There are some who know our story, some who don’t.  My husband, Pret, and I have been married for eight and a half years.  We have two beautiful daughters–Lilly, who is 3 1/2, and Stella, who would be turning 1 in 3 weeks.  When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Stella, we discovered that she had some pretty major physical abnormalities. Eight weeks later, it was finally determined that her abnormalities would be life-limiting, meaning that she would not live much beyond birth.

We decided to make the most of the time that we would have with her.  Both sets of parents were there for delivery, as well as a close friend, my aunt, and one of my sisters.  Stella was born alive, and we had 20 beautifully, wonderful minutes with her before she eventually passed away in the arms of Lilly.

The moments after were filled with tears, smiles, hugs, more tears, laughter, but mostly peace and love.

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Pret and my sister with Stella. Photo used with permission.

Grief and Pain

There have been lots of ups and downs since then.  Days when I didn’t want to get off the couch all day; days when I have had to call a friend to take Lilly for a few hours so I could cry alone; days when I have been able to share and laugh and mourn with others.  Even as I have been thinking about typing this and looking for the pictures to go with it, my emotions have been close to the surface.

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The pain was real! Photo used with permission.

To quote a book/movie that is quite popular right now, “That’s the thing about pain.  It demands to be felt,”  (Augustus, quoting from An Imperial AfflictionThe Fault in Our Stars).  For this post, I want to relate pain to grief, as through my experience, whether first-hand or vicariously in other peoples’ stories who are similar to mine, grief, also, demands to be felt.

Later in the story, Hazel talks about grief being “unbearable.”  As Pret and I watched the movie a few weeks ago, I asked him whether his grief around the loss of Stella had ever become “unbearable.”  He replied, “Yes, those are the times when I have just had to turn it over to the Lord.”

Bearable

I have been thinking about that concept since then.  I do not say this to diminish or minimize the pain and grief of others, and I don’t know why I have received the blessing that I have surrounding all my experiences with Stella, but I truly don’t feel like there have been times that have been unbearable.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have cried, sobbed, hit pillows and pounded the bed, asked, “Why?” and just sat for a time feeling almost numb.

But through all that, I have known that I don’t have to bear it all alone.  I haven’t felt the need to turn it over to Christ, more, I have just felt Him right along with me.  He has carried me with Him, bearing me up.

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Christ comforting Mary and Marthy. Photo courtesy of lds.org media

As Pret and I have gone through this, people have asked us, and our family members, “Are they really doing as well as they seem to be doing?”  We can honestly answer, “Yes.”  We are blessed with faith, strength, and experience of making it through tough things.  We have thought about why we have been through some of the things that we have (thinking it was so we could share our experiences with others), but we have come to realize that “all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).  We have learned how to grow together and make it through the tough times. We know that there will be times in the future that will require that strength again.

The strength we have gained together has and will help us through our grief, whatever may come. Photo used with permission.

The strength we have gained together has and will help us through our grief, whatever may come.
Photo used with permission.

I am so grateful for the Gospel.  For the hope that it gives me for the opportunity to be together, with ALL members of my family again.  The hope that our experience can continue to be for our good and the good of others.  The hope that ALL people will be lifted by the Lord through their pain and grief.

 

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6 comments

  1. avatar

    Ty Mansfield

    So beautiful, Megan. Thank you for sharing. I can’t even imagine the loss. Some time ago, a friend mentioned to me that when her daughter was three, she had a very strong spiritual impression that her daughter’s time in mortality would be coming to an end. Along with that spiritual impression came a peace that it was as planned. A short time later, her 3-year-old daughter died (I’m not remembering exactly how, at the moment). But she said it was bearable because of the spiritual witness she had received and because she knew the time apart would be temporary.

    While I haven’t experienced a loss like that, I’ve had moments looking at my children and playing the “what if…” in my mind, and that’s all it takes for deep sorrow and sadness and fear to start welling up within me… I can’t imagine the pain. And yet, were it to happen, I know, as you mentioned here, it would be bearable–consecrated for our healing and growth–because that’s what the gospel does. It, and Christ, assures us that all of our life experience have the potential to heal us, and others we have the potential to influence, into the Divine nature. I love President Kimball’s thought that,

    “Being human, we would expel from our lives sorrow, distress, physical pain, and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort. But if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors.”

    Again, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. avatar

    Garry Berg

    Thank you so much for sharing this tender story, and for the many valuable lessons and example. You guys are incredible.

  3. avatar

    Lidija Sambunjak

    This touches me in so many ways! Thank you for sharing! A lot!

  4. avatar

    Shara Mitchell

    Such beautiful thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. avatar

    Rex

    Megan, thank you. I truly don’t know how I would deal with such a thing, although we’ve had four of our eight grandchildren born prematurely without much certainty of surviving. All four did and are doing pretty well considering some of their medical challenges. I don’t know how my family and I, especially the parents, could have gotten through it without our faith. I know that people who don’t believe in God have these kinds of experiences, but I truly don’t understand how they cope without the comfort of the Spirit.

  6. avatar

    Charlotte Maughan

    Megan, what a beautiful post. Somehow I missed that this event had taken place in your lives. I am so sorry for your loss. I am lifted by your example of looking upward. The Lord can and will carry us through hard things. I loved all of the tender thoughts and pictures that you shared. I love the picture with you and Pret holding hands. You both seem to be hanging on to the other, and I am sure that you did. Thank you for sharing tender blessings that you learned through this experience. I love the scripture in D and C 122:7. So many difficult things we experience in our lives can be for our good if we allow the Savior, through the Atonement to carry and comfort us.