Grief- A Mother’s Story

Amie, one  of our dear contributors here, has kindly offered to share her story of grief and the Lord’s hand in her life amidst great loss. May it be a blessing to you. She will be sharing posts from this series once or twice a week or so for the next month. ~Ashley

When we first became pregnant we were surprised to learn we were pregnant with identical twin girls. 20 weeks into the pregnancy we learned that our girls suffered from a rare condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We experienced a miraculous healing of all symptoms related to this deadly disease and at 32 weeks gave birth to our twin girls. Marylou Janice, our firstborn was stillborn. Providence Joy was just over 2lbs. There was no known cause for Marylou’s death. Time has given me the courage to share some of what God has taught me through our experience of anticipation, joy and grief. It is my hope that I can use this venue and our journey to share with you, dear reader, pieces of what we have learned and experienced so you can walk away with a greater understanding of our God, even amidst pain.

My prayer as I write this is that I will be able to give you a glimpse into a grieving heart and hopefully some ideas for biblically embracing those that grieve around you.

When Marylou and Providence were born I felt like I was watching someone else’s life, or if it were my life, that I was viewing it through a heavy fog. From the moment the doctor walked in the door and said, “I am so sorry” my body shut down and retreated into numbness. After my C-section I held Marylou for awhile before the doctors took her away and then I just sat there. That night I couldn’t sleep for fear that this nightmare would somehow become reality. This numbness, fog and unbelief are the blessings God gives us for those first few weeks. Had grief hit me all at once I don’t think I could have physically survived the emotional pain and trauma, but instead my grief was given to me slowly. On this journey of mourning it seems that just as I think I am done I find new depths to my pain.

As those of us who have experienced loss journey down the path of grief there are two temptations that those who mourn and those standing beside them most often make, avoiding grief and comparing grief. We are from a society where we are uncomfortable with pain. Because we try and avoid pain often people try to take away grief as well. Some of the most hurtful things people have said to us are, “at least you have one child” or “twins would have been too much work” or “at least Marylou died before you had a chance to know her”. These words sting so deeply because they try and take our gift of grief and minimize it. Our joy in Providence’s life is huge but it has nothing to do with the depth of pain we feel over losing Marylou. We celebrate Providence’s life but her life in no way negates the loss we feel over her sister’s death. Good things do not cancel out grief or pain. We grieve so deeply because we loved so deeply and trying to lessen the situation does nothing other then to try and chip away at some of that love and its natural response when the person you love is taken away.

When Christ learned of Lazarus death even though he knew it was temporary he grieves with Mary and Martha. The Bible says he “weeps”.  I will never forget looking up at Jon as he held Marylou for the first time. We were in the operating room and tears ran freely down his cheeks as he held his firstborn and prayed God would heal her. As time passed and he realized God’s answer was, “no” he wept. He wept for his daughter’s life, what she would never get to experience, the things we would never be able to tell her and the relationship between them that was unnaturally severed until eternity. His weeping did not negate his knowledge and joy that she was with her Savior it mourned that she was not with us now, that death was present in this world. He embraced his grief as he embraced his daughter and in doing so acknowledged the terrible hold sin has on this world.

Another way we try and cope with pain is by comparing grief. The trouble with comparing grief though is we always end up on the losing side. If my grief is worse then someone else’s how is there ever hope to get through it. If my grief is not as great as another my mourning seems shallow or unjustified. Loss is loss; it is all just as bad. I find myself often slipping into this comparison, trying to figure out if my grief is worse then the woman, who miscarried early on her pregnancy because I carried my baby longer, or better then the woman whose son died before his third birthday. But the reality is that loss is loss, it is unnatural and results in grief, one is not worse then the other they are all equally bad. This does not mean all grief is the same; it simply means that loss cannot be quantified.

I met a woman in NICU who taught this to me. The nurses introduced us, she delivered twin boys, one was stillborn and the other lived for three weeks in NICU before he died. At first I didn’t want to talk with her, I wondered how I could let her see my pain when I still had a daughter that was living. I’ll never forget what she did, she held me tight and cried with and for me. She told me how painful it was to lose Nathan, her firstborn, and allowed me to weep for Marylou. In not comparing her grief to mine she allowed us to be unified in our loss and to support each other. We were able to navigate our mourning together and encourage and hold up on another because we knew that loss is not quantified it is loss and it is all just as bad.

You may be wondering why I write about grief today, 22 months after losing Marylou. It is because I am grieving deeply right now, often I can go days without thinking of or mourning Marylou and then God shows me a new depth to my pain. Sometimes it is during a wedding, when I realize I will never get to give my girl away, or when Providence reaches a new milestone and I long to see Marylou reach the same goal, sometimes it is when I meet a fellow mom of twins, or when I rock Rosemary to sleep. In some ways I cherish my grief for it reminds me how much I loved my little girl and today I am grateful that I loved her so deeply. While grief is never desired its lessons can be appreciated. Thank you Marylou for helping me love my Savior with greater depth, for teaching me to walk the path of grief and embrace its lessons. I love you little girl.

What are some ways God has met you in your point of greatest grief? What are some situations you have been in where you can meet people at their point of grief?

(Post by:Amie)


11 Responses to “Grief- A Mother’s Story”

  1. 1 Amie May 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Grief is such a personal topic I don’t expect alot of comment “Chatter” but I’d love to hear your personal stories of grief or how God has met you in your point of grieving or ministered to you as you help others in their point of grief! Please feel free also to ask questions about our process if it will help you minister to those around you experiencing loss.

  2. 2 kelly May 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    As a mother, I have not experienced the loss of a child I just wanted to share a message that the Lord left for us in the saddest days of our lives. Six years ago, my husband’s brother was traveling with our college’s men’s quartet. A semi crossed the middle line and hit their van head-on, killing all five passengers instantly. Our hearts were hurting, grieving. My husband had lost his younger brother, his best friend. In the charred remains a CD was found, still in it’s cellophane wrapping. It’s title was ‘GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES’. Outside the van, a burnt piece of our school’s newspaper was found. The only part untouched by fire was the title of an article: ‘HAVE FAITH IN GOD’. It was difficult not to rejoice in the Lord even while experiencing such grief! How true this message is for every trial we go through!

  3. 3 Ashley L. May 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Amie, I am so grateful for you sharing your story with us and encouraging us both in grieving well both for ourselves and with others. You are so right that our culture tries to avoid pain and doesn’t know how to respond to it, and I see those effects in my own life. I want to be able to grieve well with others and myself whenever grief comes my way, but I definitely feel the temptation to minimize my own pain so I don’t have to deal with it, as well as often don’t know how to best love, serve, and bless those around me who are might be grieving. It isn’t a lack of desire, but largely a lack of knowing how.

  4. 4 Shilo May 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    There is no quantifier for loss. How beautiful…and true.
    Bless you for sharing your story with us!

  5. 5 Andrea Pavkov May 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    You have helped me better understand the grief of my best friend after walking through the experience with her of giving birth and losing her baby girl at 22 weeks. Three years later I couldn’t truly understand that her grief would still be so deep but you helped me to see that she is still grieving the things that will never be for little Sara Grace. Thank you.

  6. 6 Sarah May 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Thank you Amie for sharing your story with us. And for helping us better understand grief and the dangers of avoiding or comparing. Last September I miscarried at 14 weeks. Since it was still early in the pregnancy, I’ve often felt guilty or unjustified in my grieving. I’ve felt caught in the comparing trap…for example, my cousin’s baby girl Elizabeth, like your precious Marylou, was stillborn two years ago, and when I think of all the sorrow she has gone through and continues to go through, my grief seems so trite. I will never pretend to understand the depths of grief that my cousin, or you, or others who have had a stillborn baby have seen, but it was freeing for me to read what you wrote. That loss is loss, and I don’t need to quantify it in order to feel qualified to grieve. Thank you.

  7. 7 Alexis May 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Amie, thank you so much for sharing your story and the wisdom you have gained through your grieving process. I have not experienced the loss of a child, but the things you have written are so helpful to hear and consider. Thank you for adding to my own understanding of loss and grief of all kinds, and understanding of those who are grieving something I may not be able to relate to.

  8. 8 Summur Braley May 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Praying for you! Thank you for sharing.

  9. 9 Addie May 16, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart and experience on this topic, especially in how to minister to those who are grieving.

  10. 10 Amie May 17, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Thank you ladies for your encouragement, messages of hope and for having the courage to share pieces of your stories. It is amazing to me to hear how God so faithfully meets us in our point of need! I look forward to hearing more from you.

  11. 11 Doug March 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you, Amie. I lost someone very dear to me a year ago. She is not dead, but I lost her just the same. Knowing that she misses me too is no help. I never knew that it was possible to miss someone so much and for so long.

    Even now, I am sometimes overcome by a sorrow deeper than anything I have ever felt. No one wants to hear about it anymore; they figure I should have “moved on” by now. Your story helps, especially when you say that people should not compare grief. I sometimes feel foolish to grieve this deeply when other people have lost so much more.

    To quote Robbie Davis-Floyd, “The power and duration of your grief will mirror the power and duration of your love. So if you love deeply, don’t expect to ‘get over it.’ Just learn to live with it, and honor your ability to love that much.”

    Thank you once again.

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