When Grief Wells Up

There I was, listening to two first graders give a family presentation in front of their classmates when out of the blue, grief smacked me hard in the belly.  During their presentation, the girls shared that they had been born in 2013. Just like that, I was transported back in time, to a miscarriage I experienced that year. Incredulously, I realized that my baby would now be in kindergarten.  He or she could be giving a class presentation. Grief is funny like that. It comes in waves unexpectedly and reels us backwards into the past, allowing old feelings and sometimes tears to spring to the surface at the most inconvenient times.

I had a similar experience a few weeks ago while at an OB/GYN appointment. I was left in the examination room waiting for the doctor when, from the room next door, I heard the familiar whooshing, horse-beat sounds of a baby’s heartbeat.  Again, I felt emotions normally buried come rising to the surface with memories of the last time I heard a heart beat monitor…

I was at my first prenatal exam, and it was a routine ultrasound.  I had given birth to healthy babies three times, and there was no reason to expect that this fourth pregnancy would not be the same… …until I heard the heartbeat.  It was strong. It was steady, but it sounded unnaturally slow. I looked at the ultrasound technician, who agreed that it was slower than it should be. I was then ushered in to see the midwife, who was not gentle about preparing me for the worst.  Very little hope was offered. I was scheduled to return in a week for a follow-up ultrasound.

You can imagine what an awful week I had.  I left the appointment hysterically crying into my phone, telling my husband the news.  Over the following week, I felt every emotion possible: from hope, to gratitude, to sadness, to despair, to fear, to anger, and back again.  Mother’s Day happened to fall in the middle of that week, which definitely did not help matters.

Finally, I returned for my follow up appointment, this time bringing my husband for support.  There was no heartbeat. There were no longer any signs of life in the same womb, where the week before, I had seen my child and heard her heartbeat.

We were crushed. We grieved.  We cried. We explained the best we could to our children. We wrote a letter to our unborn baby, and packed her ultrasound pictures and the letters away. 

Soon, we began to prepare for a new future: one in which new life would come to our home through foster care and adoption. Hope was ushered in. Life continued.  New life was celebrated. Gratitude was felt.

Still, I think about the baby I lost.  I think about her when I think about heaven.  What will it be like to meet? I think about her at Christmas, because her due date was Christmas Eve.  I think about her when other friends are having babies. I do not grieve as one who has no hope. It isn’t something I think about every day, but it is imprinted on my soul. The Lord taught me much about His comfort through my loss.

So, for those of you who have also lost a baby, know that you are not alone. We are the 1 in 4.  Grieve. Tell your story. Reach out. It’s a grief that not enough people talk about, but many have experienced.  It is a grief that can be triggered unexpectedly and will touch your soul forever. May you be comforted by a Savior who counts every tear, and who loves your baby as much as you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

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The Art of Losing: An Interview with Marti Ahlman

In this podcast episode my guest, Marti Ahlman, eloquently recounts her experiences of grief and loss. She shares how the Lord has provided for and sustained her through each loss: from losing material possessions, to the loss of her husband. As a retired English teacher, Marti appreciates fine literature, and she uses the poem, One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop to illustrate her experience.

Marti Ahlman wears many hats: Daughter, Caregiver, Mother, and Grandmother

Marti shares about how through each loss she has encountered, she found the Lord faithful to provide for everything she needed: from food, to clothes, to a place to live. She also talks about relationships in which she was cared for during seasons of loss.

In the episode, Marti expressed that one book she appreciates is Hinds Feet on High Places, because it makes sense of the different seasons of life. More than any other book, however, she has found the Bible to be the book that she returns to and meditates on.

Scripture passages that she mentions in this podcast include:

  • Psalm 23 – which became literal for her, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and living beside still waters.
  • Philippians 3: 7-9 – counting everything as loss for the sake of Christ
  • John 15 – the painful pruning process of suffering and the fruit it produces
  • II Corinthians 4: 17 – affliction preparing us for an eternal weight of glory

If something you heard in today’s podcast resonated with you, please comment below, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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