17 April 2015

When A Baby Passes


(from Danny)

I just learned of a friend's loss. A baby was born, and a short time later passed. There was hope and anticipation...now there is loss. Friends and family are coming together to support, to help, to strengthen, to love. My guess is loving and kind words are being sent far and wide from any who know or hear.

But oh how a heart breaks.

Oh how the heart breaks for those who must bear the heaviest burden, for those who must lay a child, and all the dreams and hopes and expectations, to rest.

Hearing of this loss brought an immediate wave of compassion and love (and with it a sincere prayer). It also brought to mind my own moments of loss -- moments where I too needed to lay to rest dreams and expectations -- moments of loss that to this day bring to mind a deep gratitude for the outpouring of love and beauty and support Mara and I received and experienced.

I remember all the anticipation that surrounded our first IVF. In some ways, despite knowing that life doesn't work this way, it felt like it was just bound to succeed. I almost couldn't help but think "how could it not?" Would not heaven and earth see the love between me and Mara and come together in our favor? Would not the love and support of family and friends and so many dear readers just HAVE to culminate in the joy of a successful pregnancy? After previous losses and challenges, is it not time for everything that is "good" to be fully restored?  But like I said, that's not really how life works.

So often we are tempted to define "good" in life in the vocabulary of circumstance. This was one of those times where it was reinforced that truly "good things" transcend circumstance and situation and outcome.

I still look back on the evening Mara and I learned our first IVF failed as one of the most beautiful moments of our marriage and of my life. I wrote a little bit about it here. (I'd chosen to post this two days before we got the news to remind myself of how I wanted to approach life in the event of an unfortunate outcome). It was one of those times when despite the loss, or perhaps because of it, you move deeply into the territory of LOVE, rejuvenating and invigorating Love. It was so tangible, so powerful and healing that night, that I couldn't help but document it by snapping a little picture of my smiling wife and writing it all out, in part because I knew it would be hard to believe later that so much peace and acceptance had been felt on such a difficult day.

We felt so incredibly supported by those whose hopes and dreams were caught up in our own -- family, friends, co-workers, and so many dear readers. For some reason, I still remember that night as a celebration. Receiving Love and giving Love during moments like that can change the way you experience even the most difficult moments of life.

I hope all who suffer loss will be the recipients of Love. May each of us remember to give love to those going through something difficult.

Can you recall a time when the love around you helped you get through something difficult? Is there anything specific someone did that really reached through to you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
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11 comments:

  1. Hello, I am a NICU nurse and have shared sorrow too often with families. Having experience with loss of a baby of my own, painful years of infertility, being there for parents of a dying infant, and birthing my children as well as partaking in the births of many other babies, I share the following: HOPE, you gotta have hope. PATIENCE, some would say their faith was contributing, some don't believe, either case, patience to know that you are not in control and some things happen in their own time. LOVE, this trumps all. I felt this in many hospital rooms, in the words of so many fathers and mothers, in the hugs of coworkers, and in my personal life. Honestly, it is really all we need.

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  2. 21 months ago, I had stillbirth at 39 weeks gestation. The shock of it was the worst, not even being able to consider it as an option, there was no preparation for that moment finding out that all those expectations were lost. At first is was sheer remembrance of God's love that got us through. Remembering that helped us decide which path to follow with our grief. We were able to especially experience the love of God through others. Many fed us and helped with burial costs. Others who felt prompted to physically be with us used their time with us wisely. Instead of trying to fix us or help us heal with positive words, they asked thoughtful questions (i.e. not "how are you doing?" but rather, "what have you been doing lately that helps? when is it hardest?"). These questions helped them to know how to best help us. Nighttime was hardest for me and little texts from friends to let me know they were thinking of me was wonderful. I had a friend who would stick flowers in my mailbox once the sympathy cards stopped coming as often. Little, thoughtful kind acts made all the difference.

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  3. SMILE is the only thing or the only word that comes in my mind after reading your blog...i have no other words to say to you...but only this KEEP SIMILING...becoz a smile can make wonders...a smile on your face would lighten up the whole world around you and around everyone else who's close to you...smile from your heart...

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  4. In the vein of helping people get through hard things, I hope it's OK if I throw this out there for anyone who is inspired to weigh in on whether or not I should follow through with something:

    I work in a tax office, and a few months ago I met a senior citizen named Fred when he came in to drop off his tax documents. We spent a few minutes going over his paperwork, but then he changed the topic to his late wife who passed away two years ago. He spent a good 20 minutes talking about her and how hard her death has been on him. By the end of this, his eyes welled up with tears and he said "I can't believe she's never coming back." Broke my heart. A few days later, I was reading Man's Search for Meaning, and came across an excerpt that applied so perfectly to Fred's situation (about a man who had not been able to overcome the death of his wife who had died two years before - TWO years - just like Fred's wife!). Ever since I stumbled upon that excerpt, I have been wanting to mail Fred a copy of the book. However, I'm not sure if that would come across as intrusive seeing as we aren't friends or even acquaintances. I think I would do it anonymously. I don't wan't to invade his privacy, but seeing as he freely talked to me about his wife for so long, I'm thinking he might welcome a bit of comfort from a stranger ….

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    1. Please send the book. I lost my Daughter to cancer almost 4 years ago. You will be doing a wonderful thing in reaching out to him when so many avoid and run the other way from people's grief. Bless you.

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    2. I love that part in the book. I say send it :)

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    3. OK, you guys have convinced me—I will send Fred the book :) Anonymous, (the one that posted at 7:39 AM), for some reason I'm not getting an option to reply to your reply. Your comment really moved me. I'm so sorry to hear you lost your daughter. While it sounds like some people were afraid to stand with you in your grief, I hope that there were others that "stood in the center of the fire with you and did not shrink back" (in the paraphrased words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer). Sending love from Naches, WA —Christina

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  5. Please do it. Not anonymously. Just include a note telling him the conversation moved you and how you stumbled onto the passage right after and thought of him.

    Sometimes it's easier to open up to strangers... maybe that's why he shared that with you. Or maybe he has no one to talk to.

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    1. I kind of agree with this. Oftentimes the simple act of voicing that you continued to think about and care for someone is the very thing that makes them receptive and grateful.

      I wish I was able to respond to every single blog reader that writes an email, and that every single time they come to my mind a week, a month, or a year later, I wrote to them to tell them so.

      The times that I've done exactly that have often resulted in the deepest and most meaningful connections.

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    2. Yes, I think you might be right, Rebecca. Fred did mention that his daughter lives on the other side of the state and misses her dearly. I'm sending the book!

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