By reading people's stories and listening to their pain, I gain compassion, empathy and understanding. I hate doing it, but I cannot rip myself away. Stories of loss, grief, addiction and pain pull me in. Sometimes I won't click into the shared post. My heart and head cannot always handle it. See, when you share in someone’s pain, even someone you have never met, you bear a teeny, tiny part of their burden. You carry a very small bit of hurt for them. A tiny amount that makes the grief just only bearable for them. Barely. It is the sharing and prayers and support that makes any loss or grief journey just that… a journey. Without the sharing, praying, sweet gestures and kind words, a journey becomes a dead end road. No where to go, No ability to get there. Just traveling in circles with no peace. Drowning in hurt and sorrow.
In June, my brother and his girlfriend lost their baby, Sweet Baby A, full term at 39 weeks. It was devastating. It is the most horrific thing that I have walked through and it wasn’t even my baby. I sat in the hospital and held hands, shed tears, gave hugs, whispered words of encouragement and walked with them as they embarked on a journey they never intended to be on. A journey I didn’t really know how to walk with them on.
I was in a muddy strawberry patch with four kids picking berries and navigating the little ones through the vines and gently around ripening berries when I got the call that there was no heartbeat in my nephew at the routine prenatal visit. I immediately found my self facedown in the mud with delicate red berries and twisty vines around my head as I cried out to Jesus. Loudly. People looked, stared and the kids were afraid. But I was pleading with Jesus for a miracle. Pleading in words I could not understand. The pain was unbearable. But somehow I got in the car and drove home, and found my tiny bit of peace in my husband’s arms as I wondered how my brother and his girlfriend would get through this. Losing their precious son. How would my mom and dad and her parents get through losing a grandchild? When would I be able to breathe again? The one thing knew, we would never be the same.
I pulled myself together and prayed and prayed and prayed. I went to the hospital the next day to be with them as they delivered Sweet Baby A. I was nervous and sad and confused and many other things. But mostly I was angry. The gripping pain was consuming. But it was much, much more so for his parents. Their pain radiated off them as they held each other under those bright hospital lights.
Somehow together, we were going to make it through this. Words of encouragement and hugs from friends and family were a small, needed comfort. A sweet basket of remembrance items were delivered by a photographer who graciously donated her time and talent to photograph Sweet Baby A. She had lost a baby too. She knew. She was so much comfort for me. Her embrace when she walked into the waiting room lifted some pain. She was okay. My family would be okay too.
I grieved, and still do, as a sister for her brother who lost his first child, his son. I grieved a daughter for her mom and dad who lost a grandchild. I grieved as an aunt for her little nephew whom she already loved so much. I grieved as a friend, and a momma, and a woman. I grieved as a human being.
Two months later and the hurt is still fresh and real. Painful. Gut wrenching at times when I see his picture or remember the call or drive past the withered up strawberry patch. But that hurt means that Sweet Baby A was so loved by so many.
Sweet Baby A’s momma and I have grown close as we find ways to honor him. As I share in her pain and attempt to help her carry a teeny, tiny piece of her pain. I am proud of her and my brother for pushing forward when they thought they could not, for when they did not want to. For making choices no one ever wants to make and for choosing to journey this painful road with family and friends.
That is why we share. That is why I read sad stories. It's why I attend Sweet Grace Ministries Support Group. We pull together and feel the heaviness of each other's pain. It's why we pull tiny parts of heartache from one another, lugging it, bearing it, sustaining each other.
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:7/8