Nothing can truly prepare you for the death of your baby, but looking back, I see how God helped prepare the way for me and strengthened me for the death of my daughter. Before we knew it was a high risk pregnancy, I started reading a facebook page called, “Prayers for Preston.” I don’t know the family personally, but I was immediately struck by how strong they were through a horrible tragedy. Their son (who is about the same age as my Asher) was found unresponsive in a swimming pool in September of 2012. So many people have been praying for baby Preston to wake up from his coma and to be completely healed. His family has clung to God and glorified Him through Preston’s story. I remember thinking, “I could never survive something like that. I could never be as strong as Preston’s Mom and the rest of his family has been.” I was also so glad that my life was tragedy free.
In December, I started reading “Remembering Ann Reese” on facebook and praying for her family. Little Ann Reese died on Christmas Eve (which was also her Mommy’s birthday) in a terrible swingset accident. Ann Reese was almost three years old, right in between the ages of my boys. I couldn’t believe the strength of her mother and other family members. They grieved publicly for Ann Reese and clung to God. They were open and honest about their tragedy and it was obvious that God was the reason they survived the worst thing imaginable. I was inspired. I wondered how I would react if something terrible like that happened to me. I thought, “How can these women have their babies ripped out of their arms and still praise God?” It was amazing. I checked these facebook pages daily and prayed constantly for these families. I had no idea that God was using them to prepare me for the death of my own daughter.
After Lucy died and I had to go through labor and delivery, I truly did not know if I could do it. Giving birth to your dead baby has to be one of the hardest things on earth. While I was in labor, I kept thinking of Ann Reese and her Mom. At the moment, their tragedy was the only thing I could think of that seemed worse than what I was going through. I thought, “Ann Reese’s Mom survived. I can too.” It strengthened me and challenged me. It showed me that I was physically capable of surviving my tragedy, that I could live without my daughter.
After I had my two boys I knew I would have a girl next. I was so excited about having my very own girl. I couldn’t wait for her, I knew she was coming. Three months before she was conceived and almost exactly one year before her due date, I wrote this letter to Lucy:
To My Daughter,
I feel your creation on the horizon. Like the smell of a rainstorm coming- a beautiful rainstorm that’s been prayed for. I see your Maker readying Himself to make you. I can’t wait to meet you. I know you’re coming. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do. You are wanted so very much. You are coming and I am hopefully waiting with open arms; my sweet, beautiful daughter to be…
And this was the verse God told me to write to my daughter that day:
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Right after we found out there was a complication with the pregnancy and Lucy might be in danger, I felt so terrified. I was so scared for my baby’s life and it was terrifying to be able to do nothing as her mother to protect her. I begged God to show me if she would live. It was so hard to go through a pregnancy knowing I might not get my baby at the end of it. I suddenly remembered that I had written a letter to Lucy in my journal several months earlier. I found it and read it, hoping God had put some comforting clue to the future in it, showing me that she would live. My heart sank when I read the letter to Lucy and saw that I had compared my daughter to a coming rainstorm. Looking back, I see God preparing me for the deepest loss of my life. I was devastated to read the letter to Lucy because it showed that a storm was brewing, but at the end was Psalm 139:16 assuring me that God had Lucy’s life planned out already. Every one of her days was written in His book before she was even conceived. It comforted me to know Lucy was in His hands, not mine.
I asked Him over and over again, “Will she live? Will I get to keep her? Are you going to save her? Please save her, Lord. Protect my baby.” I never felt like He told me she would live. He told me every time, “I’ve got you. I’ve got Lucy. You don’t have to worry. I’ve got her. She will be safe with me.”
If you are reading this, you might be in the place I was in when I was reading Prayers for Preston and Remembering Ann Reese. You might be wondering if you could survive something like this. Let me tell you, YOU CAN. If we are human, we are destined to suffer at some point in our lives. I wondered if I could survive, if God would really carry me like He said He would. He has. I have never felt Him as close as I have during my greatest suffering. I have never heard Him speak so clearly to me. I have never had so intimate a relationship as I do now with my God. I cling to Him every minute, crying out to Him as I go about my day. I tell Him everything- that I need Him, that I’m scared because He let my daughter die, that I’m disappointed, that I just want Him to take me to heaven, that I can’t do it. When I feel empty, I tell Him and I ask Him to prove His love to me, to show me, to let me feel it, because I don’t feel it at that moment. He ALWAYS makes me feel loved. He reminds me that His baby boy was murdered so that I could live, so that Lucy could live. He knows the pain of losing His baby. He holds me and tells me that every tear I cry is precious to Him. He promises me that He will redeem it. He promises to fill my heart with joy and my belly with a baby again, and I feel the heaviness lift from my chest.
In the Bible, Jesus talks about the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
It doesn’t say that those who build their house on the rock will not face the rain, the wind and the floods. We will have trials and pain in life. What matters is where you’ve built your house, what you’ve built your house on. That determines if you will survive. You can prepare for the storm before it hits. You can sink your roots deep into God. Spend time with Him, memorize scripture, read books that strengthen your faith, and decide that you will trust Him no matter what happens. Build your life on Him. Don’t worry about the calamity that could come, know that He will sustain you.
If you asked me a year ago, “What is the worst thing you can think of that could possibly happen to you?” I would have said, “Something bad happening to one of my children.” And somewhere close behind that would have been, “Something preventing me from having more children.” They both happened in one blow. I am in the midst of it now, and I can say He is sustaining me through it all. He is good on His word. He will do what He says if you lean into Him. Enjoy every day, savor the beautiful things in your life and thank God for all of them. Also, would you please pray for baby Preston, who is still in a coma, and for his family, who have been caring for him and taking care of his two big brothers as well. Please pray for Ann Reese’s family too. They need so much healing and strength to get through the rest of their lives without their sweet little daughter. My heart breaks for these families. I am so thankful to them for showing me how to honor God through tragedy and to trust Him no matter what.
Isa 48:10 I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
Thanks for sharing your trial and suffering with us. We help you carry it. Some of us face potential losses and your Faith and Courage is a good example and encouragement for all of us.
This is beautiful, Bethany. God is amazing. This hurts a lot and is so hard, but I’m so thankful we have Him to carry us through it.
I surfed on to your sad but encouraging blog. Thank you for sharing. My beautiful daughter died in a hit and run accident on July 16, 2012, on her 30th birthday and my wedding anniversary. (driver not found) For years I had been going to facebook posts re; miscarriages/ stillbirths, and I prayed and cried for the grieving parents. LIttle did I know, I was being prepared for the greatest loss of my life. There are no words to describe the devastation since she died but somehow I am trusting God that He has a greater plan and He will see me through it. God bless you and prosper you.
I want to share a link to a sermon by Jessica Kelly who lost her son to Brain Cancer…