As a grieving father, I write in order to share my stumble through suffering towards hope.
We learned 18 weeks into our first pregnancy that our son, Eli, had “anencephaly”. In this condition, the baby’s brain, scalp, and skull do not form because of a neural tube defect that occurs in the third or fourth week of pregnancy. Because of this, babies will either miscarry during pregnancy, be stillborn, or survive birth to live for a few minutes, hours, or days.
An unimaginable nightmare became our reality. We limped through the rest of the pregnancy, cherishing our son’s life while grieving his loss. It’s impossible to articulate the pain of simultaneously planning Eli’s birth day and funeral. I loved my son desperately, and his death has nearly suffocated me. My fatherhood feels so frail as I longed to provide and protect but was unable to do so.
My writing will not be polished or wrapped with bows, but honest and, often, unresolved. I share in this way for three particular reasons:
Writing puts me in the ring to wrestle with God, the one who much of my devastation is directed towards. But he’s also the only one who has the power to heal my slain soul. This will force me to stare down the dark trail to his distant promises and begin limping through the darkness in his direction.
Suffering is a dark and lonely place. But hearing the cries of other sufferers can enable our own process of grieving. Honest grieving – especially that of men and, specifically, fathers – seems to be hard to find. I hope that others who might stumble here are helped in their trials. If this is you, and you want to talk, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
I have unspeakable pride in my son, Eli. Everything in me wanted God to save him, heal him, do anything that would have granted more time to his life. Even though that did not happen, I will love my little warrior forever. Writing gives me the opportunity to do what every dad wants to do – honor my child.
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; Thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.