Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
I love Christmas. The tingle and bite of winter air, the rosiness that rises to your cheeks when you’re outside thrills me. I love the music, the twinkle lights, the house lights. I love that people who often don’t think of Christ have their minds bent on goodwill and giving. And yet, for some–for many more than we probably realize–Christmas is a hard season. It is a bittersweet time, full of memories of those we have lost, either to eternity or conflict or distance. The other side of Christmas can be lonely, painful, or even depressing.
And while I don’t think that should lessen our joy, I do think that we can and should be aware of those struggling and sensitive to their burden. What can we do?
Pray for them.
Pray specifically for them–for comfort, for peace, but also for courage. And let them know that you are praying for them. It is a powerful and wonderful tool that we can intercede for each other on our knees before the awesome Maker of all things.
Spend time with them.
Many gifts are overrated and underused. They are cast aside in an ever-growing pile of “stuff” which sucks us into a world enamored with materialism. But the gift of your time is not only something that can help a lonely person, it is something precious and remembered. It says, “I love you enough to give up other things to just be with you.” It may even be good for you to have some perspective shed on what the “other side” is like.
One of the most valued and least developed skills is listening. Listening–and listening well (with interest, love, and warmth)–can be an enormous gift, especially to someone with struggles. Being able to talk about a loved one who died or the particular challenges of a serious illness can help heal an aching heart. And it is something that you can do no matter what your Christmas gift budget is.
So, today, go out there and bless someone who wasn’t expecting it. In return, you will be blessed beyond measure.
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
It was the day before Thanksgiving 1996 but it seems like yesterday. After two years of fertility treatments, we finally conceived. When the doctor’s office called and moved up my first appointment after my initial lab, I knew something was wrong. I put it out of my mind and headed off to the doctor’s office by myself. (My husband had a previously scheduled meeting that he could not reschedule.) As I got closer to her office, I started having a sick feeling in my stomach.
My doctor came in and asked some questions. She said that she wanted to go ahead and do an ultrasound because I had had so many problems conceiving. I kept telling myself that everything was fine. The ultrasound technician asked more questions as she did the ultrasound and then asked if the doctor wanted to see me again. She went to get my doctor. They came back in and my doctor took my hand and told me that there was no heartbeat. I was 11 weeks along. I had waited for this baby for two years and now my baby was dead. She was wrong, I told her, and we needed to wait and see.
She sent me home to decide on when to do the D&C. My husband and I were devastated and cancelled our Thanksgiving plans. He notified our family. Later that evening, my sister-in-law called and told me about her previous miscarriage. This helped more than anything. Talking with someone that has experienced the same thing helps so much.
Going Through the Week in a Blur
The next morning, Thanksgiving Day, I woke up having cramps (contractions). I knew that was not a good sign. I tried to fix dinner for the two of us and that is when I miscarried. We followed the doctor’s instructions. I do not remember the rest of the day; the rest of the week was a blur. I tried to do normal things like work and church but that made it worse. Everyone had good intentions, but if you have never experienced this type of loss, sometimes it is better for others to say nothing.
So many people told me, “Oh, you’ll have another one.” But I had waited for two years. I did not want another one, I wanted that one. We had tried for two years, and now this. Or, “It happens more than you think.” Just because it happens to others did not change my pain. I knew other people go through this, but I was the one going through this now. My favorite was, “Well you have another child.” I did not! She had me confused with my sister! Like that would make a difference anyway. One child is not a substitute for one that has been lost. I know they meant well but these are NOT things to say to someone who just lost their baby.
Empathy Through Tragedy
I learned so much from this tragedy in my life. It gave me an empathy that I had not had before. Now, when I find out someone has miscarried, I say, “I’m sorry. I know what you are going through. I’ve been through it. If you need to talk, I’m here,” then I give her a hug.
Remember the husband; he is grieving, too. Give him a hug. It is just as difficult for him as it is for his wife. Too often, the men get overlooked. They not only just lost a baby but they feel like they must be strong for their wives. My husband tried so hard to protect me. He hated seeing me so upset.
If the woman miscarried at home (not through D&C), she has physically gone through labor. Many people do not realize this. I had contractions and went through the entire birthing process. It was not as intense as a full-term pregnancy, but it was the entire process, nonetheless. This is still what haunts me.
Some people do not realize that a baby has been lost.
Even some people who are pro-life look at miscarriages as an illness and not a loss. Miscarriages are not looked at as a death by most. It is! Just because we do not get to physically hold our babies does not make them any less real. There is no funeral to help say goodbye and have closure. We have experienced a loss. We must grieve. I tried to ignore what had happened. That just led to more problems later. I encourage you to join a support group or seek grief counseling if you have been through this. I waited over ten years before dealing with it. This only compounded my other issues of grief. It was only through grief counseling after the loss of my grandfather, that I realized I had not dealt with the grief of my miscarriage.
My miscarriage still affects me. I wonder about the child that might have been. Was it a boy or girl? Would he be in college? What would she look like? And, so many other questions. What I do know is that I will someday see my precious baby in Heaven. I also know that God has since given me three wonderful children. I love them more than I ever thought I could.
We all deal with loss in different ways.
Some want to commemorate the loss and appreciate when a friend remembers with them. For some, it is a private matter that they want to remember alone and move on. For others still, it is a combination of things. If you know someone that has had a miscarriage, just ask them if you can do something. They will let you know where the boundaries are. I do not mind talking about it, but be prepared for me to cry. Do not let the tears make you uncomfortable. Sometimes all we need is a hug and the knowledge that you are there.
If you have experienced a loss, please share your thoughts, experience or how others helped you?
You may also commemorate and honor your child here.
I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.
This past week, a terrible tragedy struck the congregation where I grew up. A young mother of two suddenly passed away from complications of a rare blood disorder. Waves of shock and grief quickly rippled through her circle of family and friends. But in the midst of this horrible event, I have been witnessing the church living out their calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
When the news first came out that this woman was fighting for her life, I saw a call to prayer go out all across social media. I saw Christians immediately respond, both with written and spoken prayers. I saw people drop what they were doing and drop to their knees, pleading with the Father on behalf of someone they didn’t even know.
When word came that she had lost her physical battle, again I saw many praying. Anguished prayers of hurt and sorrow. Intercessory prayers for comfort for her loved ones. Joyful prayers of thanksgiving that she would receive her heavenly reward. Hopeful prayers that God would be glorified through this trial.
I witnessed her friends comforting each other. Older women encouraging and mothering the younger women. Acquaintances sharing memories of how she had touched their lives.
And I saw the church spring into action, stepping in to help care for her children, to bring meals, to provide for whatever the family might need immediately and in the days to come.
On Sunday morning, I sat in the pew, surrounded by fellow Christians. As we sang, prayed, and worshiped our God, I saw the pain on faces around me. But once again, I witnessed what it means to live in community, to let Christ shine through their compassion on each other.
Men prayed for this family. Tissues were passed to wipe tears away. Scriptures were read, reminding us all of the hope we have of heaven. Friends shared hugs, husbands tenderly consoled their wives, and parents cuddled their children just a little longer that morning.
Later, I witnessed elders and other men of the congregation surrounding this young man who had just lost his wife. They laid their hands on him, prayed over him, and wept with him.
Perhaps the most touching sight was a young teen who left her pew and went to where the children sat. As tears streaked their faces, she hugged them, wiped away their tears, and stayed with them for the rest of the service. At that moment, the authenticity of these Christians’ faith struck me. Their compassion was evident to all, from the oldest members to the youngest.
In the midst of a terrible situation, I have witnessed the church, both near and far, act as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. From physical needs to emotional support to spiritual comfort, these people made manifest the true work of the church. As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT) says:
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Spur One Another On
Although I did not personally know this young mother, her passing has impacted and influenced my faith. By witnessing how the local church stepped up and ministered to her family and friends, it has given me a greater desire to likewise minister to those around me who are hurting.