By Maina Mwaura
I can still remember waking up almost 10 years ago to what would be the hardest day of my life. It was a sunny West Virginia day, and I was at a youth camp planning to speak hope.
It was going to be easy for me to speak this hope, because I joyfully anticipated that in four months my wife and I would be welcoming a little baby boy we had already named “Mason.”
But by the end of that day, I will have faced the biggest challenge of my life.
When my wife called me from Baltimore (where we lived at the time) and explained that during a routine check-up, doctors determined that something wasn’t right with our son. I immediately got in my car and made the six-hour drive home—after the youth group at the camp prayed over me.
When I arrived at the Baltimore hospital, the doctor made it clear that we needed to prepare ourselves to give birth to a stillborn child. The days that followed would be incredibly difficult, but there were five things that we learned along the way.
These are lessons seared into my heart as a sufferer and as a church leader who has the occasion to care for those who suffer.
1. Prayer is essential.
During periods of grief, prayer is essential. When the youth group at the camp stopped and prayed over me, it gave me the comfort and peace that I needed to make the long ride home.
Prayer and leaning on God’s word provided the strength and comfort that my wife and I needed in our dark season.
2. Take the time and space to grieve.
Please take time to grieve and feel the pain. If you are ministering to someone who has experienced a painful loss, allow them to grieve and feel the pain that they are experiencing.
Far too often, the grieving person and those around them try to rush through the pain because it’s hard and uncomfortable, but this is a terrible mistake. During our tough season, feeling the pain allowed my wife and me to experience the healing that only Jesus can give.
Trust me—you don’t want to miss that experience.
3. Relationships are more important than ever during a season of grief.
Relationships can guide you through your hardest times. After we lost Mason, our friends were crucial for us through the tough season—friends like Melody and Sean, who sat by my wife’s side as I traveled back from West Virginia to Baltimore.
I am so thankful for all the cards and prayers that guided us during our darkest season. People have a tendency to pull away from friends during tough seasons, but I would ask you to do the opposite and lean into relationships.
4. Don’t make major decisions during a season of grief.
During our dark season, my wife and I were in the middle of a transition and looking for another full time ministry position. I can still remember my supervisor asking me three days after our son’s funeral if my wife and I had found a ministry position yet and that we needed to do so ASAP.
If there was one mistake that I made during our season it was making a quick decision in this area and running to another ministry. During seasons of grief, waiting on God is the best thing to do.
5. Your pain can be used to care for others.
If my wife and I have learned anything, it’s that God has used our pain and loss to minister to other parents who have lost children.
Throughout the last 10 years, we have ministered to and conducted countless funerals for parents who have lost their children. There are two funerals I can recall during which over 50 people came to Christ.
Although we would love having our son with us in this life, God has shown us He leaves no pain or grief unused if you will trust Him through it.
It’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since we said goodbye to our son, but we know without a doubt that we’ll spend eternity with Mason. Mason’s name mean “one who works with stone,” and we’re thankful for the building that God has done in our lives and the solid foundation we can lean on to bring glory to His name.
MAINA MWAURA is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.