"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Pain of Losing a Child

The following is a comment I left for online friend Brent Stubbs on a post he made about the loss of his child. I though I would share it here as well.

 Wasn't planning on crying this morning but you did it to me man. One of my family’s experiences was similar to yours. I will never forget how our joy turned to sorrow in the ultrasound room that day. Joy to see the baby, and then a growing dread as the ultrasound technician grew serious, and then said “the baby is not moving”.

My regret is that we did not think to recover the body for burial after the D and C. No one said anything, and we didn't even think about it. I wish our pastor or elders (Reformed at the time) had said something, but I don't blame them. I do think that couple of childbearing age need to hear these stories though. And they need to hear that they can keep the remains of their children.

Then a couple years later in 2010, on the morning of Divine Mercy Sunday, the unimaginable happened. We lost a child at 17 weeks. Still born. Delivering a baby you know is dead in the delivery room is very painful emotionally for the parents along with the physical pain of the mother that will not be soothed by the joy of new life. As I held little Jude in my hands for the first and last time and gave him the fatherly blessing I give his siblings before bed, I don't think I have ever felt such pain. I was in the conversion process at the time and called for a priest who performed a baptism (of desire), which I found out later was perhaps not the right thing to do, but mentally I was in no condition to think about theology. Perhaps God accepts the baptism as a sort of baptism of blood and forgives my and the priests ignorance.

I visit Jude’s grave often and pray. I consider him to be our family’s prayer warrior fighting the battle with his parents and 5 sisters from heaven.

And the crack in your heart, it will never heal. But I think those cracks let some extra grace in also. Yes the pain is there, and will flare up at unexpected moments, as I am sure the pain of Christ’s mother did for the rest of her life. But that pain is not for nothing.

One mercy I thank God for especially in this situation was that in my studying about Catholicism I had just learned about redemptive suffering. Then we lost Jude. I very well may not have been able to handle the situation without that knowledge that our sufferings were being used by Christ as we offered them in union with his sufferings on the cross. That doesn't take the pain away, oh no… but it at least allows for a much easier “fiat” to occur in one’s soul when one knows there is a true purpose for their suffering.

If I had still been a Reformed Presbyterian when we lost Jude, I don’t know if I would have come out of this furnace closer to God than when I went in.

May God bless our little ones who are now safely in the folds of Our Lady’s mantle, and may they pray for us with her.

Sorrowful Mother

"O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow". Lam. 1:12


  1. I am sorry to hear about this, even though it happened long ago. Condolences to both you and Mr. Stubbs for your losses. But the beauty that Catholic theology emphasizes is that they are in heaven specifically watching over us. How God works in mysterious ways. I'm impressed with how you both took these situations as opportunities to teach others about our Lord.