I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!
In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!
In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!
In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are giv’n on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!
In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.
But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.
So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!
When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.
I know this life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.
But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!
By Kristi Bothur, mother of seven (two on earth and five in heaven)
There's just no getting around it.
Christmas is hard when you are grieving, and even more so when the loved one you are grieving is a child. So much of the holiday seems focused on children and childhood - and then, of course, there is the fact that a baby is the central character of the whole season - even if it is Jesus.
If someone close to you is a bereaved parent, what can you do to support them through the Christmas season? While everyone grieves differently, here are three things that are on the wish list of many bereaved parents this holiday season:
1. They want to be understood. They need to have the freedom to do Christmas the way that is best for them. To skip the parts that hurt a raw heart. To participate and not have people think that coming to the party means they have finally gotten over the loss of their baby. To have their friends and relatives realize how hard this time of year is when your baby is no longer with you. A simple acknowledgement of this, whether spoken or in a note, goes a long way.
2. They want to know their baby is not forgotten. And if they have named their baby, they want to hear their baby's name, or to see it in writing. You never realize how much you take names for granted until you have a child whose name has no reason to be said. "I'm thinking of you and remembering _____ this year" is a wonderful gift to a bereaved parent, as is a Christmas ornament or another kind of memorial to remember a baby born to Heaven.
3. They want to know their baby's life had a purpose. If your friend's experience helped you in any way to appreciate life in a new way, or to give to others, tell them. Give to a charity in the name of your friend's baby, or just tell them what their experience has meant to you. Let them know that God has used their baby to inspire something good in you.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friend this Christmas season. It will make a world of difference.
If you are a bereaved parent, what is on your wish list?
This Bible study by Teske Drake takes the bereaved mother by the hand and shows her how God's promises of love, goodness, peace, and purpose, among others, are not null and void in the aftermath of losing a child. Teske, founder of the Mommies with Hope ministry, is a three-time bereaved mother herself and she artfully weaves her story, as well as the stories of other women, throughout the study. Unlike some other pregnancy loss Bible studies that place much emphasis on Loss and the grieving process, this book keeps the emphasis on Christ throughout while at the same time never minimizing the great loss that a baby's death is. Journaling questions are placed at appropriate moments in each chapter, and these also provide places to begin discussions in a small group study environment, along with the additional study resources that are available on the Mommies with Hope website. This is a truly wonderful, and potentially life-changing, book for anyone wanting to experiencing hope after the loss of a child.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and Palmetto Parent has included an article this month on pregnancy loss, including information on Naomi's Circle. Well done, Chris Worthy! Thank you for shedding light on this important topic!! The article begins on page 14. Please share this with others and look for the print version around the South Carolina Midlands this month. http://www.ipubviewer.com/publication/?i=128042
One of the hardest things to deal with when you have lost a baby is the reactions of other people, and the earlier your baby died, the fewer people, it seems, understand. They didn't see your baby, they didn't connect with him or her, they were not anticipating your child's birth from the moment you got a positive home pregnancy test. Their concern is for you (and, unfortunately, that usually means the mother more than the father). They want very much for you to not hurt anymore, for you to be healthy. And so they often "encourage" you to move on, to focus on the positive things in life, and to "get over it."
The effect of all this, however, is not to push you into a place where you feel better, but to make you feel that your loss has been minimized. After all, who would tell a grieving widow to cheer up because, after all, she has other family members who love her? Who would tell a man whose wife has just died not to be so sad because there are lots of other women out there? And so when similar comments are made to bereaved parents, we feel like our child's life is not as valuable as someone who lived longer.
Let me pause a moment to say that I truly believe that most comments like that are intended to help, and not hurt. But I think most people don't know what to say to someone who is grieving. Grief makes us uncomfortable - maybe because it brings us face to face with the whole idea of death and mortality. And so in our discomfort, we speak clumsily, trying to help, but not knowing how. (Think back to the last time you had to deal with someone else's grief - did you know what to say?)
In modern America, I fear we've lost much of the art of mourning with those who mourn, one of the key components of which is the recognition that grief has no timetable. Everyone grieves in their own way, and for their own season. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions as you travel this road:
I’ve just finished reading “Choosing to SEE” by Mary Beth Chapman. Mary Beth is the wife of singer Steven Curtis Chapman, and the mother of six, including three adopted daughters from China. One of them, five-year-old Maria, died in May of 2008 after being hit by a car driven by her 17-year-old brother. As you might expect, the book is a powerful testimony, not only of how God met the Chapman family in their grief, but how Mary Beth has struggled throughout her life to allow God to write her story, both the happy chapters and the sad ones. It is a powerful and honest book that I highly recommend.
But that’s not the main thing I wanted to share. What hit me the most powerfully was not in the book itself, but on the dedication page. This is what Mary Beth wrote to her son Will Franklin, who was driving the car that hit his sister.
“You have been entrusted with an incredible pain! I’m so sorry. I wish as your mom I could take it away, but I know God has a plan for you to steward this story well and to minister to others through your suffering. You are my hero, as well as Maria’s…she loved you so much, as do I!”
Wow. That is profound, and I want each of us to hear those words as if they were spoken to us.
You have been entrusted with an incredible pain. There is no pain like losing a child, and many of us have circumstances that make that pain even more difficult to bear. Consider, though, that this pain was entrusted to us. What will we do with it? Will it destroy us? Or will we master it and use it?
I know God has a plan for you to steward this story well and to minister to others through your suffering. God has a plan. He is sovereign. He also loves you more than you can possibly imagine. And He alone can help you use your story to minister to others, to “comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4). If you are just beginning this journey, you may find that hard to believe. But please hang in there…and wait to see how God moves in your life.
I’m so sorry. I wish…I could take it away. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish that my body hadn’t failed both me and Naomi…that Kyria had lived…that Jordan were still growing within me. There are plenty of days when I just don’t care how many people God blesses through this ministry or how perfect heaven is, I just want my babies back. And it’s okay to feel that way. I feel that for each mama and daddy I meet with a baby in heaven. I’m so sorry…I wish I could change things…but I am absolutely convinced of two things. God is loving. And God is sovereign. And tragic losses do not change who and what He is.
So…my prayer for all of us is that we would trust the One writing our story, even when it is painful, and SEE how He wants us to steward our stories well to minister to others – and in the process, to heal and know His joy and peace again.
P.S. If you would like to share how God has used your story to minister to others, please e-mail me or share it in a comment here. You are my hero, as well as your child's! God bless you!
Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review