Recently, my wife and I experienced a deeply personal loss. In a time where so much was going right in our lives, suddenly, there was deep despair. Unfortunately, it was a loss that we had experienced once before in our lives. The pain from that first loss was brought to the surface when we lost our second baby to miscarriage. For those that have never experienced it, the pain is very difficult to describe. Not only was the loss physically and emotionally challenging, but this stressful situation was compounded as it occurred smack dab in the middle of buying, selling, and moving into a new house.
In the days that followed the miscarriage, while I was driving down Hwy 41 past the Carmelite Monastery, I heard the words on the radio, “Don’t focus on the end, focus on the journey to get there.” I realized that I was focusing too much on the “end.” Most of us naturally worry an excessive amount of time - over the big things and the small. Then, when something good or bad happens in our lives, we almost instinctively begin to focus on what the future beyond this event will look like. The truth is, only God has that image. Still, we each try our best to come up with our own version. I don’t know about you, but my version of the future is rarely correct. When the version we envisioned doesn’t match God’s plan, we get discouraged, upset, and defeated.
Throughout my 20 years as a career firefighter, I have accompanied many families through the initial moments of loss. When we experience these hard and sudden losses, it puts our faith in God to the test. The obvious question is, “Why did this happen?” The cookie-cutter response is something along the lines of, “It’s all part of His plan” or “Only God knows.” Unfortunately, that response does little to settle our human emotions. Over the years, I have learned that listening is the key. Take the time to sit and listen to the person experiencing the loss - listen as they try to make sense of their grief. Their heart will guide the conversation. In today’s world, I feel that listening is becoming a lost art. We are turning into a digital society that communicates through text, absent of any emotion. More often than not, just being physically present with someone during a difficult time is the best medicine.
Even though we had this difficult loss, we still have many good things occurring in our lives, and we are still moving forward. It is essential to acknowledge these painful times, express your feelings and frustrations, but it is equally important to recognize that these hard times are just a part of our journey and that life exists beyond them. Life will begin to return to normal as time goes on. For us, our family gathered to support us through the loss. The goal was to lessen the pain of the loss when we needed it the most. In addition to our family, our community also played an important role. Those that were aware of the loss encircled us and made themselves available. Many just offered their support for anything we may have needed.
As I sit back and reflect on the events of the past week, I realize that while I initially thought the miscarriage occurred during the worst week possible, it may have happened during one of the best weeks. Although there are never ‘good’ times for losses, this loss offered us the opportunity to slow down and complete goals that had to be accomplished. Friends’ schedules opened to assist and accompany us, the family was already planning to visit us, and I was already scheduled for time off.
I was so focused on the “end” that I failed to realize all of the benefits available to us at the “now.” In retrospect, I see those. While life will forever be different, we recognize that it is all part of God’s plan. A plan that will not be finished until we meet Him. Our goal is to one day meet Him. So let’s not forget to focus on that journey and to marvel in the “now.”