I have been pregnant three times. I have given birth twice.

Fragmented memories remain of the day I lost my first baby–the child whose heart thumped in my womb for only eight short weeks. I remember the horror I felt when I discovered the first scarlet spots alerting me that my baby was gone. I remember the weight of my husband’s hand resting heavy on my shoulder when my doctor confirmed our fears and tried to comfort us with statistics. I remember the coldness that swept through my chest when the nurse assisting with the examination gave me a stern warning as I shakily made my way toward the exit.

“Now I know you’ve heard some unsettling news, but you need to pull it together,” she cautioned as I brushed tears off my cheeks and neck. “You’re young. You’ll get pregnant again in no time. There are women in that waiting room who are pregnant now and they don’t need to be upset. So just get a hold of your emotions before you go out there.”

Then, with a pat on my back, she scurried away … leaving me embarrassed by my grief.

My legs trembled as if I was walking a tight rope without a safety net. Through blurred vision, I forced a stoic expression, entwined my trembling fingers with those belonging to my husband, and walked out of the building. With each step, one thought bounced around my mind.

Pull it together. I need to pull it together. Pull it together.

I’ve heard those words numerous times throughout my life in various situations. Sometimes they were spoken by well-meaning individuals. Other times, I whispered the phrase to myself.

A graveside vigil. Pull it together.

Job loss. Pull it together.

A loved one’s betrayal. Pull it together.

Saying goodbye to dear friends. Pull it together.

Overwhelmed by an infant’s colicky cries or a toddler’s 40-minute tantrum. Pull it together.

I’m sure that everyone who reads this post can add to the list above.

Truth be told, I think the expectation of “pulling it together” during times of emotional agony is often misguided. Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel is a beautiful example from scripture of a woman who mourned honestly before the Lord. Hannah didn’t “pull it together.” You can read her story in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, but here is an excerpt from 1 Samuel 1:10-16:

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’ ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.'”

At that wall, Hannah unraveled the twisted knots of her grieving heart before God and it was messy. Passersby probably shook their heads. Eli mistook her agony for drunkenness. Hannah’s core was shaken. Her heart was broken. Her hope was nearly threadbare. She wasn’t able to “pull it together,”… not on her own … but she knew where to turn as her emotions were shred to bits.

The fiery pain of a personal loss is immeasurable. And each person’s threshold for heartache is different. There are times when we cannot pull it together.

God doesn’t command us to pull it together.

In the moments when torment throbs deep, God doesn’t bark “stiffen that upper lip, girl.” He instead whispers “come to me dear one, come to me.” He invites us to crumple into the comforting arms of Christ … to pray … to scream … to beg with abandon … to heal.

“For He has not despised or detested the torment of the afflicted. He did not hide His face from him, but listened when he cried to Him for help.” Psalm 22:24

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  • http://www.kimberlyanncoyle.com Kimberly

    As a former nurse, I feel like I should apologize on behalf of my people for the awful experience you had with the OB nurse! I’m so sorry.

    Thanks for this beautiful post. The image of Hannah grieving is a potent one, one I’ll return to again when I’m trying to pull myself together.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Thank you, Kimberly. I have had so many wonderful experience with nurses throughout my lifetime … I think that this particular nurse was the type who had “seen it all” and in some odd way, was trying to help. Your sweet expression alone in your little thumbnail tells me that you comforted many patients during your nursing days.

    • http://MarinasKitchenTable.blogspot.com Marina

      AMEN! God grows us through those deep seasons of loss and suffering, frustrations and deep need…if we “pulled it all together” we would never learn to trust in Him…grow in Him…
      He wants us to be authentic, even in our brokenness! Praise God for the example left for us to follow!
      Thanks for sharing!!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I know what you mean. Well-meaning people didn’t say those words to me in my time of grieving, but it meant the same thing. Consequently, you try to keep it together even in front of close friends only because you hear those echoing voices to keep it to yourself. It has taught me a valuable lesson–one I do when someone can’t keep it together–I listen.

  • http://lifefaithful.blogspot.com Mandy

    When my brother was killed in Iraq in 2004, I was told many times that I needed to be strong for my parents–something I tried hard to do, but something a 20 year old little sister shouldn’t be told to do. What finally let me grieve was knowing that God didn’t expect me to “pull it together” for Him to pull me through.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Mandy … I am so sorry for your loss … and for the unrealistic exceptions … demands placed on your young, heavy shoulders. Blessings to you!

  • http://dwellintheland.com Erika

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.pensieve.me Robin Dance

    Angela,

    Oh, lovie…I know you wrote this from a position of hurt, but you’ve offered a sweet word of encouragement for all of us who’ve walked in those shoes or painful other versions. And a precious redemption of your loss, to offer strength to those walking in those shoes right now.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Thank you, sweet Robin. I had the privilege of time and grace … two powerful healing agents that made writing this post not as much painful as therapeutic. You are such a beautiful blessing.

  • http://dwellintheland.com Erika

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.q

  • http://mountmoriah2012.wordpress.com Shannon Thieme

    Thanks, I need this!

  • ~Sue~

    Thanks for your candid blog. I, too, am one who has been told, and often told myself, to just pull it together. I wish it was that easy, but at this stage in my life, I am just plain tired of trying to be the one to be strong for everyone else, to ‘buck up’ and be strong.
    Your blog encourages me to just pour my heart out to my Father, for He cares about all that happens in my life. I realize that my own expectations of my strength are false, and I need to let HIM be strong in my life. I cannot bear the pain of rejection, loneliness, or any of the other trauma that comes my way without Him.
    I appreciate my ‘sisters’ on (in)courage. I love you all! Thanks for ‘being there’ for me!
    Sue

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Amen, Sue. And we love you too!

  • http://twitter Robin

    Thank you for writing this….sometimes it is hard to pull it together especially when you are doing it on your own and there is no one to stand with you through it….We are dealing with things with my Mother and Alzheimer’s all my siblings have spouses to support them and I have no one….A few well meaning friends, but I don’t want people to tell me “what has to happen” I just want someone to tell me they love me and it will be alright….My sons are good, but they don’t get it and I don’t want to put a burden on them…..in the middle of the night I don’t always feel I can pull it together…I lost a baby too and people’s words were horrible “well you have others, it happens to a lot of women, just forget it”….but I was never able to cry and mourn…I know He says He will never leave me or forsake me, but sometimes I wish HE would help me pull it together…….

    • Jan

      Oh, Sweetie, I hear you. You’re right…we don’t need worn out cliches at times of great stress. All I can tell you is what I often do…reach for the Psalms, especially the ones by David, and pray them to the Lord. They are so real. And He truly hears us. I’ve been amazed by the peace He gives in those times… “a very present help in trouble.” God bless you.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Robin … I am so very sorry for your pain and wish I could just wrap you up in a giant comforting hug. I do know that God truly can heal your heart … it is a process that often takes time, but please know He is with you.

    • Hampgal

      Robin, My mom just passed away from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. I hear you! Permission to grieve a little every time you see another loss in your mom’s cognitive or physical abilities. (((((hugs)))))

  • Pingback: Pull it Together | Angela Nazworth()

  • http://www.dianewbailey.net Diane W. Bailey

    You precious daughter of the king. I know He holds you in his arms. Thank you for sharing your tender story. You are amazing!

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Thank you.

  • Jan

    What you wrote is very powerful and needed to be written! I realize that I am often the one telling myself to “pull it together” because I anticipate others saying that to me. Funny thing is that sometimes they don’t say that. So I do it to myself. I love how you wrote about Hannah and how God in His great love never asks us to pull it together. I am grateful for my husband who encourages me to express my grief. His support is such a blessing. Thank you!

  • http://www.walkthruthefog.blogspot.com Nina Ruth

    Thank you, Angela, for reminding me of His grace! I remember once when I was feeling guilty for being grieved, Abba just whispered to my heart, “I didn’t scold Hannah…!”

    I reread the story in 1 Samuel, and learned what He meant. Stoicism is not a virtue in God’s eyes! :-)

    Thanks for confirmation, permission, & getting me back on track.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      I love that!!!

  • http://www.arearrangedlife.com Miriam

    Yes Yes Yes! Living in-the-raw here too!

  • Brenda

    Thank you so much for your beautiful testimony, Angela! How good to hear that we can fully bare our souls and receive comfort.

  • Valerie

    I hear you…I’ve been pregnant with six babies, five different times. We have two kids though, so you can imagine the outcome we most often have when pregnancy tests come out positive. It’s a hard thing to endure. We’ve been lucky – I didn’t have anyone telling me that I needed to “pull yourself together” or “stay strong”. I don’t think my husband did, either, which is unusual since people always say that sort of thing to men. It wouldn’t have been that bad…but what we ended up hearing more often was much worse. All the times we were told “God has a plan”, “God is in control”, “this was His will for you” were like salt in an open wound. What you are essentially saying when you say that is “God killed your baby to teach you a lesson or something, deal with it and don’t ask questions”. It’s something people say in an effort to comfort and encourage, but the underlying message is really terrible. Do I believe that God has a plan for my life? Sure. Do I believe that He made me miscarry my son’s twin at 8 weeks, or the other two babies we lost early, or the baby girl who was stillborn at 38 weeks? Not for a second. I don’t believe for a second that God would do that to his children. I think it happened because I have issues with my blood while I’m pregnant. I think the cause is physical rather than spiritual. Either way, though, the last thing I needed to be told that God wanted me to go through that horrible loss, that God had done it. So please, please ladies, think about that before you tell a woman that it was “God’s plan” that she lose a child. How do you even know that’s true? Do you realize what you’re really saying, and how that feels to the grieving one? Tell them that you love them and that if they need to talk, you’ll listen. Tell them that you’re praying for them and their family. Remind them that God will never leave or forsake them, and that He cares about their suffering and feels it too. That’ll be so much more helpful.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Valarie … I am so sorry about your losses … what a heartache. Thank you for sharing your story and leaving words of wisdom about how to comfort someone who is grieving such a loss.

    • willowsprite

      Yes!

  • Wonderwoman

    Thank you for sharing Angela. There are so many times I have cried, screamed and got angry with God in my despair of not getting a job until now. I just couldn’t pull it together. When I told him how I feel – the shame, the pain, the rejections, He did not turn a deaf ear but comforted and assured me through His word. I’m ashamed of the way i reacted to my circumstance as a child of God, but I’m glad I read this today.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      I think there is beauty in the raw reaction to the pain and uncertainty you experienced. You didn’t tell God something He didn’t know. You bared your soul so He could bring healing and perspective … there’s no shame in that. No shame at all. Hugs!

  • http://www.givinguponperfect.com Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect

    Like one of the other commenters, I’ve been expected to hold it together for other people many times. And in a way, I’ve embraced those expectations, unfair as they may be, because it gives me a purpose, an identity. But the truth is, holding it together is simply holding the hurt inside – until you can’t any longer. And, at least in my experience, that has not been healthy for me or helpful for anyone (in the long run). I’m so thankful for friends who speak truth like you do here, reminding me that God’s expectations are all I truly need to worry about – and He’s not asking me to pull it together.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      “But the truth is, holding it together is simply holding the hurt inside – until you can’t any longer. ” — YES!!! That is such a spot on description of what we do when we are holding it together!! Thank you for sharing that wise friend!

  • Robin

    Oh, Angela, as I read this the tears began to flow. Thank you for this example you shared of Hannah. Thank you also for letting us in on this journey. Sometimes its hard to hold it all together. Thanks for the reminder “When my heart is oveerwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.

  • http://www.athankfullyimperfectwoman.com Patty O

    Such an excellent post. Thank you for your eloquent writing. There are so many of us who have crumpled at times – praying to our Lord for guidance and peace. And yes, people have told me too…pull it together (!)…and I come to hate that phrase. Yes, there are times when we may need to keep some composure, but I’ve also learned it’s ok to give yourself a break…and be human. Thus the name of my blog…www.athankfullyimperfectwoman.com.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Thank you, Patty … and what a wonderful name for a blog!

  • Joanna Tipple

    Oh Dearest Angela –
    Your words came at just the right moment for me today. The situation may not be the same although I too lost my first baby many years ago. Today’s experiences have to do with dealing w/the life-long condition of clinical depression. Cognitively, I know it’s not something I can just “get over” or “deal with,” – at least not without a lot of suuport, and yes, better living through chemistry – judiciously administered. I had been doing well for a long time but at the holidays went off my meds, (as well as living through menopause and you know, winter – trifecta). It’s been 2 months of trying to recalibrate and feel human again. Good human – hopeful human. Yesterday for 24 hours it happened. I woke up smiling. It was a good day. Today – a step back it seems is on the agenda. I almost got into the thinking of “WHAT IS WRONG WiTh ME?” And then I read your post. I will “pull together” when everything falls into place. Anyway- blessings to you and your family as you (and all of us) learn what it really means to be held in God’s care & comfort. Peace be with you.

  • http://www.wallacefamilyhomeschool.blogspot.com Shannon Wallace

    Thank you for sharing the Biblical wisdom shown in the book of Samuel. I also want to give you a huge hug and tell you that I am so sorry for your loss, and your experience of a person who needs our prayers (the nurse).

    I’ve been told by a family member less than two years after the tragic death of our oldest son (he was just 7) to get over it…we should be over it. It hurts. You want to lash out at them. But Jesus commands better of us. And so…with that said, we need to lean into Jesus more. Let Him carry our burden, because He will. To any of you ladies reading this who have experienced the gut-wrenching loss of a beloved child, Jesus WILL carry you. There is life after death. We must let Jesus carry us. We cannot be strong all of the time, because afterall, we are human. We cannot carry such a burden on our own. Let the Father be strong when you are weak, because He is always strong! I was given this very sound advice from my pastor’s wife, who had also lost a dear son. Lean into Jesus. And that is what I did when I could do little more than the basic necessities of life as a wife and mother. But it was only because He carried me. Thank you Jesus!

    Jesus wept when Lazarus died. A very Biblical example of the only Perfect One ever to live on earth, and yet…He wept.

    Hugs and prayers to all who are grieving. :)

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      My heart just aches reading about the death of your sweet son. I am so very for your loss. Thank you for sharing your heart and the source of your strength. ((hugs)))

  • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

    Oh Joanna … Thank you for taking the time to share a piece of your heart. I know a little about the season you are walking through and I will sincerely lift you up in prayer. Praying for peace and comfort for you as you continue this journey.

  • Laura

    I think of Jesus openly weeping with Lazarus’ friends on his death, in the garden dripping blood-sweat-tears as He prayed for the cup to pass from Him, and finally crying out in pain and anguish on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”. He lived the example. I love Him for that, and love you for your tender, balm-of-Gilead words. Thank you.

  • Karen Looby

    Oh my, yes. There is nothing in God’s Word or His character that tells us we are supposed to just suck it up and tough it out. Life is messy and painful and God wants us to admit that, accept and even embrace the awful things of life because it all makes us run to His open arms. God wants us to talk to Him about everything, because then He is in the situation with us. If we aren’t honest and open with Him, we are excluding Him from our pain and our life and He can’t be near to us. And, sisters, God wants to be close to us. We have no comprehension of how deep His longing is for us. Cry, weep, run to the Father in those times of agony. His arms are open and His heart is tender.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Amen, Karen. Amen.

  • http://redo101.blogspot.com Mary @ Redo 101

    You are so inspiring to me. I went through the same thing but not from a nurse – from my best friend, and it was devastating. But boy did I learn from it, God doesn’t waste our pain, does he?! So thankful for that.

    Hugs ~ Mary

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Ahhhh …. “God doesn’t waste our pain!” Those words right there are balm for the soul.

  • Beth Williams

    Angela,

    So so sorry for your loss! Thank you so much for sharing such a tender time in your life!

    I find it cathartic to “let it out” in times of grief and anguish. It can speed the healing. Sometimes, like Hannah, we just need to bear all to God & let Him heal us!

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Thank you, Beth!

  • http://sherriesthilaire.blogspot.com/ Sherrie St. Hilaire

    Thank you for such a great post. You beautifully expressed what so many of us have experienced, the shame of our grief. Your correlation to Hannah was perfect…and freeing.

    I grew up being sexually abused in a home of alcoholism and instability and all the while, we’ll into adulthood, I was required to not display my grief in order to protect my abusers and keep suspicion at bay. Years of pulling it together severely altered me, perhaps as much as the abuse and trauma had.

    I’m still learning Hannah’s freedom!

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Sherrie … I hate knowing that you suffered so much pain at the violent hands of twisted individuals. And I praise God with you that you have found healing. THank you for sharing.

  • Martha

    Tears running down face as I read this. I’m the strong one you see. The one in the family who’s supposed to always have it together… only right now I don’t. Not even close. This meant so much to me today, thanks for reminding me that God knows where I am and how bad I’m hurting.

    • Tami Hastings

      I, too, have tears. I, also, was “the strong one”. I think that being put on a pedestal only gave me farther to fall. Although, I do not display my pain for all to see it has been such a relief to step down from a place that neither I or anybody else, except GOD, is suppose to be. I feel your pain, Martha, I’ve been there recently and the wound is still fresh. Dear GOD, our loving ABBA father, thank-you for being here with us and for sending your HOLY SPIRIT to pray for and comfort us when we are unable to do so ourselves. In JESUS’ name, amen.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Hugs to you both, Martha and Tami!!!

  • Athena

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. :) Sensitive people often have grief hit them the hardest. Our sensitivity is often viewed as a weakness, but I believe it is a gift from God. Each part of the body of Christ has its own purpose, right? Grief has struck me hard, and it has led to depression, and while I’ve heard the “you have to pull it together” bit, I know God and I are working through the grief and depression, and He is going to use it all for good some day. God allows grief because He sees something bigger than we do <3

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      What a beautiful point of view … I agree … sensitivity can definitely be a blessing.

  • Melanie

    I was reading your post while listening to Bethel Music’s song Come to Me. God is all we need. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  • http://hummadeedledee.blogspot.com Deb Kennedy

    Oh, how these words heal….. they wrap around us like a supportive arm, hold us close, and remind us that our God, our Lord, is an ever-present help in trouble. Our Jesus wept and cried and sobbed at Gethsemane – He knows our pain. And when we have reached the end of our control, our ability to bear a burden, He is there with us, beside us, IN us, to carry it for us.

    My last 18 months have been a journey of pain, loss, damage, and now healing that I would never have chosen for myself (nor wished on my worst enemy, truth be told). For the first six months, I had to ‘pull it together’ to save my own life from those who were bent on my destruction. I had to appear calm and in control while I extricated myself from a very bad situation. Once I was free from the threat of more abuse from them, God has given me many opportunities to NOT ‘pull it together’ and to truly grieve, mourn, and express the pain of my experience – and to heal from it all. <3

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Deb … I am so glad that you are in a safe place now. Prayers are with you as you continue this journey of healing.

  • http://makingajoyfulhome.blogspot.com Amy Lee Ellis

    Oh, I had tears in my eyes reading this! I miscarried my first child 9 months ago, and I’m only now getting to a point of being able to write about it (or much of anything else, for that matter). Reading this was so encouraging to me, so thank you!

    • Tami Hastings

      Dear Amy,
      Reading of Angela’s pain brought back memories of the loss of our first daughter, almost 28 years ago, at 22 weeks of pregnancy, followed by the loss of our first son, 26 years ago, again at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Angela’s vivid description of her experience was so close to what I went through that it took my breath away. I went through counseling following the loss of our son, we all grieve differently and my raw emotion was just to hard for my husband to bear. The birth of our son, Daniel, almost 22 years ago is still the happiest day of my life and the birth of our daughter, Claremarie, 18 years ago, is best described as “my heart walking outside of my body”. I am so thankful for these gifts from GOD. I (we) went through so much to have them. There were years when I thought it would never happen and I, actually, gave up not wanting to take a chance on going through all the pain again. Be encouraged, Amy, you are not alone.

      • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

        Tami … Thank you for reaching out to encourage others. I am so sorry for the pain that once ravaged your heart and praise God with you for the blessings who followed those losses.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Amy, I want to jump through this screen and give you a hug. I remember feeling so fragile during the months that closely followed my miscarriage. Prayers are being lifted for you today.

  • Susan

    Your words were such a comfort to me today. I have been walking down a hard road for 3 years now. I have good days and I have bad days. I have faced a lot of criticism on the hard days – “get it together”, “it is what it is” , “learn to live with it” . .”this is your new normal.” …What I want to hear is “I’m sorry for your loss”, “I miss him, too.” or for someone to cry with me, to hold me. Healing has been slow – I think I’ve cycles through the stages of grief several times. I KNOW God is with me, I AM trusting Him, I also KNOW He cries with me, HE allows me time to grieve. He understands how deep the pain is. Thank you for opening your heart to us, As much as I hate that others experience this great pain I am glad that others understand… it helps to not feel so all alone. May God continue to bless each of us, may our hearts grow in His compassion as we minister to others. I pray that He uses each of us to show comfort and understanding to others, so that He can be glorified through our pain.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      No words, Susan. No words. Just prayers and hugs.

  • http://aheavenlyjourney.net Melissa

    This is clearly resonating with A LOT of women! Thank you for opening the most vulnerable places of your hearts.

    You’re right, God doesn’t tell us to “pull it together”. People do. They’re well-meaning, but they do not know what they do. When I “pull it together”, it hurts me more than it helps me. It numbs my spirit in a very bad way. It kills something inside me. I need to feel. I need to hurt. I need to let the emotions process. I can keep it together for a short time if I absolutely have to, like if I don’t want to scare my kids, but believe me, I will find a place as soon as I can where I can let it all out.

    This was why I did not tell a soul when I was diagnosed with post-partum depression after the birth of my second baby. I did not want to hear “pull it together”. I was literally incapable of pulling it together and I was afraid of myself. I waited until I had been on medication for a couple of months before telling people. I wanted them to see the change in me. And they did. I hope that my story helps not just women with PPD, but their friends and family as well. That it will help them understand that sometimes you literally cannot “pull it together” no matter how strong your faith in God is, and that is not something to shame someone for. It means something else is going on and that person needs help. It means the haze of PPD can be lifted. It means you CAN function again. And it means life can once again have joy.

    • http://kristinemwebster.wordpress.com LaughingMouse

      I am so very sorry that you felt you couldn’t tell anyone about your PPD. As someone who has struggled with Chronic Depression it makes me angry that as a church we still have not gotten to a point where compassion and mercy rule our responses and instead it is legalism and judgment. I have been trying for a few years now to speak up, more, louder, whatever about my own struggles so that the doors can be open when someone like you knows they need help. I shared a testimony in my church a number of years ago about a particular time God had brought me through and afterwards a woman in my church who had a newborn came up to me and asked me about my experience and then shared how she was feeling. I offered her compassion and grace and mercy and told her, very emphatically, that the ONLY thing she needed to do in any given moment was to keep breathing. She had older children so I added that as long as none of them have a finger in a light socket, the only thing she “needs” to do is breathe. We talked more and talked about meds etc and in the weeks following I saw her ask for prayer from a number of older women in the church and always hoped that they were offering grace and not judgment to her. Someday maybe we can speak freely about our struggles and not be met with criticism or platitudes or orders to get over it, move on, etc. Someday.

      • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

        Laughing Mouse … What an amazing, life-changing ministry you have! It is wonderful that God is using your struggles to touch the lives of so many. Blessings to you!

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Melissa … I too know the pain and haze of PPD … oh how I know it well. Thank you for bravely sharing your story to help others!

  • http://preciouspagesbypaula.blogspot.com/ Paula McLane Jennings

    This was an amazing post. I am going through some troubles now and this was just what I needed to be reminded of. That we serve a loving God who will hear our cries and does not expect us to just pull it together but will be there with His healing touch. Thanks for sharing.

  • DRae

    I am so sorry for your loss and pain. I know about being told to “pull it together”. We had one lovely daughter when I lost the second. On the way home I broke down and was told by then husband to shut up and get over it. He didn’t want to hear anymore of it. That was in December of 1968 and I still remember the hurt I felt piled on top of the loss. God did bless me however, in October our baby daughter was born and there has never been a more loving, caring child that has grown into a beautiful woman and mother. Also someday in heave I will meet that lost child.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Your husband’s response sent chills through my body. I am so sorry for your heartache and am thankful for the joy and healing you experienced since.

  • Nancy

    I wish that we had different ways of describing crying in our society. Way too often it is said to be ‘breaking down’ or ‘losing control’. I prefer letting the tears flow and having a good cry. God made us to cry when we hurt. God gave us tears as a release from the stress caused by hurting. We do not need to feel ashamed nor should anyone else try to make us feel that. Tears are good. Tears are helpful. Tears are necessary.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      What a good point, Nancy. We as a society do often describe a good, honest, therapeutic cry as “losing it,” etc. There should be no shame associated with it.

  • http://kristinemwebster.wordpress.com LaughingMouse

    I don’t know that anyone else has ever spoken these words out loud to me and I’m not even sure anyone has implied such a thing to me. But somehow this is still the sentiment that rattles around my mind. My father died suddenly nearly 2 years ago, he went to Urgent Care on Feb 28 and he died in our home on April 13, 7 weeks. We had time to say what needed saying and God gave me great comfort on that day as I wasn’t quite certain where Daddy was going. To say my faith has been shaken would be the understatement of my life. My faith is in shambles and I’m not even certain I desire to try picking up the pieces. All of this to say, that the only thing I would add to your beautifully written words is that there is no time limit on any of it. It may take me years to figure out my faith again, if I ever do. I have a dear friend who lost a child at 24 weeks into her pregnancy, about 10ish years ago, and they still do a birthday cake every year in celebration of that little life. There is no time limit on grief or the grieving process or even hardships of life.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      I am so very sorry about the loss of your father. And it is so true, there isn’t a time limit on grief or on honoring/remembering a life.

  • Lisa E

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your first child, and for the dreadful way that nurse treated you that day. Thank you for sharing your story, as I’m sure it will help a young couple one day in the same situation.
    You are so right, God does not want us or expect us to pull it together. There is a reason He holds every tear, and wipes them away. God bless you for sharing such a personal story. I am now a grandmother of 2.

  • Robin in New Jersey

    I have been trying to pull-it-together since October when my husband ‘s sin caused a huge rift in our marriage and family. I have days when I want to fall apart, but I have 3 teenage girls here who are watching me. People keep telling me to be strong in the Lord, but there are days, I just want to sit and cry and have someone minister to me.

    I also had a similar experience in an OB office when I had my first miscarriage back in 1987, before the days of cell phones. The nurse handed me the phone through the window to call my husband and ask him to meet me at the hospital. I couldn’t believe I was standing there bleeding profusely, about to buckle under the pain,crying my eyes out with very pregnant women watching and listening. I tried so hard, for their sakes to keep it together.

    Life is hard, God is good.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Hugs and prayers to you Robin!

  • http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com anna whiston-donaldson

    Pulling it together doesn’t help us, or anyone else. True emotion and leaning on God in the midst of our pain does. In my grief walk I try to be real, not sugar coating anything. Thank you for this meaningful, important post today.

  • http://www.incourage.me Susan G

    AMEN! Keep telling the truth – to yourself and to as many women as you can. We can only combat the lies and ill-spoken words by His truth… His truth, that will heal our soul and emotions.
    Blessings to you today!
    Susan

  • http://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com/ Alexis

    And God is not afraid of honest prayers! :)

    Thanks for being so brave to share such a personal story!

    May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams! :)

  • Julie

    I needed to hear that. Finances are overwhelming us, and I cannot stop crying and I cannot pull it together. I dont know if it helps, but I was thankful to read someone else felt overwhelmed with the idea of trying to pull it together

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Hugs. You are not alone.

  • Birdie Cutair

    Thank you so much for this post. I have had similar experiences when I’ve been told “get it together” or “you’ve got to be strong.” After the death of my first child at age 10, I delivered a baby girl 4 days later. I cried many, many tears over that baby as I fed her during the days and during the nights, but I also felt God healing me, bathing me with His tears and helping me to go through the grief with Him. He also showed me that my oldest daughter was in heaven with Him looking down on me. And I had many, many people showing me His love during this time in my life.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Birdie … I cannot imagine the mixture of grief and joy that must have flooded you all at once. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart.

  • Lisa Rohrbaugh

    Thank you for giving my “get it togethers” through the years a voice. They are now telling me “yes, you have grief, and go ahead cry, it helps.” Why must people be so critical for those of us who have to grieve over life’s losses of all types. Thank you Hannah for crying out. Angela you have helped release some of the “do nots” in my heart. I will Be still or (cry) and know that I am God.”

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Oh Lisa … I am so grateful that God used my heart and words and the short life of my little baby to touch your heart and so many others. Blessings to you.

  • pamela

    I’m not even 48 hours into a broken engagement. My heart is broken. I’m so scared. I am so sad. He is my best friend. We have been together for 6 years. I moved to this state to be with him. Know I find myself alone, doubting my decision, and trying to work towards slowly “pulling it together” or at least at work etc. Where do I begin? How do I start to move forward in a life that is so different that what I have known it to be? Lord please help us.

    • http://www.angelanazworth.com Angela Nazworth

      Sweet Pamela … what a heartache. I am so sorry. Praying tonight that you will be blessed with God’s peace and comfort as you take small gentle steps in a new direction.

  • http://n/a Liz

    Hannah’s song was also in my heart through infertility and a miscarriage all the way to the eventual birth of a beautiful son. I am praying for you, that your heart will heal and you will be strong wherever this journey takes you.

  • Tracey B

    Thank you so much for this reminder. My father-in-law passed away this week, and I have been trying so hard to “keep it together” for my husband, my son, and my mother–in-law. It feels so good to remember that it’s okay to let go, and that God will lift you up and give you the grace you need.

  • http://musingsandmeanderings-mlp.blogspot.com Melanie @ M&M

    Thank you for this. As a I survivor of childhood abuse, I tell myself this all the time. I love the comparison with Hannah. Thanks for reminding me that God never says, “Pull it together.”

  • Becky Jones

    We lost a granddaughter in a awful way several years back. I was told by my sister to go home and forget it and find you a job. I did come home but she was not right because I still greve for that little 12 year old granddaughter. She was precious to us and she is still a part of our lives.
    Thanks for your concern.
    Becky

  • Meg Robbie

    Thank you for letting me listen to God’s care for me.
    I am in a really bad space right now, my family have deserted me and I am alone. If not for Him I think I would go mad with grief. Having lost my husband, my beautiful soul mate, I am finding it hard to let go the tears. All I hear is ‘pull it together’
    Thank you

  • http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/ beth willis miller

    Angela, thank you so much for your open, honest, and transparent post…it brought back the many layers of feelings that I experienced following my miscarriage, and my daughter experienced following her miscarriage…I wrote about mine and linked to her blog here…
    http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/2013/01/challengerpast-memoriespresent-joy.html

  • http://www.BloomingWithJoy.com Michelle Pohl

    Great post. I have 3 girls followed by 2 losses. One of which was 2nd term. It was my pastor’s wife who told me to pull it together. She meant well but was looking out for the best interest of those I lead, not me. During that season of high and low emotions, I clung to James 1:1-3 consider it all joy when we go through times of suffering – suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope…Hope in Jesus.
    God, I cried, how are you going to use this for your good? I found some peace in knowing I can now better relate with women who struggle with loss. During this process God helped me forgive my hurt towards the pastor’s wife too.
    To date, we are still trying for number 4. I am hopeful in God’s perfect timing we will have a healthy baby boy. In the meantime, I will be thankful for the little girls I am blessed with.
    To those who have lost their child. I found peace knowing I have two perfect children (not flawless) in heaven and although I wasn’t able to share time with them on earth. They will never feel the pain of this world.
    In memory of Emma Kate 2012
    http://bloomingwithjoy.com/2013/02/24/emma-kate/

  • willowsprite

    Thank you Angela. Beautiful post!

  • Leah

    I am currently in the midst of a miscarriage. Thank you for writing this. I love God’s timing and servants faithful to write what has been pressed on their heart. Thank you for sharing.

  • Barb

    What a timely message! I am going through a miscarriage, my first one and hopefully last, and had the worst of it the 8th which meant going to the ER. Thank you for the picture of Jesus being able and even inviting us to come as we are rather than having to be strong in an unhealthy way.

  • http://www.missindeedy.com Missy

    Angela – this piece of writing brought me great comfort. It reminded me that I did not walk my own miscarrying path alone and that God cares do deeply for us that He would never leave us feeling embarrassed for our grief stricken-state. Thank you for bravely writing this and for reminding me, anew, that we aren’t called to “pull it together”, but to lean on the One who can and does.

  • http://deepwater1975.blogspot.com Margaret Spears

    I love this. Thank you for the freedom that Truth brings.

    I can hear the chains falling…..

    In Christ Alone,

    Margaret

  • Patricia Tyrrell

    This could not have come at a better time for me. I have been battling clinical depression for many years and just this week was told it was due to PTSD following a sexual assault 27 years ago. I never let myself cry or rage or scream after it happened, because I had to stay strong for my parents and my sister. When I went back to work, I had to stay strong for my colleagues. The man I was living with expected me to get over it after 2 weeks, and the police who investigated, while sympathetic, implied what I had done to protect myself during the assault would show me in a bad light should it ever come to court. I lost most of my joy in life, dealt with it and put \’it\’ away on the top, dusty shelf in my mind, never to be brought out into the light. So here I am, 27 years later and I can speak quite clinically about the event, I don\’t have nightmares or flashbacks, and I feel I am quite over it. And now my psychiatrist tells me that my worsening depression is due to keeping this event and the subsequent betrayals of people I trusted locked inside my heart. I intellectualize and rationalize my reactions, and I don\’t know how to break down that brick wall around my heart, which every day gets higher and deeper….sometimes, I \’m not sure if I truly have let the Lord in, or if I am keeping Him at arms length as well. I long to be able to break down the walls of \’being strong\’ and \’dealing with it\’ and \’it\’s OK, it happened ages ago\’ and all the other things I\’ve done (and still do) to keep my emotions from spilling over. I don\’t remember what real joy feels like, although I can still laugh and enjoy moments God gives me. At this point, I cannot even conjure up the feelings of fear, terror, and loss of control…how can I connect with those feelings and deal with them, when I cannot even remember them? My other fear is that once I open the floodgates, they\’ll never shut and I will spiral downwards, never to recover. I thank you and thank God for your post…I am so sorry for your loss, and I am sure that any words I give to you may sound empty and trite, for I have never been pregnant and have never known the joy of having children. However, I do know that you are loved and cherished and that He weeps with you.

    • by Grace alone

      Patricia… I am reading this days after the original post, so I am not sure if these words will reach you, but still I feel that I must reply to your brave comment. I am so very sorry for the pain that you have suffered. Praise God for your life, for your love for Him! With great empathy, my heart aches for the violation in your past and the years of grief.
      ” how can I connect with those feelings and deal with them, when I cannot even remember them? My other fear is that once I open the floodgates, they\’ll never shut and I will spiral downwards, never to recover.”
      I know psychiatrists can be wonderful at treating the chemical, but can I lovingly suggest adding a Christian counselor who uses EMDR to help process trauma. They may be able to help you slowly, gently and effectively deal with the pain from your past and enable you the freedom that God desires you to have in the future.

      Praying right now that God leads you to a place of healing and comforts your heart with His exceedingly abundant love for you, His child!

  • Alyson

    I am always encouraged by the following Scriptures from Hebrews 5:7-9 & 4:15&16:

    ” During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

    “15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

    Also, if I can recommend for people who are struggling to get help, Ellel ministries, a non-denominational group, offer help with inner healing and dealing with all sorts of emotional issues and wounding, and you will also meet people who have walked the same path.

  • http://brandeeshafer.blospot.com Brandee

    I love this post for so many reasons. My 4th pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I have a 4th child on earth, now, though: Baby Chip. And “his verse” is I Samuel 1:27.

  • margie

    Thank you!

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThePleasantPheasant Jackie

    Yes, my daughter died just 7 weeks ago, and I’ve already heard it – how I should “get over it”. I considered it, but there is no way to get over it now – maybe ever. I realize that not many people “get” to go through the loss of their child – before birth or 42 years later, but I sure haven’t discovered the path to getting over it. I was pleased to read about Hannah, who I’ve known for many years, but had forgotten in the time of my grief. She gives me hope that when I cry to God He is hearing me even though I get nothing back. I’m sorry about your child, they are all precious to us whether we had the chance to meet them or not. Nobody should say “get over it” to anybody, I am learning that in the future I must have a lot of patience with others who are grieving whether they’ve been doing it for a week or 10 years. Grief is grief, we don’t want it, but we have it.

  • http://www.mommieswithhope.com Teske

    Thank you for your beautiful testimony; one that I can very much relate to. I have three babies in heaven, my first daughter who died shortly after birth and two babies who died in miscarriage. The Lord has done an amazing work through our losses simply because we were bold enough to share our story with others who experience something similar. I pray your post would minister to many who read here! If you’re interested in this ministry, I invite you to check out Mommies with Hope, where I write specifically for women who’ve experienced loss. I recently published my first book on the topic and would love to gift you a copy if you’d be interested.
    With Hope,
    Teske

  • http://mamazee.blogspot.ca Stephanie

    Thank you. My parents divorced in 2011, and asked me and my siblings not to tell anyone. Pretend nothing’s happening. Just carry on. I’m so glad that God is merciful and does not expect me to be the big girl. He knows, He sees, He cares, and He listens.

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  • Amanda

    Hi Angela,
    I appreciated your blog post. I had just done the “in real life online conference’ Friday and found it wonderful. It however pointed out my deep need for community right now, but knowing that it is a community I might not find. The last 6 months have been very hard to say the least I have had two miscarriages one in November where I lost my daughter at 15 weeks and another one where I lost my son just this march. (I have been pregnant 7 times and have two living son’s) the only way I got over my previous miscarriages was by getting pregnant with my son that I finally carried full term…never really dealing with the losses. Once I had my second son who is now 22 months I thought we were out of the woods and then when we found out we were pregnant this past August we were thrilled…only to find out at my 15 week Dr apt. that the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks. The only way I seemed to get over that loss was again by getting pregnant. This next pregnancy was followed very closely so at 6 weeks we had already known that the baby was non viable. However there was more involved this time. It turns out it was a partial molar pregnancy, which means (in my case after pathology testing) that cancerous cells had grown..Now as I endure weekly blood work to make sure my hcg levels drop (because if they don’t that means they did not remove all the cells and that I would then have to go through chemo therapy) I am having a very hard time “moving on” . Every week is a reminder of what has happened and the possibility of what might. I also was pregnant at the same time as my very close sister in law who just had her baby girl…my wounds are very deep and I am finding it hard to be in the same room as them…I get to watch my precious niece grow up the way my daughter never will. I know that God is in this and with me…I just don’t have much strength to hope…hope that things will turn out alright …hope that he could work a miracle…hope that one day I might have more babies..and I have no one that believes in God and has also experienced this (not that I would wish this on anyone) to talk to or to tell me what I’m feeling is alright. The world stopped for me the day I lost my babies ..but not for anyone else…they have all moved on…but I am stuck…I am usually a very outgoing bubbly person very social…and at this point it takes all my strength to just get out of bed and be there for my little boys…But I feel everyone else thinks I should be past this already…that I should move forward….I just dont know how.