As a mother of children in heaven, I have struggled with her example, too. Losing a child in pregnancy not only sets a woman on a painful road of grief, but it also is an awful blow to her view of herself as a woman. I’ve lost three children in pregnancy. In the place where they should have been the safest, my womb, my body failed them, and me. What could I offer, if as a mother, I could not protect the most helpless of my children?
Reading Proverbs 31 again, though, showed me not a perfect woman, but a list of priorities that I could use to help navigate the waters of loss, and they focused on some key areas that I believe are potentially hazardous to women who have suffered this unique devastation. This Mother's Day, a day that may hold much pain for you, I want to invite you into her world to see what she can offer us in our journey.
“She brings [her husband] good, not harm.” It’s easy to neglect your marriage in your own pain and grief. Don’t forget to focus on your husband and his pain and loss, as well as your own.
“She…works with eager hands.” It’s easy to become apathetic. Guard against this by choosing activities that you can take pleasure in.
“She provides…for her family.” It’s easy to turn inward and ignore the needs of others. If you have living children, don’t ignore them. If you don’t, then focus on other family members – your husband, your friends, your pets, and your home.
“She considers a field…” When you have lost a baby, your whole future is changed. It helps to make new plans, even short term ones like special date nights, that will allow you to still look forward to the days to come.
“Her arms are strong for her tasks.” After a loss, it’s easy to neglect your body through poor eating and lack of exercise. Don’t forget to take care of yourself physically, which will help you emotionally, too.
“She sees that her trading is profitable…” Take time for the things that are profitable in your life, the things that make life better.
“She opens her arms to the poor…” It’s easy to be self-focused when you have experienced a devastating loss. Look for ways to bless those who are even less fortunate.
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household.” There are many future events that are hard when you’ve lost a baby – estimated due dates, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, holidays. Preparing your heart for them in advance helps when those days come, and makes them less intimidating.
“She makes coverings...” Another way to fight apathy is to put your creative energy into new projects around your home and yard. Surround yourself with beauty.
"She is clothed in fine linen…” The last thing you want to think about after losing a child is how you look. But taking care of your appearance helps you emotionally, as well. Don’t be afraid to dress up a bit and look nice.
“Her husband is respected…among the elders...” When we are hurting, it’s easy to want our husbands to focus on us and on grieving with us. It makes the loss easier to bear. But your husband also has needs and responsibilities, many of which are outside the home, and focusing on those feeds his spirit in a way that will enable him to give at home as well. Take the time and effort to praise your husband and to encourage him in his activities and friendships with other men.
“She…supplies the merchants with sashes.” Can you use your artistic abilities to make something that will bless others, especially other mothers of babies in heaven? I know of many mothers who have used their natural talents in art, music, poetry, gardening, photography, and writing to remember not only their children, but the children of others as well. What can you do?
“She can laugh at the days to come.” It’s hard to imagine ever laughing again after a loss. But you will. It’s okay to smile, to laugh, to lose yourself in a happy moment. Remember, your child right now is experiencing unceasing joy! It’s okay for you to have some, too.
“She speaks with wisdom…” When we are hurting, it’s so terribly easy to lash out at others, especially those closest to us, including our husbands. Be careful of this. Guard your tongue and ask God to give you wisdom in what and how you speak.
“She does not eat the bread of idleness.” It can be easy to fall into the trap of escaping from our pain through "busy idleness" – surfing the Internet, watching soap operas, losing ourselves in fantasy novels. Take time to rest, but also make the most of your time.
“Her children…call her blessed; her husband also…” Did you notice this is the only reference to children in the whole passage? Being a woman of God is so much more than being a mother. But if you have a child in heaven, you are a mother! You will see your child again. And as women, we have the wonderful potential to "mother" others, to encourage younger women in their walks, including those who walk this path of loss. Seek out those opportunities.
“A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised…” This is also the first mention of a woman’s relationship with the Lord, but it clearly underlies everything else. You may have very mixed feelings toward God right now – confusion, anger, disappointment, distrust. Take time to work through them and to nurture your relationship with Him. He will carry you through this time, I promise, and there is life on the other side.