Thursday, February 15, 2018

Love endures all things

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love endures all things. Love endures all things.
So often when a loved one dies, we feel like the love we shared with them has died, too. While death may take a life it cannot take a relationship and it cannot take the love that was shared in that relationship because love endures all things.
For me this enduring love came in the form of a child who died before I got the chance to meet her. Though I never got to experience her love, I got to experience a mother’s love for the very first time because of her. And though it would be easier to forget, I choose to remember. I choose to remember the love I first felt for my child. I choose to let my love for her give me strength as I parent my living child. I choose to allow my love for her to inspire me to comfort others. I choose to allow my love for her to give me courage as I remember that if I could survive her death I can survive anything. I choose to allow the lessons her loss taught me to bring joy amidst my grief.

 Death may leave a permanent mark on a life, but the mark that love leaves is more powerful still. The mark that love leaves imparts us with gifts that death cannot take from us. Gifts that we can hold on to even after we cannot hold on to our loved one.
Love imparts us with memories that are ours to keep as long as we live, memories that even death can’t steal from us. I want to give you a moment right now to pause, in silence, with your eyes closed to think of a favorite memory of your loved one; a special day, a momentous occasion, a favorite trip together, a time when you just laughed together. Go ahead and close your eyes and allow yourself to live that moment. Feel free to open your eyes. Remembering can be hard, painful, even, but when we remember we are honoring the mark that love has left on us. We are honoring the pieces of our loved one that they have left with us even in their death. Memories and remembering allow love to endure all things.
Love also imparts strength on us. Do you remember a moment of defeat in your life, a moment where you didn't think you could go on, a moment when you felt like everyone else had knocked you down, but then there was your person, standing beside you, strengthening and empowering you to get up from anything that had knocked you down. Maybe you feel like that strength and that love have been stolen from you.

 You probably have had some moments since your loved one died that you felt your weakest. Even still, in those moments of defeat and discouragement, those moments when you felt the weakest, remember the love your person gave you in life and let that be your strength. Let that love continue to give you strength even now. Just as love can endure all things, the strength our person gave us can endure all things.
Love inspires us, doesn’t it? Love inspires us to try new things, to feel new things, to believe new things. Maybe it was a parent who inspired you to try out for that team, or take that job, or go to college. Maybe it was a spouse who inspired new feelings deep inside of you. Maybe it was a child who inspired you to believe the unbelievable or inspired you to keep going when you weren't sure you could. Maybe it was a sibling or friend who inspired you to believe in yourself. Do you feel like that inspiration is gone now? Or do you still feel its spark flickering somewhere deep inside, like hot embers just waiting for a warm breath to blow over and reignite them? Just as love can endure all things, the inspiration that love lights in us can also endure all things.
Love imparts courage on us and even death can’t steal courage from us. the courage we were given by our loved one to stand in the face of adversity, to continue to fight when we didn’t feel like we could keep fighting, to achieve a dream that seemed impossible, to reach that goal

 that felt so out of reach. All of these things we were able to overcome because of the love of our person continue to be our courageous accomplishments even in their absence. And because of the love that they gave us in life, we can continue to overcome any obstacle with courage and achieve any dream with courage. The courage our loved one gave us can endure all things.
Love imparts joy on us, joy may be an emotion you don’t experience much or one you don’t feel like you may ever experience again. Can joy and grief even co-exist? They can and they do, joy and grief exist almost as a dance. Sometimes the dance is awkward and clumsy, other times it can be graceful and beautiful. Sometimes Joy is leading the dance, other times grief takes the lead, and occasionally neither partner knows the dance. sometimes the dance leaves us feeling energized other times it leaves us with an ache just as new dance shoes that weren’t properly broken in. And like any dance, the dance of grief and joy can take time to learn, but it’s not an impossible dance to learn. And as you continue to let your person’s love give you courage and strength, as you hold on to the memories that you created in love your heart will continue to learn the dance of joy and grief. The dance will become less awkward, the dance will become less painful, and you will find more often that joy is the leading partner.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1-8

This parable was shared at church on Sunday during a sermon on praying "in your time, in your way God," and I walked away a little broken and a little confused, wrestling with this notion of justice. I read the passage about those who cry out to God night and day and was immediately transported back to the week of July 11th, 2010, when I cried out night and day for days for the life of my baby, and my heart cries out "where was my justice?" In the deepest, darkest places of my soul I wanted to understand this justice and I couldn't. I wanted to comprehend the whats and the whys, where my story and my baby fit into this concept of justice, and I couldn't. I wanted to understand what justice means to a God whose son died on the cross to pardon my sins when I am so undeserving, yet allows such tragedy to fall through His hands and into my heart, but I couldn't. So I sat with my journal, and I sat with my feelings, and I sat with my God and I cried, in my misunderstanding and in my confusion, I cried for myself and I cried for my child and I cried for (what felt like) my injustice. And maybe I cried a little because I may never understand, because there is a part of my Abba's heart that I can't possibly comprehend, and maybe I cried because after all of these years I'm not done grieving and I might not be done asking questions. And I kept asking questions:

What do I know of justice?
What do I understand of your ways?
How can I comprehend your actions? 
How can I grasp your decisions?
How can I possibly understand why you do what you do?
But in your time God and in your way 
I will leave my questions at your feet.
Because you have called me deeper than my own understanding,
Deeper than my own control.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Your Holiday Bill of Rights

The holidays can be hard, especially if there is a child, or anyone really, missing from the picture, so here is your bill of rights for a healthy holiday season. Use these rights to put together a plan of how you will face this difficult time of year for the grieving. I cannot take credit for creating these "rights," it was done for my work newsletter, so I have altered a few to fit the needs of those grieving the loss of their babes through miscarriage or stillbirth.

1) you have the right to take care of yourself: to eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough rest.

2) you have the right to have mixed emotions: happy, sad, frustrated, angry, guilty, afraid, and thankful.

3) you have the right to cry when you are sad, smile when you are happy, and not feel guilty about either.

4) you have the right to say no to any holiday activities- to pace yourself differently. You also have the right to change your mind about a previous commitment.

5) you have the right to share your feelings, or not. You also have the right to choose who you share your feelings with and who you don’t.

6) you have the right to solitude: for planning, thinking, reflection, introspection, prayer, and relaxation.

7) you have the right to remember your baby in a meaningful way and incorporate him/her into your holiday plans and traditions.

8) you have the right to ask for help from friends, family, your church, or other group.

9) you have the right to follow old traditions or make up new ways of celebrating the holidays.

I hope this can help you alleviate a little stress and heart ache during the holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Beginning

The other day I felt rather sabotaged by my grief, I found myself amidst many thoughts I hadn't entertained for a long time, and even some new thoughts that just brought on an overwhelming sadness. Over the summer I began a career as a hospice nurse, my morning started with thoughts of joy at the course my life was taking, supporting grieving families both in my job and in a support group for miscarriage and still birth. I thought back to that tiny babe that I carried for seven weeks, how despite a short life she was able to shape so much of who I am. I thought of the way that her untimely and unexpected death by miscarriage taught me to grieve and support others in grief. I thought of how one of the most devastating events in my life had become one of the most important. I thought of the way that God used a tragic event to show how powerfully He can bring beauty from ashes. Very quickly, though, the peace I was feeling was snatched away, I became sad, I began to cry, I was filled with this grief over questions that I will probably never have the answers to, the one in the forefront of my mind "did she feel scared during her death?" In Hospice we have a policy that no one dies alone, and I began to think of this tiny babe inside of me who had no one to hold her hand as she died, no one to whisper words of comfort in her ear. As I allowed my heart to be consumed with the hopelessness of those thoughts, I was reminded by my Saviour, by Sparrow's Saviour, that she wasn't alone when she died, I was holding her, as I did every second of her life. I was also reminded that there was no fear in her death, I imagined her very simply falling to sleep and awakening in the glorious presence of her Heavenly Father, of her creator, of the one who ordained her very being and life. And I knew that there was no thick, overwhelming silence, that even though I couldn't whisper words of comfort, that she awoke to the songs of centuries of believers who had entered heaven's gates before her. As sad as I felt, and as much as I longed to hold that little girl, I knew that the hopelessness that I was feeling was a lie, that her death wasn't the end, it wasn't the end for her and it wasn't the end for me. For Sparrow, it was the beginning of an eternity spent in the presence of the one who held her entire life in His hands, and for me it was the beginning of a career, or rather a life, dedicated to holding the hands and hearts of the grieving.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's going to be okay

Today I heard a song that always takes me back to the week that I was waiting for the results of my HcG (to confirm or deny my miscarriage). The chorus has words that I imagined saying to the life growing inside of me; "Be strong in the Lord and, never give up hope. You're gonna do great things, I already know. God's got his hand on you so don't live life in fear, forgive and forget, but don't forget why you're here. Take your time and pray. These are the words I would say." As I sang along to these lyrics I had a peace that surpassed all understanding and I heard God whisper "it's going to be okay," and I felt like things were going to be okay. Unfortunately I received a call days later that everything was not okay, and I had even less understanding of that strange peace I felt days earlier. I counted it as a fluke, a desperate mother's final hope, even delusion because I wasn't okay, things weren't okay. It wasn't until today that I actually understood that peace, that I understood why God whispered those words "It's going to be okay." Four years ago it wasn't okay, I wasn't okay, and I couldn't see any way that things would be okay, but as I look back over those four years I can say that I am okay now. Don't get me wrong, not a day goes by that I don't think about my baby and wonder about life with her, but I can also look back and see the good in her very short life and death. I can look back over the last four years and see my own personal growth as a mom, as a Christian, as a nurse, and as a person in general. I can look back over the last four years and see the lives I have been able to speak into. I can look back over the last four years and see the compassion and understanding that I have gained for others. I can look back over the last four years and see the impact that one life, even one that never was, can have on others and the Kingdom of God. I can look back over the last four years and see that I am okay, and I know that the peace I was given on that day four years ago surpassed my understanding, but it did not surpass the understanding of my God who knew, even then, that it was going to be okay. I can look back over the last four years and see that God was faithful in fulfilling the promise that "it's going to be okay."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The tapestry of joy & grief

There is a strangeness about a day that should be a birthday, but isn’t; about a day that was the anticipation of a birth, but passed full of nothing more than heartache and grief; about a day that was meant for someone special, but that someone isn’t there. For the last three years this day has come and gone for me, and it is coming again, and it will go again, and there is a friction inside of me, a rubbing of grief and celebration, of sadness and joy, of sorrow and thankfulness. March sixth marks the day that I should have met my first child, that day never came for me and while that grieves me, I can't resist celebrating; celebrating that she existed, no matter how short that time was, celebrating the impact that she had on my life, and celebrating who I am because of her life and loss. Even so, on the other side of that celebration, comes the strangeness and the friction, the sadness of not having her here against the joy of knowing heaven is her home, of wondering what life and her birthday would be like had she been born that March day against the joy of knowing that her life has only known the perfection of living with her Heavenly Father, and of really not knowing what that day should look like. Should the day be solemn? should it be joyous? Do I let it pass like any other day? Do I mark it with something special? I am never quite sure what it "should" look like because I'm not sure there is an answer, I'm not sure someone can tell you how to spend the anniversary of the due date of your baby that didn't make it to her due date. Is it any wonder that the mother's heart feels so adrift in grief?  Getting lost under this tapestry that has been woven of grief and joy, never really knowing what you should do yet trying to follow the direction of a heart that has been broken. Ultimately that's what it comes down to, though, following your heart, whether that heart is in a million pieces, those pieces have been picked up, are in the process of being repaired, or have been put back together with a baby sized hole left in it. So as March sixth comes and March sixth goes for the third year in a row, I will rest in the tapestry that has been woven of my grief and joy and I will celebrate the life I carried even if that life isn't here to celebrate with me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year, or is it?

Last Monday I talked with several parents who are facing Christmas after the death of a child, the last few weeks I can't stop thinking about my Omi (grandma) who is facing her first Christmas without her eldest son, this weekend a young lady that I went to high school with lost her life after a long battle, days ago my husband's coworker suddenly died, today I walked past the emergency department at the hospital where my surgery center is located and heard the wail of a mother who just found out that her child died, my heart is heavy. I keep hearing songs touting this as the most wonderful time of the year, but I can't help thinking that for many it isn't. For many this season brings sadness, pain even, they can't find it in themselves to celebrate every snowflake and jingle bell, in fact some can barely find it in themselves to face the next day full of carols and shiny balls. There are many out there who are just praying that they can make it through this season with their heart and sanity intact, because there is only so much that egg nog and Christmas cookies can fix. When you look around your community or family gathering over the coming days, will you look past the tinsel and presents to find the broken hearts? Will you offer a hug, smile, card, greeting, listening ear, or compassion to someone who can't find the cheer in the season? Will you be the light that they can't see on their own?