Grieving The Child I Never Knew

Friday, February 26, 2016

There are few sorrows so deep as that of losing a child. An even more unique twist is losing a child that you never really got the chance to know. Whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, the tragedy of an infant child’s death is great. (Not greater than any other loss, but certainly different.) When our first daughter, Whitney, was stillborn, I found myself in a unique position of grief. Though by God’s grace I did get to hold her in my arms, kiss her sweet lips and keep a lock of her beautiful dark curls, many people around me didn’t understand why I took the loss so hard. After all, she’d never even said a word, uttered a noise, or even took a breath in my arms. And yet it was because of exactly those reasons that the grief was so strange. How could I love and grieve for someone whom I have never really known? Kathe Wunnenberg’s book Grieving the Child I Never Knew speaks directly to those nuances of grief associated with such a child loss. 

Having lost four children of her own, Wunnenberg is no stranger to grieving the death of a child. She is intimately connected to the grief that such a loss can cause. But within her own story of love and loss is an underlying message of hope and healing. It runs throughout the entirety of this devotional, and is almost palpable in her words that are written with such love. This book is a series of 31 devotions, broken down into different parts, or stages, if you will. They are: Hiding, Suffering, Questioning, Forgiving, Relating, Seeking and Sharing Your Story. Every single one of these areas of focus is critical to finding complete healing thorough Christ. And I especially love that she ends the book with encouragement to share your story. It is through the stories of other women who shared similar losses that I gained the strength to carry Whitney until God took her home. Sharing your story of grief and grace and hope are critical— it is so so necessary. Each day’s devotional has a short narrative, followed by a prayer (because let’s be real: sometimes we don’t even know the words to pray) and questions to help you think through the grieving process. She entitled these questions “Steps to Healing.” The questions have space to be answered in the book, but I liked to write my answers in a journal. It gave me more room to write and feel more open in what I needed to process. 

In addition to using this as a 31-day devotional book, she give 7 other ways that this book can be helpful: A Quick Pick-Me-Up for when emotions rise, Table for Two (conversation starter with a close friend or spouse), Grief Group Discussion Guide, Small-Group Bible Study, A Gift that Lasts, A Resource Book for Pastors and Counselors, and a Prayer Guide. There is even an index page that has listed the devotionals that have readings pertaining to specific events/days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Though this is a difficult subject to write/read about, it is one that is not to be ignored. Though it may be a difficult conversation to have with a friend who has lost a child, believe me, they will be grateful you took time to mention their child. If you are looking for a gift to give a friend who has has such a loss, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is truly a great gift that can help lead them from grief to hope. 

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.***

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