Friday, January 30, 2009

Growing through loss

A year ago in December our good friends suffered their second miscarriage. They stopped by our home so we could see them, and a discussion came about whether recurrent miscarriages was harder or if infertility - not getting pregnant at all - was harder.

We concluded they are both difficult. They are both losses. They are both painful roads to walk.

In the insightful and well-written book, "A Grace Disguised," Jerry Sittser (who suffered the devastating loss of his mother, wife and daughter in a single car accident) says, "We tend to qualify and compare suffering and loss. Loss is loss, whatever the circumstances. All losses are bad, only bad in different ways. No two losses are ever the same. Each loss stands on its own and inflicts a unique kind of pain. What value is there to quantifying and comparing losses? What good is qualifying loss? What good is comparing? The right question to ask is not, "Whose is worse?" It is to ask, "What meaning can be gained from suffering and how can we grow through suffering?"

Death is death. Loss is loss. Pain is pain.

It’s part of life. It just is.

If there is anyone reading this who doesn't believe miscarriage is a devastating loss, read a heart-wrenching story of loss, grief and pain here. You'll never question again the agony of losing a baby in utero.

At the end of my Beth Moore study from Tuesday, I underlined the following: "The life of a Christian is never about sameness. It's always about change. That's why we must learn to survive and once again thrive when change involves heartbreaking loss. We're being conformed to the image of Christ. When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses it with a nail-scarred hand."

I love that. Life is about change and change involves loss. So why in our culture do we have such a hard time with grief, loss, death?

Death makes people uncomfortable and awkward. But death is as natural part of life as birth. We all are born. We all die.

For those that accept this reality, it might still be difficult to accept that the cycle of life and death doesn’t always happen like it should: the older die and the younger grow up, live and then die.

We all know it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes the young never grow up. In fact, sometimes the young are never even born.

We avert our eyes when we hear stories of death. We want to change the subject. We want to offer some sort of reason or answer for the tragedy. We want to say something to make the person feel better.

What we need to do is encourage them to grieve. We need to encourage them to mourn. We need to walk beside them in their grief and allow them to process their pain – in their time and their way. We need to remind others in their time of loss and pain what Jesus promises us: blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

I have learned it is healthy to mourn. It is necessary to grieve. It is good for my heart and soul. Even now, 2 1/2 years after my first loss, it is good for me to recognize and ponder the loss we suffered with our first baby. I take heart that I am promised comfort when I mourn.

I am thankful for these wise words from Jerry Sittser that give me hope for the future: "The experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us."


JellyBelly said...

although i've never experienced a miscarriage, i often think that i would rather never get pregnant than go through losing a baby. getting my period month after month is something i'm used to. at this point in our TTC journey i know that i couldn't handle it mentally and emotionally.

god bless you and your angels in heaven, and especially bless your little samuel.

Anonymous said...

What an incredibly sad story about miscarriage and loss. (I hope no one walks by my cubicle to see me crying)

My struggle has been one of not being able to get pregnant at all. I once told my husband that I think it's harder to not get pregnant at all. At least if I got pregnant and miscarried, I would know I COULD get pregnant. I even told my husband that I would accept a miscarriage, and be happy just to know that we can conceive.

You've taught me a very important lesson. Loss is loss. I wish that
no one had to endure either scenario. It doesn't make any sense to try to compare. We are all dealing with different situations and different circumstances, and let's be honest, they are ALL hard. Thank you for that lesson. :-D

Stacey said...

Thank you for this lesson. That last quote is... wow.

As someone who has experienced miscarriage many times over, I needed to hear someone else say that it's ok to grieve. I know that those lives meant something, but it is an entirely different thing to have someone else say that they did, and that feeling sad over the loss is ok. It is a devastating thing to go through. One thing I've learned is that hearing "at least you know you can get pregnant" is no consolation at all. Yes, I've gotten pregnant, but I've mourned the deaths of six children and I'm still not a mother today.

Anyway, thanks for stating that loss is loss. My heart goes out to those who have had miscarriages and to those who have been unable to get pregnant.

I love this blog! You are a blessing.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

I wrote a post about this topic a while back:

But you're absolutely right in that loss is loss and pain is pain. I do think that the pain of a m/c or abortion is probably the most devastating thing a woman could go through, whether she realizes it's a life inside her or not. I pray for your angels, and all the angels of m/c and abortion nightly.
(BTW, I cried when I read your other post about your DH getting to heaven and calling out those 2 names. OMG! How beautiful!)