The Loss of a Child: A Picture of the Heart
Love filled my heart as I watched my husband holding our newborn son in his arms. He gazed at his tiny form with a warm expression of tenderness. As we shared that love, an image was etched on my mind that would become a precious memory. In the wonder of that moment, we were unaware that Kevin would be with us for only a few days. As I look back, pleasant and sad memories start to emerge, but with new meaning now. These memories were not forgotten but were stored away in my heart.
Del and I had two children when Kevin was born. We enjoyed the first day of excitement on the arrival of our third child. As we held our baby, we noticed how much he resembled his brother and sister. We marveled at how God made each of our children with their own identity, yet with a likeness of our family. From that day Kevin was born, his calm and quiet spirit was evidence of a gentle personality. Naturally, my affection for him began to grow and I couldn’t wait to take him home.
The next day, the nurse told us that the doctor wanted to talk to us. A look of concern was displayed in the doctor’s eyes. “We suspect that your baby has a problem regarding his heart,” she said, “We’d like to keep him for a few more days to take some tests, then we’ll send him home with a heart monitor.” And that was the way we thought it would be.
After answering all of our questions, the doctor reassured us that she’d keep a close watch on him throughout the night. I remember the nurse asking if I had noticed a blue hue to his complexion. I had noticed his little features and wisps of platinum blond hair, but only his eyes were blue.
I looked at my baby as he snuggled content in my arms. Gently I touched his soft cheek, then handed him to the nurse.
Early the following morning, Del nudged me to wake up. Kevin had to be taken to a heart specialist for a cardiac catheterization. “This is hard for me to tell you, but I discovered that the left side of Kevin’s heart is abnormal with incomplete valves. Since this is the major side of the heart, there is nothing that can be done to save his life. He has only a few hours left…I’m terribly sorry.”
We could hardly believe what was happening. We looked at each other and our hearts were crushed with anguish. We felt so alone and confused. But the Lord had never intended to leave us alone. He used the heart specialist to meet that immediate moment of distress. She not only explained that he had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (a malformation of the left side of the heart) but she showed an unusual amount of empathy toward us. She had lost a child the same way a year earlier and understood how devastated we were. Her personal experience helped her identify with our situation.
Soon after we called our pastor. He came immediately. His presence was fresh with God’s compassionate love and concern for us. After he went to see our baby, he stayed with us and prayed, and shared several verses from the bible. During that time of waiting, the Lord sustained us through the pastor’s love.
About an hour later, the doctor returned. Thee was a distinct sadness all around us. I knew…Kevin had peacefully gone to heaven to be with God. When I went home, my arms were empty and so was my heart. At the funeral, I stared through clouded eyes at the small white casket which held my baby whom I would never hold again. All I could do was remember him as I last held him in my arms. Even though I understood that my baby would be with God. I couldn’t deny the tremendous loss I felt. I thought I would never feel normal again.
During the months that followed, depression battled with my perspective on life.
During the months that followed, depression battled with my perspective on life. My husband and I were already going through a time of uncertainty. Our lives were balancing on the border of living our own way or choosing to follow God. Now that we had lost our baby, whatever newly-developed faith we had was now being shaken.
Ultimately, the Lord stayed close to my aching heart, and in my grief I turned to His waiting, open arms. As I was drawn closer to Him, I found emotional healing through His Word. I especially found the Psalms to be tranquil to my grieving spirit. God’s word became my consolation. Faithfully, He revealed His presence through the compassionate love of others. Through their prayers, concerns, and encouraging Scripture verses, I was gradually lifted to life again.
Since then we have had another son and daughter. But the few precious days we shared with Kevin will never be forgotten. Just like our four other children, he’s a part of us. The moment of love that my husband and I shared with our baby is always vivid in my mind, and my heart sometimes aches for him still. But we have his picture to remember what he looked like, and we will always have his memory. His memory will be kept in our hearts until we see him again in heaven.
Going through this experience has given my life a different meaning.
Going through this experience has given my life a different meaning. Although the process of sorrow was emotionally painful to endure and the depression was overwhelming, it turned out for good–that I may know God “who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 cor. 1:3, NIV). My heart reaches out to share the comfort God gave us. We were touched in a way we would never have known if we had turned away from Him. But He was there waiting.
He knew what we would need in our time of sorrow. He gave us peace beyond understanding–a peace that conveys a picture of the heart of God.