Each year the day after Thanksgiving begins a period for me where a whole bunch of anniversaries begin. The first is the death of our unborn daughter, Nadia. After that comes the death of our unborn son, Emmanuel. Then it is the death of my mother. Finally is the time when I went on disability for clinical depression.
In many ways my grief is less raw than it once was. It is less primal and fear inducing. My grief now has taken on another character. That character is grief as guilt.
I remember when Nadia died eight years ago. No one knows what to do with a miscarriage. Is it a big deal or not? How do people react to such a thing? And because no one knows what to do, that generally means that most people do nothing. We had a lot of family staying with us when Nadia died, and sure enough, they really did nothing.
I remember being angry at them, so very angry. WE LOST A BABY! Why don’t you care?
Eight years later, I can see that my anger at them was really not directed so much at them as it was at God. They were simply an easier target. When someone dies, above all you want someone to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Fix it, somehow. The least you can do is die with them. But it doesn’t work that way. Someone dies, and everything else just lingers on. Eventually things return to normal, whatever that means. But that smoldering anger remains.
The fact is that God did do something about Nadia’s death. He sent His Son into another womb, helpless and in complete and utter need. And He lived that life of no consequence, just like everyone else’s life. You wouldn’t know Him by looking at Him. And so it is that He died. He died for all of the Nadias out there. He died for all the children born and unborn who are enslaved by this grip of death. He died for the grieving and lingering. He died for them and for me. And you.
I’m not angry at God anymore. Not about that, at least. Ok, not as much. But the grief remains. I cling to this grief, believing that by holding onto this grief (and anger) I can somehow maintain the rightness of my cause. Surely God will do something about this. Surely He will call her from the dead. Surely we will feast together at the Last Day. Surely God will dry our teachers. Surely…
Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom.
For her Lord comes down all-glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious;
Her star is ris’n, her light is come.
Now come, Thou Blessèd One,
Lord Jesus, God’s own Son,
We enter all
The wedding hall
To eat the Supper at Thy call. (LSB 516:2)
Todd A. Peperkorn
November 23, 2012