Can you think back to those first moments…those moments when you heard the words that inform you that all the dreams you had for your child, for your life, your family...those words that you can’t even really wrap your mind around in the moment, but come back to you time and again. Maybe they aren’t words, but feelings…feelings that crush you, knock the wind out of you, or bring tears to your eyes each time you reflect back. Or was it a single moment in time when the trajectory of your life was forever changed whether it was in your home, a doctor’s office, at work, or in a hospital bed…that moment when you realized that the child you had grown to love was in the arms of God, or would soon be going to heaven.
Maybe that moment was just days or weeks ago. Yesterday? Years ago. Many years ago.
In those early days, weeks and months after losing my son, I had several sweet friends provide me with gifts. Necklaces with my son’s name, journals, letters, and my personal favorite, cards from my women’s Bible study group with prayers written out for me. I still treasure those to this day. I also received numerous books about infant loss and miscarriage, but I had no capacity to read anything but my Facebook feed (and we all know how hard that can be for to a grieving mom, too!). I had no attention span and reading books about my experience made me feel things that I wanted to avoid. It was hard enough just living day to day without reflecting on my experience; I didn’t want to read about it too. Within a few months I began seeing a good counselor, which required me to work through my loss, feel my feelings and talk about the trauma I’d experienced. The books, however, continued to sit on my nightstand where they represented a tender gift from thoughtful friends, but still I couldn’t manage to read them.
Fast forward almost four years, and a friend connected me to author Heather Butler. I was not only a little star-struck to be messaging with someone who had published a book, but I was also grateful for her vulnerability to share her story with me. There’s always a thread that connects parents who have lost babies, despite the different circumstances surrounding the loss and I felt safe sharing my story with her, too. She sent me a copy of her book, That Side of Heaven, and while I was thrilled to receive it, I was hesitant to open the cover. It too, sat on my nightstand, but this time it didn’t stay there for years. Within a few pages I was able to take in the transparent, truthful, raw, and engaging stories of Heather and five other moms included in this book.
Right away I was both thankful for this book, yet regretful that I hadn’t read something like this earlier in my journey. On a practical note, this book is a manageable length; each chapter is brief but rich with relatable experiences and wisdom. It created space for me to reflect, but not resulting a debilitating tailspin of grief, like I imagined it would be. At the end of each chapter, Heather provides a section on God’s promises, a prayer, and then a prompt to journal. Mama, I encourage you, even if it seems daunting, spend time here. Spend time putting words to your feelings, fears, anxieties, plans for healthy boundaries, and yes, how you can celebrate your child and your motherhood.
What I loved most was Heather’s dedication to Scripture. I was baffled to see so many of the same verses that the Holy Spirit sewed into my soul as I grieved the loss of my son…again that same thread, but this time in a holy way. She also shared story after story about how both talking and listening are healing for those who have survived what she calls the, “desolate land of baby loss.”
All of us want our babies to matter and to share them with the world, especially with those who can really understand the path we’re walking. We need each other--we need community and safe places to share our babies, our grief, our hopes, our longings, our tears, and our joys.
Thank you, Heather, for capturing the many sides of miscarriage and infant loss. Your willingness to usher other moms into healing and hope shines through every word! If you would like to purchase your own copy or to send one as a gift, find out more about Heather or connect with her on social media, head over to www.thatsideofheaven.com .