On Grief

“We live in the broken place, in an earth bruised and blackened with grief, yet still pulsing with the beauty that began it. Brightness is all about us, light and love, music and friendship, an air that fills the lungs of our souls with life even as our feet are mired in death. We breathe it, dying into life as our God draws us to himself. Grief is the music to which we are born, yet joy is the rhythm by which we walk our long way to all that God intends us to be.”

I bookmarked that excerpt from Sarah Clarkson, whose writing I love dearly, at at a time when grief was a close companion; her words pierced my heart then and still do now.

I’ve never shared anything publicly about what we experienced last winter, mainly because I am a very slow processor and haven’t been ready until now, almost a full year later. I’m also very private when it comes to the raw, deep emotions and experiences brimming beneath the surface; I tend to confide in my husband, my sisters, and my mother alone when I’m in the thick of something, and it can take months or even years for me to feel ready to share.

But the other day I came across a journal entry I wrote last January after suffering a miscarriage, and I feel strongly moved to share it, knowing it could make someone out there feel less alone or afraid in their own grief and suffering. We are all asked to carry crosses throughout our lives, however different or heavy they may be. Carrying them with Jesus and with each other seems like the only way to bear the load, I’ve come to learn. Perhaps you are experiencing a new and unexpected darkness or loneliness at this very moment…I’d like to try to offer some comfort in this small, humble way.

January 28, 2020: I didn’t get to hear your heart beating, I didn’t see your little face turning in my womb, or dream of who you’d be in the world. It’s a strange, confusing, dark thing to endure. Pray for me, little ones up above. It doesn’t make sense now…never has my faith been so intensely tested. Pray for me that I remember how much He loves me, even when I feel far from His reach.

January 30, 2020: How long, O Lord, will this aching in my heart persist? Perhaps it will be my constant companion, somehow coexisting with the real joy I feel each day when my husband holds me in his strong embrace or my children run towards me with open arms and bright smiles. Lord, you know my heart and the lost children I carry in it. You have seen their faces; your mother has held them in her arms. And yet, though this comforts me, the pain persists. Experience is a brutal teacher. 

You have shown me, Lord, that this path as a wife and mother is my greatest joy in which I’ve tasted heaven’s sweetness, and also my greatest source of suffering that has broken my heart and made it bleed. But in the bleeding, You’ve wept with me; and now you invite me to hope again. Hope again. Love again. Be bold in the face of fear and evil; take the step into the unknown anyway. The future depends on love–yes, I’ve always known this but never lived it. Lord, make me bold in my faith and my real openness to love. For I see now that openness to love is openness to suffering.  

February 1, 2020: In my brokenness, doubt, and at my lowest, music was and has always been a tremendous source of consolation and an invitation to run to Jesus with arms wide open. Tears streaming down my face, heart cut open and bleeding, weak with fatigue from it all. Feeling like I have nothing left to give my Savior…but with music, He beckons me to come anyway, empty or not. It is a form of prayer, a way in which He whispers to my soul. He calls me ever so gently, and I see myself as a child again. Just as my one year-old bruises his knee and runs to me with tears welling in his bright blue eyes, begging for a kiss and a long hug, so am I a child again, and I long for a tender embrace from my Father. I close my eyes and listen. Sometimes he just needs a quiet space to fill with His gentleness.

I look back at these entries and in some ways feel like it was all just yesterday as the pain floods back in, while in others I’m astounded at how far God has carried me since that time. I am truly amazed at the sheer power of his love and mercy when I look down at my belly full of new life; this new little life that wouldn’t exist were it not for the agony we endured last winter. I will never underestimate God’s power to bring about real, tangible good from the worst, most unbearable suffering. I will never forget how He felt so close to me when I felt like I had lost so much. Even when I wrestled and wrestled with Him, frustrated that I might never know why He allowed this to happen and doubting that He loved me as much as He said He did, He filled me with such an intense presence I’ve never come close to experiencing before. Somehow, miraculously, I can see it all as a gift many months later because I would never have known Him as I do now. And I know that whatever else lies ahead in the unknown, these same graces will be poured out to us.

It’s when we are out in the deep, deep waters that He rescues us from drowning. If we run from suffering and let fear overtake us, we’ll miss perhaps the greatest chance to know Him; to really know Him. And that is a far greater tragedy than anything we are asked to suffer on earth.

I feel an acute compassion for mothers and fathers who have experienced the cross of miscarriage now that the Lord has allowed me and Sean to walk that path. Know of my daily prayers specifically for you if that is a cross He has chosen for you. I believe with all my heart that He will restore you and heal your heart in time, just as He has done mine.

For “there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant” (Job 14:7-9).

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