Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking more about grief. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
“Who died?” I kept asking myself. “It feels like someone or something seriously died,” I would think to myself as the grief would overwhelm me again. It really felt like something had died. But nothing had died, except for my relationship…
I walked up to the Shrine of Our Lady of LaLeche, and I thought of all the other women who walk this same path coming to this special place in their own grief. As Our Lady of LaLeche is the patron of pregnancy, postpartum, and child loss, many women come to this special place to ask for healing from miscarriages, the ability to conceive, and any and all of the deep and sensitive pains regarding motherhood.
I thought about the unique sufferings these women feel in the deep hidden pain of grieving the losses of the babies they and the world will never get to see. I thought about their pain—a pain I do not know—and their hidden suffering that only God fully understands.
I thought of so many women who come to this place that honors their hidden and unique experiences of grief, tears and loss.
I myself hadn’t even gotten that far.
Almost. I’d gotten close. After so much waiting and praying and longing and hoping, everything was finally coming together. And then, with more waiting and building and nurturing and praying, the dreams of marriage and family life were coming true and were going to be happening so soon. Until the truth of what was really happening came to light, and then what had seemed so close and had been so hopeful and wonderful shattered in nearly an instant.
As I walked closer to the doors of the Shrine that honors the hidden and often misunderstood pain of mothers, I felt isolated and alone that my own pain and grief was even so far away from theirs.
Was there even a place for me at this altar where so many couples come to ask God for a baby? I no longer had the man I was going to marry anymore, the marriage we had planned, or the excitement of family life we were expecting to begin together. The dreams of our future children were gone before we had even tried for a baby. The life we were planning to share together no longer existed.
And then a thought occurred to me. Perhaps I was suffering an “emotional miscarriage.” I was suffering the miscarriage of my relationship that died before it came full term at our wedding and the loss of the family life were were preparing for and looking forward to with joyful expectation. My own heart broke as I began to accept the truth that despite everything that we had been expecting, the relationship no longer had a heartbeat.
Because a relationship is a real thing. And if it ends, what did exist, no longer exists anymore, and it can feel like a very real kind of death. This kind of loss deserves to be honored by feeling through the grief and the pain and with a process of letting go of the various levels of loss that now are different, changed or gone.
Learn and grow in our Faith and love for the Lord.
The Grief of a Breakup
The pain of a breakup can feel so overwhelming. Each person’s suffering is deeply unique, and this can feel terribly isolating. But the truth is also that our unique sufferings can also unite us together, because suffering truly is a universal human experience. Pope Saint John Paul II writes about this in Salvifici Doloris (“On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”), as well as through his personal witness of courage and faith in the face of his own experiences of suffering.
Suffering can be an opportunity for us to open our hearts and expand in greater compassion for others, as well as to come into greater intimacy with God. In that way, our grief and loss take on a power, that, offered to God, can bring out even greater good in the world and in our own lives.
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. -John 12:24
God Brings Life Out of Death
The beautiful truth is that, whether we experience physical, mental, or emotional loss and pain, God can bring life out of death. In fact, it’s what He does best. This is the mystery of Redemption that is possible for God to work in our individual lives as well.
If one is brave enough to surrender to God, feel through the grief, release the pain, and receive support along the journey, greater life can come forth from what perhaps in the moment only felt like death and destruction.
What a great gift that God brings Resurrection and new life into our hearts and bodies. May we have the patience and hope to believe that from our experience of grief and loss, God can and will bring about the most beautiful, rich, fruitful and abundant new life.
If you want more on the Church’s rich teachings on these engaging topics, our best-selling study, “Blessed Conversations: Rooted,” dives into the Catechism’s teachings and now offers a video companion series along with it featuring Theological Editor Susanna Spencer and Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Get it here.
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