"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" -John 1:5
Grief. Loss. Joy. Love. Motherhood. Usually, we do not put these words together, and yet, they are so intertwined in life. Until now, I always abstractly knew that love also means loss, especially in my faith life. I often heard that when Mary said yes at the Annunciation, she was saying yes to Calvary. And yet, I never truly realized what this meant.
A few weeks ago, I was joyfully celebrating my first unexpected Mother’s Day. While just newly married, my husband and I were overjoyed to find out we were due with a baby in December. On the actual holiday, some friends wished me my first Mother’s Day, and I had a vase in the living room full of flowers to celebrate the occasion.
Little did I know that not too long after, I would go from abundance to absence. Only three days later, I went in for my 10 week ultrasound appointment, only to see the ultrasound tech move the probe in silence and to eventually respond, “I’m so, so sorry”. Words cannot describe what I felt. All I vaguely remember is my body shaking as I felt tears stream down my cheeks.
My husband was at work because he couldn’t get a sub. I was alone in the ultrasound room, curious why the tech didn’t show my baby’s heartbeat like a few weeks before. I am sure that many of you, while reading this, can flash back to exactly the same moment/moments for you, whether they were just a few days, years, or decades ago.
While we were celebrating Mary last month, I kept thinking that this is not the way I was expecting to walk motherhood with Mary. It truly can be described as an ache of the heart which goes from Mary’s “fiat” to her “yes” at the foot of the cross over less than two months. Something that seemed so abstract to me before has now become a walk with Mary day by day.
What I have found in this process is there is a secret grief in our culture…There is a terrible ache of so many mothers through the ages. I see it as a cry, a lament of Rachel for her children, which is lived out generation by generation. It is a silent, but hidden grief.
I witnessed many close to me miscarry growing up, and both the generation before me and the generation before that, many of those women miscarried, and yet, felt unable to speak about it.
43% of women experience miscarriage at least some point in their lifetime. That’s almost half the population. This has made me wonder, why do we feel the need to grieve so quietly and in isolation? When miscarriage happens, a mother goes from making room for the life in her body to grieving the life within her. She undergoes the feeling of outliving her own child, something which we just seem to "know" within ourselves is not meant to be.
The last few weeks, I have found that the more I share our loss, the more I am finding women who have shared their stories, such as “ 20 years ago, I lost my daughter” or “ I miscarried twice between my two children." It is a cross that they shared that one never moves past, but rather, moves through. And in this stage of difficulty, I have experienced such profound moments of grace…I have experienced the immense gift women are to each other.
In such sharing, both of us find healing. For myself, hearing such stories lets me know I am not alone. I am surrounded by the love and witness of those supporting my husband and myself. I have also realized that giving a woman the chance to voice her story brings a part of her story to life again and helps her grieve a precious life…It acknowledges that the one lost is so invaluable that he/she is worth mentioning and loving in storytelling and sharing.
The watercolor painting above is something I created the last few weeks as I have been grieving. While I didn’t know what to say all this time, this image just seemed to speak what my heart was feeling. I keep imaging Mary with my little Lucy Marie. Mary is the one I have been talking to these past days. She just seems to understand me in this season. She reveals to me what it is like to love deeply in such loss. She did so herself 2000 years ago and walks right with me today.
I hope gazing upon this image touches your heart as much as it touched mine to paint. I hope that it can give a voice to all of you who are grieving/have suffered this grief. You are not alone. You are so deeply loved. Your story has value.
As we finish up the month in which we celebrate mothers and our Mother Mary, let us pray for hearts to celebrate life in all its stages; to rejoice with one another in joy, and to weep with one another in times of grief. If you have lost a child, I’d love for you to memorialize them and share below. Your story matters and your child/children matter. We love you and we see you.
We are looking forward to offering miscarriage/grief programs down the road through Behold. Please pray for us as we formulate these supports for those we serve. If you would like to see anything in particular highlighted in our program (an art piece that struck you or a Scripture passage that moved you in your journey), please reach out to us and share.