Learning how to find hope in times of grief.
As many of my friends know my husband and I are currently processing the stillbirth of our son Henry (Hank) Justice. On July 1st 2020 we discovered Hank no longer lived inside me and he was born later that day. I plan to publish more about his passing and hope to serve as a resource for women processing similar experiences.
I write this post with the intention of inspiring hope. A hope that in the darkest of times we can find a glimmer of light. Hope is defined as an expectation or desire for something to happen, and a feeling of trust. So I hope (expect and desire) that you will find hope (a feeling of trust) :)
A few weeks ago, I joined my husband on a job in Santa Cruz. I was not aware that this job would take a few hours, so I was thankful that I found myself in a place that was fun and easy to explore as I now needed to kill some time. After a latte from Verve and an amazing pedicure (about time, thanks corona) I headed down to the ocean.
Leaning on a fence overlooking the waves, I searched my heart. Inside I found the pain that was all too familiar. At times it was sharp and left me physically gasping for air. Now it was dull, an ever-present ache.
I took deep breathes and gathered up the courage to talk to God. What once came naturally, now takes forethought and preparation. When I come to God in prayer I fear that my anger will boil over. I fear my question of "why" will dominate the conversation and deafen me to the "still small voice" I once took comfort in.
So I quieted down and I asked for His presence. I looked at the waves and I watched them crash over and over again on the rocks below. "I feel a lot like that rock" I thought, choosing one that looked especially abused.
Abused, but gorgeously smooth. Refined by the very waves that attacked it.
Suddenly I remembered a backpacking trip I took with my dad when I was 14 years old. As we hiked the Sierras we took a break next to a waterfall where melted snow crashed through the rocks. Plants and trees grew out of conditions they were not meant for. Everything was harsh and strenuous, but beautiful.
It was like I was back at the waterfall, resting and completely in awe of the scenery around me. The water rushed violently. The trees forced their roots through the rocks. Wildflowers bloomed in between the cracks. In that moment I realized that some of the most beautiful things in this world are born out of difficulty.
Aren't we the same? Back at the ocean I felt a promise begin to etch itself on my heart.
On the other side of this you will be stronger and much more beautiful.
I have never "heard" God speak. Yet, I believe he has spoken to me numerous times. And I count this as one of those times. I walked down to a rock and sat, resting, listening, hoping. This might have been the first time since Hank's passing that I was ok with God. While I expected him to show up a lot sooner, I think he was patiently waiting for me to get to a place where I would be ok.
So, I'm beginning to hope again, trusting there is a plan for our family and that Hank is a big part of that plan. That God won't waste my pain but that he will work in and through me. That there are greater promises ahead. I deeply hope that when I look back I will see how much stronger I have become. Stronger and more beautiful.
I'm still learning how to hold on to hope. At times it feels natural. I'm confident in the assurance that there are better days to come. I'm able to hold on to the promise that good will come out of this. There are moments when I look to my future with hope in my eyes and joy in my heart.
But sometimes it feels like the waves are crashing all around me, and that I'm barely drawing in air. It's times like these when I am so incredibly thankful for my husband and for my community of family and friends. Thank you all. You keep me going and you show me why life is still worth living. You pull me out of the current.
Dear mama. If you are where I was (and still occasionally am) please let me tell you that you are so very loved. You are a great mom. Your baby loves you so very much. The waves hurt. Each one feels like it takes a little more from us, but like everything, grief is a process. I'm right here in the waves with you. You will draw a full breath again.
If you are grieving a loss please hear my heart. You will come out of this stronger than ever before. Your family and friends love you so much. They may not know how to be there for you and you may not know what help you need, but I strongly encourage you to lean on your loved ones in this time. You will find hope again.
Below you will find a poem I wrote that day. I've never put my poetry "out there" and I don't pretend to be an amazing writer, but here goes nothing.
In love and hope,