Something dies inside of a mother when her children die, her unborn children die, or her opportunities to have children die. Maybe it could also be said that something dies inside of a woman when her opportunity to have children die.
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)
Fear of Death
I just did a survey on Facebook “How well do you know Jeanine” in this survey one of my challenge questions was “What am I the most scared of?” The answer was “My children dying” It was interesting to see the answers, every woman that has had a miscarriage or child loss, got this one correct. Every mother who has not experienced child loss got it wrong. Loosing children changes something, something very dramatic in us. A prominent woman I know, and look up to, seems to walk through life with a ting of sadness behind every experience. It hurts me to see it, but the sadness there is the unquenchable kind, that no one can take away, the loss of a young newborn baby. Ah, women it hurts me to discuss, but those of us who have lost a child knows what happens afterwards, the gut wrenching chaos.
Every moment, every decision, every last moment, or first moment, every breath the child took, or did not take, are combed over with a comb finer then an outsider can understand. What are we looking for? Answers. We are trying to comprehend what this means, the loss of an innocent, the loss of a whole entire life, an whole entire undefined potential. We want to know, why did my child die? The very word child is foreign to the word death, the two do not go together. And sadly, we do spend so much time on this last one, we wonder what did I do wrong, what could I do differently.
The loss of a Pearl of Innocent Potential
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. –John Donne“
Fading, fading, and it is gone. That potential life is gone. Many outsiders may not have even been aware that innocent Pearl of Life existed before it lost its opportunity. The outside eyes that did not discern the Pearl also missed the essential change that overtook the mother at finding the Pearl. Like a strong sweeping change of the seasons, that Pearl of Life caused an unseen transformation in the mother. Looking towards that Pearl the mother sees farther, clearer, and more resound the future, its potential, its path. The mother instinctively knows her whole future is now changed because of this Pearl. She reviews her old plans and rewrites in her new existence, that of being a mother. With that careful detail, that mothers are known for, she evaluates what this change means in the next second, the next minute, hour, day, week, month, year, two years, ten years, twenty years, lifetime. And there it is, woven deep throughout her soul, the change, the lifetime of change that one innocent Pearl brought to her.
Why such a dramatic change for such a little Pearl? Because of its nature, it was a piece of the Divine, with divine potential. The mother quickly learns and finds her mission. Her mission is to take this one little Pearl of potential and help it grow into something divine. When I garden and a seed or a bulb is lost I miss the potential the seed had inside of it. But how more significant is the loss of a Pearl with a divine nature. We search, we want to know, where is that Pearl now? It was transferred, to some new potential, some new existence, that we barely fathom and strain to understand. Up there in the elusive clouds of heaven that Pearl of potential is now a spirit, a spirit with spiritual potential, being cared for and loved by angles. In this we can find peace. Sometimes we may pray that the angles will take care of this little spirit. Sometimes we may send messages up in prayer that we miss the spirit, and are thinking of it. Sometimes we may even find our selves crying out to heaven because we wanted to know this spirit ourselves, we wanted to raise the spirit ourselves, rather then have it be cared for by the angels. And then we feel the calming peace of our Lord telling us that this spirit is in his care, this spirit is in heaven, and we remember that heaven is… well heaven, though unfathomable, heaven.
What did I do wrong?
We start the all inclusive search. We review every detail. Looking for answers, we look to see if we need to learn something from this hard lesson, if something learned might help us prevent this from happening again. If we made a mistake we need to ask Gods help to fix. At some point, if not held in check, we take a turn from a healing path of review to a confusing path of responsibility. If only I had done this, if only I had done that, if only…. We feel responsible and guilty for every little thing that we did not do perfectly. We make our selves believe that if only we had been more perfect we could have prevented such a loss. Maybe we try to conceive again and run through a check list of how to be perfect, checking them off in hopes that a better performance will make a better outcome. But then if we experience loss again we only see more or new flaws with that new loss, and can run through a cycle of perfectionism, blame, and guilt. We can come up with a hundred things we did wrong, and hundred things we could have done better, and trying again compounds the list.
A young lady I know helped to care for a high medical needs baby. I know that she devoted allot of love and attention, time and care to this fragile baby. Eventually this baby scummed to his mortal body and passed away. She sorrowed greatly for a moment shortly before this babies death where she became frustrated with this baby. It has been said that a loss is more bitter when you have regrets, and harder to get over. When death is figured into the calculation small imperfections in ourselves can seem so much more intolerable. We wish we could go back and change our actions, repair the past.
The Judgement of God
“Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” —Daniel 5:27
….It was a short conversation I had with Monica that day, a conversation in passing. But what she said that day changed me… She gave a simple rebuttal to one of the most common phrases we hear after a loss. “It must have been meant to be.” These words of faith are meant to be comforting to the mother, but so often are not. “Meant to be?” we scream inside “how could such a tragic loss be meant to be?” Monica said that through much prayer and heartache she found a different answer from God. She found that our mortal bodies are weak and frail, that creating life is very complicated, and that the weakness of mortality, of her body has stopped the Lord from blessing her as he would want. He did not plan for her to loose these children, he did not plan for her to have a difficult time conceiving. This was not meant to be, this was an unfortunate consequence of having a mortal and imperfect body.
Meaning well an outsider wants a simple answer, and wants to lend comfort and help. “This must have been meant to be” is such a pretty faith filled package for someone disconnected from the loss. They do not think this statement through to the obvious conclusions and do not mean any offense by it. But there it hangs in the air, like a judgement from God, “This must have been meant to be.” Maybe because it is about such a sensitive subject, maybe because we hear it so often, from almost everyone who learns of our loss, for what ever reason… We flip this statement over and over in our minds, looking for those answers, trying to see if this statement does in fact hold the answer it is expected to give.
These are the answers we find in that statement. God meant for this baby to only live for a short time. Which may make us ask why did God mean for this baby to get the short end of the stick. God meant for you to loose this baby. If the miscarriages, or infertility persists then this statement burns in even further… It becomes. God does not mean for you to have children. or God does not mean for you to have any more children. Either way, to an outsider, recovering from these conclusions simply requires faith, faith in the Lord and his plan for us. For the mother this judgement means so much more. In the LDS community with the highest degree of glory involving creating more spiritual children, this statement can be like barring the very glory of heaven from us. In a crazy world where unwed, teenage or drug addicted women have children we may cry to the Lord asking “why would you choose them and not me?”
I find so much more truth in Monica’s understanding. This was not meant to be, this was an unfortunate consequence of having a mortal and imperfect body. From there it is easier to build faith in the fact that…
“all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28)