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Blog Introduction

This blog is the story of how my husband and I faced the illness and death of two of our children. Each blog post is essentially a chapter in the story, so in order to truly understand it, you are going to benefit by starting at the beginning.
I hope you find our story touching, and in some way find comfort and hope through it as you face your own storms in life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Power of Words

Words have power.  We don't think about it very often, but they do.  Think about the last time someone jokingly said something to you that left you feeling a bit cut or wounded, and how those words hung in the air around you, reverberating in your mind, bringing pain to you every time you heard them. How many children carry the scars of hurtful words spoken to them by an insensitive adult? Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, think of a time when someone's words brought you great joy.  Simply telling a woman she looks great can brighten her entire day.  Yes, our words have power in them.

There were several phrases spoken by well-meaning people which caused problems for me.  We, as Christians, are very quick to throw out pious platitudes and cute little catch phrases to others going through trials and traumatic life events; yet we seldom realize what impact those words are really having on the people receiving them.   "If you have enough faith, your baby will live."  While the intention was to encourage and build my faith, those simple words had to be the number one killer of my faith and trust in God.  I could never have enough faith to please Him apparently, since both my children died.  So if I couldn't gather enough faith to save my own offspring who were very, very dearly loved, how would I ever have enough faith to truly believe for anything else of importance?  It was a destructive cycle which had no positive end to it.  There was no hope for pleasing this God who required more than was attainable, so why even try?   My faith for miracles was shot to pieces.  My mouth said I believed in the miraculous, and my mind did it's best to keep up with the words coming from my mouth, but my heart was far removed from it all.  My heart knew it was hopeless, even if much prayer was offered up.  Some people were the chosen recipients of God's grace, and the rest of us were just out of luck. My heart believed this, but my mind would not allow it freedom to say so.  Those negative thoughts were shoved back, not being allowed to have discussion, or to be entertained.  They were unacceptable, and even the very thought of sharing my mental juggling with someone was denied.  I would have been "corrected", and reminded that those things weren't true.  I would have been told I was wrong, that God hadn't done this to me, and that He still loved me very much, in spite of what had happened.

Another saying I tripped over repeatedly was the one I had heard spoken by Christian folks hoping to add spirituality and meaning to people's repeated trials.  It states how if we don't comprehend the lessons God wants us to learn when going through a trial, we are apt to repeat that trial again; or better put, if you are going through the same thing again, it's because you were stupid or ignorant, and didn't learn what you were supposed to the first time through.  What that said to me personally was this; you didn't learn what you were supposed to with the death of your first child, therefore God had another one die so you could learn it right the second time through.  That was really scary.  God zapped my babies because I didn't learn a lesson.  Couldn't He have found a better way, or at least a less painful and devastating way for me to learn the presumed lesson?  And what if I still didn't learn what I was supposed to after the second baby died?  Was Michael in danger of being taken from me as well because I was a poor student?  What lesson was I supposed to learn anyway?  Had I learned it after the second time?  What was it?  It seemed I had no way of knowing what the expectation was, yet I would be severely punished if I didn't meet it.  Life and God seemed extremely unfair at this point.

God gives "special" children to "special" parents.  This barely needs explanation.  It was a word usually spoken by people with healthy children, with the purpose of making me feel like it was an honor that God had chosen me to be the parent of children who would die. I didn't want to be "special", or to be honored.  I wanted to be normal and have a normal, healthy family. 

Here's a common one we have probably all heard; you can have another baby.  While being a true statement for at least most parents, we should still be careful.  Do you know the circumstances around the loss?  Maybe the woman had a hysterectomy and can no longer bear children.  Maybe due to other health issues this was her only chance to have a child of her own.  Personally, we could have had another child, but with each pregnancy offering a 25% chance of a baby who would die, and with 2 of our 3 children in the ground already, the odds did not seem desirable.  And besides, I didn't want "another" baby; I wanted the ones I had.
I really believe the phrase is meant to be a comfort; offering the hope of having another baby to love.  But we have to stop being presumptive.  Rarely do we know the full circumstances surrounding a loss, or the conditions present regarding producing another baby.  Couples may try for years to have a baby at great expense, only to run out of options, finding themselves without a child of their own. There may have been multiple miscarriages, or genetic issues.  People don't go around wearing ID badges stating their reproductive status, and rightly so. It isn't for public knowledge. This just addresses some of the physical aspects of it.  Emotionally and mentally, the loss has to be confronted and dealt with.  Saying, "You can always have another baby", dismisses the value of the child lost.  It almost gives the picture of a discardable baby- "oh, that one broke, or was defective. Just get a new one to replace it." Or, "the sooner you move on, the sooner you'll get over the other one."  None of it is helpful in coping with the existing grief.  We love our children, no matter how they come to us. We need to stand beside those who have suffered loss, and walk with them through their dark valley as God leads them, not as we would like to lead them.
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Others suggested we adopt.  We considered this option briefly, but we knew too well there are no guarantees in life.  We could adopt a baby who could have other health issues, or die as well.  With no promise of a baby who wouldn't die, I was not about to put my heart on the line again.  No matter what well-intentioned words were spoken to me; whether words of encouragement to try again, or words telling me I was "special", I was done taking any kind of baby gamble.

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