Weeping at night, joy in the morning

by Heather Walton

May 20 passed without me realizing it. How did it happen? I did think about it that day, but I didn’t make the connection that it was an anniversary.

Three years ago, on May 20, I had life-saving surgery for me, and life-ending surgery for my precious little one. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and was hemorrhaging. It was such a difficult thing to go through, such a loss. The grief that followed was thick, intense, pervasive, and destructive.

Yet here I am. Life has gone on. Life has been good, fruitful, purposeful, and even joyful. A big part of that is that God granted us our rainbow baby, Emma Noelle, who is 17 months old now.

On May 20 this year, I shared a story during a special song service at church. One of the songs was Because He Lives. I related how that song had been sung in church the week after we lost our baby. The second verse goes like this:

How sweet to hold our newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives

For many months to follow, I could not sing that song without crying tears of sadness and loss. But now, by God’s grace, I can sing that song. I still cry at times, but the tears are different. As I sing, “How sweet to hold our newborn baby and feel the pride and joy she gives,” I feel bittersweet tears of loss overpowered by tears of gratitude that the Creator has given us a second chance at parenting.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NLT)

Holidays have a gift for the grieving

By Heather Walton

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am gong there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place I am going.” John 14: 1-4

Christmas Tree 2015

 

It’s almost Christmas—the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, for many people, this is a time when grief is highlighted. That special loved one is conspicuously absent in the midst of all the cheer. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without someone special, or perhaps it’s one in a string of many, but that may not lessen the pain. Whether the loved one was lost through death or a falling out, whether that loved one was human or a furry friend, whether a child had been born, unborn, or maybe just longed for, the holiday season can be less merry for you than for those around you.

A few Christmases ago I had just started going through the divorce process, and my kids had to leave to be with their dad’s side of the family at 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Some family and good friends invited me over, because they didn’t want me to be alone. It was so nice of them to include me, but I remember just being miserable and wanting to go home. Here I was, hanging out with families, but I was all alone. I really wasn’t in the Christmas spirit that year, and I was relieved when New Year’s came and went.

 

This year is not like that one for me. This year I am very happily married and I’m looking forward to Christmas. But there is still the heaviness of grief as my would-have-been due date approaches in early January. Honestly, I’m tired of grieving. I keep thinking I’ve turned a corner. But as I wrapped a baby gift for a friend this morning, the heaviness returned. This time of year, there is much to remind me that our baby is gone. We are celebrating the Savior’s birth, and there are a lot of songs about the “Baby” Jesus. Our little girl’s middle name would have been Noelle, and Noel is a popular word at Christmas.

 

But in both of these situations, and in anyone’s situation during a time of grief, the above Scriptures, which I read this morning in my Bible study, apply. In John 14, Jesus was addressing His disciples at the last supper, after He had told them that He would be betrayed and that He was going someplace where they couldn’t follow. Jesus comforted them, telling them that they should trust in Him and that He was going away to prepare a place for them.

 

Heaven is the place to which He referred. In heaven, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there is no death, no divorce, no disease, no miscarriage, no ectopic pregnancy, no separation, no falling out, no sadness, no anger, no bitterness, no grief. In heaven, we will be reunited with many of the loved ones we have lost if they were followers of Christ or if they were children. In heaven, we will not feel the pain of separation or loss. The heaviness I feel over the loss of a child, the loneliness I felt over the loss of a marriage, and whatever grief you may feel over your losses will simply not be there anymore.

 

Jesus has asked us to trust Him on this. Since I have trusted Him with my life and my eternity, this really isn’t asking too much. And just because I choose to trust Him on this, that doesn’t mean that the heaviness is gone.

 

And even if this Christmas is hard for you because you have lost someone precious to you, remember that without Christmas, there would be no Easter. And Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is what makes eternal life possible for us and for our loved ones. Without Christmas, there would be no hope to recover our losses or to heal from them. Even through great trials and grief, Christmas is a gift.

Dear Jellybean: In Honor of My Children in Heaven on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

1 in 4 is not statisticDear Jellybean,

It’s been five months since we lost you. We are not even at your due date yet, and I suspect the grief I feel is going to intensify as we approach the first week of January, when you were due. Usually when people grieve, the grief diminishes over time, but when a person loses an unborn child, I think that the grief has to get worse as the due date approaches, and then perhaps it can become less intense. I really won’t know how that goes for me for awhile.

Even though it’s been five months, losing you is still fresh. In July, you were joined by your younger sibling, and that was heartbreaking for us as well. You got to welcome that child into heaven, and someday you will welcome your daddy and me too. In the meantime, I believe Abba has called me to share our story here, to help others who are grieving the loss of their babies. God has promised to work everything for good, and this is one of the ways He’s doing that. If our sadness can be used to help others grow closer to God, then I will be grateful that it hasn’t been for nothing.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, the first one I’ve “celebrated.” I never even knew such a day existed before. But I’m glad that President Reagan and others thought that it was important to celebrate the lives of those who never got a chance to be born, or who died soon after birth. It really is important to do that, because their lives matter, and your life matters, my sweet child, and your younger sibling’s life matters. I say that in the present tense–not the past tense–because you’re really more alive than I am or that any of us on earth are, because you are in the world God created us for. We think we see clearly here on earth, but we really live in the Shadowlands, as the Apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis referred to this world.

I’ll be honest and tell you that, for a few months, I really tried my best to forget. I would never want to forget my own child, but really, it was just too painful to remember. So I got really busy with other things. I didn’t do it on purpose, but deep down, I knew what I was doing. I think a lot of people do that. And, really, I don’t have any memories of you, aside from the effect you had on my body and one ultrasound image that only exists in my mind, since we never got any printouts. I remember finding out I was pregnant. I remember telling Daddy. I remember him praying for you, talking to you, and kissing my tummy each day. We had only a few short weeks when we actually knew you existed, before the devastating news came that you would never be born in this world.

It’s going to be okay though. We know that we will get to be with you for eternity. We don’t ever have to question whether you will spend your eternity with Jesus. Though living without you seems like a tragedy, it’s really a tragedy for Christian parents to spend eternity without their children, because they chose to live a life contrary to their parents’ faith. We don’t have to worry about that with you, though, and for that we can be thankful.

One of these days, we will be there with you. Until then, know that we love you.

Love,

Mommy

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