October is National Infant Loss Month. My friend reminded me of that on Facebook recently. And it made me reflect on an experience I’d like to share.
Before I do, I want to give a little background into what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. We believe that we lived before we were born, and we will live after we die. We believe that the soul is eternal. Lots of other Christians do too.
But knowing this tidbit will help my story make a little more sense. We also believe that any child who dies before the age of eight, or “age of accountability,” goes straight back to our Heavenly Father’s loving arms. Because we believe you have to be eight years old to understand enough to actually sin, their souls are still spotless. So with that information, I’ll begin my story.
One of my oldest and dearest friends had a baby girl a few years ago. Before her birth they found out that she had a rare condition called Anencephaly. In her case, that meant the baby was going to be born without most of her brain.
Most babies with this condition die in the womb, and very few survive birth. Their bones are too fragile and their health too delicate. It is a tragic and heartbreaking piece of news for any expecting mother to receive. Because I am not this baby’s mother, I am only going to focus on my individual perspective and not even begin to presume I know how my friend felt in those last months of pregnancy.
Many mothers are counseled to terminate, but my friend chose to go full term and let the cards fall as they may. They prepared family and friends for the time that was to come. But none of us really were ready when that angel baby was born.
Miraculously she lived for a few hours after birth. I wasn’t there; only the immediate family was there. But I heard that it was a lovely time and there was a lot of love in that room. Each of my friend’s other children got to hold the baby before she passed away. And a sweet photographer donated her time to be sure it was all recorded.
They named her Charity. Afterward her family had a beautiful service. I was determined to attend because of my deep love for my friend, and my determination to support her through this time. You may know my story of loss, so for me this was also very personal, and brought back all the old feelings. Every infant lost leaves a hole in a mother’s heart. And it had been seven years since I lost my baby so I thought I had my emotions all under control. But I was a blubbering mess! I attended the viewing and was far too choked up to make it to the funeral. I just stayed in that little room and observed.
The first thing I saw, something that was VERY different from many funerals, was how calm and peaceful my friend and her family were. They weren’t crying, but were the ones comforting the rest of us. Charity was beautifully laid out in a white dress in a mini casket at the front of the room. And there were pictures of the family and their time with her displayed around the room. It was very moving, and very well done. I remember thinking that she looked just like a little doll. She even had a bracelet on her tiny wrist that matched one her Mommy was wearing. And then I started praying.
I prayed for my friend and her family, that they would be comforted. I was worried they were in shock or denial. I prayed intensely. And as I opened my heart to the Lord’s Spirit I had a miraculous experience.
I saw Charity. I saw her soul. She was not the baby in the casket. She was not broken, or someone to be pitied. She was a beautiful and graceful adult woman of great spiritual strength and intelligence. She was tall and dignified and she had her mother’s long brown hair. I could feel her power and ability and capability radiating off of her. She was not someone to be pitied. She was someone I would have loved to get to know.
I could also feel the tremendous love she had for her family. I could tell that she stayed around after her birth so she could spend some time with them. And I could tell she was there in that room to lend her strength and love to her family as she continued to support them. I felt that she had so much to do, that being here on Earth longer than she was would have been wasting her time. I knew in that moment that I didn’t need to be sad for Charity. I knew that my sadness was for me, and for those who would not yet get to know this amazing woman of light. And I was reminded that this world, this life, is not our destination. That it’s really just a flash in the pan compared to our soul’s journey.
I still cry remembering that wonderful and enlightening day. I could not talk about it for some time because it had been so powerful. But when I did, it helped Charity’s family gain extra comfort and peace. And I pray that my sharing her story here will help heal more hearts.
Every one of us has a destiny and eternal purpose. And I am reminded of how often I forget about eternity when I mourn the loss of a loved one. This experience opened my mind. I have a new vision of death. I mean, we mourn the loss of our loved ones. We grieve over broken bodies and we forget that they are connected to a Soul that is Magnificent. A soul that shouldn’t be held back.
I don’t understand everything. And I know we all still miss Charity. I still miss my little baby and the life he may have had. But I also know that God will make it all clear one day. And we will stand back in awe. We will understand why each experience happened, why it was necessary. And we will be eternally grateful for all the Lord has done for us.
If you’d like to read more about Charity’s journey please visit http://myangelprincess.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.