by Tricia Willoughby
I’m broken. It is a powerful statement, but true. I came to this realization one Sunday listening to our pastor give her sermon. I was sitting with the rest of the congregation, merrily enjoying the message when…BAM!!! The pastor starts talking about how she had miscarriage years ago and how it affected her faith. I felt totally ambushed. I had talked to her before the service. She knew my story, and I felt a little hurt that she hadn’t warned me that her sermon topic was going to veer in that direction. I sat with downcast eyes, trying my hardest to not let the tears fall. The rest of my day was spent desperately seeking to recover from the emotional MAC truck that charged through the sanctuary that morning.
Moments like the pastor’s sermon made it clear to me that, even though I may appear to have healed emotionally, I am still fundamentally broken. I function, but the pain and grief is always sitting, waiting to ambush me at a moment’s notice. Time makes is easier to conceal the bleeding of my heart; but the pain is still there, and oh does it hurt!
It’s been almost eight years since our son, Bain, passed away. He was born at about 24 weeks gestation and only lived for two hours. My first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage and a severe infection. Bain was our second pregnancy. Next came a tumultuous third pregnancy that blessed us with our daughter Reegan. After much debate, we decided to try again. We got pregnant immediately and lost the baby immediately. I got the “you’re not pregnancy anymore” call at work, too. The doctor told me that if I hadn’t known my body so well, we never would have even known I was pregnant in the first place. Once again, I was totally devastated. My husband was so sweet. He told me he understood if I didn’t feel like I could emotionally handle attempting another pregnancy; however, I decided I couldn’t let fear rule my life. I felt that I was strong enough to give it one more try. Thankfully, after marking it full term with relatively few problems, for me anyway, we were blessed with our second daughter, Zella.
I didn’t subscribe to the “God has a plan” or “everything happens for a reason” attitude. Frankly, I wanted to deck people who said that to me. Those were by far the least helpful comments and are meant more to comfort the speaker rather than the grief stricken mother. It offered me no comfort at all, and I felt like God could stuff his plans because I didn’t need them! I wasn’t angry with God; I was just annoyed with people. Even those who had suffered the same type of loss said those frustrating comments. People just don’t know what to say around a grieving person and many times if falls to the grief stricken person to comfort others. It wasn’t until much later that I accepted the meaning behind “God has a plan” and “everything happens for a reason.”
I grew up going to Sunday school every Sunday, but once I was out of my parents’ house, I drifted away from the church. I still believed in God, but didn’t feel that He expected me to prove it by going to church all the time. I never got angry with God for the losses we experienced, and, in my mind, He did not have an active role in my healing afterwards. I could not have been more wrong. You cannot discount His guiding hand, even if you do not see it.
I could have chosen to hide in a dark corner. Instead, I found a way to focus my grief. I founded a non-profit organization called Threads of Remembrance. I felt that God was calling me to act, to help others who were grieving the loss of a child they never had the chance to truly know. This put me in a position where I was faced constantly with the emotional pain of a lost child. God made me strong enough to withstand these devastating losses…and then he sat back, waiting for me to realize his plan for my life. It took eight years. Thankfully, God is patient and understanding. He knew my faith would flare eventually and that I could withstand the emotional ambushes. God made me complete and then broke me so that I could help others. He made me and loves me, flaws in all.
Tricia Willoughby was born and raised in Tuscola, IL. She is the wife of a spectacularly, wonderful husband and father, Casey, and the mother of two beautiful girls, Reegan (6) and Zella (2), and one sweet angel, Bain. Tricia is founder and President of the non-profit organization Threads of Remembrance. Through Threads of Remembrance, she has been donating memory boxes to local hospitals since the passing of her son, Bain, eight years ago. She is also currently the finance coordinator for the Tuscola MOPS group and a leader in her daughter’s girl scout troop. During her free time (ha, ha), Tricia enjoys reading, writing, and learning new crafting skills.
Tricia’s website is www.threadsofremembrance.org.