Today I’m privileged to feature a post by Erica McNeal.
Ever since I wrote “Learning from Michelle Duggar”, I’ve come to recognize that there needs to be voices for the many women and men who struggle through the silent grief of miscarriages and still births. I’ve come to realize that for many it’s hard to share for fear that no one will listen; after all — as I’ve heard too many times — “it’s no big deal … it’s just a miscarriage”.
It’s even harder to mourn in that loneliness; but it needs to be done. The pain and grief needs to be vocalized. That’s why I’m so glad that there’s people like Erica who are both sharing and mourning. Thank you, Erica. We need your voice!
As I sat in the church pew yesterday, there were little babies all over the place. Two to my left, two to my right, two behind me and one in front of me.
I thought of Kylie.
As the music played, I fought my tears.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement and saw two little girls, playing with their brother. Two little girls and a boy… what could have been…
I looked up at the lighted cross in hopes of distracting myself.
I thought of a concert my husband and I went to as Steven Curtis Chapman bravely sang, “Cinderella”; the very song he had written for his own daughter before her tragic death. My husband had looked up at a similar cross in hopes of distracting himself from the emotion of this song. But, instead, when he saw the cross that day, he envisioned Jesus holding our little girl.
This is what the cross reminded me of today. And, the tears began to form.
At the exact same time when I thought about how empty my arms felt and how much my heart ached, my husband handed me a seven-month old baby girl to hold for our friend who needed a hand.
“How Great is Our God” began to play. The very song that kept me on my feet after our failed adoption of JT, and the song that became our adopted son’s namesake.
Tears flowed as I snuggled this sweet little girl. What a beautiful moment and gift from God.
Those of us that experience the loss of a child don’t just grieve their death. We grieve the broken hopes and dreams we had for our child and our family. We grieve all of the moments that will never be. We grieve the empty crib, the clothes that may never be worn, and the toys that may never be played with. We grieve the day we will never walk our daughter down the aisle, or watch our son hit his first baseball. We grieve the empty void that lives on and remains in our family. It is an ongoing, silent grief, that comes without warning every time we realize that another dream or hope has been crushed.
Our grief journeys through jealousy of others to bittersweet joy; from gut-wrenching heartache, to helping those who have experienced a similar tragedy. And yet, our journey is highly unpredictable and deeply personal. We often grieve silently so as not to make others feel uncomfortable or awkward. We take deep sighs, ponder our thoughts for a moment, and press forward, hoping that the tears we shed are not too obvious. Because, in reality, our grief really has nothing to do with other people, and what they do or don’t have.
Our grief is about what we wish we could still hold, and talk to, and hug, and snuggle, instead of what is solely imprinted in our hearts and minds.
I find HOPE in a Redemptive Savior whose own silent Suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane caused Him to sweat drops of blood. He’s been there!
He understands a silent grief more intense than I will ever know.
And this fills me with COMFORT knowing that my deepest sighs and silent tears will never go unnoticed by God!
(Psalm 139:1-22, 2 Kings 20:5)
ERICA’S BIO: Erica McNeal is a three-time cancer survivor, who has also experienced the loss of five children, two of which she held in her arms. She is the author of Good Grief!, a resource guide that stands in the gap between people who are hurting that don’t know what they need, and their loved ones who have no idea how to help. Erica has also shared her life experiences as a guest speaker in ten different states to churches, women’s groups, and military leadership groups.
Erica’s vision is to challenge the Christian line that states God will not give us more than we can handle because she believes that God will allow us to be stretched beyond our human capabilities in order to show us our need for Him, to deepen our faith, and to show us that HIS strength is limitless!