It was a beautiful fall morning in my classroom. My 3rd-5th grade students were busily putting their homework into their assigned baskets and getting their supplies ready for class to begin. Just before we officially began the day, someone popped into the classroom to say, “Pray for Mrs. X. She is at the hospital now and will hopefully have the baby soon.” One of her older children was in our class, and we were all excited to meet this new member of the family. There was an extra special excitement in the air now. We said our pledges, and I bowed my head to lead the class in prayer. I asked the Lord to bless our day and keep our minds focused on what we needed to learn. I began to pray for the mother in labor with her precious baby, and that is when I lost it. With a very shaky voice and eyes filling with tears, I quickly ended the prayer. I hurried to the door and closed it behind me, barely making it out before the tears began to flow freely. My baby would have been due in a matter of weeks!
My precious little baby had gone to Heaven in February of that year, just six weeks into my pregnancy. I had mourned the loss, but I had three older children at home and stayed busy homeschooling the oldest two, who were in kindergarten and second grade at the time. We moved across the country that summer; and, after having homeschooled for three years, I found myself teaching full-time in a school again. I had thought about my angel baby during those busy months, but I was not prepared for the grief that washed over me in that moment in my classroom. Not long after I stepped into the hallway, my pastor’s wife came by. I confided to her that I was completely caught off guard by the emotions I was feeling at that moment. I thought I had “gotten over it.” The words she spoke to me then have echoed in my mind over and over again. “Felicia, you don’t always know when something will trigger the thought of your baby and what could have been. It’s okay to wonder; it’s okay to cry! You need that” She assured me that, though I might never “get over it,” I would eventually be able to get through it. She gave me a much-needed hug, and I drew a deep breath before walking back into my classroom to continue my day.
I did not know on that day in 2010 that the lesson I learned about grief would be one I would need in the future! As the months passed after my second miscarriage in the fall of 2013, I was reminded again of her words. During those long months when my grief often overwhelmed me, it seemed that my tears came at the worst possible moments – while singing a song about Heaven with the choir, while playing the offertory for a Sunday church service, while sitting at the clavinova as first-time parents brought their baby on the platform to be dedicated by the Pastor. Though I initially fought the urge to cry (I look horrible after I cry, just in case you were wondering!), I eventually came to the realization, once again, that I needed those tears to help me heal!
Grief is an unpredictable companion. It can wash over you at any time, turning a normal, ordinary day into a fight for survival. Though it is tempting to expect those who are grieving to put a smile on their faces and just blend into the crowd as if nothing has happened, their grief must not be ignored. It is not something they will just “get over,” but it is something that you can help them work through. Mothers who have suffered loss need someone to look past their pasted-on smiles that say “I’m fine!” when they really are not. They need someone to come along side them like my pastor’s wife did that day five years ago and say, “It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to cry.” When you recognize their loss and realize their struggle, you help them begin the process of healing! In my next post, I will give you some practical suggestions for ministering to these mothers as they work through the healing process. Stay tuned!!