Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Book Review - A Gathering of Angels: Seeking Healing after an Infant’s Death
I purchased A Gathering of Angels: Seeking Healing after an Infant’s Death for my wife shortly after we lost our baby via miscarriage. We found out that we lost our child when my wife went in for her 10 week appointment, but our child had died at just 6 weeks. When we got the terrible news, my wife and I were devastated. I openly wept when I called my mom to tell her the terrible news. I knew that many good people shared their sympathy and this meant a lot to us, but I knew that unless they had lost a child they did not really know how we felt. Most people are well intentioned, but it is very difficult to communicate with someone who has just encountered a tragedy. You don’t know the right words to say or if you should say anything at all. I have been on both sides of this predicament. It is a very difficult situation for all those involved, and that is why I think this is such a good and necessary book. I found out about the book after I heard the author on Gus Lloyd’s morning radio show on the Catholic Channel. The author of this book, Victoria Leland, is a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering she must encounter on a daily basis. She is a frequent witness to premature death, and she is also witness to some of the most intense grieving known to man; that of a grieving parent.
After reading this book, I’ve got a better appreciation for those nurses who work in the NICU and also for those parents who have suffered the loss of infant children. The most important thing I learned from this book is that mothers who have lost children will grieve that loss for much longer than they may even show outwardly. The pain of losing a child may diminish over time, but it never completely goes away. Grieving parents and especially grieving mothers are extremely emotional and physically, mentally, and spiritually vulnerable. Grieving mothers are often irrational in their expectations of their family, friends and acquaintances, but their unrealistic expectations are emotionally charged and not intentional. Although friends and family are almost always well intentioned, often words said or unsaid or actions done or undone are perceived by the grieving mother as hurtful and unsympathetic. We may not always be able to shape how others perceive us, but if we are honest and sincere in our sympathy, most likely even the grieving parent who may not be in the best frame of mind will recognize and appreciate our presence and good intentions. The best way to comfort a grieving parent is to let them know that although you may not fully understand the intense pain they must be suffering, you recognize that they are grieving and that you are available to them for anything they need. Love them unconditionally. This can be one of the most difficult things to do, but it is what God calls us to do and it is what grieving parents desire most.
Almighty God, tonight I pray for all grieving parents who have lost a child prematurely and unexpectedly. Few events if any are as devastating and painful as the loss of a child. I pray that these grieving parents find comfort through faith in You, and through the compassion and love of family, friends, and acquaintances. I pray for the repose of the soul of the departed children. May they rejoice with You in heaven and anxiously await reunion with their parents in heaven. And may Almighty God bless all those doctors and nurses who work diligently day in and day out to save the lives of so many seriously ill children and people of all ages. May they have the strength to continue their life saving work with a servant's heart, and be instruments of Your healing power. Amen.