Welcome to In the Word Wednesday [on Sunday!], our weekly post on the current bible study from Becky Avella's book, And Then You Were Gone: Restoring a Broken Heart After Pregnancy Loss. My apologies, yet again, for the delayed post. We traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday and I didn’t get much of an opportunity to write like I had planned. I should say, however, that I am so very thankful to have been able to travel with my family to visit my mom for a long visit!
At any rate, this past week's chapter helps us understand the reality that we must face our grief and do the work of conquering the depression that may undoubtedly accompany our grief. I appreciated that Becky was so real in her thoughts about this topic. Let's admit it, there tends to be an unfortunate degree of stigma associated with mental health issues in general.
Furthermore, people often fail to acknowledge pregnancy and early infant loss as legitimate losses. It’s so easy for others, even those we love, to ignore the loss, further disenfranchising the grief we feel in our hearts. We then tend to minimize the loss ourselves, despite the fact that we are truly broken. I think back to the miscarriage I had at 6 weeks along. I know there were times, and even still, that I would say things like “I was only six weeks along” or “It was a really early loss.” The fact of the matter is that the intensity of our grief lies not in the duration of the pregnancy. Rather, grief is measured purely by the love we have in our hearts for our children. The hopes and dreams that we have for our families and for our babies often exist long before they are even conceived, serving only to compound the loss when it does occur.
I appreciate that Becky acknowledged the issue of whether or not to use medication for depression, as well as her insights regarding counseling. She noted that medication, though controversial to some, may be used by God to help us get to a place where we can have the strength to do the work that must be done as we travel through our grief. She states, “It is true that our healing will not come from a pill. The pill only treats the symptoms. God is the healer of our hearts and our bodies.” This is so true! God, and only God ~ the Great Physician, Jehovah Rapha, our Healer, can fully and completely mend our broken hearts.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
Several times throughout the book, and also in this particular chapter, Becky has shared various dialogues and examples of insights gained from her counselor throughout her grief journey. She admits that it was difficult for her to come to grips with the idea of seeing a counselor. I can relate to her so well. As I shared with the ladies in our face-t0-face discussion of the book, I struggled with pride. I think I could have truly benefited from talking to a qualified, biblical counselor. However, I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling. Rather, I threw myself into all kinds of “work” as I trudged through the grief alone. Now, I feel like I am at a place where God has done some amazing healing work in my heart, but if I could rewind to the year 2006 I would certainly do things differently. As I think about this now, I am more ashamed that I never truly let the body of Christ minister to me in the way I needed it to or in the way that God intended for us to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
With that, I want to direct your attention to our Resources page, as we’ve updated this with a list of local Christian Counseling agencies. If you feel the nudge to seek out counseling, these are counselors/agencies that we at Mommies with Hope would recommend in the Des Moines/Ames area, where our groups are based. I have also listed a couple of links that may be useful for those of you who do not live in central Iowa. Check it out!
There is more to come on this topic in the next couple of days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you all! What are some ways that you all have learned to cope in the aftermath of your own losses? Also, please feel free to share any prayer requests you may have (you may post anonymously). It is an honor to pray for you!