When our first grandson was born six months ago, I expected joy, and it was there.
I expected to love him at first sight, and I did.
I expected to cry tears of happiness, and they came.
Every emotion was expected, save one.
I never expected to grieve. Even so, grief found me.
How Could I Have Known?
How could I have known grief would punch me in the gut when our son wheeled the isolette holding his son into the lounge area where four grandparents waited eagerly for their first glimpse of their grandchild? How could I have known this first meeting would unleash a host of powerful emotions buried deep inside my mother’s heart for over 30 years? How could I have known this arrival would rip open wounds created when our newborn was diagnosed with EA/TEF and life-flighted 750 miles away for surgery before he was a day old?
The Grief Was Real
Expected or not, the grief came. And it was real. Very, very real.
Grief for dozens of photos of a healthy, unscarred newborn we never were able to take.
Grief for those first days of quiet nurturing our newborn never knew.
Grief for the pain our baby bore.
Grief for my milk coming in thanks to a pump instead of a baby nuzzling at my breast.
Grief over not getting to take our baby home after a short stay in the hospital.
Grief after grief.
Wave after wave.
Tears upon tears.
That no one, not even my husband, understood.
The Guilt Was Real, Too
Soon guilt came, too.
Guilt because my joy at birth of a healthy grandson wasn’t bigger than my grief.
Guilt because I wasn’t perceptive enough to see the grief coming.
Guilt because I felt like I was outside, looking in.
Guilt because my grief felt a lot like envy.
Guilt because I wasn’t a good enough Christian to overcome the guilt myself.
Grief and Joy Together
But then, a verse from Isaac Watt’s hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, comforted my aching heart.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Reading those words, I knew that God understood my feelings. Because when His Son died on the cross, the Father’s sorrow and love mingled together, like my joy and grief did on the day of our grandson’s birth. I knew God had once stood where I was now standing–at the place where joy and grief meet.
And He met me there.
With grace, not guilt.
With blessing, not blame.
With compassion, not condemnation.
With care, not censor.
The Goodness of Grief
He showed me that both my joy and grief were good. He showed me that though the grandma grief will never go away completely, it can increase my joy for the blessings in our grandson’s life. God gave me permission to
rejoice in this baby’s good health,
marvel at the ease with which he sucks and swallows,
appreciate his days secure in his parents’ loving arms,
delight in cuddling his small body close to mine.
When I hold this grandson as I could never hold my own son, I sense God healing my old wounds with His tears.
In that moment, I embrace my joy, my grief,
and the God who dwells with me in them,
and in every place where sorrow and love flow mingled down,
in every life where joy and grief meet.
How has God met you in the place where joy and grief meet?