“It’s time,” my husband whispered in my ear. He clutched Samuel’s picture frame close to his chest as we slowly squeezed our way to the end of the line. All the young couples in front of us were happily holding their babies.
One mom glanced at me and said, “I have the same dress.”
I feigned a grin and stared at my blue lace maternity dress, barely able to see my feet over my postpartum belly. My mind instantly filled with flashbacks of flat-liners, my baby’s crib replaced with a casket, and my shattered innocence about healthy, blissful pregnancies. Would our presence make everyone feel sad? Should we really go up there?
The week before, our pastor had asked us if we wanted to dedicate our baby, Samuel, on Mother’s Day. My husband and I wrestled with questions, “Should we, and how do we, dedicate a baby that has died?”
Daily I asked, “Why, Lord?” and pleaded, “Please don’t let Samuel’s death be in vain. Let his little life bear fruit for Your kingdom. And please let me see it.”
We finally decided to participate in the baby dedication at our church, reasoning that if Samuel was alive today, we would have chosen to dedicate him to the Lord. But still, I wondered how this was going to work.
We stood on stage with the other families camouflaging us as our pastor greeted and blessed their babies. Surprisingly, our pastor quickly asked the other families to exit the stage, and now, we stuck out like ugly ducklings. I heard a mom gasp when she realized we weren’t holding our baby. Another mom’s face fell while our pastor began to read Samuel’s obituary, the hardest story I’ve ever had to write. Yet, as our pastor invited the congregation to pray for us, I felt their extended hands binding the exposed wound in my heart.
We were not given the same gift — a parenting book on how to raise godly children — that the other families received. Instead, our church gave us a framed print of Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Later, I learned that this psalm was written possibly after a time of exile. God regathered His people after they had experienced trauma: loss of home, family, and their identity. Perhaps you can relate to their grief. Yet, like the exiles, God can dress our wounds from unfulfilled dreams with the healing balm of grace that comes from Him and the power of community.
After the service, a man came up to my husband and told him how their family had suffered the loss of a child too.
Another couple that had a miscarriage shared, “That was so healing!”
The comfort they felt and their deep connection to our story of grief and loss made me realize that this was the fruit I was hoping Samuel’s life would bear. Somehow our story intertwined with and gave voice to their stories like bandages, wrapped together to soothe the soul.
This first step towards sharing my story led me along an unexpected path of taking the next step of courage to share my story again and again. Over the next year, more people encouraged me to write my story. Writing is healing. The more I shared, the more I realized I was not alone.
God can give us a new purpose in our pain — to offer our stories of hope to others facing similar struggles. When we share our stories, “we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV).
Every time I meet another mom who is experiencing fresh grief due to unexpected infant loss, I reflect on the many times I was touched by friends who bravely shared their stories and comforted me in my pain. Then, I have courage to share my story once more. Truly, only God can redeem something so painful and transform our words to provide comfort for someone else.
On this side of heaven, we think of death as the end, but it was truly the birth of my life as a writer. God used Samuel’s death to awaken me to a greater reality — life in eternity and the healing power of shared stories.Leave a Comment