How do I deal with a new baby in the family when mine is gone?

Question:
I lost my son last year, and my husband and I have been attending Griefshare. The video in session 9 talked about awkward situations and what to do when they arise. You spoke of finding yourself at church faced with some moms and their children who were close to Hope's age. You advised to extend yourself. I'm not sure I know how to do that.

My sister is expecting her first baby soon...a little boy. I am struggling so much right now with even seeing her. Of course I'm happy for her, but hearing her talk about baby showers and baby things makes me miss my son even more. I had given her so many of my son's things...stroller, car seat, high chair, toys. I thought it would make me feel better to one day see those things being used by a loved one. Now, I'm not so sure.

I am doing my best to give this situation to God, but I feel suffocated with it right now. (I guess I'm not doing such a hot job of giving it over!) Any advice?

Answer:
First, I don't think this is something we give to God and then expect not to feel suffocated with it. It is a very hard thing. It is trusting him with it day after day. And trusting God with it doesn't mean we don't feel the struggle or the difficulty, it means that we're confident he is doing something good in us and through us through the struggle and difficulty.

How do you extend yourself? You make the first move toward the very people you feel awkward around who feel awkward around you. There is a little hurdle or barrier between you and every mom with a child you son's age and you can either wait for them to overcome it to reconnect with you, you can just be frustrated and angry that they don't seem willing to do this, or you can gather your courage, set aside a very natural desire to have these people focus on you and your sorrow, and enter into their worlds. This is about the most selfless thing you'll ever do. It will be hard. And it will be worth it in the form of normalized relationships.

Sometimes it is hard in conversations with groups of other moms or with another mom when they're talking about some problem they're dealing with and you think to yourself how much you would love to have that problem with your child. Or they're talking about something coming up that hits you in the gut because your child won't be a part of it. You have some choices in that situation. You can walk away to get away or in anger or hurt. You can bring up your loss and "top" anyone else's complaints. And when we do that, honestly it feels good for a minute—but not for long. I've discovered that there is something that feels better than that—to refuse to make the conversation about me, and my loss, and choose to turn the spotlight on someone else and listen. It doesn't get you sympathy in that moment, but you earn respect (even admiration) and your relationships normalize and heal. That's what you really want.

In regard to your sister's coming child, your choice is to stay away because it hurts, or enter in and be determined to be a blessing and find the joy in this rather than only marinate in how it reminds you of your loss. As you make an effort to be there and hold and enjoy your nephew, it will say to your sister that you want to love her son, and don't want her to be burdened with guilt that her arms are full while your are empty—that you do not want the world to forever walk on eggshells about your loss.

I'm not suggesting it won't hurt. But we have to decide that we are not always going to avoid doing the right thing because it may hurt. When we read that Jesus said to "weep with those who weep," we like that, and we want people to do that with us. But we must also embrace the second part -- rejoice with those who rejoice. We're not exempt from that part because we have sorrow in our lives. It is a high and hard calling—too hard if we are just walking in the flesh with no supernatural power inside. But if the Holy Spirit is inside, he provides power to do what doesn't come naturally, and beyond that, there is joy in it.