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My Story of Grief
A journey of faith through early pregnancy loss


My story of grief began early in my marriage when my husband and I endured early pregnancy loss four times. A fifth loss involved dying to our dream of building a family. I traveled a lonely road of grief which is well-known to those who suffer early miscarriage and infertility, for the privacy of the experience makes it difficult for others to enter in to offer comfort. But along this road the loving support of a few helped me to hold strong in faith when my own faith wavered.

As I look back on my experience after some years, I see how faltering I was in walking through the trial in faith, yet I did the best I could in light of the stress and the depth of the grief. My losses caused me to press into God with greater honesty and depth. Through the experience I grew stronger in faith, in character and in the ability to extend compassion to others in sorrow. These are precious outcomes of my story of grief as I journeyed through loss.

History

My story of grief began when I was 42 which was when I first became a mother-to-be. Women in their forties are at high risk but that does not diminish the wonder of pregnancy or the hope that is so quickly birthed within. My specialist urged me on, encouraging me that I appeared physiologically younger than my age, telling me that she would do her best to find a cause (which she did), and urging me that "this is not the time to give up". GĂ©rard and I pursued our dream in faith, knowing God was able to form a baby safely in my womb. We were heartened by many things along the way, things we interpreted as encouragements from God. Yet he did not grant our desire.

Honest questioning

As I grappled with my losses, my pain generated tough questions which I boldly sent to rattle the gates of heaven. I wrestled with my concept of God, my understanding of his care and concern for me, and my belief that he is intimately involved in our lives. I prayed while battling doubts about whether my prayers were heard or that they mattered. I sat in silence, asking the Holy Spirit to intercede for me because I had no words of my own. I turned to the Bible to find comfort and was moved to tears in my emptiness, unable to find words to sooth my wounded soul.

Yet through it all, I knew that God was the one to turn to, so I persevered in setting aside time to meet with him. It wasn't long before the silence was broken by hope-giving moments, where I was comforted by God's presence and strengthened by his promises. Gradually, there in his presence, my questions of 'Why?' no longer cried out for answers and my impulse to ask them was stilled. It became enough to experience the Lord's closeness and realness, to know that I am his and that he cares for me. The healing of my heart had begun.

Embracing the present

One book, Gerald Sittser's A Grace Disguised, helped me immensely through my story of grief. The chapter titled "Sailing on a Sea of Nothingness" describes how the experience of loss creates 'a present of barren nothingness' where we are suspended between a past that we long for and a future we hope for. We long to be in one place or the other--anywhere but on this barren sea. But we need to choose to live in the present because it is the only reality that is alive for us at the moment. When we act upon that choice it's as if we dive beneath the barren surface to discover a world below that is teeming with life.

This became a vivid illustration for me. When all my joy had been swallowed up by pain, I took Gerald Sittser's challenge. I imagined myself sailing on the surface of the Red Sea or the Great Barrier Reef and missing the remarkable world below by neglecting to don some gear and dive in. Sittser helped me to determine to live for today, to embrace whatever gifts of grace it had to offer, and to respond to those gifts with gratitude. As I did that, hope and joy once again began to be birthed in my soul.

Soul companions

Grappling with any loss is lonely. Much of the necessary soul work needs to be done alone, but others are so needed on the journey through grief. A welcome source of support for me was the online forum at Hannah's Prayer Ministries which is dedicated to women facing infertility, miscarriage or neonatal loss. An even more important source of support was a face-to-face listening presence, those who listened patiently and offered a wise and encouraging voice which imparted hope to my grieving heart. A spiritual director, a vocation which I pursued in the years following my loss, offers a supportive, hope-giving presence as you travel through your own story of grief.



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Quote of the Week
"Somebody was telling me this week that nobody can make a violin speak the last depths of human longing until that soul has been made tender by some great anguish. I do not say it is the only way to the heart of God..."

Frank Laubach
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16-18 May 2014
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