Today I light five candles in honor of our five babies born into heaven. It has been almost three years since the first time we lost a baby and barely a year since we lost our little girl. I am a few steps into the journey of grief now and am starting to feel well practiced. Not because losing our babies has somehow stopped being difficult but because I’m fighting hard to grieve well.
Grieving well is a fight because grief is excruciatingly hard. There are no courses to complete or promotions to get. There is no graduation. Instead, I have learned that the work of grief is feeling, not finishing. The sadness — the deep aching weight in my chest and the tears that come so quickly when the baby girl in the Starbucks line in front of me waves and coos — exist because I loved my babies fiercely. And deep love leads to deeper grief. Yet as I allow myself to feel the pain of losing my babies and work to integrate those emotions into my “new normal,” healing has begun.
My new normal means answering authentically when people ask how my weekend was or how I’m doing even if it means tears and the ugly cry. When we moved our son out of the nursery and redecorated, I was sad. And I was okay with telling my friends I felt sad because losing a baby is a sad, hard thing. Taking down a nursery because you don’t know when you will need it next is a sad, hard thing. And my friends have responded well. Their willingness to be with me in those moments without needing to fix anything has been a gift.
I also work hard to practice gratefulness. Losing a baby or babies involves many secondary losses — loss of a large family, loss of a close-in-age sibling, loss of having a baby the same age as a family member or friend. In those moments when I am acutely aware of what I don’t have, gratefulness draws me out of that loss. It keeps me from missing the many joys in the life I have now. We have an almost four-year-old son, and I am grateful for summer bike rides as a family of three. I am grateful he wants me to keep him company when he has to poop an hour after bedtime and that he lets me give him mama kisses with glue.
Gratefulness has taught me I can be okay and sad at the same time. In those moments that are so, so hard, I can hold hope and grief together.
My hope is rooted in my faith that because of Jesus and His death and resurrection, I will see my babies again someday. And, I believe that God has a purpose for their short little lives. I trust that my pain, our pain as a family, will not be wasted. My prayer is the out of my journey of grief, others may know His hope and experience the comfort that only He can provide.
So today, as I light candles for my babies and you light candles for yours, be encouraged. These candles are simply one way we honor our babies. The biggest, most profound way we honor them is by living every day grieving well, holding hope and grief together. They are not forgotten because we allow their short lives to change us for the better.
How about you? How has your baby and your loss shaped you? What is your hope? How have you incorporated remembering and honoring your baby into your everyday life?
Are you struggling to move forward after the loss of your baby? Are you wondering if you need professional help? Dr. Heidi shares about grief, depression, and anxiety here: When Grief Doesn’t Seem to End.
Meet Guest Blogger Heidi Warner, PhD
Dr. Heidi is a licensed clinical psychologist with a passion for helping women and their families lead emotionally and spiritually healthy lives. She loves being married to her husband Luke and being a mostly stay-at-home mom to their almost four-year-old son Benjamin. Dr. Heidi specializes in working with women who are experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety, transition to motherhood, and spiritually integrated therapy. She also writes and records weekly radio segments for Life 107.1. You can find out more about Dr. Heidi at www.grownewhope.com or Life1071.com.