it was different than anything else I have experienced.) I saw a little boy with blond hair and blue eyes. He called out to me, “Mama!” and ran to me with his arms stretched open. I wept with joy and I would every time I thought about what I saw. A long time passed before I would share that memory with anyone. It was just too precious to me.

It may seem very strange to those who read this, but looking back over my pregnancy, miscarriage and the time following, I am filled with joy. I never thought that this could be possible, but truly it wasn’t all loss. I am thankful for the time that we had with Jonathan. Though it was brief, that pregnancy is very special to me. And when he left us, he went to be with God, and one day we will be united again.

It was also a time when I powerfully experienced God. He carried me. Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their affliction He was afflicted , and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and he bore them and carried them all the days of old.” He provided a doctor who would weep with me. He gave me peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:6-7) and He gave me joy where I never thought it could be found.

I am a mother of five children here on earth and one in heaven; truly I am blessed.

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