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Death of a Child

This morning I went to a memorial for a 21-year-old girl who was called home a couple weeks ago. She was a daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend to those there to remember her. I don't fall into any of those categories. The mother of this beautiful girl was an acquaintance of our family for around five years. While I wasn't connected to them by family or friendship, finding out this mother lost her baby hit me hard, which perplexed me ... until I got to the funeral.

I've been to plenty of funerals throughout my life, but this is only the second one of someone young, both in their 20s, both leaving grieving mothers behind. During that first funeral, I lost a friend, a very close friend. It shook me to my core over the loss of that friendship and her influence on my life, and how death seemed like a thief to rob her of all the things she'd never get to experience like I would - like get married, have kids. I didn't understand or even deeply consider her mother's feelings at the time because I wasn't yet a mother. During that first funeral, I never would've dreamed I would one day know what it's like to lose a child. Although several years have passed since that first funeral and when I lost two babies, I was still surprised by the emotions I felt at this funeral today. Today after the memorial service, I realized it's because this time I know how utterly overcome the mother feels. I feel those raw emotions and the loss. I'm not sure it's any easier if you never got to hold them in your arms, or you did and now you'll never feel that again in this world. Losing a child, no matter the length of their existence is unbearable, but the blessing is that you feel on a different level than any other mother ever has and you realize even more how precious life and children are. I would not trade that realization, and I know that was something intended for me to learn.

The service today was so beautiful, a celebration of her life and acknowledgment that she was called home. She was saved, and right now, that's really all that matters from this life, other than her love for her family and the impact she had on so many in her short time. She was also an organ donor, so imagine her family and the feelings they have over her saving other lives and living on in that way.

Throughout the service my eyes poured streams of tears, and I knew that was probably weird for others since I was just an acquaintance and a complete and total stranger to most at the funeral who did know the young girl personally. No one in that service knew my story of losses, not even the mother. Her story is different from mine, yet I understood her grief so well and really couldn't control the overwhelming emotions of loss again.

This is the point when I tell you to go hug your children tighter. That's a given. Yes, go do it. Do go hug your kids. Don't be too busy with tasks or chores to play with them. Do tell your kids how much you love them. Don't worry what others are doing or compare your life to their circumstances or choices. When your path crosses with a mother who has lost a child, regardless of the way she lost them or the time she had with them on this earth, hug her. No words are ever necessary to fill silence because she hurts and unless you've also lost a child - you, not someone you know - you will never know her pain. Don't be offended by this, just pray for her.

God always has a plan, this I know without a doubt. Mothers who've lost their babies, I have a special place in my heart for you. One day, mothers who have lost their babies, who know there is a greater plan and hold tightly to their faith, will be reunited with those precious little ones. No doubt about that.

"Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for awhile because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine" - I Peter 6-7

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