Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When You Don't Know What To Say


I don't know what to say about this.

In the last three days, two sweet friends have lost their babies.

The first, an adoptive mama, was anxiously, excitedly waiting for the call from her son's birth mother that she and her husband could go and meet their child.  Instead, when the call came, it was with news that the baby would be staying with his birth mother.

The second mother is in the hospital as I write this, laboring to bring her dead child's body into this world. 

I don't know what to say about this.

What do you say to the mother whose home is filled with toys and infant chairs and a just-put-together swing, things ready and waiting for the child who will never use them?

What do you say to the mother who is carrying her dead child inside her own body, who is terrified at was has happened and is happening and will happen to her and in her? 

What do you say when you know as exactly as anyone can the ache that these women are filled with, the howls and anguished moans that fight to tear loose from their throats, guttural and raw and real?

I don't know what to say.

But then I remember . . . I don't need to know.  I don't need to say a damn thing.

Because sometimes?  There are no words.

Instead, there is the drawing near.  There is the witness, to stand close and give eyes to the life that was and is gone now, the grief that spreads wide instead.  There is the beating of your chest and tearing at your hair and the adding of your own howls to those of your friends.

There is the entering in.  Into the pain, into the questions and fear and doubt and rage and sorrow.

I know how meaningful these gifts are, because I hold the ones I was given since Eve died and was born as more precious than wealth upon wealth upon wealth.

And yet, it seems like nothing.  I hold it in my hands, the witness I am about to bear, and it feels weak and paltry and not-enough.

And of course it's not enough, because "enough" would mean the empty arms of grieving mothers filled with the little ones they hoped and wept and prayed for.

I can't give them that.  I can't give these mothers back their babies.

But I can give them my eyes, my ears, my presence.  And God will turn that into something.  Into Something. 

And so tomorrow I will go and meet that precious baby who died and witness my mama friend's tears, and tonight I pray for God's presence to loom obvious and holy in the sacred space of the hospital room where no mother should be expected to birth her dead child, and yet so many -- too many -- do.

Will you pray for these grieving mamas and their families and support-givers, too?  This is sacred, horrible, beautiful work, friends.  Let us lean in and not be afraid.  Please,  Lord, make me not afraid. 

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  1. I'm so very very sorry. As an adoptive family ourselves, waiting for the parents to relinquish rights is so very hard. I cannot imagine having to give our little miss back. My heart is broken for both of your friends. The whole thing beyond sucks... But i'm glad they have you as a friend to support them. I will be praying for them.

  2. Dear Beth
    You are right! There are times when words should rather not be spoken. I think crying with them is the right thing to do! We might not understand their pain, but we can still offer our hearts, our ears and our arms! Already prayed for them and you.

  3. yes.. that is what I said when I faced the women whose husband killed himself. ( I looked her in the eyes and said : there are no words and she nodded) nothing I say can heal a hurt like that. But God can do much with grief and so I leave it to Him.

  4. There really are no words. Only prayers. And lots of them.

    I have a friend who went through infertility and two failed adoptions on her journey to motherhood. Her blog is http://hopehandmadeblog.blogspot.com. Her posts are raw and honest and so encouraging. Just wanted to share in case it can help at all.

  5. God is great. praise Him for His voice of Grace when we have nothing but open arms and a gentle embrace and the tears that fall so so soft.

    prayers for both these broken hearts.

  6. Standing in the gap in prayer for these sweet mommas---and for you Beth. Now is the time to bear down with them, be the midwife to hope that is your calling. Much love to you sweet girl.

    1. the phrase "midwife to hope" traveled with me to the hospital today. and guess what word was literally right outside my friend's room window? you guessed it -- hope. God is...wow.

    2. Yes, wow! You know I love that!! I know you were a blessing. So inspired by your courage.

  7. Reading with tears and realizing I have no words either. Hugs to you and these precious mamas.

  8. What Dea said. I'm reminded of a term used by a dear friend of mine, a Rwandan Archbishop, who calls what you've described here as the sacrament of presence. Sometimes it speaks louder than words.

  9. just so, so sad. beating my chest with you, for these women, for these brave brave women.

  10. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear of these heartbroken mamas. The best gift I received when I lost our little one was when a friend came over, sat on the bed holding me, and cried the tears that I couldn't, at the time, shed. There are no words to express that kind of pain... Only our Abba Father knows our deep, soul-deep sorrow. I'll pray for these precious women, families, and you...
    Blessings, Mary

  11. Yes, I like the perspective, precious picture!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King