27 March 2012

The sacred work of grief

I heard from a friend last night who just lost her second pregnancy in a year. One day she had a perfectly healthy, normal pregnancy in her belly and the next, the baby was gone.

Just like that -- just that fast. Baby, then all of the sudden -- no baby. An empty womb, and a broken heart. No explanation, no obvious reason.

A card I bought after Ewan died.
My friend heard the usual platitudes, the usual lame (albeit true) attempts at comfort: "Your babies are in heaven now." "Everything happens for a reason." And so on.

All the perspective and truth in the world does no good for the heart that hurts bitterly for what might have been, but was not; for what it once held, but passed unknowingly in the night; for the loss of the one who should have been known and held and loved and rocked to sleep in her mama's arms, but was not.

She left this earth almost as suddenly as she arrived.

Some very small part of my friend's pain has become mine -- but I know the far greater share belongs to her and her husband. And though it is one of the hardest things in the world to watch a friend suffer through, I will not try and take it from them.

My own loss is far too fresh to forget this truth: that grief is good, hard, and (above all) holy work. The temptation is to try to lift their burden of grief altogether. Knowing this to be impossible, I hope to do the work of grieving shoulder-to-shoulder with her leading the way.