By Jorge Kuzmaite via Unsplash (2016), CC0 Public Domain
Losing a child – through miscarriage or anywhere else along the journey to heaven, is perhaps the most painful experience a parent will go through. Death of course is unnatural, and unintended in the creation of man. Still, the heart breaks — it shatters, and through the grieving, slowly it seeks healing.
In October, the Church observes Respect Life month. In honor of that intention for the month just completed, I am sharing with you the story of a dear friend, who lost two babies in a row through miscarriage. This is Blanca’s story.
I want to thank you for all your love, support, thoughts and prayers as we went through the ordeal of losing two babies in a row. We named our April baby Sam Mary and our June baby Gabriel Marie.
Because I was further along with Gabriel, we had a baby to bury. With the help of our parish ministry, we were able to bury Gabriel at a Benedictine Monastery cemetery and our priest was present for the burial service. Words are not enough to tell you how much this meant to Ken and me. We are so very grateful for God’s immense grace and for those who give of themselves to make ministries such as this possible. Such ministries certainly require a special response to God’s call. May God repay them abundantly for the comfort and peace they brought us in our time of grief.
Ken spent a whole day and most of the night making Gabriel’s tiny casket. In my view, this is one father’s way to grieve. His fatherhood longed to give Gabriel a parting gift, and it was brought forth through his manual labor. It was beautiful to watch him work as I sat on the steps of our front porch.
The following morning, our three children helped to prepare the interior of the casket — using satin, glue and padding. Our daughter also busied herself with the flowers, finding little vases to fill, which could be taken to the cemetery. These small actions really helped the kids to take part in and process their own grief, in what seemed to be a healthy way. They also were able to give something of themselves.
The children had cried upon learning that the baby had died in Mommy’s tummy. We gave them few details other than that. For us, it was enough that they had a basic understanding of death, and that they knew we could grieve together as a family. We stood together as Daddy placed baby Gabriel in the little casket. Ken had carefully wrapped Gabriel in a clean, white handkerchief. The burial service was very simple and solemn.
Life After Death
Life goes on for our family, even as we continue to mourn. Grief is truly a painful thing, but at the same time I have found that it’s not something to be dreaded, feared, or ashamed of. Grief is to be borne by all who love. It is a natural process that comes with loving and losing a precious life.
Many women struggle with announcing a pregnancy because of the fear of having to announce a loss. I did this with my pregnancy with Sam. Then, when I lost him and nobody knew, I regretted not having shared it. After all, it had been over five years of trying to conceive since our youngest. But then, when the dreaded moment came, I realized I could never keep my miscarriage a secret. It would be too unspeakably terrible to bear alone.
Although we also lost Gabriel, I can’t say that I regret having made the announcement of Gabriel’s life. The memory of the joy that lit up the faces of those who we announced his life to is still precious to me. These are the small ways that life is precious — the life of my little one, already brought joy to other people’s hearts. We celebrate life!
Despite their short lives, Sam and Gabriel were no less of a gift to us from God. The great mystery we have discovered is that our sorrow over losing them too soon has not diminished the joy of having had them briefly in our family’s life. They truly lived — body and soul, evidenced by their conception. Life is life, no matter how short. Through faith, I know that they will have their glorified bodies on the last day. I know that they are my children, and I am their mother — a relationship honored for all eternity. My hope is in eternity, and I must consider that in thinking of our time of separation. A day, a week, or a hundred years is nothing compared to eternity.
Hope and Grief
Yet grief remains, even as faith and hope abound. Such is the nature of love. Love longs to never be parted from the beloved — a mother from her child. What would I not give to keep those precious lives with me? And of course I ask,”Where is God in all this?” Faith tells me that God works everything for the greatest good. In the case of loss, this takes surrender. The greatest good, as known to God, may not be for me to know now, and with God’s grace, I accept that. Because I know that God also once lost a son. Through faith, grief becomes a share in God’s suffering.
Mary has been a true comfort. It has amazed me to ponder how the Blessed Mother, understanding full well that Our Lord would rise from the dead, still did not spare her heart from utter grief and sorrow at the foot of the cross. It was love that made her vulnerable. She accepted every sword that pierced her heart and soul. Just as Our Lady remained standing at the foot of the cross, I hope that I, and all who mourn will remain steadfast in faith. Let us never close our hearts from God.
In God’s mercy and goodness, he brought to mind something that I could do to ease the pain. I can send my guardian angel up to heaven to let my Sam and Gabriel know that their Mommy is thinking of them and loving them too.
Copyright 2017 Kimberly Cook