Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heart on my Sleeve

The loss of a child is uniquely hard. I have heard one reason is because the natural order of things is for children to outlive their parents, not the other way around. I have been reading a book, After The Darkest Hour, the Sun will Shine Again by Elizabeth Mehren that is full of stories of parents and the loss of their dear children. It is a coping manual, but it doesn't offer much hope. Even earlier than the 20th century, when infant and child deaths were much more common than they are now, parents grieved with heavy hearts over their lost children. I say lost, because it is too difficult for me to say dead.

In a time when it was all too common for families to lose multiple children to disease or other causes, the mourning of parents was still especially painful. I believe this is because God knits parents, especially mothers, to their children in a special way. Jonah was the heart I wore on my sleeve. He was my heart beating outside of my body. This is necessary from a biological standpoint. Children wouldn't survive at all if it weren't for a loving caregiver. Even after the baby dies, the connection remains and the mother is left disoriented.

In the Bible, in Luke 15, Jesus tells the famous parable of the lost sheep. I know this parable is meant to illustrate God's joy in conversion, however it seems especially poignant to me right now. Even though I am so grateful for my three living children, my husband, my family and my friends, I pine for the lamb who is lost. It's hard for me to believe, but I am trying my hardest to believe my little lamb is in heaven with the Lamb of God.

I feel that soon I will be expected to move on. Please be patient with me. I tire of my pity party as well, but I am waiting patiently for strength, healing, and peace. I know I will always miss my baby, but I hope that a time comes when I can remember him fondly instead of achingly, and when I can enjoy other things without feeling that I have abandoned him.

If you pray, please pray for me this week. Night time is the hardest because that is when I would have been snuggled in bed nursing Jonah. If you think of it, whisper a short prayer for me as you lay your head down to sleep. Pray for my peace, for my guilt to be alleviated. Pray for me to find joy in my husband, delight in my other children. Pray for me to remember Jonah but with a lighter heart each day. Pray for my faith, that I don't lose it, that I act lovingly toward others, and that one day I will hold my sweet Jonah again. Please also pray for two undisclosed intentions I am hiding in my heart.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Books I am reading:
After the Darkest Hour the Sun will Shine Again
Safe in the Arms of God


  1. No one is expecting you to "move on" any time soon and no one is getting sick of your "pity party". You're not having one! I have an aunt who lost a 40-something son to cancer about 8 years ago. She shut down emotionally and has lived as a ghost ever since. She let the cancer kill her, too. That is not you. You are just grieving, feeling everything deeply and fully, processing, and even managing to maintain your connections by sharing it with us all. I think you are right where you need to be right now. The tone of your words gives me a very hopeful feeling for you. It might not seem very hopeful to you, the writer, but I hear honest words from a well-balanced mind and an abundant spirit.

  2. My dear friend, I am praying for you right now. I have thought about and prayed for you often. I ache to help you. You are not having a pity-party - you are grieving. It is natural to grieve and necessary part of the healing process. Even Jesus grieved for his friend, Lazarus. You shouldn't put a time-table on it.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions. Don't stop. We want to hear how you are doing so we can continue lifting you up in prayer.

  3. Ashley, anyone who "expects" you to move on - ever - needs to get over themselves. Every mourner is different, and I can't ever imagine a world where one would totally get over the loss (even for a friend, "dead" is too hard to say) of a child. You take every ounce of time that you need. You utilize every prayer, every offer of help and of hope, and every kind word that someone can give you. You will, once again, find joy in the amazing family you have, and you will, someday, be able to look fondly over those blessed 7 months that you had with your perfect little angel. But until then, keep reading, keep hoping, and keep knowing that we're there for you in every way we can be. I wish we could all take that pain away from you, but instead I'll offer a plethora of love and prayers and hope that for now, that will be enough. We love you.

  4. Ditto to what your friends said. We all grieve, but mourning is expressing that grief, I have learned. You are taking the little steps you need to. Take all the time you need and more.

  5. Ashley, I found you through the Faith and Family website, and I just want you to know that I continue to pray for you and your family multiple times a day. May God provide you with some healing to this terrible pain.

  6. Dear, Sweet Ashley,
    I wish I could hug you.
    I'm lifting you and your family up in prayer daily.
    Trust me, NO ONE expects you to "move on", please dont even give that a thought.
    We are mourning with you, my heart just aches and I pray you feel God's loving arms around you, especially at night.
    Hugs and Prayers,

  7. Ashley! "Move on" isn't what we do. Things change though. I lost an infant in 2009. After a few months, I'd say 3, I started to have more regular days, days where I didn't cry, days where I could go for big chunks thinking about something else. After about six months, I settled into the Forever Sad that I now find myself in. I'm sure I'll feel this way forever. But it's OK, really. I do all the things I used to do. God has apparently decided that she would be our last though, and that grieves me, oddly enough, much more harshly than her loss. I guess what I'm saying is: there's no set program. But this much is true: you WILL always have this backdrop of blue behind everything you do; and you WILL take joy in life again and have regular old days. I'll pray for you!