One year ago today, I had a D&C to remove our deceased daughter from my womb. What followed was a grief deeper than I had ever experienced before. I never knew a darkness that profound before. I never knew a depression that tempting. I never knew a sadness that compelling. I remember asking God, “How will I ever get better? How will I ever be joyful again? How will I ever laugh again?”

Here I am a year later and in a remarkably different place. I have joy. I am at peace. I laugh a lot. I remember my pregnancy fondly. I am hopeful for the eternity I get to spend with our daughter.

One year ago, I never would have believed that I would be in such an emotionally healthy place today. I am amazed that my sadness is outweighed by joy, that my despair has been replaced with hope. My mourning has been turned into dancing, and that’s nothing short of a miracle.

I’m still sad. I often have phantom memories of her. I think i “hear” a baby crying upstairs or “see” a baby crawling out of the corner of my eye only to realize that it’s not real, but that’s what it would have been like if she had survived. And the other day at work, I “saw” her dancing carefree in the courtyard. And I cried.

But what astounds me is that my sadness is not pervasive. It is overcome by hope in the future and joy of the Lord. I have learned there is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a surface level feeling; joy is an overall mindset that persists regardless of life circumstances-a mindset that knows God is good and He is on the throne, in charge.

Looking back over the past year, I can identify several things that helped get me to this place:
-I acted on (took thoughts captive and submitted them to) the truth of God. Basic truths like God is good, God does good, God is faithful, God cares, God is trustworthy, and God is in control.
-I asked God hard questions and I waited for answers. These answers were words from the Lord that anchored me through the storm.
-I made space and time to grieve. I gave myself permission to feel and express my emotions (and still do!). I acknowledged that I couldn’t compartmentalize my emotions and I didn’t try to. I made room for them.
-I figured out how I best grieve, step by step. I relied on people for support. I worked through stuff on my own. I cried. I scrapbooked. I prayed. I took a week off and got away with my Bible and a journal. I anticipated hard days–like my due date–and planned in advance how to hand them.
-We named our daughter, dedicated her to the Lord, and talked through the loss with our kids.
-I saw a Christian counselor a couple times. Main take away: this is a significant loss. It is okay to feel. It is healthy to grieve. But don’t jump on a runaway train of emotion dark places that are neither true nor healthy.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace, comfort, and healing. And thank you for Shiloh!