On February 15, 2012

Naming The Loss

Sothis past Sunday I was able to share publicly for the first time about what happened with our little family last year. I’ve been inspired by Mike Cope’s blog over the past two weeks, and the way he’s been able to create a space for those with similar experiences, so I decided (with permission from Leslie) to share our experience on here as well.

Sometime early last August, Leslie and I had discovered that we were pregnant. We had been “practicing” for quite a while and so we where very excited to add another baby to the Storment’s family. After the first trimester ended, we started telling people, and picking out nursery color schemes. But when we went to the Doctor sometime late December, well into the 4th month of pregnancy,  we discovered that the baby had stopped growing a couple of weeks earlier. And that she was never going to be born.  We went into the hospital the next day, and began the long journey toward picking up our lives and finding a new normal in a story that would feel a bit incomplete.

It’s interesting that in the Garden of Eden, God allows Adam to name the animals. From a purely linguistic standpoint that is a actually a really big deal. To name something is create categories for it, it is to help shape the way that reality is experienced. The same is true for pain. The problem with a miscarriage, and with losses like it, is that it is a unique kind of hurt. One that is hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced it. In some ways, you wonder why it hurts so much.And the temptation can be to believe that it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But for those who have experienced it, you know differently. There’s something wrong that you can’t even put words to. But you must try. We must name our pain.

Now I believe that God is one day going to set the world right, and that means we will see our baby again. But all Theology must begin with the facts, and the facts are often bleak. To shy away from naming them isn’t making you more spiritual, it only makes us less honest. Tomorrow, I’m going to continue the series on Revelation by tying this in somewhat.  But, ever since this experience,  the #1 comment Leslie and I have had since sharing our story is “Me too” I thought it might be helpful to post how we named our loss. For those who have gone through something similar.

Because the emotions swirling around inside me were so hard to define, I sat down a couple of nights after we got the news and wrote a letter to Mary (our little baby who would never be born). I never planned on sharing this publicly, but I am doing so in hopes that it might bless others who are going through, or have been through, similar situations. Here’s how we named our loss. I hope this helpful to some.

Dear Mary,

You are  gone. In one sense, you were never really here. You were more an idea taking shape for me, you were in the world, but not quite here yet. And maybe that’s part of what makes this feel so bad. You were all the dreams of what could have been. And since what we have is already so good, it just makes it hurt all the more.

Eden, your 3 year old sister, has my heart when she wants it. She can ask to go on a date with her daddy in a way that makes me melt. She dreams of marrying me, and I know from experience, this will one day turn into real dreams of marrying a real man. Her silly passions, and her serious and playful theology bring a lightness to our home. She loves dances and ribbons, and movies and ice cream and pizza. Her name means delight, and she wears her name well.

Samuel, your brother, is just as much of a joy. He loves to wrestle and to read. He loves Tigers and Dinosaurs and our golden Retriever “Moses.” He’s starting to love Superman he already loves his PaPa, and he’s always loved food.  And for all those things and a thousand more, we love him. He is funny and sweet, and even though he’s only 20 months, you can already tell he’s tenderhearted.

And that’s what makes losing you so hard. We’ve seen what it looks like to have a child. You would have been that too Mary, but in your own special way. I guess I realize that when people make love, they actually make something, something special and wonderful, but fragile too. And sometimes that is so fragile it breaks, and it can’t be fixed.

Mary, I feel like someone should tell you they’re sorry. I want to protect you from what happened to you even though we didn’t  know until three weeks later. Your mom wants to blame herself, even though she knows there is nothing to blame herself for, probably just because she wants someone to be able to apologize for this.

I hope you didn’t feel pain yet. I hope that you were just born into the age to come without any realization of what happened. I hope that what I hope is real, and that I get to meet you one day, and that the years that were robbed from us, and from you, will be restored.  I want to cry for you now, but hope for you forever.

This Monday I had gone with your mom to the Dr. so that we could record your hearbeat. That was when we found out that your heart had no beats left. It felt like the bottom dropped out on us so fast that we were unable to breathe for a few seconds. I’m certain that Hope rushing out a room makes a noise.

There will be other babies, but none will be you. And I wish I could hold you and dance with you just one time, I’d tell you we would have loved you fiercely. We would have given you much, but not too much. We would have protected, but not sheltered you, we would have cheered your successes and allowed your failures. We would dream for you, till you could dream for yourself. Then your dreams would become ours.

I wish you could know that you were and are, and will be loved. I want to believe that I’ll know you one day, and that you’ll know us. Our love made you, and we bet you are something special.

Love,

Your dad.

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  • Lauren Cunningham

    Beautifully tender. What a precious way to name the pain.

  • http://twitter.com/pcunningham3 Philip Cunningham

    What a beautiful letter.  Thank you for sharing.

  • Angie Mays

    Jonathan & Leslie – Your pain and your passion are true praises to the Father – (I don’t know if that even makes sense).  Thank you for sharing from your heart.  As always, I just see Jesus!!!  You have and continue to make a HUGE impact on my life, my faith and my walk with Him. 

  • Summer

    Jonathan, I am truly sorry for your loss. You and Leslie are in my prayers as you continue to heal and hope.

    Thank you for creating space to remember (even after almost five years it can seem like yesterday), and to help those who will one day walk a similar path.

    http://www.thefuquas.org/blog/?p=190

  • Tamie Ross

    So moved by the love and generosity of spirit in this, and in sharing this. Thank you.

  • mattdabbs

    Jonathan,

    Missy and I went through this same experience. I had heard of people having miscarriages and I remember being sad for them but I had NO IDEA what it was like to actually go through it. It was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster. I felt empty. My mind felt blank. It was a very disconnecting experience as you wrestle with protecting yourself from the reality and seriousness of your feelings vs. dealing  with what actually happened.

    I remember all the calls. People wanted to tell us they were thinking of us and praying for us but after about 4 or 5 calls I just couldn’t talk to anyone else about it. It hurt to have to say it all again and again. So the phone just rang and rang. We felt so loved that people would want to call us but so hurt over what had just happened.

    It all felt hopeless. This was to be our first child. We had no idea if we would ever have another. That really, really hurt. Fortunately God has blessed us with two great kids but at the time it all seemed pretty hopeless and impossible to stomach.

    Then you have the spiritual wrestling. You wrestle with your faith and you wrestle with God. This comes out through the questions you ask. Why did this happen? Was God calling the shots on this one? If so why would He do this to one so innocent? Do it to me instead, okay? This was a tough one. The only conclusion I could come up with was that this world was a messed up, dirty, rotten place and that maybe God was just as upset about this one as I was.

    Last you have the well meaning people. They want to say all the right words but often times say things that hurt. They say things like “God just needed another angel” and I wanted to say how do you know that? How do you know God is happy about the death of this child?

    To sum it all up, I felt robbed. I felt cheated. I had so much hope for this kid and none of it was going to happen (at least not in the way we had anticipated). Then I realize that I do that very thing to God through my sin. I cheat my heavenly Father all the time through my actions and attitudes and if it feels anything like this to Him then I don’t want to be a part of that ever again.

    But through it all, looking back, God was there. He was there right in the middle of all the tears and the heartache and grief and suffering. The day after the miscarriage, Missy’s parents were at the house. It was somber. Someone said something about how nice it would be if we just had a bit of chicken noodle soup to eat. About two minutes later the doorbell rang. We answered the door and there wasn’t anyone there but there on the doorstep was a container of chicken noodle soup! I know that sounds small but it reminded us that God was paying attention. Four years later and it still doesn’t totally make sense but I can say that the experience grew my faith because it forced me to wrestle with things and see if my relationship with God was real or just something to believe because it was the best option I could come up with.

  • Josh Ross

    Jonathan, this is so powerful bro. When grief sends us spiraling into this moment of turmoil and all we can do is cry, it’s comforting to know that we don’t have to call God into that moment. He’s there. I’m honored to have you as a good friend on this journey.

  • Jody

    Jonathan,
    I think through this letter you point out feelings that are so difficult in going through situations like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Laurasbob

    Beautiful! I don’t know if you remember, but I lost 2 babies before I had Leah. The pain was indescribable. And comments like “you should be happy with the child that you already have” didn’t do anything but make me feel like I should hide my grief and pain. Just because I never held those children, didn’t mean that they weren’t loved… And missed. Thank you for expressing the pain that so many have gone through. I know it is very real and it does get easier.
    You will see your little girl someday!

  • http://www.kingdomseeking.com/ K. Rex Butts

    Johnathan, I am sorry.  I also want to say thank you for sharing your story, your grief, and your faith.

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  • http://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/ Rebecca Carney

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I really appreciate hearing a dad speak about how his baby’s death affected him – mostly what’s written is from the mother’s point of view. I, too, look forward to seeing the baby we lost…and the face of our precious Jason.

  • Andra Bennett

    Thank you for sharing this personal experience; I am so very sorry for your loss. What I learned from my only pregnancy — ectopic pregnancy that ended in surgery — was that this is an event to be grieved. Yet well-meaning people do whatever they can to keep parents from grieving it. So later, I also learned that things people are “programmed” to say to ease grief or explain away the pain is not at all edifying nor comforting, as Matt says below. Thus, I have tried to elimiate those responses from my grief vocabulary.  Thank you again for your faith and love for all children.

  • http://johndobbs.com John Dobbs

    Thank you for sharing this. Through my tears for your family this morning I pray for you all. God bless you.

  • Leana (Lee ) Olivas

    Rebecca you said everything that was in my heart as well. Thank you for sharing this story of your loss and pain. So true that few father’s really share their loss. I hope you both will keep a memory book with the first sonagrams if you had opportunity, along with the Name you chose, and any info of this time. A tiny history…yes…even of your pain. Make it small but beautiful! It will be precious to you your whole lives and even to Mary’s siblings. That she was real, she existed, she was loved and wanted, and yes, missed when she passed. Gods Blessings for each of you and all who have suffered such loss.

  • http://www.paulaharrington71.blogspot.com/ Paula Harrington

    Thank you for writing this. We went through the same thing several years ago and it’s a pain that needs to be dealt with. Knowing that others have gone through it makes it a little more bearable. 

  • kelley spies

    I love you, your wife, and all your children.  

  • Kristen Demaree

    I had no idea this happened to you guys.  I, too, have suffered this kind of loss.  Our first pregnancy ended at 14 weeks.  It’s hard, but it’s amazing when you realize the pain of it all becomes a blessing in your life.  So many things God taught us through that experience.  And, like you, our first born daughter was born on the EXACT day one year later.  My own personal testimony to God’s redemption.  So happy for you and your Christmas baby!  

  • http://brianhimes.com Brian Himes

    Thank you.