Comforting those who mourn

It is difficult to know how to comfort someone in the midst of grief. I have been there many times, at loss for what to say to a friend who has lost a father or a mother or a child. Particularly if you have not experienced this particular grief, if you have a healthy father or mother or children, it can feel like walking on eggshells. What if you say something wrong? Would the affected party rather you leave them alone? Does your attempted comfort only make them uncomfortable?

Now that we are sitting in our own grief, I am realizing that while advice is rarely needed, love is always comforting. I have treasured the texts and emails from friends who are just checking in on me to see how I am doing, or just wanting to say that they love me and are thinking about me. They have offered  no advice, just their love and presence. They have been willing to cry with me or joke with me depending on my mood. And it has meant so much.

With the texts and emails came gifts and cards. I wish I had taken a picture of all of them, because each one has been so meaningful. Here are the ones I did photograph:

20140227-133009.jpg

These flowers came after we thought we lost the baby the first time (before the miraculous heartbeat). They were so beautiful, and they helped fill our house with life when all we felt was death.

 

20140227-132733.jpg

This beautiful necklace came from a group of my closest friends. We know each other through a message board, and I have only met a handful of them in person.  But they have walked with me through our entire journey, and they were the first ones I told about our pregnancy. They nicknamed our baby “blueberry” once she reached that size, and this necklace was given to me by them when she was still alive but her days were tenuous.

 

2014-02-27 17.37.29

This was recently sent by a couple who walked a similar path as ours for many years. It was given to her during their years of infertility (they now have a beautiful baby boy) and she wore it every day for comfort. The bracelet is stamped with, “Your sorrow shall be turned to joy. John 16:20”.  It has already brought me comfort, and I hope to pass it on to someone else one day.

I treasure these gifts, and all the others. The baby gifts given in hope, the cards chosen with care, the fresh-baked bread to ease my nausea, the pictures of cute animals to make me smile; every gift has been precious, and every word has been savored. I know it is hard to know what to say, but thank you for trying. Thank you for being sensitive yet intentional. You have reminded me that when I see others grieving, I should not hold back, and that words of love and hope are never unnecessary. Thank you for reminding us every day that we do not walk alone. 

Comfort from furry creatures

The weeks when I am the most broken are the weeks when these dogs spend the most time letting me know I am loved.

2014-02-22 12.56.03

Gracie, snuggled on my lap while I read.

 

2014-02-22 12.59.14

Riley on my lap, after he pushed Gracie off. This is his MY TURN face.

It has been the kind of week when the griefs sets in. Nobody told me that when you lose a baby, your body takes weeks to accept it, clinging to the hormones like it clings to the grief. I have spent years looking at cheap pregnancy test strips, wishing for a second pink line. Now all I see is pink, and I want white. I never, ever thought I would be in a place like this.

And so it is a week in which the faithfulness of a dog means so much.

2014-02-21 21.49.30-2

The mornings have been hard, because I am so much sleepier now that I’m not pregnant. Most women are exhausted while pregnant, but the hormones were wonderful to me and made me feel energized. I woke up before my alarm each morning and pulled Gracie close, snuggling with her until we had to get up.

I can’t do that anymore, and I’m back to being jarred awake by my alarm at 5:45. But after I groggily get up and stumble to make coffee and get settled on the couch for my Jesus time, Gracie snuggles in on the couch cushion behind me.

2014-02-23 08.59.52

Or she lets me pull her close while I read, snuggling under the blankets on my lap and resting her head against my fuzzy red robe.

2014-02-18 06.28.28-1

I love how they love me, and I’m so thankful for these sweet creatures. Every day is a good day for them, as long as I am in it. And that sweet, innocent faithful love makes everything better.

2014-02-23 09.42.04

Beauty to bless the world

Photo Credit: K2D2vaca via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: K2D2vaca via Compfight cc

I started this blog because I knew that writing out the things of my heart puts me in a better place. I’m not great at writing in a journal; I keep one, but mainly for scripture references and scraps of prayers and thoughts. Writing for an audience, whether it be 5 or 1000, forces me to formulate my thoughts more clearly. I can’t just word vomit and hit publish. I have to do the work of evaluating my thoughts over and over again until they start to make sense.

Suffering can make you forgetful. And at times like this, I would not remember dwelling upon God’s creativity or visiting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane if I hadn’t typed it out here. The other night, a friend asked me what has helped me the most these past few weeks, and I knew what to tell her because I remembered writing about it. And just this morning, I was driving to the fertility clinic to get blood drawn, and I felt lost in the senselessness of our pain. And then I remembered, God will create good out of this. He did not cause the bad, but he will create the good. And the loss of our baby(s) will be used for our good and for the good of the world. Writing these things out etched them in my heart. 

My friend Kari is one of the wisest women I know, and she said once that she doesn’t believe there is meaning in suffering, but she believes this is where we are co-creators with God. We make meaning out of our suffering with God, make it into something beautiful. I love this thought so much. Not only is God hovering over the chaos in my soul and creating light from the darkness, but he is asking me to take his hand so we can do it together.

It feels a little blasphemous, this idea of partnering with God. Almost as blasphemous as God becoming man, calling his followers friends, washing their feet, and telling them they will do even greater things than he did. The God who subjected himself to the violence of our broken world has risen from the dead, and he raises us up with him to create good from the brokenness. It is the beauty of the cross. The beauty of a creative God. The beauty of resurrection.

I don’t know how my pain will be used for good or what kind of meaning will come out of it. But I know that God and I can do it together. And I pray that those who read this would know that you, too, can partner with him to make meaning out of your pain. It’s what we get when we have a God who stoops down to make us great.  You work in the dirt together and make something beautiful. And then you use that beauty to bless the world.