Sometimes, though, I am immersed into the lives of these people with a heavy heart that is empathetic to their pain. Sometimes, I am broken as their loss makes me think of my own losses. Sometimes, I have to remove myself from a particular project or task and make a beeline to my ghirardelli chocolate stash (true story). Sometimes, I cry with compassion for these families...and that's okay. Sometimes, life - and death - seem so unfair.
Just this week, I was charged with the task of preparing a little boy to see his 3-month old baby brother...in a casket. His baby brother died in his sleep during naptime. At the tender age of 7, this young boy walked in confident and sure of himself. Dressed in his best, he had a smile that shined light into a dark situation as he entered the funeral home with a family member. His mommy had been there for a while already and had taken time to see her youngest son as he laid in a small wooden casket, adorned with ornate white interior. The room was filled with flowers fit for a baby in hues of blues and yellows and whites. It was a beautiful setting, complete with a night light and toys as one entire side of this room overlooked a special Children's Garden, dedicated to all the families served whose babies have died. This little boy didn't know that just minutes before he came, his mommy and daddy slowly approached his baby brother's casket with tears flowing. My heart broke for this fellow mommy as the aching sounds of her wails flowed just as freely as the tears. It was so unfair.
Why would a 3-month old baby die in his sleep?
Why should I have to prepare a child to see his baby brother in his casket?
Why are caskets even made this small?
Why do this mommy and daddy have to say goodbye so soon?
Why is there a garden full of ornaments; each one representing a child who has died?
Why did I have to stand in this very building 5 years ago for my own daughter's funeral?
It's all so unfair.
The experience brought me back. During my pregnancy with Chloe, after knowing she would die shortly after birth, my motto was "It's not fair!" It really wasn't. And neither was this. None of our losses are fair. Death is not fair.
The truth is we are not promised fairness in this world. We are not promised lives free from heartache or pain or grief. We are not promised to always live comfortably or within our comfort zone. We are not promised that babies won't die. We are not promised a life free from earthly death. Rather, Jesus himself tells us in John 16:33...
"In this world you will have trouble..."
You will have trouble. Your heart will break. You will know pain and sorrow. You will experience grief. You will face trials you never thought you'd have to face.
But Jesus doesn't stop there. He leaves us with a word of encouragement when he says,
"...But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Take heart, daughter. I have overcome. Take heart. I hold your heart in my hands. Take heart. I will piece your broken heart back together as you trust in Me. Take heart. I know your pain and sorrow. I am a Man of Sorrows. Take heart. I too am acquainted with grief. Take heart. I know what you faced yesterday, what you face today, and what you will face tomorrow and I am there. Take heart. I have overcome the world. Trust in Me. I have conquered sin. Trust Me. I have risen from the grave. Give me your heart. Death has no sting. Surrender.