Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thoughts on Grief

(All images courtesy of

Several sweet mommas close to me have had to bury their babies, some very recently.

This is absolutely the most heartbreaking thing any mother could ever have to go through. There simply are no words to express that soul-crushing, rip your heart out of your chest while you're alive, kind of pain. Pain that is not physical, yet takes the breath out of your lungs and squeezes the life out of every fiber of your being.

I wanted to share a few short thoughts from my limited experience. I don't know the level of grief that other moms have suffered. 

I have never lost a child after birth, nor had a full-term stillborn baby. My worst loss has been that of Jachin, Boaz' twin brother, who died midway through their pregnancy. I carried him until Boaz was full term and ready to be born. Jachin was born first. He was perfectly developed, just a tiny version of his brother. We buried him at a local cemetery, and visit his grave on the boys' birthday every year. As hard as it was, I don't think it begins to compare to the loss of a child after birth, or a stillborn baby at term. My loss was further alleviated by the fact that I did get to keep Boaz, and had his little life to carry me through the worst of it. 

These are my thoughts from my limited experience. Maybe they will help someone just setting out down the road of grief, which does not end until it reaches Heaven. 

Grief is inescapable 

Grief, by definition, is painful. As humans, we seek to avoid pain at all cost. The pain of grief is inescapable. It will not go away if you ignore it. 

The extent to which you loved will determine the level of your pain. It has been said that only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow. This same necessity of loving serves to counteract the grief and eventually brings healing. 

Give yourself permission to grieve. Don't deny the pain, grit your teeth, and hold on. It WILL get better. The pain will subside, and you will survive. All of us can endure heartache far beyond what we think ourselves capable of.  

Grief is unpredictable

Like ocean waves, grief will come and go. At first, the waves will be beating on shore in a violent storm, threatening to drown you. You'll struggle, struggle on. Eventually, your head will be back above the water. With time, the waves will settle down. They might even fall into a predictable pattern, such as learning to expect bigger waves when certain dates pass that force us to remember. But grief will always remain unpredictable. A sudden wave can wash over you out of nowhere, on an otherwise perfectly nice day. Something small, unpredictable, unavoidable will jog your memory and - bam! - you are spluttering and gasping for air once more. This is normal. When it happens, stop, and go back to square one of allowing yourself to feel the grief, so you can then let it go.

Grief is unique

No two people grieve in the same way. Others might grieve very differently from yourself, or even appear to not be grieving at all. That is for them, and your grief is for you. Do not expect others to grieve, or to express their grief in the same way as you. To do so is to set yourself up for hurt feelings and misunderstandings. I believe this point to be the main reason behind the marital disruption that unfortunately so often follows the death of a child. 

Grief is lonely

Because grief is unique, it is also lonely. How could you begin to explain your loss to someone who has never experienced the same? How do you talk to the one who also experienced it, but grieves differently? Grief is lonely, but it does not have to divide. God does know, and he does understand. Oh what comfort to know that we can always go to Him!

Grief does not travel alone

While grief will seek to make you lonely, grief itself does not travel alone. You will become well acquainted with grief's companion - guilt. This is as irrational as it is universal. Moms especially will blame themselves, no matter how unreasonable and unfair that is. Grief is inevitable, but don't allow guilt to set up residence. 

Also with grief travel two questions: "Why" and "What if ...?" To these, there are no answers. Only God knows. And if He who promised to love us like a Father allowed this loss in our life, then there must be some purpose in it, impossible though it seems. We do not understand now, but one day we will.

Grief is a luxury

There is the loss of a loved one, and then there is the loss of what dies inside those left behind, while they continue to live. It does not matter what agony of soul you are in, the rest of life will soon ceaselessly, mercilessly, march on. Even on the darkest days, the kids still need to eat, and life's many mundane responsibilities like paying bills and washing laundry, still come knocking every day. You may feel like having a long cry in peace and quiet, while your toddler follows you around chattering and demanding you read his favorite book - again. You will learn to value those short times when you are allowed to indulge your grief, and give in to feeling the pain. With time, you can learn to think of grief as sitting on a mental shelf - you can take it down when you are able to indulge in the luxury of it, and then put it back on the shelf when life's duties are calling. Always within sight, always within reach, but a luxury to be handled. 


We can accept the idea of our own death, but to accept the death of a loved one, especially a child, is almost impossible. It takes the kind of grace that can only come from God, slowly, over time. Little drops of healing, not on a wound, but an amputation. Something we will have to live without for the rest of our lives, always keenly aware of the loss, but eventually, hopefully, learning to work around it. Never complete, but functioning once again. 

You can never completely get over the loss of a loved one. But in a way, this is good news - in remembering, they live on in our hearts, even if the memories are painful. 

As Christians, our greatest joy is the assurance that one day, we will all be together in Heaven, never to die or suffer again. 

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:55-57

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14