Heart Labor

Thank you Beth for sharing your thoughts on grief and how you have learned to ride those waves in the loss of your son, especially through this holiday season. Samuel will forever be remembered my friend.

Samuel with dog.
December 1, 1997-July 25, 2017

December 1, 2021.

It feels harder to write today (and I try to on most days when I have a quiet morning). It would be Samuel’s 24th birthday today. What time was he born? Dale says early in the morning…maybe around 6 or 7? I’ll have to look at his birth certificate. Frustrating that I can’t remember that.

I was prepared for his birth, much better than I was for the births of my other four children. I had read about the Bradley method of natural childbirth to learn what the body actually does during labor and delivery. The purpose in learning it was to relieve some of the fear of the “unknown” about birth.

Riding the Waves

It did help, tremendously, plus I had a friend who had delivered all three of hers naturally, who offered to be my doula. She was so calm and reassuring, quietly encouraging me and rubbing my lower back during contractions. I was also allowed to sit in a warm shower which made a huge difference in the level of pain I was feeling. There was something about feeling those contractions beginning, rising, rising, peaking, then subsiding and stopping that helped me realize I could do it—I could ride the wave of the contraction because it wouldn’t last more than a minute or so.

And in between each one, I could rest and get prepared for the next one. 

Understanding My Insides

Grief, I’m told, is like those waves. They build, rising, rising, peaking, then subsiding and stopping. Knowing what was happening, physically, inside my body helped me ride the wave until it was over. Maybe going through the death of my first husband helped me to know “what was happening inside,” much like understanding labor. Maybe it was just knowing I would make it to the other side of the pain, and I would survive without losing my mind. That better things were waiting, somewhere in the future, and those waves would get farther and farther apart, lose their intensity, and over time they wouldn’t seem so terrifying.

And there were all those other parents I had heard about who had lost children suddenly, violently, unfairly, unjustly, horribly, who had survived and lived to tell about it. If they could, why couldn’t I? Yes. I could. But I would have to WANT to…I would have to try and not give up. There were other people and other things to keep living for. Other people loved me and needed me to be here and be healthy. They depended on me.

And here could be the place for God to prove to me that He could, indeed, show me how faithful and compassionate He really is. He is mysterious and He is confusing sometimes. He is scary and He is definitely not safe. But my heart knows He is good. If I don’t cling to that truth, if I doubt He is good in everything He does and everything He allows, then there’s no ground beneath me at all. And I drown.

Happy Birthday Samuel!

Today, 52 months after the tsunami of Samuel’s murder, the waves are manageable, even slightly predictable so I can steady myself and ride them out without toppling over. I’m seeing more mothers out there in the surf of grief now, battling their own waves and learning how to keep their footing and not sink. I can offer them an outstretched hand to help. To listen. To love.

Happy Birthday Samuel. I miss you. See you in the morning. 


Praying for peace for all of you dealing with loss this holiday season. You might also find these posts helpful:

“In the Darkness of Grief”
“I Never Felt Like I was Grieving Right”

candle photo credit: Bellava G on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Heart Labor

  1. Hard to comment, I felt her pain deep inside my mother heart and choose not to answer the questions about how I would given the same circumstances. She is brave beyond words as are all those mothers who have loss children. God bless you for sharing and her for living it for us to know about.

    • So well said Teri. Beth is beautiful and brave beyond words. As is Sharon, who spoke last week. Thank you for your engagement during this difficult December theme.

  2. Beth, you have suffered such loss, and my heart Felt your love and sadness. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you ❤️

  3. Beth
    What a beautiful letter to your precious son. I thought it interesting when I read the part about God not being safe. It caused me to stop and reflect on your words. I have come to agree with you. God is not safe at least not while we are here on earth. We ask for God’s hedge of protection, we pray for our children’s safety and sometimes God answers those prayers as we see it. But sometimes He does not. Sometimes He allows trails of great magnitude, tragedies of deep sorrow leaving us reeling in the aftermath. Yet I too cling to the truth that God is good even when this world is not. Yes, God is good.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    • Good Morning Sharon, and thank you for reaching out with your thoughts and words. I think it’s helpful and healthy to move through life’s pain with others. Both you and Beth are in my prayers this holiday season.

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