Acceptance and Hope

“The bitter water, the wilderness, the storm, the Cross…all are transformed to sweetness, peace, and life out of death. God wills to transform loss into gain, all shadow into radiance. I know He wants to give you beauty for ashes. He’s given me the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Elisabeth Elliot

Acceptance and hope. The two seem to walk hand in hand in grief recovery. At this point we accept the reality of life without our precious baby. The pain of loss is not gone, but we have a new ability to live with the pain and move on with our life in the midst of the pain. And as we do this, hope begins to dawn in our hearts; hope that tomorrow really will be a better day, and hope that the memory of our baby will actually begin to give us comfort instead of pain.

Indications That I Have Truly Begun to Heal

Physical or emotional symptoms I had when I started grieving have abated (anger, guilt, depression, compulsive busyness, sleeping irregularities, anxiety, appetite changes, etc.)

I have a whole new countenance.

I can speak openly about my loss, not hide it inside or talk compulsively about it.

I use owning, non-blaming language when speaking about the loss of my baby.

I accept God’s love, comfort and healing.

I manifest that acceptance by being able to go forward and lead a whole, productive life.

I feel at peace about my child’s death and am looking forward to someday being reunited with that child.

I am able to deal with recurring memories with grace and peace of heart and mind.

At this point we need to touch on the topic of future pregnancies. Many people think that if they can just get pregnant again, all the pain of their loss will magically disappear and life will be perfect again. You need to be forewarned that this is usually not the case. A future pregnancy brings with it some of the pain of the past loss. You no longer approach pregnancy with the same unbridled joy, because you now know that things can go terribly wrong. Your feelings of safety are gone – you realize there are no guarantees. And you wonder, if this baby also dies, how in the world will you survive?

You can feel anxious and tense when you go for an ultrasound, don’t feel the baby move in a while, have a bit of spotting or cramping, visit the Dr. you saw for the previous pregnancy, or reach an anniversary date: the day you found out you were pregnant last time, the day you first felt the previous baby move, the baby’s due date or date of death, or first birthday, etc. Even walking down the baby aisle at the supermarket can trigger sad or anxious feelings.

But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Now that you know these times may be difficult for you, they won’t take you by surprise. You will know what is happening to you and why. And there are some coping strategies for dealing with these emotions when they surface:

Talk to your mate or a close friend as soon as these feelings come.

Pour out your heart to the Lord and pray about what you are feeling, asking God to comfort and strengthen you.

If you need the reassurance of your doctor, ask for it, and for ultrasounds if they will reassure you.

Face your fears and get reliable information on what concerns you – ask your doctor, or go to a reliable website, such as webmd or mayoclinic.

If you are experiencing elevated anxiety or panic attacks, ask your doctor to refer you to a professional counselor or therapist. They can help you work through your fears and anxiety.

Get into a support group of caring people, somewhere you feel safe expressing your feelings.

Put together a team of people to pray for you and your baby, and let them know that notes, cards, or texts of encouragement would be greatly appreciated during this time.

If there are klutzy people around you who routinely do or say the wrong thing and further wound you, educate them! Give them a copy of the papers What We Wish Others Understood About The Loss Of Our Child and Responding to Grieving Families.

Remember to be kind to yourself! Allow yourself some extra grace. Take care of yourself, get plenty of rest, avoid stress as much as possible, and eat a healthy diet.