Today, in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, my friend Holly spills oceans of courage as she shares words that remember her children Pearl and Valentine, words that remind us that grieving is healing.
“…the moment I allowed myself to open up, be vulnerable, talk, and truly mourn over the lives of my precious little ones I never knew, I also allowed God’s great grace to stretch out and cover me, to meet the level of my grief…”
October is a time of reflection for me – it’s the month our first baby would have been born, 11 years ago, and the month we found out I was pregnant with the second baby we lost. On this day two years ago I first wrote the following Facebook post about the secret shame, guilt and hurt I had experienced with losing these two pregnancies:
Miscarriage isn’t something a lot of people like to talk about. For me, at least, it was something I thought a person would hear happened, and then get over. I never knew miscarriage was the crushing agony of losing a child. I never knew feelings of shame and guilt came with it, as though it were your fault in some way. No one told me that after a miscarriage any new joyous moment of finding out you’re pregnant again would hold hands with the paralyzing fear of miscarrying. I didn’t know people would make thoughtless comments that belittled your grief. I didn’t know you could fake a smile for that long while your heart was so empty…until it happened to me.
Why is miscarriage so taboo? Why do we have to hide, shut everything off, shut everyone out? I don’t want to be ashamed that life was lost, I want to share my story and make a net to support the other 1,000,000 women per year that are hurting, grieving, and very often emotionally alone.
I had no idea how incredibly healing writing those words would be for me personally. Nor did I know how healing it would be for all the women who thanked me for my post; it gave them the courage to admit that they had secretly held onto the same hurts. It allowed them to a space to grieve.
Today it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day again, and this year I am constantly being reminded of the beatitude:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
For many years I didn’t understand what this meant. I kept a secret grief in my heart and didn’t want to be “rewarded” for mourning it. I didn’t want to be blessed BECAUSE I had lost two pregnancies. I thought if I hid my hurt, shame, disappointment way deep inside, I would eventually forget about it or it would become a vague recollection…
Instead, the wound took over.
It took over and infected so many other areas of my life – without me even realizing it – because I had it wrong. It isn’t that blessing is a reward for grief, it’s that you won’t find the healing and comfort to cover that grief until you mourn. The moment I allowed myself to open up, be vulnerable, talk, and truly mourn over the lives of my precious little ones I never knew, I also allowed God’s great grace to stretch out and cover me, to meet the level of my grief. Now, even when I find myself back in that place of mourning, I’m able to lean into God and find a new measure of grace and healing.
My friend Harmony puts it so beautifully, “These words of Jesus are an expression of love, of compassion and of provision. He is looking into our eyes and assuring us deeply that in the midst of the reality of our mourning, the grace of God will extend to actual, soul-filling comfort. His grace expands, His presence expands, and our experience of God expands. This is what it is to be blessed.”
So I want encourage you, in case you are the one struggling with loss today:
It’s okay to mourn, to let go of that pain and anger and fear.
For me, mourning meant seemingly endless tears that I had assumed would be dry after so many years of ignoring them; a raw and healing conversation with my husband about all the ugly things I’d thought of myself following those losses; and finally, two white balloons, floating silently into the night sky, as I said goodbye and forgave…
The people I had needed to support me – but didn’t.
I spoke my babies’ names aloud – Pearl and Valentine – and loved them with joy in my heart, instead of hiding them in shame. And where I expected to feel empty after releasing all of this from my inner dungeons, I felt full, alive, even…
Remembering my babies today:
Valentine 2-14-2004 (6 weeks)
Pearl 2-1-2007 (17 weeks)
About The Author
Holly Malkin is wife to her best friend, mom to the four coolest kids ever, designer, artist, and follower of Christ. Her heart is for justice and fanning the tiny flicker of courage inside; she hopes one day to stand up to the world.
This post is part of Survivor Songs, a 31-Day series. A full list of posts is found here.