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More Space for Grief

More Space for Grief

My dear friend Lauren wrote this blog and today as this is posted would have been her dear Hope Zoe's 4th birthday. Happy Birthday Hope Zoe.   Please read on ....

A Sad Birthday Party

How do you throw a birthday party for a dead person?  Seems like a morbid question, but nonetheless, it is the question that has been forefront in my mind over the last few weeks.  My daughter’s birthday is coming up on May 17, but because she was stillborn, that day is also her official death day.  No one tells you that there is no category for such things in your brain; it’s very difficult to process and cope with the fact that the only significant date you have for your daughter is fraught with the worst memories imaginable.  I want to celebrate her with our friends and family, but how do you celebrate someone that most of them never knew or even glimpsed?  I want to have a birthday party, but it won’t necessarily be a happy one.  How do you invite people to such an event?

In an ideal world, I would invite a few trusted people to our house, ones that I knew would understand the significance of the party.  All our family would be able to come.  I would have the photo book with the only existing pictures of my daughter out on display, and people would look at her and weep with me.  We would make her special angel food cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to my girl.  She would be 4 years old this year.  Her brothers would blow out her candles.  Maybe we would even watch the DVD of her ultrasounds, the ones where she is alive and moving and the sound of her heartbeat fills the room with joy.  I want people to hear that sound; I want them to know and recognize that she did have a heartbeat.  I want them to see her beautiful footprints and acknowledge that she had a real body and a real life ahead of her.  I want them to understand that she should be here with me, and I want them to grieve with me and say her name.

But no one wants to come to a party like that.  It’s weird and macabre and would make people uncomfortable.  People don’t like to sit in grief, even if just for an hour.  If I did have a party, I would probably spend the majority of it making small talk and pretending to be okay.  I wish our world had more space for grief and more grace for grieving people.  It’s so hard to feel like you can’t show your true emotions, especially on important days like birthdays / death days.  But I know that even if I don’t have a party, God has given me some wonderful friends and family members that will remember her with me.  I know that there are people who would sit and watch those DVDs with me.  But I wish that the world was brave enough to let there be sad birthday parties.

I do know that Jesus would come to my sad party.  I know He would be the first one to weep with me and hold my hand as we looked at her pictures.  How do I know that?  Because the Bible tells us about who Jesus was!  There is an amazing story in Luke 7: 12-15 that says, “As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”  And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”

This story, and many others like it, show me that Jesus hates death and grief.  He hates them so much that He would often stop them or reverse them on the spot because of His great compassion.  Someone like that would most definitely come to a sad birthday party.  I am so grateful to serve a God that isn’t afraid of sadness and sorrow, but rather, One who is acquainted with much sorrow.  I am so glad that Jesus never shied away from the hard, messy situations, but rather, He ran to them and made them new.  If you remember over this next week, please say a prayer for our family as we remember and mourn our sweet Hope Zoe.  We miss her every day, but we miss her extra hard during the month of May.


Lauren Young is a wife to Will and mom to two beautiful boys on earth (Matti and Sammy) and three precious babies in heaven (Hope, Jonah, and January).  She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading good books, cooking new recipes, and playing piano.  She lives in central Texas now but was born and raised in Georgia.  She and her husband are now in the adoption process and can't wait to see what God has in store for their family.

Lauren is also a Doula serving in the San Antonio area, supporting women before, during and after birth. Click here for more info  

Catherine Hartel

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