I have two children. I've written about my daughter on the blog before, but I haven't told you yet about my first baby, the one I lost through miscarriage. It was through that little one that I learned how beauty, oddly enough, can be a comfort in grief.
My husband and I had gone in for our first appointment with our new obstetrician. We had just met the doctor maybe twenty minutes before when she had to deliver the bad news: I was not eight weeks pregnant like I thought. My baby had died, she told me, and I would need to have a D & C procedure. My little one was already gone.
Over the next few weeks and months, I struggled to understand what had happened to me. I knew the baby was in heaven, but I hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye. There had been so little time to say hello.
When we found out we were pregnant, we quickly spread the news far and wide to friends and family. So now we had to un-tell them. A few key people made phone calls so we wouldn’t have to repeat the story over and over.
What surprised me was the number of sympathy cards and emails we received from people who had been through the same thing. Almost two dozen people reached out to us with similar stories of grief. Their words, which sometimes included scripture verses, comforted me. I wasn’t alone. Other people knew and understood. I collected those notes, printed out the emails, and stuck them all inside a new journal that I would put together someday when I was ready.
In one of the books I read about coping with the grief of miscarriage, the author wrote that parents who lose a child through miscarriage don’t usually have an opportunity for closure that a memorial service or funeral can provide. So she suggested planting a tree in memory of the baby. That idea touched me to the core, and we decided to do it.
But before we could, I got pregnant again. And thank God, nine months later, that baby was born healthy. We were filled with joy and gratitude, and of course our lives changed instantly. The following year, when we were all sleeping regularly and life had settled into a new normal, we decided to get not just one tree for our first baby but two trees for both of them.
So, working with a landscaper, we planted two pink cherry trees in our front yard. I felt a deep sense of joy and comfort and almost relief, too, to plant and nurture a beautiful thing for such a purpose. We were honoring a life that matters, regardless of how short it was, and that won’t be forgotten. It felt so right. The trees helped to not only assuage my grief over my first baby but celebrate my joy over my second one.
Since then, I’ve lived in two other houses and at each one I’ve planted two trees for my babies (the second of whom is now seventeen years old). The first trees were pink cherries, as I said. The second pair at the second house were pink dogwoods. All four bloomed early in the season, their beautiful colors and delicate blooms reminding me that winter was over and spring was arriving.
At our current house, we planted two redbud trees, which also bloom early and, despite the name, have light purple blooms. This time, we added two more memorial trees: a third redbud for my father and a white dogwood for my mother-in-law.
All of these trees serve as a tangible reminder of how precious life is and what a gift our loved ones are. Their beauty has brought me comfort. They've given me a way to grieve the loss of a precious life here on earth and a way to celebrate life that goes on in heaven. There’s a verse in the Bible where God says that he brings beauty from ashes (Isaiah 63:1-3). He has done that over and over in my life, and these trees, his trees, remind me of that every time they bloom.
Has beauty ever been a comfort to you in grief? Do you have a similar story? If so, I'd love to hear it. Leave me a comment here or on Facebook or via email.
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