St. Zélie Martin and Overcoming Grief in Hope by MICHELE CHRONISTER – Article

“You know that the only hope of reunion is heaven, and with a renewed sense of purpose, you journey to heaven as a family. Your family life becomes divided, with one foot on Earth, and one in heaven.

Heaven can no longer be dismissed as “someday” if it is the present reality of a member of the family.”

http://catholicexchange.com/st-zelie-martin-overcoming-grief-hope

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Dear Dad…

Dear Dad,

I know we haven’t talked in awhile. I know you have done much of the talking with a broken heart. I know it’s difficult to understand life beyond, or what I would call life. I know pain and dysfunction seem to be far too common. I know you work so hard for Mom and the boys. I know you spend all your energy on running your race. I know you love God and you treat so many like an encounter with Him. I know you do a lot in the background. I know you have great dreams and goals. I know your character and I love watching you pass it onto your children. I know you have given so much. I know much of what you’ve given was for me. I know you still talk to me in the incredible sacrifices and virtue you practice in my name. I know your prayers. I know you love me. I know….

Watching you from beyond the veil is a pleasure for me. Not only do I know you, I know our Father as well. It is so amazing and so worth it, Dad. You will not believe it. You will love being here and even now you are being given so much purpose and strength to help you enjoy it all the more. I’m proud of you Dad. If I had lived longer I would have wanted to be just like you. But it turns out that I didn’t have to live long to experience your virtue and get a taste of what loving like Jesus on the Cross means. I think Christ’s love is a lot like the love of a father, full of sacrifice and strength… courage and love (even when it means heart-break). I hope you know that the love I experience from you, is a small, sweet taste of the love that your Dad in heaven has for you. “Do not be afraid,” you are so loved and WE are so proud of you. Can’t wait to show you all that I know someday!

I know we haven’t talked in awhile, but I talk about you everyday. Happy Father’s Day

Your biggest fan in heaven,

Clark
#lifeloveloss #happyfathersday #runtherace #thankfulfordad #ClarkJob#bereavedfathers

May 7, 2017

Today is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. I share it with far too many women, far too many friends. I wish there was no such thing, no need for this kind of pain, but I’m grateful to know the names of so many saints/children of God, my sweet Clark Job being one of them. I loved the time we had and will always ache for more. I admire his tenacity and life in the womb. I remember kissing his cheek like it was yesterday and have yet to feel anything softer than his perfect, newborn skin. His life is FOREVER imprinted on this mama’s heart and in memory of all the children who’ve passed before their parents, I will pray and praise God for our hope and life together in heaven. May God hold your bereaved hearts extra close today 💙 #ClarkJob #lifeloveloss#hopeinheaven #motherhood #lovebeyondthisworld

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April 17, 2017

“The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them…The Cross had asked: “Why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?” The Resurrection answered: “That sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and this be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death.”

Death is not the end…. #thankyoujesus #blessedeaster #thankfulforeachday#clarkjob

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Dear, Brave Mama (a continuation)

“A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me.


Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

-Jesus (John 16:20)

“A little while…”

I’ve been trying to find the words to describe where my heart and mind are at in this grief journey as we come upon the 2 yr mark since we buried our child and experienced what I can only call an earth shattering paradox – my innocent baby is dead and God is good. I still am not sure how to express it.

Yes, earth shattering, worldview changing, something that cannot be fully grasped, something that seems to shock me more the longer I come from the time when it happened. I can say in many ways, I don’t mourn the loss of my son as much as I did at the beginning. I wish I knew him, I can imagine what it might’ve been like, but I don’t stay there for long because I can’t know and it wasn’t. Could this be healing?

Much of my comfort is from forward thinking, focusing on the hope that one day I can know him and experience with him the full presence of our Lord. Hoping that one day I can experience that joy that Jesus tells us about. Heaven truly is a consolation. But where does that leave me today?

Well, moment by moment I have to choose to be brave.

. . .

DEAR, BRAVE MAMA,
IF YOU ARE EMBRACING THE JOURNEY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S EASY TO FORGET YOU’RE GOING SOMEWHERE.
IF YOU ARE LOVING ANYWAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, SOMETIMES THE SCARS FEEL CRIPPLING.
IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH PURPOSE, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT WOULD BE EASY TO LET GO OF THE DEPTH THAT KNOWS YOUR PAIN – WHERE GOD’S LOVING PURPOSE IS FOUND.
IF YOU CONTINUE TO SEEK GOD, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, HIS SILENCE CAN BE HEARTBREAKING.
IF YOU CAN BE OPEN TO NEW LIFE, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S SO SO DIFFICULT AFTER EXPERIENCING LOSS.
IF YOU CAN SPEAK/LAUGH/CRY ABOUT IT, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THE WORLD WILL NOT UNDERSTAND. *you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices*
IF YOU REACHED OUT TO A BEREAVED FRIEND/STRANGER IN NEED, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S A VULNERABLE PLACE. 
IF YOU HAVE SOUGHT COUNSELING OR THERAPY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S HUMBLING TO ASK FOR HELP.
IF YOU MISSED YOUR CHILD(REN) IN HEAVEN TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THE YEARS CAN MAKE YOUR GRIEF FEEL LIKE A FAILURE.
IF YOU EMBRACED YOUR LIFE AND THE LOVED ONES WITH YOU, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, THIS ROAD CAN BE SO SELF-CONSUMING AND FORGETFUL OF THE MANY BLESSINGS BEFORE US.
IF YOU SOUGHT JOY TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, JOY IS NOT ALWAYS GIVEN. *keep trying*
IF YOU HAD GRACE FOR YOURSELF TODAY, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAMA. BECAUSE, HONESTLY, IT’S EASY TO FORGET THE GRACE AND MERCY GOD HAS FOR YOU.
. . .

 

So often, still, do I fail at being brave. It’s so easy to try to run away, to hide, or to give up on the cross or the path set before me. I am a work in progress for sure, but hopefully my journey brings company to others in a similar place.

When I wrote my first Dear, Brave Mama letter I was a little more frustrated and impatient with where I was at. I had expectations of healing, standards that have proven to be difficult to attain, at least for myself. I chuckled when I read the part about my endurance being tested… “Oh honey, that endurance you thought you’d had, try throwing another year on it.” And I’m sure somewhere down the line, 5 years, 10 years, 30 years from now, that slice of our lives, that void of his, that ache that can’t grasp ‘why’ and the faith that sometimes struggles to trust that heaven is real, will show that this is a lifelong cross…

It just is. There are things we can do to help heal, to help cope and I’m trying to seek those out, but part of me is just learning that to be brave is also to accept the cross and to do your best to let it carry you to heaven. “In a little while” Jesus will resurrect us from our crosses. “In a little while” we will see that He saw us. “In a little while” we’ll know that this suffering was nothing compared to the glory He has for us. “In a little while” we’ll feel whole. But until then, learning to love God for who He is and how He loves us will be a full time job. Until then, learning to live joyfully and to find purpose and inspiration in our crosses will take energy. Until then, learning to love others without expecting comfort in return will be an active choice. Until then, we will have to keep being brave.

Click here to view the first Dear, Brave Mama post: https://lifeloveloss.org/2016/05/24/dear-brave-mama/

Life & Strength Amid Loss – Article

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A recent article that Cameron and I wrote about life with sweet Clark. Thankful to Mitchell Palmquist and the Diocese for wanting to feature our story (beginning on p. 12) in their beautiful magazine. With each little ‘Yes’ his life continues to direct us heavenward. Love you precious son 💙
http://faithdigital.org/Spokane/SPK0117/mobile/index.html?doc=A03FEDE68C21B522DF5988E335DDFF89

Today I marched…

January 22, 2017

“Today I marched through the halls of the NICU. Today I marched with many different women – I spoke with a Neonatologist, incredibly gifted nurses (some mothers, some not), and a housekeeper. Today I marched through the halls of the NICU as they prepared to take in very premature twins, girls. Today I marched next to a mother in a wheelchair, I don’t know her story but we were marching. I’m surrounded by tiny lives that are somehow not accepted in the realm of being pro-women, and women who would give anything for their children, or for their patients (sometimes even that is not enough).

Ironically, this place, these tiny lives are one of life’s signs of just how powerful and incredible women are… We would not be here without the women that birthed us. We would not be here without the women who raised us. We would not be here without the women who kept us alive in places like this. We would not be here without the unique, selfless, unstoppable love shown to us by, yes, countless women. The fact that so many are using one “pro” exclusively against another is a farce. If you are “pro-women” and “anti-life” you are confused about what a woman is or what life is about. I only ask that less hate and more curiosity be shown to the innate value of both, women and younger women.

I continue to march through these halls with gratitude for my sisters who are fighting to keep my baby alive. I guarantee these bright women who know far more about very, very young babies than you or I, would be marching for both.”

Genavive Edman

#prolifeprolove #prowomen #progirls #lifeloveloss #sisterhood #motherhood

“On This Day”

A year ago to this day, much of the world got to meet our dear baby, Clark. Unbeknownst to us, the album, kept public for the sake of sharing with family/friends who were praying for us, went viral. These photos containing memories of his very short life capture things that cannot be said and the vulnerability and love that we experienced during this time is still difficult to grasp for ourselves.

A year ago to this day, I held the mouse over the “Delete” button as I watched numbers and comments soar… “This was never supposed to happen. I don’t think strangers should be seeing this. What will people say? What will they think of my sweet, broken son? Why is this happening? I will just delete it to be safe.” I sat there for several minutes praying and asking God why this was happening and what I was supposed to do. No great voice sounded telling me exactly what to do, I just forced myself to ignore the selfish reasons for hitting delete, like not wanting to be so open to the judgement of others, and only beautiful reasons to leave it remained.

I remember reading through some of the comments and couldn’t believe the love, prayers and healing that were taking place through the bright light of our son’s tiny life. Families facing the hopeless road of a bad diagnosis were given hope and a reason to hold on, if only for the gift of loving and embracing their child while they could. Mothers who were never allowed to see or hold their stillborn baby finally got a glimpse of that special baby. Siblings who never got to meet their sister/brother were able to feel a sense of love and closure for the person they knew existed but had no memory of. Nurses and Doctors who’ve watched parents treat life with such little respect were given hope by the love we had for our son. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of parents who’d lost children were given a taste of the heartbreak that comes with loss like this. Families who were whole were reminded of the precious lives of their children and the blessing they are! And best of all, as Christmas was just weeks away, we were all given the opportunity to reflect on the tiny, helpless infant who would be born to such hostility and vulnerability, in order to save us all so that we might have heaven with him.

So what has a year meant to me and my family, since our greatest pain and most bittersweet experience of love was made public? Mainly two things:

  1. There is so much loss in this world and so many countless souls to pray for…
  2. Every. Single. Life. Matters…

In regards to the first, I will never, ever, ever, have cause to feel alone or ungrateful for the life I’ve been given. For the last year I have been a place to come to for empathy and prayer and I tell you if I truly prayed as much as I should for the many souls out there I would not have time for anything else. This is such a broken, tragic world. So much pain and suffering. Where war, hate, indifference, disease take countless lives, so many of them children… Where tragedy and odds strike innocent bystanders for no known reason. It is too much for me to grasp, too heavy for my shoulders, but so clearly real and constant in this life I can only pray and reach out to the closest broken heart. My eyes have been open to a small sliver of the knowledge of suffering and how no life is immune to it. Death is a daily reality and it’s worth praying about. And thanks to our sweet boy in heaven I have continual opportunity to hope in a life after death and to pray that one day we can all be at rest and made whole in that beautiful experience.

Secondly, every human life matters more to this world and to our Father than we will ever know. Want proof? Look at our sweet Clark Job. The objective details of is life? He lived in utero for 9 months. We have no idea if he ever had a single thought. He passed during birth, his lungs never experienced oxygen. He was deformed, incomplete. His life was essentially nothing. Yet here we are sharing how he was so much more and witnessing a greater impact on the world than most know in a lifetime. This is not to say that a life lost and forgotten does not have the same value, quite the opposite in fact. What we do know from witnessing this for a year now is that only God can fathom the impact of every. single. life. and we are doing an injustice by underestimating the beauty and value of every soul thought into existence, regardless of their time here on earth. For these reasons I will always weep with you for your loss (miscarriage, infant, child, adult), every single one matters! Every life lost is a void in this life. I’m reminded by the quote from It’s a Wonderful Life, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Yes, each life touches so many other lives, it’s beyond our knowing. That awful hole should always remind us of the great value God puts in each one of us and the beautiful purpose each one of us has eternally. 

A year ago to this day, I had very little understanding of how God’s plan was playing out or how His will corresponds to the tragedies that take place every second throughout the world, including the death of our son. Today, I still will not claim to understand. I will say this, He has shown us – by walking with us – the way we are to journey through this valley of tears. We must continue on by holding each other up, sharing the burdens, loving selflessly and wholeheartedly, praying and depending on him for everything, and with our eyes on the Joy of heaven!

I want to thank you all for this year and for continuing to send love and support our way. That awful hole is still there, but we are more and more inspired to follow God’s calling and the example of our son’s life. Wishing you a very blessed, meaningful, inspiring Christmas as we once again turn to the Infant Jesus and contemplate the incredible gift of Himself!

“Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that he might make us to be what he is.”
-St. Irenaeus

View Clark’s Story & Album here: https://lifeloveloss.org/2016/02/26/meet-clark-job/