When Our Women Grieve

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Even though Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month ended, the pain and journey of the mothers who are grieving and healing still continues through the rest of the year.  We are taking a break from our “How to Start at Women’s Ministry Council” series to reflect on the words of our courageous friend Kayla Pesce.

If you missed Part One, read it here.

Part Two:

You’re probably wondering how I continued to co-lead that retreat while mourning. I sometimes wonder how I did too. The simple answer is I was extended immense grace in taking time off and surrendering certain responsibilities. Instead of teaching a break out session as planned I was able to focus on writing the devotional that each woman would use while at the retreat and the week following. This gave me a chance to read Scripture and seek God’s wisdom in a private space where I could be alone yet still providing spiritually for our retreat without exerting the effort of teaching.

Yes, this role shift was helpful, but the most practical help came from my sisters. The leader, our pastor’s wife, never put a single expectation on me in the sense that I had the freedom to say no and the freedom to fail without consequence. She allowed me to back out of responsibilities when they became too much, simply allowed me to grieve (however that looked that day), and most of all she grieved alongside me. The others (including all my friends) allowed me to struggle through what it looked like to continue my “normal” life with this new title of bereaved mother, and they too grieved with me.

These same women that cried with us in the hospital were now there to just do life with me again. Yes, there were stressful moments of the retreat that were hard to manage because of my grief, but there were also moments of rest and refreshment. I had the chance to share my story with a new woman I met, and I also cried with a friend while sharing a hammock by a lake. We danced our hearts out to 80’s music in neon pink tights and high pony tails, and we worshiped God together.

I did not fully realize the depth of their support during that time until recently when we began to plan our 2019 retreat. Again a core group gathered together to plan, and as I started to list the responsibilities I would take on I was caught off guard by the mama-bear style protection the other leaders approached me with. “Is this too much for you?” “Are you sure you can do this?” “Last year….” My immediate flesh reaction was defensiveness, because well, they must think I was a failure last year, right? I was hurt in that moment, and I responded rashly by saying, “but last year MY BABY DIED!” Almost immediately the Holy Spirit gently reminded me, “yes she did die, and that was hard, but you can trust them now because they were there with you then.”

I had to apologize to them, because it truly was never just MY trial to carry- this was OUR trial that we labored together and honestly, we are still laboring its after affects. As a women’s ministry team, as friends, and as sisters in Christ I think we all learned from this tragedy, our story, because we walked it together. Sometimes it was hard because grief is messy, but it was a beautiful picture of what God intended for our relationships on earth.

How can we learn to be leaders who support our women in times of tragedy and trial? I’d say start by taking advice from my friend’s actions: listen, empathize, cry with, help, extend grace, remove expectations, hold her up when she cannot stand, and remember to walk alongside her. And when Satan tries to intervene remain unified through the solid Rock on which you all stand.

“But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Exodus 17:12

This was written in memory of Anna Joy Pesce, born into Heaven on October 7th 2017. May her life and memory always point to Jesus as Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. THEREFORE, I also have lent {her} to the Lord; as long as {she} lives {she} shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there. -1 Samuel 1:27-28

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