When I opened the box of books, a release of emotion erupted from my depths like a dormant volcano holding back ten years of smoldering feelings. It was the most jumbled mix of joy, sorrow, accomplishment, relief, awe, gratefulness, and so many other emotions I can’t name. Which makes me crazy…since words are my therapy. I sat on the floor of my kitchen, feeling sobs bubble up and take over.
I spent ten years writing that book. When the books arrived, it was akin to birthing a baby I had been laboring to deliver for a decade. It is the most of my own heart I have to give to the world. Or to the handful of people who will read it. The most I have to give of the nitty gritty faith that clings to the hem of His garment, even when you don’t get the answer you long for this side of heaven, the kind of faith that’s only born from the wrestling and only grows stronger in the asking of impossible questions. It’s the most I have to give of the knowledge of the kind of grace that carries you when your legs won’t stand for one more minute. The kind of grace that’s always enough. Just enough for that moment. The most I have to give about surviving together after the loss of a child…and not just surviving, but fully living and loving, even on the other side of gut-wrenching, devastating grief. It’s the most I know to give, after walking with thousands of other mothers who said goodbye to tiny babies.
It is my offering…and in my heart of hearts, I pray it is a worthy one. I’ve never said any book held all the answers. (Well…one Book does. But, it isn’t mine.) I will promise you, however, that Sufficient Grace does not offer trite answers to slap a band aid on your gaping wounds. It is the real, raw truth of my family’s journey. And, part two of the book tells of the birth of Sufficient Grace Ministries, sharing many topics from our Walking With You online support posts….topics such as: Sibling Grief, Grief in Marriage, Remembering Our Children, and more.
I’m always late to the party, of course. Many beautiful books are coming out to support grieving parents, and that is wonderful to see. When I began writing this little opus of mine in 2004, there weren’t a lot of resources out there for bereaved parents, a few…but not many. I spent much of the last decade serving grieving families, creating resources, building Sufficient Grace Ministries, and nurturing my family at home. So, writing a book took a back seat on the list of priorities. Now, we are in a time when doors are opening, people are breaking the silence, and others are listening. As my friend Bob Dylan sings, “Times they are a changin’.” It is amazing to be living in such a time as this.
You see, writing this book, as blessed as I am to see it in print, and to know that it will hopefully be a great encouragement to those who read it, will never be as important as walking with a family. In fact, my very first book signing took place at the SGM Evening of Remembrance and Hope event we held this weekend, where we read the names of over 750 babies from all over the world and lit over 750 candles, where we spoke hope and truth to families, where we could put our arms around a mother and father and reassure them they are not walking this path alone. It will never mean as much as supporting a mother through the birth of her stillborn baby, honoring that precious life, dressing that little one in tiny clothes, capturing beautiful pictures, answering that fathers questions, walking with them.
As I type this post, my Facebook wall is filled with waves of light, candles to honor the memory of babies gone too soon. And, my heart is full as I remember my twin daughters Faith and Grace, and my son, Thomas…and so many babies we’ve honored over the years through our ministry work. This didn’t happen years ago when I stumbled through this dark valley. It was isolating then. You didn’t say the names…you didn’t know about waves of light. This is a time of awakening. I know that none of you would’ve asked to join this cause…this club of brokenness. But, it is a time when the world is shifting a bit when it comes to baby loss. And, even in this brokenness, there is great beauty.
Every life matters. Every life.
Never mind that I always wanted to be a writer. This isn’t the story I would’ve ever asked to tell. It is more than just a book about baby loss, however. It is a book about life, and love, and surviving…about faith and grace and learning to live fully and deeply…it’s about redemption and healing in our broken places. I hope you will read it. And, I hope it will offer you some small nugget of hope and truth within the pages of my humble offering.
You can order your copy here: http://sufficientgraceministries.org/sufficient-grace-the-book/
There’s also a giveaway going on here, on the Kelly Gerken, Grace Rebel Page. (I would really appreciate if you could show me some love on that page.) And, one on the Still Standing Facebook Page.
Love and Grace to all of you…
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: www.sufficientgraceministries.org.