“But some people can’t even have kids. I have three. Maybe I’m selfish for wanting one more.”
These words came from a woman who, halfway through her fourth pregnancy, was told that her sweet baby no longer had a heartbeat. She was preparing to deliver a baby she wouldn’t get to keep.
She had begun the process of telling loved ones that her baby had died, including her living children.
“I should just be grateful I have them,” she said.
“You are allowed to grieve your loss, even if you have good things in your life,” I told her. “Even if you have living children.”
And it’s true, though I do remember cycling through the same mindset after losing my own baby. I had a living child. A beautiful daughter. And I thought about the women who long for a child, just one, but don’t even have that.
Shouldn’t I just be grateful for the child I have?
I tried to convince myself of this—that I should just be grateful and nothing else. But the grief was too real. Too raw. Too dark.
It was real because I’d experienced the very real loss of a child. MY child, who had been created and carried in my body. It doesn’t get more intimate than that. Or heartbreaking.
It was raw because the pain was new and overwhelming. There were no words to accurately describe the emptiness I felt.
It was dark because the light of my child’s small life had been extinguished, the loss plummeting me into depths of sadness I’d never experienced before.
My baby may have been tiny, but the loss—and the grief that followed—was no small thing. The deep and prolonged grief I felt was valid, even if I had a living child.
I always come back to the words found in John 11:35. Jesus wept. He wept when Lazarus died; when he saw Mary and Martha weeping over the loss of their brother.
His weeping was not only expressed sadness, but also a validation of the sisters’ grief.
Because losing a loved one, including a baby, whether born or unborn, is sad and more than worthy of tears.
Jesus knew their grief was real and appropriate. Even if they still had each other. Even if they knew and believed the promises of their Savior. Even if they were standing in the very presence of God. Even if they had any number of things to be grateful for.
They were still allowed to grieve.
So was the woman mentioned above.
So was I.
So are you.
Regardless of what type of loss your grief stems from.
Maybe it’s the loss of a parent—even if you still have another parent.
Maybe it’s the loss of a sibling—even if you have another sibling.
Maybe it’s the loss of a friendship—even if you have other friends.
Or like myself, and too many other women to count, maybe it’s the loss of a baby—even if (or when) you have living children.
The presence of someone does not negate the absence of another.
I think each of us can find something to be thankful for on any given day, even if it’s something small and seemingly insignificant. Like sunshine, for example.
But even if the sun shines brightly, its energy enveloping us in warmth, it cannot melt away the pain of a significant loss. The cold shock of grief can still be felt, even if the sunshine breathes a moment of life and hope into us.
And we are allowed to feel it. We are allowed to acknowledge grief’s cold and cumbersome presence without feeling guilty.
We are allowed to grieve loss.
Even if other parts of life are good.