“We lost the baby.”

I heard those words coming out of my mouth, and they left a bitter taste. Of course we didn’t lose him. He was right there, still inside of me. There was no heartbeat, but he wasn’t lost. He was dead. Speaking in niceties felt like I was being unfair to this little person who never had the chance to be nursed or rocked or sung a lullaby. He deserved better than euphemisms.

But to say the words, “My baby died”? That was unthinkable. Babies aren’t supposed to die. They coo, they poop, they laugh. They grow up and say “no” too often and “I love you” not quite often enough. They infuriate and invigorate. They surprise you with insights about the world and about you. They are beautiful, terrifying people who make you lose your mind in the best and worst ways.

So I felt stuck in this world where I want to honor the truth about what has happened to our son and a truth that was just too harsh to say aloud.

I still feel stuck there.

I’ve heard about stages of grief. I’ve always thought of them as being somewhat linear. You experience them one at a time and move through each in an orderly fashion – not the same for each person, of course, but still something fairly predictable. But the past two weeks, I have found them to be more of a collection of grief experiences than stages. I’ll bounce between anger and depression and acceptance all within a few hours.

On Father’s Day, I was doing okay. I knew that it was particularly hard on Rich since he has lost not one, but two sons now in infancy. I wanted to be stronger for him, and was feeling peaceful in the morning. I was able to give to him through the day. We wanted to make fish tacos for supper, and needed cilantro to make our favorite marinade, so I offered to go to the grocery store to pick it up because I was feeling strong.

Near the end of my shopping trip, I saw a table that had various books on it, and among all of them was a copy of Goodnight Moon. Immediately memories came rushing back of receiving a copy of that when I had my oldest son, and of reading it to my kids through the years. I thought about how I had looked forward to reading that and so many other books to our new baby, and suddenly I found myself beginning to tear up in the store. I checked out, and then had a full melt-down in the car. Grief snuck up on me and leveled me in a completely unexpected way and at a completely unexpected time.

I said that we lost Elliott, but the truth is, I’m the one who feels lost right now. When I start crying around other people, I feel like I need to be holding it together more. When I’m not crying around other people, I feel like I am holding too much back. I hate feeling physically weak when I don’t have a baby in my arms to justify the weakness, but I don’t want to be pushed too hard because after all, I just gave birth. Whatever I’m feeling feels somehow wrong, like I should be feeling something else. I stumble around trying to grieve the right way, and end up feeling not only like a failure as a mother to safely deliver my child into the world, but as a failure for not honoring his death properly.

And my faith? That feels lost as well. C.S. Lewis’s words echo my heart so well right now.

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’ (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed)

I read 2 Samuel 12, and my heart rips apart. What kind of God punishes an adulterous couple by bringing death to their child? I have to wonder if my grief might be quelled a bit if that passage was simply not in the Scripture – if I could trust fully that Elliott’s death wasn’t a punishment for my sins, perhaps then I could begin to lean on God, the way that so many have suggested. Can I lean on a God who has a history of stealing children away from parents because of their sins?

I don’t know.

For now, I lean on the kindness of those around me. I lean on friends who validate my son’s existence by asking to see pictures of him. I lean on family that sits quietly with me in my darkness. I lean on people who barely know us, but give generously to us. I lean on those who wrestle with the same questions.

My son is dead. I am lost.

I hope the second of those will someday be a little less true.

27 thoughts on “Lost

  1. Oh, Alise. Post-partum depression is hard, harder still for not having that baby in your arms. I am so thankful to hear that you have people close by to lean on. Just one day at a time, for now.

    Much love and many blessings.

  2. Alise I read this and can’t stop crying! My heart is breaking for you and Rich!! But I also have some of the same questions as you! Are we ever meant to know the answer? If God gives Grace then who or what causes things like this to happen? I watch my friend as she has miscarried several times and then has a foster child ripped from her arms! WHY????? WHO???? I have to admit my faith is a bit rocky right now! This is the first time I have been able to say it out loud! I just don’t understand this evilness that takes the lives of babies!! I am sorry I unloaded this on you, I just had to get it out!! I hope that you find peace and joy!! I Love You and Rich and you are on my mind a lot! So, take care of each other!!

    1. It’s hard to admit when your faith is shaken. I think this is why the Lewis quote meant so much to me when I read it. Not because I don’t believe in God, but because I wonder if God is really as good as I have believed. Most of the time I think so, but when I’m sitting alone in the dark, I question it. Knowing that others have been through that in their grief certainly helps a bit.

  3. Oh, friend. So heartbroken for you and everything you’ve been through. There are no easy answers for any of this, but all I can say is that I’m holding you close in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you and Rich so much love and peace.

  4. Alise, I’m so sorry. There are no words. Take all the time you need and don’t let people rush you through this process because they are uncomfortable or don’t know what to say or do. It’s okay to take this time. Thinking about you today.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Please remember this: “God is good all the time. He is the Giver of Every Good Gift! He is the Blesser. He is the Healer. He is the provider. It is Satan who roams around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. It is Satan who steals, kills and destroys. Don’t every look at God as the one who “took” your baby – and God didn’t “allow” it to happen. We are in the World, but we are not “of” the world. This world is fallen and sin runs amuck in it – and Satan is the god of this world. But we are sojourners – children of God – in the world to help lead others to Him – but not of the world. However, because we are in the world, we are subject to trials and tribulations that come as a result of us being in the world.”

  6. I am so sorry for your pain. Please, I want you to remember that, besides the grief, you are also suffering from post-partum AND the physical aspects of giving birth. You probably already knew to expect that, but I had no warning and was completely unprepared. Being weak physically and emotionally while you’re struggling with grief makes it overwhelming. It helped a lot to know that those two parts, at least, will end.

  7. I agree with Pattie. Please be kind to yourself. This process will take time, maybe a long time. I cannot begin to conceive of the pain you are in. One thing I want to comment on though. What has happened is not punishment from God for your sins. Jesus paid for every sin… every single one, not just some, not just the easy ones, but every one. And His blood was enought to pay the complete price for every one. God is not keeping and ugly accounting of what you have done. He sees you with nothing but love. However, sometimes s**t happens. We live in this fallen world where we still have to go through stuff. Again, I am so sorry. I pray for God to be your comfort and peace in this time.

    1. I hope that last part did not sound harsh… I did not mean it that way… I just meant that we are these fragile creatures, in a harsh environment, and it’s hard sometimes (often maybe), and that stuff happens, some is just way harder to go through…and this is probably one of the worst.

  8. Alise,

    I meant to write to you earlier, but I never did. Forgive me. The thought I wanted to share was that when the new covenant through Jesus came, so did the forgiveness of sins. This is to say: Jesus bears the punishment of your sin; you don’t. I can’t explain Elliott’s death,but only mourn it with you. But your sin? It wasn’t the cause of his death.

    I’m here for you in prayer.

  9. Remembered your tweets from an old Twitter account, and just looked you up. Oh my goodness. I am so very sorry for your loss. Elliot was a wonderful name choice for your precious boy. My heart is so heavy for you, and your words above made me cry.

    I can relate to your wavering faith. During my times of deepest loss, beginning with my mother to breast cancer when I was 21, I had to lean on these words from scripture: “He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust.” Ps. 103:14. Honestly, that has become my favorite verse, as I’ve passed through other losses since then.

    It’s hard to know about God’s ways, and at a time like this, you don’t need to figure it out. Whatever you are feeling is ok, and it’s just my belief, but I do believe it is ok with Him. It’s been my experience, anyway. During the times when I have been flattened and completely devastated by my grief, I have gone silent before him for months on end. Somehow the signs of His presence always re-emerge, in spite of the pain and the darkness, but this passage has given me permission to just feel my feelings and know that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. God has huge shoulders. If He is there, He is ok with your grief. Just be super kind to yourself and be assured that a stranger is lifting you up in prayer. Tears and big hugs, dear Alise.

  10. My mom lost two babies as well, and I know it was so painful even for me as a sister to deal with that. I can't even imagine what you must be going through as a mother. I'm crying and grieving with you for this loss and for the loss of my two siblings that I never got to meet. Fuck any God that would kill a baby as punishment. That is not the God I believe in–I believe that God is close to the brokenhearted, and that God is a mother who knows the pain and grief of losing a child. That's the God I'll pray to for you.

  11. And through this grief, you are still expressing it so so beautifully. My heart is heavy for you and Rich, right here. Sending LOVE from Vancouver. xoxo

  12. I can only imagine the pain you are feeling and my heart breaks for you! I know you feel shaken in your faith, but continue to cling to it. To lean on it! I do not believe your sweet son was taken from you as a punishment. Please do not blame yourself. I am continuing to pray for you!

  13. I’ve thought about your post over night. And it’s taken me awhile to respond because I’ve had to digest and accept these words I am going to say to you. God didn’t take your son to punish you for your sins. The God you are referring to is the God of the old testament. God sent Jesus to die for your sins. God didn’t give you your sin and take him away to punish you. He gave you your don because you are the only person who would love him the way he needed to be loved. Even if only for a short time on earth. You are his mommy forever! Hold on to the hope that one day you will be together. It’s taken me a long time to be able to accept what I’ve just told you. I’ve suffered through four miscarriages and asked God why He would have me even know I was pregnant? Why give me that hope and then take it away? And then it came to me. God chose me to be the mommy of four angel babies not to punish me but to give them unconditional love from a mommy who loved them the moment they were conceived.

  14. Your words ring so true to me. I remember those same feelings after my baby died due to miscarriage. I couldn’t say “I lost the baby.” I didn’t do anything. It just happened. I remember those days of being strong and then the simplest thing thrusting me back into deep, overwhelming waves of grief. Our miscarriage caused my crisis of faith.

    I’m so sorry you are enduring this and walking this DIFFICULT path of grief. Hugs and love to you and family. May the sting of this pain ease a little bit each day.

  15. So, so sorry. And this is nobody’s fault. Nobody’s. Hard things happen – I wish it weren’t true, but you and I both know how very true that statement is. Praying for peace and for the freedom to fully experience and explore and sit in it for as long as you need to. No words, friend. None.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Don’t beat yourself up. Our sins are to be laid at the food of the cross, Jesus blood covers us. Don’t carry this guilt around for the rest of your life. All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. He is a forgiving God. Just try to move on and remember God loves you and learn to love yourself again. I pray for comfort and peace and for you to be happy again as you do have a lot to give and share in this life to your family and others. Love and prayers.

  16. I am so sorry for your loss. Do not beat yourself up first of all. You are covered by the blood of Jesus. The grief of losing your little one is something I cannot imagine, but please you have enough on your plate without beating yourself up. Fall into the arms of your family and friends and feel their love, do not let guilt eat you up. The past is the past, move on at your own pace, it will all take time. Your mind, body and soul all need time to heal. Love and prayers.

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