What Christian Child Loss Moms Need to Remember

Friday, February 12, 2016

{Disclaimer— what I am writing comes after a lot of soul-searching and going through the worst part of the bereavement process.

It's been five years since my daughter died. I have not always felt this way, and in the early stages of my bereavement I was very antagonistic to information like this. Please note that I am not attempting to guilt or push anyone into a premature reconciliation with God when they don’t feel open to this yet. See HERE and HERE for some early (poorly written) posts regarding the anger and mistrust I felt in my initial grieving period. Do not read this if you aren't ready for a conversation about deep theology. Don't read this if you are in a sensitive stage where every comment stings. You may not want to read if you're having a bad day, depending on where you are in your grief and how you practice your faith -- some may find this initially harsh but ultimately very comforting. Some may not.

This is a brutal honesty post. Last warning. }

I've been trying to work out some thoughts about the nature of death for the believer. This is what I've come to understand in the five years since my Beatrix left.

There is a big difference between Christians and others when it comes to the disposition of a soul after death.

While there are different Christian teachings regarding some of what happens immediately after someone dies (purgatory, resting state, etc.), we all believe that our faithful dead eventually end up in Heaven.

Because of this, finding comfort in some of the common themes shared by baby loss writers and artists can be difficult for devout loss moms. Our belief system doesn’t allow us to imagine our child as a butterfly landing on our shoulder, a feather on our doorstep, or a favorite song played at the moment we needed it most. Some Christian faith practices allow for a concept commonly referred to as “God-winks”, the claim being that God is sending these small messages to you. However, that concept is suspect and debatable – and even if your faith practice accepts this concept, the claim is still that God is sending the messages, not our babies.

We also can’t imagine stars opening holes in the heavens so our loved ones shine down on us, we have no belief that our babies become angels (this is actually a belief unheard of by virtually every world religion – angels are separate beings from human in almost all faith practices, Christian and non-Christian alike), and babies aren’t coming back in future pregnancies.

Once our babies are gone they are gone.

So what does Christianity have to offer the grieving mom?

In the immediacy of our initial grief it seems as if we would be left bereft of comfort. Christianity and God seem like heartless realities to those who don't understand them. Often, we are so blinded by our emotions that even welose sight of the big picture – the picture which gives us a {perfect} antidote to our sadness.

Sometimes we forget that true comfort only comes at the foot of the cross.

The cross promises us tomorrow – eternity – unlike the here and now centered beliefs elucidated above.

The cross promises:

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." {Rev. 21:4}

I read a quote long ago by Pope John Paul II which even non-Catholics could identify with:

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Would we give up the forever of Easter, for temporal comfort here?

This is a harsh truth, and it doesn't promise to get any easier over our time on this earth. We may rationalize this love of Christ, but the human part of us just wants our babies.

I know I want my baby back.

But I want her back. I want her back forever. I want her back the way I was promised her -- perfect and alive.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." {Phillipians 3:20}

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." {1 Corinthians 42-44}

While no one must believe this {truth} who chooses not to, for those who do believe it holds more promise for the one thing which every single one of us loss moms want -- time.

While I could believe my daughter to be reincarnated in another pregnancy, doing so binds her in a finite life-cycle. It means she will die again, and this could be during the course of my lifespan, because we aren't promised a limit on suffering.

Reincarnation {her being born in a subsequent pregnancy} means I could lose her all over again.

In this dynamic we could both also be reincarnated into other families, or as a fox, or a fish, or a supernatural spirit, never to see one another again.

It also means I am not promised eternity with God, and in turn, with her.

If she becomes part of the natural world -- a butterfly or a symbol we see in rocks and trees -- she can be destroyed by wind and rains. Something as simple as a bird landing could disrupt whatever form she was in. If she were a star she would eventually burn out; her light would be permanently extinguished, and eventually her absence would be detectable to this world.

Being born into Heaven, even though I must wait to see her, holds the most promise. The promise of Heaven only seems cruel because we must wait to reap the rewards for our faithfulness. We want immediate gratification, but the promise offers eternal gratification.
In 2 Samuel 12: 23, after King David’s son died he stopped his weeping saying, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me”. This is a rough story, but it brings to point the reality of what our God promises. He promises those who have faith in Him an eternity in Heaven. Long after the world stops turning we will be with Him. I do not want my daughter to come to me in this world, because that means the promise is a lie. My daughter in this world means eternity does not exist. It means the Bible promises, the love of Christ, is just another fairy tale.

Because we can’t have it both ways.

God promises us heaven after death, not an amorphous existence hanging around the earth. If this promise is a lie, so is everything else He says.

Our loved ones will not return to us in this world. We will go to them…. and more importantly, to Him. That promise is better than anything this temporal world could ever offer me.

In my next post I will be talking about “Psychics and signs in baby loss”. I hope you join me in that discussion too!

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