What Do You Do With Loss?
What do you do with loss? The sense of loss is a powerful feeling. So powerful, that at times it can be overwhelming. It’s odd, because the word itself would imply we should somehow feel lighter, that we carry less because something is gone. Instead, when we lose someone or something we love, life becomes weightier, and we end up carrying more. So what do we do with loss? The answer to that question lies in the story of a young woman named Wendy who taught me how to handle the tragedy of loss.
Wendy and I first met about a year and a half ago. It was a chance meeting. Surrounded by people and brick buildings, the two of us were both leaving a class. Typically, most people just pass by without making eye contact, although sometimes there’s a smile or a nod. Wendy was different. As we passed each other, Wendy smiled at me and spoke. I looked over and saw a short young woman who appeared to be around 21, although I later found out she was older. Her frame was petite and she was obviously Asian. When she spoke, her voice was soft, and when she smiled, so did her eyes.
I returned the “hi” as well as the smile. We began walking together across the busy parking lot, dodging between the cars as we moved along. There was something very inviting about Wendy, which made talking with her extraordinarily easy. The conversation flowed, and before long, we found ourselves at the end of the parking lot and ready to go our separate ways.
In that short period of time, the two of us had already covered so much. Let me share with you what I had learned from Wendy that day. She had talked about her family, and I knew that Wendy’s parents were still in China. Wendy had come to the United States a few years ago as an international student to attend Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Arkansas. College for Wendy in the U.S. had been a goal for her parents, and they had worked hard to give her that chance.
“Do you have any other family here?” I asked. As I did, I wondered what it would be like to head to another country alone and just out of high school. To me, that would take nothing short of some pretty bold emotional courage.
Wendy replied, “No,” she had come on her own. But she was not alone long. Upon arriving at Arkansas Tech, she began attending Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship where they offered classes to help international students with their English. While there, she met a woman who has since become like a mother to Wendy. So much so, Wendy calls her “Terry Mom”.
Two years later, Wendy transferred to the University of Arkansas. There she met her husband-to-be, Gary, whom she married after graduation. Three years later, Wendy and Gary were excited to announce that she was pregnant and they were adding a new little one to their family. Unfortunately, this is where the conversation took a heartbreaking turn.
At 24 weeks, just as her second trimester was ending, Wendy stopped feeling the baby moving. Upon seeing the doctor, they were told the devastating news that no fetal heartbeat could be found. Their precious baby boy had died.
Wendy said she had to go through labor to deliver her baby boy, who they named Isaiah. No specific cause was ever found for his death. Wendy shared her great sadness and heartbreak at delivering a child she would never take home. Even though I didn’t know her well, I felt that great sadness with her. As a pediatrician, I remember having to tell parents that their child had died and the heaviness of that moment. It seemed as though time stood still.
As Wendy shared this memory of her greatest loss, I saw in her a quiet immovable strength and an unmistakable peace. There was no sign of the turmoil of unanswered questions or the need to lay blame. I wondered why at the time, but as Wendy relayed the rest of the story, I understood.
You see, there was an amazing set of circumstances occurring in Wendy’s hospital room that day. Becky, the nurse who was caring for Wendy at the delivery, had lost her first child at delivery 25 years earlier. Immediately, the two shared a deep, unspoken bond.
Later that day, Becky returned to Wendy’s room bringing a small box. Even though the box was small, the gift was not. It was a green box with bright pink roses containing items to comfort a grieving mother’s heart. There were all kinds of things in the box – things to help physically, things to help emotionally, and things to help spiritually. Wendy treasured the thoughtfulness of her precious gift.
Without missing a beat, Wendy went on to say that she had begun making her own box to give away. Her plan was to help other women struggling with the loss of their baby. Wendy found a way to give through her pain and out of her loss. We can do the same. We can offer to others what can’t be bought. Deep inside, we all know it isn’t just about the things we can put in a box, it is about what can’t be seen. It is about giving away part of your heart. And for the receiver of the gift, your heart is what they will never forget. It is, in fact, the heart of Jesus.
As my sweet new friend finished telling me about Isaiah, Becky, and the box, I was awed by the fact that someone so young was also so wise. What came spilling out from Wendy was utter confidence that Jesus had a good plan, and she trusted Him. Resting in that trust, Wendy and I prayed together before we left the parking lot that day. Among other things, we prayed for her to be able to carry and deliver a healthy baby in the future. On April 8th, 2019, I received this beautiful text from Wendy.
Josephine was born July 30th just one day short of 35 weeks gestational age. Although she required a short stay in the NICU, Joey is a thriving adorable little girl with a smile as precious as her mom’s. One day she will meet her older brother Isaiah.
These days, most of Wendy’s time is wrapped up with Joey and Gary, but her box is ready for the next woman who needs it. Wendy also made a website that journals the testimony of her journey through one of life’s greatest losses and how God is continuing to bring beauty out of ashes. You can find Wendy’s journey on her website at wendyzhougreat.wixsite.com/littleisaiah
Wendy’s example calls out to our hearts. It is encouragement not to waste what is possibly the most valuable thing we have to help others – our loss. The thing that was meant to make you less can be given away to make you more. What devastated your heart can be used to heal someone else’s. And what destroyed you once can be the very thing you use to save another. Don’t waste it. It is the great reversal- ….. -and THAT is what you do with loss.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT
He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 4-5 Msg
He (God) heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Ps 147:3 NCV
I (God) give new life to those who are humble and to those whose hearts are broken. Isaiah 57:15 NCV
The Lord has put his Spirit in me, because the LORD has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell prisoners they are released. Isaiah 61: 1 NCV
To see Wendy’s pictures of her family and the boxes, head to the Pictures Page!
Check out the Pinterest Pins for What Do You Do With Loss! Click here.
He's the God of every story,
He sees each tear that falls.
We may not understand - but one thing is certain.
He is faithful, He's a faithful God.
May 6, 2020 @ 1:59 pm
This story touched me deeply, so very sad and heartbreaking and yet God provided just the right person to assist Wendy in grieving and finding a way to give back from her own grief to someone that God has or will bring along her path. She is able to talk the language of grief in the loss of a child and yet provide encouragement and hope. God always has a plan. Her story is quite amazing in how God has orchestrated her life coming to this foreign land. How I could identify. Nearly 17 years ago this month, we lost our middle child, second daughter of three children to suicide. She was only 25-1/2 years old. At that time I received some small booklets in a series of one every three months for the first year. The series is “Special Care Series” by Doug Manning. These booklets were extremely valuable to me as a mother and an easy read. The booklet always reminded me that someone continued to remember us in our grief. Over the years, I have sent these booklets to a number of people that God has brought to me. Currently, I have three different people on my lists to receive these booklets for the first year. This provided me a way to share in the grief of someone that had lost a child, a parent or maybe some other family member. I also created a large photo/scrap album of our daughter’s life about 4-5 months after her death and this was a meaningful way for me to give tribute to her life. May the God of peace bring comfort to anyone who is experiencing loss. As a Christ follower, He is MY hope for the past, present, and the future. God bless Wendy and Gary and their young family as they continue to live out life. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
May 6, 2020 @ 4:19 pm
Karin, thank you so much for leaving this comment, for sharing about your daughter and for listing resources and ideas others can use to help with loss. You are a beautiful example of what this story is all about.
May 7, 2020 @ 11:02 pm
This story is extraordinary, thank you for sharing. I could picture the whole story and imagine the deep connection Between you too. I love the boldness and beauty in this story! I’d never heard of a box to gift grieving mothers, something I will remember for the future.
You are spot on – our loss can help another. I loved the scriptures. Thank you ????????????
May 7, 2020 @ 11:06 pm
Thanks, Gwen! Your comments are the best.
May 20, 2020 @ 2:48 pm
Thanks for the comment, Natalie! I love your heart to always think of others.♥️
May 11, 2020 @ 10:07 am
Hello my sweet sweet Martha!!
Always an angel sent by God to care, comfort, laugh, cry, instruct and listen as only YOU do. You do it so well. My second daughter passed into the arms of Jesus the day after her birth. I know one day through Jesus’ assurance that I will hold my precious Marcia Leighanne again.
May God continue to richly bless you in all you do.
The 21st I’ll be clean and sober 3 yrs 6 months. You were such great support for me. I love you always sweet sister.
May 11, 2020 @ 12:27 pm
Thank you so much for sharing about Marcia Leighanne, Celia. What a beautiful name! I love you, sweet friend, and am so proud of you!
June 10, 2020 @ 5:47 pm
Thank you for sharing your story! My heart goes out to you and your husband for your loss.
My niece also suffered this great loss, a few years ago.
At full term her baby girls heart stopped. She too had to deliver a beautiful, precious, lil baby girl already in Jesus’ arms. As I lift her up in prayer I’m reminded that as we pray for those we know, we need to also be lifting all those who are going through the same suffering. That’s The beautiful thing about being Christian brothers and sisters. We don’t even know how many prayers are going up on our behalf.
Congratulations on your lil boy! My niece also is expecting A lil boy in the fall! Always praying!
June 11, 2020 @ 9:54 pm
Thanks for commenting, Jackie! And for sharing your neice’s story♥️ But most of all for your prayers!????
June 28, 2020 @ 12:10 pm
Sooooo good, Martha!
Much in the same way that “those who have been forgiven much, love much”, it is absolutely true that those who have lost, can help others find…healing and hope.
June 28, 2020 @ 4:04 pm
Absolutely true. So happy you are reading The Stories and commenting. Thanks!!
Beverly K Fisher
July 23, 2021 @ 9:16 am
Again, a timely event due to a seed planting of 30 years ago.
I too, am suffering a loss as of June 5, ’21.
After reading this, I realize what I need to do with this loss…..(with God’s direction). I will try to act out the “great reversal”!
I’m grateful. bf
July 29, 2021 @ 3:33 pm
Beverly, I am deeply touched by your comment, and at the same time greatly encouraged. God can use even the hardest of things in our lives. I am so sorry for your loss but will wait to hear how He uses it to reach others. Praying for you today and looking forward to hearing your “great reversal” details one day. Please let me know. Much love, martha
Beverly K Fisher
April 18, 2022 @ 4:21 pm
Hi Martha, I love this opportunity to share. Therapeutic for me! The great reversal has begun. All I can do is hold those who have lost a spouse for that’s all I wanted. And I know how the timely phone call means so much to a grieving widow(personally don’t like this title). but yesterday being Easter, I felt led to blog in my own little way on my couch. Like to share with you. Please indulge me. thank you. Bev
What do I (we) do now?
The let down of sorts of such a glorious day as Easter Sunday passed is now upon us. We were reminded yesterday of the sacrifice one man made for our sake and it is a wonderful day. Then linked with easter dinners/little children/fun clothes, it really is the best christian holiday. Better than Christmas.
But what do we do now? HE’S not here…it is finished.
Ok, our turn now. what? “But God, the disciples must of been hurting and in shock”…. even though Jesus gave them a heads up, they really didn’t know what was coming. They spent 3 years side by side their best friend. And now He was gone. They had to be hurting terribly.
I can relate today on Easter Monday. I spent 18 yrs. with my best friend but the last 3, we were retired together. We were side by side, went town to town like Jesus and the 12 did, not preaching, mainly eating at a great restaurant! But being side by side someone you love pretty much 24/7/365 x 3 IN A PANDEMIC is quite a bonding experience. And while I know where he is, it still hurts. I feel empty like they did. Where did he go? The shock of the event still lingers too as I’m sure the followers of Jesus had to witness such a horrifying death. They had that visual memory and the emptiness still prevailed on Monday I’m sure.
The hollowness of a losing a loved one is not one of jubilation. BUT the good news of all this correlation for me …. is I do know where Jesus is and I’m going to see Him again. And I know where Loren is and I’m going to see him again too. And like the disciples, I must take what I was given those 3 (18) years and use it. Use it to carry on for myself, use it to help others in similar life situations, point others to God(directly or indirectly).
I am to carry on with all my man gave me-keys to living life well. More importantly, I am to carry on with what The Man gave me-the key to getting into heaven.