Editor's Note: Through the loss of her daughter, Ellanie Beth, God has faithfully mended Maegan Roper's broken heart to encourage other families dealing with loss as well. Maegan facilitates infant loss retreats to help women find healing in Christ. In addition to her book, 30 Days of Hope for Restoration in Infant Loss, she's also written for digital and print publications such as Pregnancy After Loss Magazine, Engaging Motherhood, MinistryMatters, The Better Mom, Missions Mosaic and more. She resides in McCalla, AL with her husband, Jeremy and children Emmalyn and Harrison.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait on the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)
Infant loss is unique. It has many faces and forms, and while each of them are different, no one can prepare you for how to handle the sorrow. You can rejoice in the relief of knowing that you are fully understood by the Lord. Others will not understand what you’re going through. They’ll try to answer the unanswerable. And while they mean well, most of what they say will probably frustrate you.
And that’s okay. God gets your struggles. Your feelings of inadequacy. Your hurt. And your hesitancy to move forward with a “normal” life.
I vividly remember having a come apart in my parent’s living room one week after we lost our daughter to a rare birth defect called anencephaly. We did not find out until I was 20 weeks pregnant with her. She was born and went to heaven all in the same breath. It was the month of December, and it just didn’t feel like Christmas time. We hadn’t participated in any of the usual traditions and festivities, and I hadn’t bought a single gift. Not one. It suddenly seemed to all come crashing down on me, and I found myself loathing “normal.”
I didn’t want to get out and go shopping. I didn’t want to attend Christmas parties or send out Christmas cards. What is usually so exciting and anticipated seemed unnecessary and daunting. And it wasn’t, really. It was just my perspective at the time. And instead of approaching this grieving process one day at a time as it slowly merged with my once normal life, I felt that I was supposed to shut off what had just happened and dive back into normal life.
That’s not what God expects of you at all. The reality is that you’ll have a new normal from here on out. It’s almost as if your life becomes divided -- before loss and after loss. And after loss, you do your best to get back to what you were doing before loss, but it just isn’t the same and that’s okay.
He has promised that we will see His goodness in the land of the living and give us courage to approach our new normal if we wait on Him. I think for the longest time I feared for taking any steps into a new normal because I felt I was leaving my baby girl behind. But sometimes sorrow and hope must mingle in the present, as we take one step at a time.
Those steps forward do not mean you love less. They do not mean you stop grieving or missing. They do not mean you forget. They do not mean letting go. Moving forward is about learning, growing, and trusting. You just learn to live in a world that keeps turning, even though yours stopped for a bit.
When others would say “It’ll be okay; you’ll move on...” it didn’t feel right. I know our natural human reaction is to leave a bad situation in the past, but part of me wanted to keep it in front of me AS I moved forward, a reminder of God’s grace in my pain and the promise of future glory.
There is no rulebook for the pace at which you should move. Don’t rush, but don’t be afraid either. Moving forward means turning toward hope and believing God is greater than it all.
In my journey toward restoration, the Lord led me to write a 30 day devotional, encouraging others through infant loss. It is called 30 Days of Hope for Restoration in Infant Loss. I am truly humbled by how the Lord has chosen to use our daughter’s story to bring healing hope to others.
There are other resources that have helped me understand God’s purpose and have pointed me to Scripture that I would recommend. I pray that you find them helpful as well:
- Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur
- Mended by Angie Smith
- Your Pain is Changing You by David Crosby
If you’re walking through infant loss right now and would like to be a part of a community encouraging one another, then please check out Engaging Motherhood. As co-editor of the infant loss section, we are offering an email series to parents who need encouraging in this area. You may sign up to receive the emails here.