In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month . . .
It had been a month since Caleb died. The dust was settling, and people were getting on with their lives. I was sitting on the couch in the living room staring at the television, googling crazy things like “Why did this happen to me, God?” and watching youtube videos made by other grieving moms that made me cry so hard I would eventually pass out from exhaustion. FUN TIMES. (Note: one of the unfair things about a late-term still birth or infant loss is that I (like many moms) was already on maternity leave. Our bodies are still recovering from delivery, even if there is no child to care for. There is a hole ripped in time, and we are stuck in a maternity-leave limbo with no baby.)
And then, I prayed, “Lord, please give me something to do or I am going to go crazy.”
Almost instantly, Jack received an email from a God-conduit–my friend Kasi–about the TEARS foundation. I went to therapy that week, and my therapist, Phyllis–another God-conduit–handed me a TEARS advertisement. Their annual walk was coming up; there was still time to enter a “Caleb Joshua Arthur” team. A path cleared before me: I would assemble a team to walk in memory of our son, and raise money for other families who needed help with burial expenses. God had answered my prayers!
I spent the next few weeks in a frenzied effort to honor my son and assemble the biggest, most lucrative team ever assembled for the TEARS foundation’s remembrance walk. We showed up in full-force with Caleb’s full name filling up our t-shirts. Family and friends from all around participated, and we felt a roar of support for this angel son of ours. This moment in history could never make up for every sports event we would not attend for him, every graduation we would not listen to his name being called, every first day of school and field trip and every single thing I was so happy and ready to share with Caleb as his proud mama . . . but this moment in history was a moment in THIS WORLD when my son’s NAME was called, there was a crowd to cheer for him, and we felt proud, proud, proud. I still have tears rolling down my face just remembering how proud we were that day.
The TEARS foundation became an important piece of our grieving Caleb. I plunged into support groups and volunteer opportunities that allowed me to spend time honoring my first born son with people who understood how important that was for me to do.
I gave to fill a hole I couldn’t fill by myself. I am still doing that, in every blog I write and newly grieving friend I reach out to. I don’t know what else to do. And, I promise: it helps. This grief is unbearable on the couch alone googling crazy things and watching youtube videos. It’s too much pressure on my marriage to expect my husband to be the only person I spill my bucket of tears on every night. But, it can be carried with a modicum of grace when we let God use our suffering, our experience, to help others who suffer as well. McKayla Butler is doing that with her blog, “rainbows for noah: what loss looks like from here.” Sarah Slack and her staff are carrying their griefs to balm others’ sorrows through every funeral they make possible and every support group they gather through the TEARS foundation. The Stillborn, Still loved Guild is working to create awareness and community for those surviving a stillborn child.
There are places for us, friends, to use our holed out hearts for good. There are places we can speak the names of our dead children and rise with pride as their parents. There are places where this deepest agony can be filled with grace. Find your place. And help. It helps, I promise.
God bless you, in your pain and your crazy google moments.
I pray He is with you.
I know He is . . .