By Julie Reuschel
If you are reading this, you are probably either now a part of a group no parent ever wishes to be a part of, or you are supporting someone who has lost a child. I am here to tell you that you are not alone! 1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. It is so common, yet not really talked about or supported. We want to remind you that you are not alone and that there is support available.
But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Julie Reuschel and my life was turned upside down in 2016. My husband and I found out we were expecting our first born that year. Blissfully unaware that anything could go wrong, we were beyond excited and couldn’t wait for our first ultrasound. And at 20 weeks, that’s when things changed. We were told there may be some abnormalities and that they would like us to see a specialist – something no parent ever wants to hear.
So, two days later, they fit us in and we went to see a specialist for another ultrasound. And that day we found out that our little girl was very sick. She was soon diagnosed with trisomy 13. Our doctor that day told us that she would most likely pass soon, in the womb. And words like “incompatible with life outside the womb” became a part of our life.
But God had other plans for our family. Not only was I able to carry her full term, but she also survived childbirth. 37 weeks on November 15, she decided it was time. We labored for 27 hours, not knowing if she would survive long enough for us to meet her. But she did! And God gave us a miracle of 45 minutes with our beautiful little girl, Faith. We got to hear her first breath and see her beautiful eyes and hold her and love on her. The best day of our lives that soon became the worst day.
Later that day, we had to say goodbye. And also later that day, we had to leave the hospital with no baby in our arms. The next few days were a blur. I never imagined ever planning a funeral for one of my children, something no parent should ever have to do.
The days and weeks and months that followed were some of the hardest I will ever have to live. Feeling alone and not knowing how to move forward, feeling unimaginable grief and yet somehow the world kept going, without her in it. I remember sitting just staring out our front window, not knowing what to do next.
About a year later, my husband and I began talking about what we could do to help others in our situation and what we could do to honor Faith. We started talking about resources and how to get better resources into the hands of those that need them. And throughout that year, Faith45 was born as a ministry to help and support other families going through miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. We developed Faith Boxes for these losses filled with resources and items that we found helpful during our grief – things like books, a journal, a candle, bracelets, music, and flower seeds.
These boxes quickly became a way for people to support people in their lives going through this when you just don’t have the words to say. There will never be the right words but these Faith Boxes became a tangible way to do something when you aren’t sure what to do.
A little while later our mentoring ministry was born. We had women who had walked this grief journey before and now just wanted to help others! So, we developed a one-on-one mentoring ministry that is all done electronically. When I was grieving there was no way I was up for going out of the house to a support group, so we developed this ministry that is all done via text, email, phone call right from the comfort of your home. It can be so helpful and a big step in the healing process to talk to someone else who just gets it. No question is too big or too awkward and you know you have someone there to support and encourage you. The relationships that we have seen come out of this ministry are absolutely beautiful and can only be God orchestrated.
One of the verses that we cherish as a ministry, and that I cherish as a loss mama is from Psalm 46:10 – “Be Still and Know that I am God.”
Most days in my grief journey all I could do was “Be Still” but knowing that my God was still there and if you read further in that chapter, knowing He is “my refuge, my strength, my fortress, my ever-present help in trouble”, that got me through some really dark days.
Believe me, there were days I didn’t feel it but knowing deep in my heart that He was still there and He was still taking care of me, was enough. His strength alone is the only way I survived those days, the only way I could get out of bed and face the world.
God was so evident on November 15, it was like He was in the room. He carried me through a very long labor with the most amazing doctors and nurses. He put breath in her lungs and truly gave us a miracle that science could not predict. He gave us 45 amazing minutes with her when we were begging Him to just give us a chance to meet her.
God’s presence can be harder to pinpoint in my grief and in the days that just seemed so dark. But for me it was the little things. It was my sister-in-law coming and simply sitting on the floor holding my hand in silence, it was the people bringing food, it was the lady from church sewing a sweet blanket for Faith, it was the people truly caring for us and checking in and asking me about her. God put people in our lives to carry us when we couldn’t go it alone.
He knew we would need those people two years later when we lost another little girl, Esther Ann. At 10 weeks her heart had stopped beating. Again, so common, yet not talked about and so many are left to grieve alone.
Faith45 was started to make sure no one grieves alone and that these families know there is support and people praying over them and that they are loved.
A prayer for the one who is grieving the loss of a little soul
Dear Heavenly Father,
My heart aches as people read this, knowing there is probably a child lost too soon in their life. I pray your strength and your comfort will cover them. I pray that they will find support and know they are not alone.
In Jesus Name,
Julie Reuschel is the creator and executive director of Faith45. An organization that aims to provide help to families following the loss of a child.
Learn more about Faith Boxes and the mentor program at www.Faith-45.com
Support Faith45 through prayer, or with a financial donation at https://faith-45.com/pages/support-faith45