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  • Writer's pictureElyssa Cottrell

Series 3 - How I tackled grief and held onto my faith after the loss of my baby

Grief. Never. Ends. Grief can knock us down out of nowhere. It shows up without a notice. Grief picks us up and slams us right back down. Over and over and over. I knew what "grief" was, and I had experienced it in the losses of some of my beloved family members. But, until losing Sadler, did I ever truly grasp how grief can consume your daily life to the point of being unable to do anything because it's so loud and heavy. Grief is not just grieving the loss of someone. Grief is mourning the loss of a life you imagined. It's grieving the loss of what was supposed to be. Grief is grieving the look of your baby and the color of their eyes you never got to see. Grief is grieving the baby you grew inside of you who knew nothing but the sound of your heartbeat and the warmth of your body. Most importantly, grief is a sign of our deep love for someone or something. Without love, we wouldn't have grief, which makes grief so hurtful.

I remember my grief not settling in until weeks after my friends and family started back with their daily routines, and I was left at home with no more distractions. While recovering from not only delivering a baby but also grieving the baby, I had to suddenly burry. I wasn't sure how to navigate this grief, the feeling of wanting to dig my baby up out of the ground, hold him, kiss him, and touch his soft hands and feet again. It felt like the world kept spinning while mine suddenly came to a halt. The grief was so intense that I would be up all night clenching my fists in the dark silence while my arms ached to hold my baby. I wanted to be pregnant again so badly, and I would wake up from dreams that I still was. The bedroom next to ours had a nursery prepared with love, yet it quickly became filled with memorial gifts of our baby, a room that made my grief much louder. The suffering was taking over me, and I knew I couldn't continue to fight alone. I am here to vulnerably tell you that I went through days and weeks of intense therapy and counseling. The longer we allow our pain to sit and stew, the worse it gets. We can't continue to bandage a broken heart. We have to dig a little deeper, find the root cause of the pain, and start healing from the inside out. Losing a baby is a pain like no other. A pain so traumatic that I encourage you to find ways to help you face tomorrow.

My first therapy session was an hour of me hysterically crying and word vomiting to a woman I had never met. I was so hysterically crying that I was unsure how much she understood what I was saying. I cried out to her that I wasn't sure how it could get much worse than this, and I asked her how to make the pain disappear. I wanted a quick fix and a bandaid to cover up my pain. I expected to leave this first session and be "healed." However, I involuntarily signed myself up for two days a week sessions as my therapist advised, "What happened to you was traumatic, and there are no quick fixes. Let's meet again." That was the last thing I wanted. I just wanted to stay home, lay in bed, watch movies, and read every self-help book I could find. The last thing I wanted to do was commit to multiple sessions where I had to feel the pain of losing Sadler again.

Although going to therapy was not easy, as it was something I was so unfamiliar with, it was one of the best things I did for myself. I will not tell you I am miraculously healed from therapy or 100% better. I still can't attend baby showers, and seeing pregnancy announcements makes me sad. But with therapy, I learned how to shift my mindset. I can do my daily tasks without breakdowns and tell my story without hysterically crying. I can face tomorrow with the hope of a new day.

Although therapy played a massive part in my healing journey, the most significant shift I could make through this great loss was spiritually. The night I lay in the bed poking my stomach and praying fervently to God, begging that he would please let Sadler move, it felt like He failed me when we learned Sadler didn't have a heartbeat anymore. I grew up in church my entire life, and I believe in a saving God, but it was so hard for me to grasp that such a powerful and saving God could allow an innocent baby to die. It took weeks of reading, studying, and prayer before I could look up again. I know we aren't supposed to question the man upstairs, but I am here to tell you, as a loss mama, it's 100% okay to question His plan for you. He doesn't write it out in black and white, and as much as we pray for a clear answer, we might not always get what we are looking for. God never promised us a perfect life, but what He does promise us is his eternal love. I am often reminded that God lost his son, too. He hurts with me, and I would never look to Him without great suffering. I would never feel Him as a constant need in my life as if everything was always perfect. When I stopped "expecting" God to be another quick fix in my life, I could fully commit to His plan for me, even if it wasn't black and white. I used only to look his way when I desperately needed something, from praying that he would allow me to pass a test or that I would make it to my destination safely. I often fell short of only looking to God when I needed Him. Although I questioned His plan for me, I kept going. I kept praying and thanking Him for allowing me to see another day. I kept showing up, even if that meant walking through the church doors in tears. I knew that what I was going through would soon be my past. And today, even without a rainbow story, and an unknown reason for Sadler’s loss, I am at peace knowing that my baby is in the arms of angels. My baby is safe on God's rocking chair, and yours is too. After my loss, so many people showed up and reached out, each sharing a testament of their faith. This helped me get to where I am today.

I encourage you to share your story with others and how God led you through your loss. I still receive many notes, cards, and letters from people who continuously pray for me and share their stories. I believe that, at times, we can feel God's presence through people on earth. Those are the ones that show us a little piece of heaven before we get there.

It doesn’t matter if you have not been a perfect woman, it’s okay that we're all messy, it’s okay if bitterness has taken over your life.. I hope this is a reminder to you it’s never too late to accept the love of Jesus. I encourage you to read the scriptures below, shared with me after losing Sadler. And I will silently be praying for you to regain your faith in our God who has a lot of love to give.

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

Romans 5:3-5

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Matthew 5:4

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she laughs without fear of the future."

Proverbs 31: 25

Your healing journey looks different than mine, and that's okay. I am no expert on healing, and I can't quote you every Bible verse. But I do know the sun will rise again. I am confident that I will have more happy days than sad ones throughout my life. I can be at peace knowing my baby is loved by many in heaven and watches over me daily. Although my Sadler beat me there, I can live a promising life on earth knowing I will hold him at the end and hear him call me "mama." Stay strong. Your story's not over. Keep. Moving. Forward.

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