To the beloved, bereaved mothers out there, free the people around you from your expectations, free them from your desire hold your sacred space like you want them to hold it, understand that they can’t possibly understand how you might long for them to, because it’s your space you live with every day, not theirs. Reaching this understanding will help you find more healing than pain.
But please do hear this, releasing your expectations of others does not mean that you should keep your sacred space to yourself or that you should carry it alone. Remember how I said we need to bring the darkness out into the light? We do. We need to share our sacred spaces, but not always, and not with everyone, and when we do, it is good and healing to let people in, to invite them to sit with us, and come without expectations.
Share. Be vulnerable. Be brave. And do so with honesty, wisdom, and grace.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” Brené Brown
Depending on where you are in your journey, maybe start by sharing your space with the people who are “safe” for you, your spouse, your best friend. Seek out a community or tribe that carries a similar sacred space–because these people will understand your space better than anyone because they share a similar space.
It is possible that no matter how hard we try to free others of our expectations for how to handle our sacred spaces, that we might still feel disappointed in people, that people might still hurt us in some way with an insensitive comment or by refusing to hold the space with us. In these moments, go to God, go to your “safe” people.
People will disappoint us, but God never will.
The most wonderful encouragement and truth of all is that God does not disappoint and He meets us wherever we are.
Even if we feel disappointed by God because of our sacred space. We need to examine our faith and look at His promises, study them, know them, believe them. They are true, always true. God is always faithful; therefore, He cannot disappoint (Romans 5:5). The fallen world hurts, God heals. What is intended to hurt us, God can use for good (Genesis 50:20). And many times it’s not how we would expect. But if we look, we will see glimpses of the good–and if we ask, He’ll show us. (Psalm 27:13, Matt. 7:7).
We can expect God to fulfill His promises, to be faithful, and to never forsake us, whether we’re walking on the path alone or we’ve invited someone else into our sacred space with us. We can expect God to understand, see, and be with us. He knows our sacred spaces better than we do. He walked through every detail of it with us. He knows details and the hidden things we’ve missed that He wants to bless us with. He has collected every tear that has ever fallen from your eye. He knows. He remembers me, my child, you, and your child.
Other people might not be able handle the details of our space, the pain, the tears, and some of them aren’t meant to, but God can. God can handle the pain, the grief. He can handle it all. He can hold the space; it isn’t too much for Him. He’s bigger than all of it.
God will use your sharing your story to heal others and heal yourself. God will give you the strength and courage. God will provide for the needs your space creates and the needs you have as you share.
It’s important for us to remember how God has provided for us in the past.
Past provisions for me have appeared in a variety of forms. A pink rose hand delivered by a friend who only had that and tears to offer the very day my daughter died. A picture texted by a family friend of a candle lit in my daughter’s memory on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. An invitation for coffee and cupcakes with a new friend who dared to ask questions from an authentic, loving place and hear the hard things and sit and listen and hold the space with me. The family who sat with me in silence, in the awkward. A hug that lingered on a hard day. A random card in the mail from my cousin let me know she was thinking of me as kids were going back to school the year my daughter would have started kindergarten. The friend who always remembered every date, who listened to every trial and frustration and pouring out of my memories, who carried so much of my space with me.
The hug… the note… the time… the flower… the presence… the love languages spoken in a broken and sacred space… as others were Jesus to me… bringing light to my darkness….God’s provisions for my pain… I remember them still.
Parting Thoughts and Prayers
First, to the dear one whose space is not infant loss and you’re still here reading through this, oh dear sister thank you for keeping with me. I already know you are a precious treasure in the life of the one whose space is infant loss. Here are some thoughts for you:
Offer to hold the space with them. Sit in the awkward, the hard, the silence, the tears.
A week ago I read these words by Alia Joy, and they so moved me because not only are they so beautifully written, they are so true:
…Maybe for some people it’s easier to check off a list, drop off a casserole, set up the good china, and make a roast. But it’s hard to sit with someone’s pain, let it roll off their slumped shoulders and drag it across yours so you can stand together. And that’s what I needed most.
I see her quiet hospitality in the space she makes, the hollowed and holy quiet.
She reminds me of the gospel when I open the door and slide into the passenger side as wrecked and empty as I am. I see it when she’s willing to sit in the discomfort of being unable to fix me with a meal or an errand or a Bible verse. I see the gospel when she’s willing to keep coming back to love me through the darkest nights.
No matter how many years have passed, reach out to those who have lost a child. Maybe it is a simple act of practical service. Or maybe it’s a simple, gentle touch on the shoulder with a knowing look and soft smile, a simple text, “Thinking of you today, ” a simple mention of their child’s name if you know it, “Remembering Hailey today.” It can be that simple. It can be more. But that’s it. Any gesture means the world. But for the ones who have the sacred privilege of holding and can hold someone else’s space with them, I know exactly what Alia means, and it’s truly precious and life-breathing.
To the dear ones whose sacred space is infant loss, if no one speaks your baby’s name to you, speak it out loud to yourself. Whisper it. Shout it. Write it. In a journal. In the comments here if you’re led. Do what is right for you and please do not compare your journey with someone else’s. Yours is yours. Find a way to bring what can be so dark into the light for healing, for hope, for God’s goodness to find its way to you. Please know I am praying over you, over our community of childless mothers.
(If you would like to leave a comment I will specifically pray over you. If you’d prefer, email me, and I would love to be a person to hold your space with you.)
To those who have helped hold and carry and see and show me grace with my sacred space over the past 6.5 years, I wholeheartedly thank you.
This article originally appeared at An Expectant Heart, published with permission.