Going Back to a Hard Place…And the Hope Found Within Thankfulness

roses in paper heartThis week I had the opportunity (or maybe the obligation) to go back to the funeral home that took care of the arrangements for us when Esther died. A close family friend in their seventies had been ill and passed away. As soon as I heard where the visitation was to be held, I felt a lump forming in my throat. How could I possibly walk back into the same building that represented so much pain? The last time I was there, we were picking out a little casket for our baby. I dreaded going back, but knew I needed to show my care to the family.

After a few days of somewhat unreasonable stress, the time came to go. I walked in, felt the hot tears fill my eyes, spoke with the family, and walked out. It was hard, but I was okay. I have found in this journey that  sometimes  I am stronger than I think. Then again, sometimes the most unexpected thing will have me crumbling all over again. I’m learning that grief is tedious, unexpected, and unpredictable.

As I walked through the room filled with family and friends, I was reminded of what funerals are supposed to be for…

They are supposed to celebrate long lives. They are supposed to be arranged by adult children for their parents. They are supposed to remember a lifetime of happy memories.

They are not for babies who never even took their first breath. They are not for parents to arrange for their children. And they are not supposed to be for mourning a lifetime of memories that never happened.

What Adam and I experienced was upside down. It never should have been this way. It hurts deeply, and I have come to realize that it will always hurt.

Yet as I walked out of the funeral home, I was surprised to find myself thinking of all the little things I was thankful for as we walked through the most difficult experience of our lives. I remembered that I was…

Thankful we had the opportunity to have a memorial service for our baby

-Thankful for my parents who helped us through making arrangements that were too much for us

-Thankful for the funeral director who helped us so graciously and free of charge

-Thankful for the flowers that showed people cared

-Thankful for the family that cried with us that cold February day

-Thankful for the music that was played in Esther’s memory

-Thankful for the balloons that were released to the sky

Thankful for the 16 weeks of memories with my baby girl

-Thankful for the few soft kicks I got to feel

-Thankful for the ultrasound pictures and the beautiful recording of her heartbeat that I have

-Thankful we got to hold her and kiss her, rock her and love her

-Thankful for the wonderful gift of being her mom

Thankful my little girl is in heaven

-Thankful she is experiencing fullness of life

-Thankful I will see her again someday and hold her forever

-Thankful she has changed me so deeply

-Thankful she has impacted my family forever

-Thankful she has left the mark of eternity on our hearts

As I look at this list in light of everything we have lost, it really seems like so little.

Yet even in the deepest pain, thankfulness shows another side to the story. It offers a glimmer of hope within the sorrow. It gives strength to keep walking through the most difficult times. It softens the hardening that tries to come after loss. And it opens the door for healing. My baby girl has taught me thankfulness in a new way. I pray that Esther’s life would continue to bring her family lasting change and new revelations of our God.

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