It is also a frustration. "Eeeeee" and "awwww" seem very far away from having any kind of significant conversation with my son. As I expressed that frustration to our speech therapist, she agreed that it does seem like a long road to me. It doesn't frustrate her as much, though, because, although she can't see how long the road will be, she can see the bends along the way and has ideas about what to do to get around each of those bends and how to get past the obstacles. She has hope because she has walked this road before with many parents, and because she has the resources to help them and their children come to a happy ending.
As she shared this perspective, I realized that I have a similar point of view in our Naomi's Circle ministry. I talk with many parents, both online and in person, who are at the beginning of the road of pregnancy or infant loss. I remember that moment well, beginning a journey I never expected to take, and feeling enveloped in darkness and gloom, with little hope for the future. It is overwhelming and suffocating.
But into this darkness came a source of light - other people who had walked the road and were courageous enough to meet me in the darkness and let me see that all hope was not lost. They did this not with lectures or platitudes, but with gentle touches, hugs, written words, and testimonies of their journeys. Their stories of survival and subsequent joy gave me hope and courage for the journey ahead of me.
That is what I hope to share now. It has been five years since we started the journey of pregnancy loss and, while there are times when something unexpected triggers the memories and brings on the tears, most days now are good ones. Most of my moments are filled with joy and life. I have room again to breathe and make plans for both the present and the future. I can look back on the road I have traveled and see what the bends in that road were. I know what helped me get through the valleys and, while what helped me may not help another person, I now have a toolbox of resources - support groups, books, Scripture, music, testimonies of others, and sometimes just the gift of empathy - to offer to other parents going through the grief of losing a child.
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4, wrote, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." God has comforted me in my journey, and that enables me to comfort others. I have hope that each grieving parent I encounter can experience hope and joy again. The length of the road and the exact obstacles along the way are different for each person, but the similarities in the journey help those of us who are survivors to help each other.
The hope of our speech therapist gives me encouragement that, though the road for my son's speech development may be long, I have a caring friend who will walk it with me and support me along the way. If you have been through a loss, you can do the same thing for another bereaved parent, and along the way you will find your own hurt being transformed into a tool of healing for someone else.