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As I publish each episode of the podcast, I will also be sharing the text as an article on the site.
In this article, you will find EPISODE 06! It was first published Tuesday, February 25, on your favorite listening platform.
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Hi, and welcome to the CHOSEN podcast, where we explore birth + faith with a doula lens. I am your host, Katherine Newsom, writer + doula at Simple Natural Mama.com.
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EPISODE 06 // HOW KNOWING WE ARE CHOSEN AFFECTS OUR EXPERIENCES OF LOSS AND GRIEF
Grief is a common thread of humanity ,and should never be stifled. There are healthy ways to grieve, and there are necessary reasons to allow ourselves to do so. This is a reality for many of the women surrounding us each day – mothers, sisters, friends. Do you know your neighbor well enough?
It is commonly said that 1 in 4 mothers have lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth. This isn’t rare, this is a daily reality. Whether your baby passed at 7 weeks gestation, you had a full-term or mid-term stillbirth, this is still the loss of a human life, an intrinsic human life created in God’s image which He knit together in the womb, which we are talking about. Or still, if you had a traumatizing birth filled with obscenities and discomfort or medical emergency, this is very well an experience to grieve.
In an unexpected and traumatic birth experience, even in the loss of your supposedly picture-perfect birth plan in exchange for one riddled with grief, unmet expectations, or a literal loss of precious life… It’s tough yet necessary to learn that The things you cannot plan for are the things life are truly made up of, and this is where God especially shows up. In the mess. Because He chose you as His daughter, and He meets you where you are. Yet what do we do with that? Pressing in, a better question comes to this: What do we do when we face the loss of our ideal birth, the loss of a human life, the loss of the hopes of what could be…even when we know that God chooses us? In short, we grieve. Yes, we grieve, even more so when we know that we are chosen by God as His daughter, for this Truth trickles into our response for everything we experience – surely, including grief.
The loss of a child should never be taboo, and knowing we are chosen affects this. Because although you haven’t met that child on this side of heaven, that child is fully alive in Christ in heaven. And God still chooses her. And He still chose you to be her mother. Not having your child in your arms doesn’t make you any less of a mother, and it doesn’t make your child any less of a child made in God’s image. Chosen.
Yet still, how do we walk forward in this reality, one of loss and grief?
Here are some tangible ways to acknowledge yourself or your friend in her loss and grief:
+Celebrate life – no matter if it was weeks gestation or minutes earthside.
+Say the child’s name (and name her!)
+Affirm that she existed, mattered, is loved, and is full of life in heaven
+And most of all, know that this is not our home, and one day, you will see her again.
Acknowledge your baby, your friends’ baby, and be willing to talk if invited to, or when you are ready. Words heal. And just because we grieve a loss, doesn’t mean we aren’t also thankful that there is another name, another child, that belongs to us, that we do know on this side of eternity.Just because we grieve one child, also doesn’t mean we aren’t thankful for the children we may have. With this point, this episode could easily be titled “What not to say to a woman experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or a traumatic birth” – because gratefulness for the child you have is often an excuse for ignoring the traumatic experience you are walking through (or so often I’ve been told. Also, please don’t tell a grieving mother this). While it may be tempting to shove emotions away, this is a toxic train of thought.
Luke 19:40 states, “If we keep quiet, the stone will cry out.” If we remain silent, and in this, fail to grieve and give thanks to, or even at the very least we can muster, to acknowledge God in that juxtaposition this places us in, we also fail to see God at work in it. We bury the emotions and hurt ourselves further in the process, delaying our healing. We refuse to talk about reality, and again, we quietly bury our emotions. We fester, and we don’t allow God in the door.
This is not a way to live.
This applies to much of the human experience – especially to the loss of an ideal birth or the loss of a child… especially to our experiences of grief.
God is in the grief of unmet expectations. Yet we are still to give thanks for His sovereignty.
Because even so, you know that you are chosen by God as His precious child, to be His vessel for new life. And yes, mama, your child does have a full life in Christ in heaven, even when you aren’t holding her in your arms earthside. It’s a hard yet joyful reality and juxtaposition to live in. The not-yet, where you long to know your child, while understanding that she has never known pain, loss, or grief, the way she would on this side of heaven…this spot of in-between then, now, and eternity is plain hard. There is no way around it.
The brokenness which comes from the unexpected – when our plans go awry – can be debilitating. Broken pieces can become muddled in the grief of real life. Yet God is in the midst, He is in the outcome, and He will walk you through the grieving process. He knows your situation before you live it, and He is with you. Allow the pain, then release it to God as He mends your broken heart.
God mends reality and bestows grace. Indeed, grief and thanks can coexist.
Your grief does not overshadow God’s unwavering promise. Your experience does not mean God has abandoned you. Grieve the experience but give thanks for His sovereignty. You can be grateful for a healthy baby, and also feel the loss of the birth you wanted. You can still see grace in the face of Jesus, in community , in love in action, in your neighbors becoming the hands and feet of Christ in a time you so desperately need them, as you grieve the passing of a child. In Christ, you can find a gentle guide, a shepherd who comes alongside through all the pain of life. Including this one.
If your birth plans went awry, know this: writing your story has power (as explored in episode 5), counseling is a strength for your hard moments, and prayer is your anchor in the storm to keep you grounded in faith as you walk forward.
One final practice for you, as you walk through grief: putting to pen the thoughts in your mind is eye-opening. It helps with clarity, to put words to what you are feeling. I akin this to David lamenting in the Psalms; it honors where you are, to process lost hopes compounded while being thankful for life and God’s sovereignty. This does not make you weak nor is it something to be ashamed of. This is hard, and help is OK. It’s important to do this in order to more fully see God’s fingerprints all over the birth we grieve, to remedy our view of faith and God’s sovereignty over the unexpected in life. Because while childbirth itself is inevitable, what happens during it is ultimately unexpected; there is no way to know how it will unfold. Life doesn’t go as planned.
This is even more true for childbirth: each birth is unique to the mom and baby involved, as well as many other factors – no two births are alike. As mothers of faith ,we can accept this reality, and choose to grieve the unexpected birth outcome, rather than cling tightly to our plans gone awry, ultimately creating contempt in our hearts. The unexpected becomes the undeniable: a birth that didn’t go as planned, becomes the birth in which we see God’s right hand keeping us safe – because He walks before us and prepares a way.
Birth and grief is indeed a powerful experience and is a way for us to enter the narrative of Christ, the story of God’s chosen people, which includes you, and which includes this unexpected outcome you live in.Grief and thanks can and do walk hand in hand.
// Let us end with a biblical affirmation for this season of loss and grief: God is here in the waiting ,and in the depths of the pain and grief which comes in this life. He walks beside me in my pain of a traumatic birth, and before me as He prepares a way, even in the unexpected. God is here with me, and His right hand keeps me safe. This is based on Lamentations 3:55 which states, “I call on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea…You came near when I called to you, and you said “Do not fear.”
//*outro music* Mama, I’d be honored if you hit subscribe, to be sure you never miss an episode. If you long to take this conversation further,You can text the word CHOSEN TO (202) 410-4202 TO BE UPDATED ON NEW CONTENT VIA EMAIL, as well as to download the rest of the biblical affirmation cards. Or, join us in the CHOSEN podcast closed Facebook group, which is linked to my blog, for exclusive bonuses for listeners, specific to each episode. Just search Simple Natural Mama on Facebook, or go to www.simplenaturalmama.com to learn more. I appreciate you! Talk to you next week, when we will learn how knowing we are chosen causes us to lean into our village for rest and renewal with a fresh babe.