This post is an honor of my beloved angel in heaven, Reese Madison. She was born eight years ago and lived two short days on earth. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. This month helps women all over the world to break the silence of this common, yet rarely spoken of loss. When most people experience death of a loved one; families share memories so that person’s life is never forgotten. This is seldom true when a child dies; specifically an infant. It is instead taboo to discuss and most would rather pretend it never happened. I recall very few people in my life outside of my family saying my daughter’s name. Nor do I recall any mention of what actually happened. Mostly, I recall well-intentioned loved ones offering prayer or worse saying things like “You can always try again”.
Losing a child is one of the hardest battles I’ve ever faced. Nonetheless, it helped me empathize with other’s pain. It helped me to search for the right words to say. It has helped me allow them to grieve in their own time and in their own way. It helped me to be there when I’m needed the most. Sometimes in silence. Other times sharing only muffled words and tears.
Pain is pain. No matter how it comes. No matter who or what causes it. It is pain. I want to encourage you friends to break the silence. There are some steps that will help you in your journey:
- Acknowledge you are hurting. Be honest with yourself. You will never heal from what you refuse to acknowledge. “O my God, my soul is cast down within me” (Psalms 42:6). This may be the hardest part of this journey, but it is needed to begin the path to healing.
- Don’t hide your wounds. David, known as a man after God’s heart bled openly. He asked himself some tough questions: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me” (Psalms 42:5)? We too must also ask ourselves these questions. It is essential to be in touch with your pain. Identify what you are feeling, but most importantly why you are feeling what you’re feeling. It’s important to have one or two special people in your life you can bleed to. Please use wisdom here. This needs to be someone who can handle your pain and will encourage you in this journey.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Jesus did (Matthew 26:38). Many mistake Christianity to be an easy life. If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for some time now; you know this simply isn’t true. We will experience things in this life we didn’t plan nor wish for ourselves. Or anyone else for that matter. Allow yourself to grieve what you thought your life would be. I don’t only grieve the loss of my child, but what life could have been had she lived. Who she would marry? What kind of grades she would get in school? Who’s personality would she have, mine or my husband’s? Your story may not be my story. But our pain can feel the same. Perhaps you’re single and thought you’d be married by twenty-five and now you’re nearing forty and the right man still hasn’t found you. Or maybe you grew up without the love and support of family and have always felt inadequate, like you don’t measure up. Whatever it may be dear sister, know its okay to grieve.
- Go to the One who can help you. Jesus allowed Himself to grieve, but He didn’t stop there. Neither did David. Neither should we. He went to the One who could help. Do you know the Bible says Jesus is our example? He grieved so He can be in touch with your grief. So He would know what it means to bear pain. For you. For me. This means He is never surprised by what we face. He knew angels would escort my daughter to heaven in the still of the night. Psalms 55:22 encourages us to cast our burdens on the Lord. We were never meant to carry anything He is there to help in our time of need, but we must go before Him boldly (Psalms 46:1). We can’t cower in the face of pain and hide from the One who can help us the most. He wants to help us. He wants to sustain us. He wants to keep our minds sane. He want to love on us. He wants to use our pain to bless us. He wants to see Himself in us.
I hope you find these steps useful as you move towards healing. We will never be totally free of pain until we reach heaven. But you can live in peace, in hope, and in love in the midst of your pain. You can break the silence and share your story. You can empower others to share theirs. You can heal and move from a place of pain to counting it all joy knowing a great, holy work is being done in you (Hebrews 1:2-4). Selah.