Dear mamas at the weekend women’s event,
I know you were probably hoping for a getaway from the everyday struggles of life.
No cooking and cleaning and little ones underfoot.
No reminders of the drudgery of life on planet earth.
Something happy…and light…and uplifting…and easy.
I notice when you step up to my table, the one with the handmade teddy bear and tiny diapers. The crocheted clothes that seem like a novelty because they are so very small. The satin dress made from a donated wedding gown…I notice the way your eyes start out bright, your face smiling…how your eyes grown dim and your smile fades when you find that the clothes were made for babies who are only passing through this earth. Created so mothers would have something beautiful to dress their babies in as they say goodbye, clothing to be used for their burial. I see you take a step back, wishing you had never asked. The conversation awkwardly fizzling. I see you drop my book like a hot potato.
And some who read our sign first, before striking a conversation…I see you quickly looking away.
It’s okay. I do get it. You weren’t expecting to be slapped squarely in the face with the reality that babies die. I would probably look away too if I could. But, looking away for me would mean denying the lives of three of my five children. Looking away for me would mean turning my back on the thousands of mothers for whom I’ve promised to be a voice whenever the opportunity arises even in the smallest of forums. Looking away for me would mean failing to acknowledge a piece of my of my own heart. I can no more look away than to walk away from my own life, because my children are woven so deeply into who I am…because I am their mother.
I know it is hard for you to look. But, with the statistic of at least one in four pregnancies ending in loss…looking away means denying the brokenness in the heart of someone in your life. The mother beside you. Maybe the one in the seat next to you at the conference. or in the carpool lane. Maybe the one too broken to attend the getaway because the pain is so raw.
If you can be so brave for just a moment, not too look away…you may be surprised to find…
There is beauty in this broken.
Beauty that soothes the weary soul…where even the deepest of wounds find some healing…hope that rises from the ashes….
And a mother-soul…who is not only still standing.
The most beautiful of dances.
And she sings…for the babies she has held in her arms and the ones she carries in her heart…for the woman she has become. And, for the God who carried her through the wilderness of her grief and covered her with Sufficient Grace.
If you’re brave enough not to look away, you might just see her on the other side of the table.
The one whose eyes are still shining, the one who smiles and even belly laughs through tears. Because she knows about life on the other side of the wilderness. She knows about leaning into the sorrow and embracing the new normal. She knows about being reborn herself after slipping away for awhile. She knows how to surrender, how to be free, and how to live meaningfully, deeply…to live for real…because life is precious and fleeting. Because every life matters. Because she knows about the sacredness of the gift of life and how at the end of it all, in the place where heaven meets earth, all that exists is the love we share.
She knows what happens when one of her worst fears becomes reality. She lived through it. She lives with it. And, maybe…just maybe she has something worth seeing, worth knowing.
Because none of us will escape life on planet earth without some struggle, some pain, some loss, some disappointment. Yours may not look like hers…like mine. But, together maybe we can love each other through the trials we face in this life. Together maybe we can remain standing, finding common ground in our various degrees of broken.
If we’re brave enough not to look away.
To find support or request Dreams of You Items, visit www.sufficientgraceministries.org.
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.