May 26, 2016
Almost two years ago I received devastating news. Sitting in a cold examination room in my doctor’s office, I was anxiously anticipating the moment I would see my baby on the screen above me. My husband was on my left, waiting to see our future child too.
However, when silence filled the room, I instantly knew. Instead of hearing a heartbeat we heard nothing. Instead of seeing a baby and the hope of life we saw loss and the death of a dream. Instead of feeling excitement or anticipation, we felt despair, sadness and grief crashing down on us.
The next few days, weeks and months brought with them a roller coaster of emotions. Waves of intense feelings would hit me at the most inopportune times. The mere mention of babies or pregnancy caused deep pain within my soul. I ached and longed for the child I never knew. Anger at God crept into my heart. How could a good God, a God who loves children, allow this?
I questioned how God could do this to me. I wondered whether I could have done something to prevent this from happening.
I also had days when I was so overcome with sadness that I couldn’t see an end in sight. Then there were days that I felt OK and thought I was coming out on the other side, only to be hit with a wave of grief the following day or week. In this time I was quickly reminded grief is not linear. Grief is not something that takes a nice, neat path toward a finish line. Grief is messy.
Just recently I was reading a story that ran in a national paper. The woman in the story had suffered a miscarriage and said, “Miscarriage and infant loss are different because (in a miscarriage) you lose potential — not the person they were but the person they could have been.”
Her statement resonated with me and my grief journey. This explained what my heart and mind were attempting to sort out. I was grieving the loss of hope and of what I thought my life would look like along with the loss of a baby.
C.S. Lewis once said, “To love is to be vulnerable.” Sometimes in my grief journey it felt safer to imagine that I would never experience joy again. It even felt safer to say we would never again try to have another baby. But I know God did not call me to remain in that emotional place, nor is that kind of hopelessness true to His character. While God does allow refinement, grief and sadness, He also is the giver of joy. You really cannot know what unspeakable joy is until you also have experienced the opposite of that — great sadness and despair.
The Lord is my ultimate joy and my ultimate sustainer even in the midst of unspeakable loss. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,” we’re told in Psalm 30:5. My weeping lasted for many nights and days and in that weeping I did a lot of crying out to God. Crying out for understanding, for peace and comfort.
The good news for us as Christ followers is that joy does truly come again, though not because we forget what we walked through or because time has simply passed. Joy comes by knowing that no matter what we feel or how bad it gets, Christ is still with us, walking with us or even carrying us through the valley to get to the next peak of joy.