The busyness and excitement of the holidays are officially over. It’s mid-January. It’s winter. In many parts of the country, it’s cold. For some, the blues have arrived. On top of this, maybe you have recently experienced a loss or a disappointment. There’s a sense of sadness that permeates all of life, especially if that loss comes in the form of a miscarriage or the passing of another month and you are still not pregnant.
Perhaps the last part of that sentence caught you off guard. You didn’t expect to read those words. Over the past month, I have been working my way through a collection of essays about this topic. Not Alone, A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted by Infertility & Miscarriage, editor Jessica Snell, contains the stories of women (and even some men) who have experienced the pain of miscarriage, infertility, or the loss of a child. Their stories are honest, heartbreaking, and sometimes raw; and yet, these are stories filled with glimpses of grace and hope too. As I read, I was struck by a common thread in each person’s story: the feeling of isolation in the midst of suffering.
There’s something about miscarriage and infertility that make them particularly isolating. This isn’t a perfect analogy, but I think still helpful nonetheless. When someone breaks an arm, he or she wears a cast or a sling, indicating to the rest of us something happened. Not so with most miscarriages and infertility. We don’t have outward physical clues to inform us of the situation. For the person living this experience, it’s hard to speak up and say, “I had a miscarriage,” or “I can’t get pregnant.”
Miscarriage and infertility aren’t part of my story. But I’m grateful for books like Not Alone because I have friends and family members who have walked this path. I need to hear these stories. I need to know what to say and what not to say as I walk alongside a hurting friend or a loved one. Part of caring for those I love means that I rejoice with them and I mourn with them.
And that brings me back to January. One essay, “Walking Away” resonated with me. The author, Shelley Batdorf, writes about the excitement of Christmas and telling family the good news, “We’re pregnant!” Then comes the pain. The all-too familiar pain that cuts through her body, indicating the loss of another pregnancy. I wonder, how many women are like Shelley right now? Grief and pain marking the days of January instead of December’s hope and joy.
Yes, your heart may break while you read some of these stories. But you will also be inspired and challenged by the deep faith and insight of these writers. Fruit has been born as a result of their suffering.
In case you are wondering, Kalos Press is the publisher for my forthcoming book Everywhere God. I happily agreed to read a copy of Not Alone and review it here at Always Orange. I love promoting good, thoughtful writing whenever I can. Thankfully, the work put out by Kalos is that.