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Grief is Complicated

Originally published Monday, 30 November 2015.

Last weekend was the opening of rifle season for deer hunting. It’s a big deal around these parts and in our home.


It was an exciting time for my man as he packed up his plastic tubs of gear, salty and sugary snacks and a hunger for the outdoors—getting in touch with his mountain man side—and headed up north to hunt.


I am proud of Hubby for being a sportsmen. However, opening weekend ushers in a deep sadness—at least it has for the past few years—that leaves me conflicted.


By now you probably know the story (if not you can read it here*). Long story, short, we got a call to come pick up a baby, November 2012, but at the last minute, while we were sitting in the hospital lobby, the adoption fell through.


We lost a baby.


Less than four months after that horrible moment we were given the gift of our son, Strong One, and we can’t imagine life without him. Just today, he was dancing in the living room, cracking us up with his animated expression and impressive dance moves.


But before Strong One, I was a mama to a little boy named Joseph. Some would argue that I was never his mom because he never really was mine. But for 48 hours, he was. And I loved him, even though I never saw him; I parented him as best as I could.


Friends broke into our house to clean it and stocked us up with diapers and newborn clothes as we prepared to pick Joseph up at the hospital. We bought flowers, we called our small (not so small) army of support and they cheered and celebrated. Oh, how he was loved.


But we came home empty-handed that sunny November day.


And I rushed through my grief.




1. I needed to help our kids navigate their own grief.

2. I didn’t know how to make sense of the situation. Why would God allow this kind of pain into our hearts after so much heartbreak already?

3. Our culture seems to have a “hurry up and get your grieving over with, because I’m uncomfortable” mindset (me included).

4. It was too sad to face the reality of what happened, so I stuffed most of my feelings because I was afraid I would lose it I was truly honest with the depth of the pain.


I felt conflicted.


I don’t ever want Strong One to feel like we wish we had adopted Baby Joseph instead. That’s not true, but I still need to allow myself to grieve the loss of what happened.


When someone miscarries and they have another baby, that next baby does not replace the one that was lost. The new baby doesn’t take away all the pain that was experienced and is still present. The new baby is an absolute delight but doesn’t erase the grief.


I fear posting this, because I don’t want anyone to think I am ungrateful for one moment or that I wish things were different. I don’t. However, I have not really given myself permission to just be sad about the failed adoption attempt.


We talked about praying unedited, but what about grieving unedited?


That sounds scary to me, because it’s going to be ugly and unpredictable and might not be tied up in a nice Christian bow.


I can’t explain it away or tidy it up.


I don’t think about Joseph a lot, but, this time of year, I remember. I pray for him and his mom. I hope he is doing great and is greatly loved.


For 48 hours I was his to-be mama and I loved him.


Grief is complicated. It’s a tug of war between what was and what is. Crying over the past doesn’t mean you aren’t happy in the present. But, I think we do ourselves a disservice when we write off our grief, explain it away or pretend it didn’t hurt like hell.


God got us through the anguish of that hour in the hospital lobby, and beyond. I can’t imagine facing that kind of pain without the One who is the same—yesterday, today and forever.


He knew what was around the corner for us, but we didn’t then.


He held us together when we were on the brink of falling apart.


I want to trust Him enough to fall apart in His arms and let Him put me back together.


So as I kissed my man in bright orange as he leaves up north, I also turned back the clock and send a prayer-kiss to a boy I have never met but have held close.


As I put in another chick flick, while my mountain man hunted, I let the tears flow instead of trying to get them to behave.


I felt both joy and sorrow and it was messy and it was healthy.


With Grace,



*To read the backstory see this link, Pain in the Offering: http://www.katiemreid.com/2012/11/pain-in-offering-part-1/