The face of courage when losing a child.

The first time I met Bethany, she was managing to joke and make light of the challenging early months with a high-needs baby. Having been one of those mothers and having failed to remain as calm as Bethany during the long nights, I immediately had one of those “I can learn from this person” moments. A few years later, when she lost Lucy due to complications from Kell’s, my heart broke for her.

I’m still learning from Bethany. When I ran into her at Manna Grocery last month, she looked tired and sad. My sister and I were having lunch with our brood of chatty children, so it wasn’t a good time to stop and talk. But I needed to talk to her- felt drawn to the sadness and grief she wasn’t bothering to hide. So I ignored the awkwardness and walked over to her table, realizing I had not decided what I wanted to say or even why I needed to say anything at all. I just hugged her and then told her that grief was a long, torturous journey (something Sarah taught me) that doesn’t just end according to our plans and schedules. I wanted her to know that her grief over Lucy’s death was legitimate (how sick that I should even feel the need to reassure her of that) even six months later. I wanted her to know that I admired her (as I admire Sarah) for refusing to settle for the fatalistic “it’s God’s will” sort of answers which suggest a God that does not hear or communicate with us.

But Bethany should be the voice in your ear right now. On her wonderful blog, Losing Lucy and Finding Hope, Bethany shares her journey with grief and Kell’s antibodies. Her courage in sharing what most of us prefer to hide or fake amazes me. And teaches me about what courage means in a world where social taboos keep us from being honest and living with integrity. Bethany explains:

To honor a life often requires us to mourn its passing with devotion. Beautiful Bethany is in my thoughts and hopes. I am grateful to her for everything she dares to feel and express- grateful because her love for Lucy frees me to be honest with myself about grief and hurt.

The more I experience of this life, the more convinced I become that stoicism is the enemy of hope, joy, and love. It’s the ultimate cop-out, the way to “save face” under the pretense of appearing to be strong. But there is nothing strong or brave about living a lie and asking others to play along. Maybe the best I can do is to acknowledge this and honor the grief which lies at the heart of only the best love.