How do You “Return to Happiness” after Losing a Child?
Part of my life involves sitting with hurting people, walking alongside them in their pain, and hearing their stories. It’s impossible to gauge how much one group of people’s pain might weigh against another’s because grief is very personal. I can say that in my experience, sitting with women who have lost a child, miscarried or had a stillbirth, is sitting with one of the deepest griefs I can imagine.
There are so many questions that come up for the bereaved in this situation: Did I do something wrong? Did I eat the wrong thing? Why is everyone else I know able to carry a baby to term? Why is God…? Where is God…? The questions are endless.
When I miscarried our second baby at eleven weeks, it was more than just a “fetus” that I had to grieve. I had already sensed that my baby was a girl. I had already thought of her as Julia. I had hopes and dreams for our little child. She was to be my oldest daughter, Sarah’s, best friend; her lifelong ally. All those hopes and dreams had to be grieved along with the tissue I passed into a jar one lonely night. Losing a baby makes you doubt your ability to have another and the experience colors the next pregnancy with anxiety and fear.
It’s hard to find words when someone you know is grieving the loss of a child. Our society expects us to brush it off, and get on with our lives. That is why I wanted to take time out from my usual spiritual formation blogging in order to tell you about the book a friend just wrote. It’s called, The Return to Happiness by Ami Cross.
Ami is an artist. She writes poetry and her husband is a painter. Together they have walked through some of the most devastating child losses you can imagine. Because she is an artist, she is able to put words to the experience of losing a baby. She uses poetry, telling parts of the story through her unborn daughter’s eyes, and her own gut wrenching honesty to put you in her story and bring you from devastation to hope. Ami’s story is not perfect. She grieved in healthy and unhealthy ways. I’m glad for her honesty about that. Her book is raw and it is real, and it will help those you know who are grieving.
People often ask me how to move forward after the loss of a little one. I suggest a ritual of some kind to mark the passing. You can name the baby, even if you’re not sure if it was a boy or girl. You can release balloons or write your baby a letter. Write out all your hopes and dreams and bury them under a tree or rosebush you plant in their honor. People who have not grieved this particular loss will not know how to help, so you will need to help yourself or reach out to others who have lost a child.
Have you ever lost a baby? Here is a space to honor those little ones that live in the care of the good shepherd until we are reunited.
I honor you little Julia.