Recently I was chatting with one of my best friends and telling her about all the new books I have read recently which are about women who have had a pregnancy loss. At one point she said, "don't you think you would feel better if you just stopped surrounding yourself with those stories?" My immediate response was "no," though I couldn't give words to why.
After she left the thought stayed with me the rest of the day. Was I just some sick twisted person that loved reading about death and dying babies? Was it becoming an obsession for me? I reflected on it more and I think that I can now give voice to why reading stories of other babies who have died is so comforting to me.
1. They make me feel not alone. Having Caleb die inside of me left me feeling like some sort of side show freak. I had never met anyone who had this happen to them, heck I had never even heard of it! Reading other stories of women who have been through a similar situation help me feel "normal" in a strange way. Like maybe I am not the only one this could ever happen to.
2. They give me hope. Let me use this analogy. If I was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly started reading books about cancer survivors, no one would think twice, in fact they might even encourage me. It's not that I would be surrounding myself with cancer, because well I already would have cancer. Instead I would be surrounding myself with hope. This is what the stories I read do for me. They show me the survivors of pregnancy loss. I get to see that there is life after the unthinkable happens and often these women use their pain and make it into something beautiful. They go on to start charities to help other women or counseling centers. Reading their stories gives me a lifeline to believe that just maybe I can come out of this alive and use it to help others.
So while it might seem a bit morbid to the average person, surrounding myself right now with stories of others losses is actually helping me. If you know someone out there who is grieving any type of loss do not be surprised if they dive into it by learning more about it and others who have had a similar loss. Once you come face to face with death, you are no longer scared of it. It doesn't seem morbid to me to read about death because I have peace with it. Holding my dead son made me come face to face with my own mortality. I no longer can be the carefree 27 year old who puts off thinking about death until later on in life. For goodness sakes my last name is already on a gravestone. It doesn't get more real than that.
Please be patient with your friends who are grieving and know that they too are wrestling with their own mortality. Death and stories of death might sound frightening to you, but to them its their new normal. You entering into that awkwardness of death, even if its been months since their loss, will mean a lot to them. Reading stories of others in trying situations gives us hope that God can indeed turn the worse thing into the best thing and use our pain and brokenness to make something beautiful.