The Missing

August 20, 2015

There is a place that most of the time is masked as I walk through my days. I call it “The Missing.” Something can sweep passed me and unmask the covering over that tender spot in my heart…the spot of missing. And the ache will wash over me anew…the ache of missing the one who is lost. The spot is tender and raw and the ache is deep. It could be a memory that suddenly appears. It could be the sorrow of seeing someone else walking in the valley of the shadow of death. It could be the changing of seasons as the winds blow in, reminding us of the passing of time, and days gone by.

Although I spend a lot of time with those who grieve…praying for them…walking with them…seeking ways to support them…remembering my own days of great sorrow so that I can have compassion and understanding…I do not consider myself one to wallow in my grief. Those who know me probably wouldn’t describe me as melancholy or a woman of sorrows. Probably a better description (one I like better, anyway) comes from my friend Dinah’s mother, Ruth who always referred to me as the “girl who laughs.”

But there are days…moments when the missing comes, and it will…as long as I walk this Earth.

Mothers in fresh, raw grief and even mothers further along on the journey are sometimes jarred by the fact that the missing will never end. It will not be as intense or crippling as those early days. In fact, much like a limp from an old injury we learn to walk with it, and it becomes a part of us. Woven into our tapestry…sorrow and joy dancing together. We expect ourselves to get better and we’re surprised…after some time passed and healing has occurred…when the missing sweeps in as fresh and fierce as it was the first day. Sometimes for a moment. Sometimes for a few days. We wonder if it means we are back to day one on this grief journey, if it negates all the restoration and beauty born from the ashes of our grief over time. But, it does not. It’s simply there for the rest of our days on Earth. A reminder both bitter and sweet, that we have loved and lost someone so dear to us that we are left forever with a hole in our tattered hearts…or for our time here, anyway.

I know people don’t like to say they lost their baby, and I understand. Our babies aren’t lost. We know where they are. However…their life with us on planet Earth is most certainly a great loss to us. And, it’s okay to say we are missing them. Even when we believe in the hope and promise of heaven. When my mother died, the sense that I could search the entire earth and not find her overwhelmed me. For some reason, I had great comfort that my babies were in the arms of Jesus and my grief was for my own heart. But, my mother…she had always been here. And, she felt very much lost to me. Not that I would never see her again in eternity. But, lost…here…to me. My friend Dinah said, “It’s an extraordinary thing…that someone can be so…gone.

And, it is. Extraordinary.

In saying that, I hope my ramblings on “the missing” do not take away from the steadfast truth that our joy is restored. We do not grieve without hope, and we are not alone on this walk. Amidst the sorrow, great joy and laughter can co-exist. The missing is still something that we will always carry, until we are in Heaven’s glory. Something that will not be fully restored until that sweet day of redemption. And, that doesn’t mean we grieve without hope. It simply means, we continue on…even in the missing sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet. Walking, living, laughing, loving, and sometimes crying for all that was, all that could’ve been, and all that will be.

Until we meet again.

Photo credit

  • Kelly Gerken

    Kelly Gerken is the president and founder of Sufficient Grace Ministries, an organization providing perinatal hospice services, bereavement support and Dreams of You memory-making materials to families facing the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death and the death of a young child. Kelly has walked through the loss of three of her five children, and now reaches out to walk with other grieving families as an SGM perinatal loss support doula and SGM Remembrance Photographer. She is a creator and facilitator of training for birth professionals on compassionate care for bereaved parents facing perinatal loss. Her memoir, Sufficient Grace, was published in 2014. You can read more about Kelly's journey of grace, hope and healing and the outreaches of SGM, order resources or find her book here:

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