In this week’s Monday Minute, Claudia shares with us her deeply personal story of gathering hope during the loss of a child. Believe it or not, God can make it possible to flourish during great loss.
5 Steps for Gathering Hope During the Loss of a Child
by Claudia Duff
Izzy T is our first GrandDuffling. We pinned all of our love to this precious heart the moment we heard the news, “We are having a baby and it’s a boy!” We could not have been happier. Then, a few short months later our hearts were crushed and held captive by a grief I had never experienced. It was thick as molasses, cold as ice, and thorny as a rose bush. There seemed to be no escape from this tremendous feeling of loss.
I lose things all of the time, my keys, my purse, my coffee cup, my favorite shoes. Just about anything I am supposed to have a grip on I have lost. But, you know what? I always find it. Always. But not this time. The loss of Izzy T was permanent.
Isolation in Loss
When you suffer the loss of a child not many want to surround you outside of Facebook, cards, and emails. It’s a loss most do not want to get close to. Why? Because it’s scary. It is a possibility for anyone and that makes it scary. If it happened to you, it could happen to me and I don’t want to talk about that or even entertain the thought. Feeling alone and abandoned in grief causes the loss of an infant to take the shape of lost hope.
But, God is faithful and he alone has promised to be with us in the “valley of the shadow of death.” And this is the moment the saints must take their places in the valley with those who are “walking through.” So, saint where are you? Are you gathered at the mouth of the valley waiting and watching? Who you will walk with?
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)
I have read and heard this verse more times than I care to count, but I had never felt the full weight of it until we lost Izzy T. I often felt as if I couldn’t quite catch my breath. As if the waters of grief were surely going to overwhelm me and I would drown. The fire of sadness seemed to burn right through my broken heart leaving me with a feeling of being scorched alive.
He was with me in the waters and in the flames and I walked through without being consumed.
Even on my worst days, when I laid in bed and cried so hard my tears pooled in my ears the Lord met me in ways I didn’t know were even possible. The promises of God are so exact they penetrate the places we hold tight and destroy all the things that seek to destroy us. God does that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and often through the saints.
Looking at the Scripture below you can see God has a plan for those who believe to stand with those grieving and to lend aid to those in a battle for their very lives. So, where are you? Are you overwhelmed by grief and sorrow? Or are you the saint the Holy Spirit is leading to become a strong place of help? Whomever you are today, God has a marvelous plan to give and receive comfort. We only need to look in the Word to discover the strategies of a gracious God to overcome the evil schemes of the enemy. You see the enemy desires to use our grief to kill our faith, steal our joy, and destroy our testimony. But, God declares, “Nope, this far and no farther.”
God’s Battle Plan for Great Loss
We need a strategy to frustrate and overcome the schemes of the enemy. Good thing we have a battle plan–the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation there is a well thought out and executed plan for those who believe.
“The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
Nehemiah 4:19b-20 (ESV)
Nehemiah is my favorite prophet, well at least for today. Think about it if you are reading this blog in your home and I am reading it in my home, we are far from one another yet, we need help. I need you to run to me and I need to run to you so we can fight for one another. Below are a few steps I took to make sure I was joining my sisters on the wall during my grieving process.
5 Steps for Gathering Hope During the Loss of a Child
Communicate with those who love you.
- Answer your phone – Most people will find it really hard to just make that call. If you are not up to actually speaking, listen to the voice mail. Why? Because our hearts need to be reminded that someone is for us. They are praying and thinking of us. It helps our souls not feel so alone.
- Read the text and respond – Let them know you read it and God will continue to move on your behalf by stirring them to pray for you again and again.
Reach out for specific help.
- Make that call – I received quite a few messages from people reaching out and sharing their personal stories. At different times I felt led to contact them individually and it was such a gift to have someone who had been through the same thing to listen to me and validate my sorrow with their own.
Seek professional help.
- See a Doctor – I had a friend make me promise to see a doctor if I still wasn’t getting dressed and leaving my house after 90 days. I made the call and sobbed through the entire process of making an appointment. Do it, the professionals are there for a reason; they know more than us and can help.
- Join a Church small group – There are many opportunities within churches to join in with others. This wasn’t my cup of coffee but, it might be yours. Try it.
Cry a lot.
- I cried every day. But, the significant day of crying happened when a friend drove five hours to sit in my living room and let me cry on her shoulder. It was unexpected, but, even now as I type this blog, I am moved to tears. She took “weep with those who weep” to a whole other level and I will forever be changed by her generosity of love. Thank you, Audrey Bigelow, I love you and I am so grateful we will spend eternity together.
Continue to develop your faith walk.
- Read your Bible – The Word of God saved my life every single day. It was God’s promises that held my grip to his grace. It grounded me when I felt lost in my sorrow.
- Go to church – I wanted to hide away because I didn’t want to see happy people. I didn’t want to listen to them say, “sorry for your loss.” But, sometimes what we don’t want is what we might need. And being surrounded by “such a great cloud of witnesses” is a good thing.
- Journal – Because one day you will be the saint called to sit, listen, and pray for someone else who is where you are now. It will be a tremendous gift to have written words that affirm what you know to be true.
Izzy T was/is our grandson. Our infant loss is not quite the same as those of my son and sweet daughter-in-love. I was determined not to allow my loss to overshadow theirs. It takes commitment to pray for them more than I pray for myself. Watching my first born son say goodbye to his first-born son took my breath away. Watching him comfort his wife as they held their son for the first and last time was not anything I want to remember
Listening to my son say to me and his precious wife, “WE will get through this. God will help us,” was life transforming. Watching them cling to one another as they both held fast to the cross was awe inspiring. These two young people loving one another and walking by faith only a few months into their second year of marriage humbled me. I learned from them what it means to believe without actually seeing anything new happen. Infant loss is not something we prepare for, but God did. He is right where we are. Be encouraged because God will fight for you, you need only to believe.
Lord, in this place of profound loss, meet me. When my heart becomes overwhelmed by the hopelessness of infant death overtake me by your grace. Make my brokenness bow to your new mercies every morning. Rally saints to walk alongside me through prayer and words of comfort. Help me to seek you above all else and bring about your glory in all of this loss. In your name. Amen.