Nothing that grieves us can be called little...
"Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws or proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size." Mark Twain
October is Infant Loss Awareness Month, and I always grieve alongside friends, acquaintances, and the unknown persons of the world who have lost a baby. I lost my first baby early in my pregnancy (you can read about him here), and I have walked alongside many friends who have lost babies in the womb or when young in life. I am so sorry if you have suffered a loss of a baby, and I am also so thankful for your little one and the moments that you got to share with him or her.
I love this quote about grief by Mark Twain. I have talked to so many women who have slighted their grief or have compared themselves to someone else who has lost more. Friends, do not do this! Grief is grief, whether you are grieving the loss of an eight-wee-old that you never saw or felt, or if it is your son of nearly six years. Loss is loss, if that loss is the perpetual emptiness of womb, the loss of what could have been, the loss of dreams and hopes. Or loss of a being, a person, a baby who had too short of a life.
After my miscarriage, I read A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser, which I would recommend to everyone, regardless of their situation. In the beginning, Sittser urges his audience not to compare their situation with others. He says that if you feel that your suffering or experience is somehow not as devastating, then you don't give yourself the freedom to fully grieve and respond in the way you need. On the contrary, if you feel like your suffering was more disastrous than someone else's, then you can become proud and think little of others in grief. I wholeheartedly agree, for how can we know someone's heart? How can we understand the pain and loss that someone else feels, regardless of what that loss was or how it happened? We cannot. So I also urge you not to compare grief or losses of any kind.
Infant loss, whether inside or outside of the womb, always yields some kind of grief. But it can look very different depending on the person. Some losses, if the pregnancies were unplanned or even unwanted, can produce both guilt and a sense of relief, which can then lead to immense guilt. Sometimes these unplanned pregnancies can produce a sort of indifference and a seemingly lack of grief or sorrow. In some cases, the grief is all-consuming and can lead to severe depression. None of these reactions are wrong. Stages of grief are normal and nonlinear. There's also no timeline for each stage or feeling.
What is important is where the grief and loss and suffering lead you. Ultimately, it can lead to hope. Not hope in another child. Not hope in a healthy pregnancy. Not hope even in your spouse or the children you do have. But hope in love. Hope in God. Hope in the future.
Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured out into our hearts... (Romans 5:3-5)
I still think about the little man that I never got to meet. And I still grieve that loss. I also know that little Samuel's loss did lead me to persevere. And that perseverance did strengthen my character. And that depth of character has indeed led me to hope. I hope the same for you, whether you lost a baby or are grieving something else. My heart is with you, and I desperately hope that your grief leads you ultimately to hope.