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Challenge: Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Unexpected Gifts of Loss

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Loosing a baby is nothing I wanted and nothing I would wish on another. It's heart wrenching, and at the time all-consuming, but also feels invisible and isolating. I'm so proud to be a part of a time and community that is being open and vulnerable in sharing these stories of pain and loss. We aren't alone. There are so many of us that are part of this sister and brotherhood that none of us signed up for. Our pain has common threads but has unique (literal) fingerprints.

Even though the pain is nothing I wanted, I have gained unexpected gifts from loss. One - empathy. The capacity and extent I feel for another's pain is something I don't know that I would have without walking through it myself. I can now see more of the invisible pain that someone is experiencing. My heart breaks for others because I can imagine the private sorrow and mourning. Having walked through it, I know how horrible hospital waiting rooms can feel, and I now know having a friend sit with you means the world. I know the fresh pain that bubbles up on anniversaries of loss, birthdays, or holidays. I have gained an invaluable sensitivity to how emotional Mother's and Father's Day can be if you have lost a baby or are struggling to get pregnant or adopt.

Two- words. While people are well intended, cliches can deepen the feeling of isolation. A simple passing comment can make you feel unseen in your pain. I didn't really get that until I heard so many trite comments over the years about our infertility and loss. However, there were some words that do the opposite. There are words that are like salve to the heart. "I see you, friend." "I'm weeping with you." Or even a simple "I'm so sorry" is sometimes best. Oh, and the long suffering friends that are in it for the long haul and keep checking in to say they are thinking of you. Those friends are like gold and keep you going. The reality is the dust settles, but the pain will continue to pop up unexpectedly with no expiration date.

Three-gestures. A group of my girlfriends arranged for a person to come clean our home after our pregnancy loss because cleaning is my love language. Freshly vacuumed carpet, mopped floors, and clean toilets made me feel like something was under control. Some folks we knew from church brought us a delicious meal with a side of hugs. One friend stopped by with my favorite Starbucks drink. Two families that we are close with from Virginia sent a care package chalk-full with random and awesome treasures, something for everyone in the family including the dog. A note from a friend months after our loss let me know we were still on her mind and meant so much because she knew how meaningful words are to me.

While specific words and gestures speak more profoundly to every individual, my eyes are now open to how I can be a better friend to someone walking through this kind of loss and morning and it is a gift

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