My name is Donna Murphy, and I am a mother of three babies who, I believe, live in Heaven. I pray that my beliefs can be helpful and that you take with you some words of healing from my witness.
I have attended many national conventions on pregnancy and infant loss, and they all lack one thing. They are all afraid to bring God into their programs. I am not. God is the center of my life, and He is the ultimate healer. It is God who gently talks to us and encourages us in our time of sorrow. I pray that God and the peace of the Holy Spirit be with you. Another name for the Holy Spirit is the Paraclete. Paraclete literally means, “the one who answers the cry”. Nothing brings out a cry for help like losing a child.
Holy Spirit, answer our cries.
The hardest thing I have ever lived through is when I lost my last baby at 17 weeks. Everything in me cried out. I could not understand. I welcomed this gift of a child that God had sent me. Why would God let my baby be taken from me? Didn’t he trust me with this baby? Did I do something wrong? Was I being punished? How could this happen? My job was to protect my baby, and I couldn’t. He died anyway.
In the book of Wisdom 1;13 in the Bible it says”God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” So he does not cause death. I had to turn to the basic facts of faith. God did not bring death into the world. Sin did. Because there is sin, there is death. God didn’t take my baby from me or your baby from you. Sin is in the world therefore allowing sickness and death. Not the mother’s sin or the father’s sin.
In John 9:3, we read, “Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him.'” In general, sin causes death. God has a direct will, and a permissive will. God allows death from his permissive will, not his direct will.
The death of our babies could have only been stopped by a miracle. So where is God in all this? Why did he not give my baby a miracle? As a dear friend told me in my grief, “When you lost your baby, God was right there with you supporting you when you felt weak, and loving you.” Sometimes that is hard to see when you are dealing with the loss of your child. It seems hard to find God.
Where is He? Okay, I get that he allows natural things to happen like death. Why did he not save my baby, or your baby by a miracle? God loves you! Jesus weeps with you. He does not abandon you. We cannot understand his ways, but we can be sure that he loves us. Jesus sends us His Holy Spirit. Let the paraclete answer your cry.
In John 11, some of the verses read:
“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Think about that…he stayed there. He let it happen. What? Permissive will of God.
Then after this, he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.’ ” And Jesus wept.
The words, “and Jesus wept” are so very important. Jesus wept even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in a matter of minutes. I think Jesus did this to show us it is okay to grieve and be sad when someone dies. So if you begin to doubt yourself, and say why am I grieving so much, you can ask yourself the question, “What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)”? When someone Jesus loved died, you can see the answer in the Gospel of John. Jesus wept. Jesus grieved.
Grief is normal, and it is what Jesus did. Everyone grieves differently…usually it is harder first, and slowly improves, but everyone is different. Some people stuff the grief, and it doesn’t come out until later. Others face it head on, right away hoping to ”get over it” quickly. But grief takes time, effort, and healing.
Now I had to ask, “Where is God in all of this?” He is teaching us how to grieve through the bible. He is teaching us that it is OK to grieve through the bible. He is right by our side holding us up when we cannot bear to sit much less stand on our own two feet. He is with us, supporting us, loving us. When you look at the cross remember Jesus did that so you could be together with your family again and with Him our heavenly family forever. He loves you more than you will ever know and he will never leave you.
There is not a time limit on grief. There is a child missing from your life that no other child can replace. A piece of your heart will be gone until you are in Heaven. Grief is so very heavy at first. As it eases up, sometimes you feel guilty for not feeling so bad. The first time you laugh, you may feel guilty. Don’t. The first time you don’t feel sorrow for a few hours, you may feel guilty. Don’t. The devil, who is the accuser, tries to make you feel guilty, not God. You need time. It is healthy to take a break from sorrow. You need to heal.
Eventually, you have a scar that remains. It is always there; your child is always missing. Eventually, it doesn’t hurt as bad. Some days will be tough, and some easy. Like an amputee who has lost a limb, the open wound will heal, but your life will forever be different.
Your loss is real but, it should not limit you forever.
There are many, many little reminders that the precious child you once carried is not physically with you anymore. Some people call these reminders “triggers”. At first, you may experience triggers all the time. Triggers might include seeing so many pregnant people. Where did all these pregnant ladies and babies come from? They seem to be all around you. It is like you never noticed them as much prior to your loss.
Other triggers may be the due date, or the stillbirth/miscarriage date. Some reminders/triggers are common like finding a maternity shirt you forgot to put away, or a baby toy you bought early and just found. Others are uncommon like a smell or sound. There are many, many different triggers that may make you feel sad, and bring back the fresh grief. Sometimes you know it is coming, and sometimes you are caught off guard.
Over time the sting of grief lessens, but it still has its triggers. I have had women who seemed healed 30-40 years after their loss, but something will remind them of the baby they lost, and they may cry for the first time in years. And that is okay. They have lost their baby, and it is okay to miss them. Someone is missing from their life. Some one is missing from your life, now, and for the rest of your life.
There is no time limit on grief. Don’t let anyone bully you into stuffing your grief because it is time for you to be over it. You set your boundaries, not them. They probably just miss the old you, and you probably miss the old you, too. It takes time to find your new normal.
People who want to say something, but don’t know what to say sometimes will say the wrong words:
- Once you start spotting, bring the miscarriage kit into the bathroom with you.
- There was probably something wrong with the baby.
- At least the baby did not suffer
- You can have another.
- Be grateful for the kids you have.
- What lesson is there for you in this loss.
I could go on and on telling you unbelievable comments people have made to me or someone I know. These hurtful words do not make you feel better; they can make you angry, and add injury to the pain you are already feeling. These people usually have a good heart, and want to help, but it is rare to find someone who has not had a loss who can truly understand. Trying to explain losing a baby to them is like trying to teach a 2-year-old algebra. They just are not able to get it. They want to help, but many times they will say the wrong thing. Ask Jesus for the power to forgive them.
Men and Women often grieve differently. I have had three losses, one in the first trimester, and two in the second trimester. My husband and I grieved very differently:
- Raphael 14 weeks, Jim protected me
- Michael 9 weeks, Jim emotionally abandoned me
- Gabriel 17 weeks, Jim grieved with me
Jim really grieved hard with our last loss. With both of us caring for each other and communicating our feelings in various ways, our last loss brought us closer than ever. After the first week, he had to go back to work, and I had to care for the kids during the day. We would e-mail each other our feelings, and the other would read it when able to give the words the attention they deserved. We’d reply to each other. Jim would respond back with comments like, “You are a good mom, and Gabriel is missing out on having you raise him.” Then later we would talk when time permitted during the day. This worked for us.
Find what works for you, but do keep communicating and supporting each other. Each of us grieves differently. Telling your story and explaining your emotions either verbally, hand-written, or typed, is a way to grieve and begin the healing process.
You are still on this earth for a reason. Find your new normal. Do not give up hope. Do not despair. God loves you! He has not abandoned you. He is by your side, loving you and sharing in your grief. Share your God-given gifts with others in whatever you do, and you can see how He works through you to make a difference in this world.
We have talked about how Jesus is there for you. I would now like to talk about how Mary is there for you, too. Let’s reflect on Mary’s journey, and how she must have empathy for the families who experience the loss of a baby.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).
When I read this passage, I focused on how Mary pondered these events. And we read that Mary goes and visits Elizabeth and sees all the angel said is true:
In Luke 2, the Gospel explains that Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. The shepherds are visited by an angel who tells them to go visit their savior and Messiah who has been born in the city of David, Bethlehem. In Luke 2:19 it says, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” I love this part how Mary is so reflective and keeps memories in her heart.
After Mary’s bleeding had stopped, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple. At the presentation in the temple, Mary and Joseph meet Anna and Simeon who spoke about how great Jesus is and would be.
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:33).
Hearing the words, “You yourself a sword will pierce” would have probably been seriously pondered in Mary’s heart. Please continue to take this journey with me, I am just imagining what it would have been like for Mary. Please go there with me in your mind. Just imagine what would be going on in Mary’s life in Bethlehem. She would have stayed in Bethlehem recovering from childbirth. Imagine her, every day going to the well to fetch water holding baby Jesus. Imagine her just holding Him, nursing Him, and loving on Him. Imagine her sitting and talking with the other women. Imagine her looking at the other precious children playing and giggling. Imagine the infants cooing to their moms. Mary would have watched the little children playing, exploring, and having fun. She would see the older infants crawling to their mothers, or trying to get up and walk. Mary would watch with joy how these mothers loved their children with all their heart.
I imagine that she grew to love these ladies and their children. As she watched, she would be holding her own baby, Jesus, giving him hugs, kisses, and pure love. For weeks and months, she looked upon these children as they grew, wondering what Jesus would be like in these different stages. She reflected, made memories in her heart, and pondered all that was told to her by the angel and the prophets about her son.
The Magi came to Jerusalem and asked King Herod where to find the Newborn King of the Jews. Herod’s advisors told him the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod became worried, and asked them to return after their visit to tell him who the new King of the Jews was so he could worship him. Herod actually planned to kill the baby. The Magi visited Jesus, but did not return to Herod. Eventually Herod realized the Magi were not returning. He was so worried of a threat to his power that he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the babies 2-years-old and younger. We know God sent another angel who appeared to Joseph, and told him to escape to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.
I would imagine after the angel warned Joseph, that the couple quickly packed up their few belongings, and threw them on a donkey. Mary sat upon the donkey and held Jesus. Joseph quickly lead the donkey out of town.
As they passed the houses, Mary remembers her new friends. She remembers how precious and darling their children are to their mothers and to her. She loved them, and heard the cries of mothers and babies as the children are being murdered. She wanted to help, but she could not. In her arms, she held the only chance that those mothers and babies would be reunited. She held Jesus who would open the gates of Heaven so these mothers and all mothers could be with their babies again.
Jesus would be the savior. She knew somehow Jesus would bring these mommies and babies back together again. She would have cried and mourned deeply as she passed those houses thinking of those babies. She agonized at how they would be killed, how those mothers would suffer and grieve. Oh how her heart must have been pieced…for the first time.
I don’t know for sure, but I really believe that Jesus really prepared his mother well for his suffering, death, and resurrection. I think she knew that his suffering and death would open the gates of Heaven.
Later when her son would suffer and die, she would be there the whole time watching him. I don’t know how she had the strength. But I have to imagine knowing that Jesus’ death and resurrection would allow those mothers and babies to be together again would give her the strength to watch her son suffer and die. She knew her son’s death and resurrection was the only way that could happen.
She watched as her son was crucified knowing he would rise, and knowing that he was the only hope of those mothers and babies to be together forever in paradise. After Jesus died, he was placed in her arms and she held her dead baby. He was 33-years-old, but always her baby. Her heart was pierced again.
Thank you, Mary, for your Fiat, for saying yes to being the mother of our Lord. You gave Him support when He was suffering the whipping and torture, supported him as he carried his cross. You poured out your love as your son Jesus was dying, and believed in his resurrection.
Thank you, Jesus, for your resurrection that would open the gates of Heaven so that we could have the hope of being in Heaven with our babies, as well as with you and our whole reunited family.