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Holding On To Love

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2022 1:00 am

Holding On To Love

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 14, 2022 1:00 am

Losing a child is among the most tragic experiences any parent can face. The crushing grief affects the marriage and family like nothing else. On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Candy McVicar talks about her own journey through loss and how the principles in The Five Love Languages helped her and her family. If someone you know is grieving, don’t miss today's Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Holding On To Love

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I felt like a beauty came forth through this whole process. My faith went deeper and stronger. Nothing was going to separate me from the love of God.

He has me, and He has a plan, and no matter what, it is a good plan, and I can still trust Him. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, Candi McPheker helps grieving parents walk through the most devastating valley of losing a baby. Holding on to love after you've lost a baby is our featured resource. And that book was co-written by our guest and the host of this program, Dr. Gary Chapman.

Gary, why do you believe this is an important topic that we need to deal with? I think, Chris, because so many moms and dads have experienced the death of a baby or a young child, and often they process things in very different ways, you know, their grief and that sort of thing. And I just wanted to team up with Candi on writing this book because she's walked that journey and has helped many, many other people walk the journey. So I think this book is going to help a lot of folks, and if our listeners know of anyone who has lost a baby, I would encourage them to call them and let them to plug into us today. You can listen at the website, FiveLoveLanguages.com. You can send them to the podcast or the stream right there, FiveLoveLanguages.com. Our guest is Candi McVicar, founder and executive director of Missing Grace Foundation, whose mission is to provide support, resources, and education for families and professional care providers when there's a loss of a baby, infertility, or adoption challenges.

It runs the gamut. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and their two daughters. And if you go to MoodyBooks.org, you can see our featured resource, Holding on to Love After You've Lost a Baby, "The 5 Love Languages" for Grieving Parents.

Again, go to MoodyBooks.org. Well, Candi, welcome back to Building Relationships. Oh, thank you so much, Dr. Chapman.

It's great to be here with you today. Let's go back to the beginning when you met your husband and fell in love and what your hopes and dreams were for a family. Just go back in your own life and share what it was like in those early days.

Oh, it was good. We were just so in love and he's my best friend. We were friends for five years before we got married and, you know, really just had a lot of great plans, as we all do. We're going to have a big family and we're going to do all this wonderful thing for the Lord and ministry. And we started our family right away.

We wanted to have at least four children and we were hopeful to also incorporate adoption into our family building. And so anyway, we were elated that we were able to get pregnant and things were great and then they weren't. We started to have a lot of complications and that was primarily with hyperemesis and I was very sick. And so I just kept praying though and trusting the Lord that this would be okay, things would work out. And we were in the last two weeks of the pregnancy going in regularly because I said, I don't feel the baby.

There's very little movement. I just wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew something wasn't right. And, you know, we had just an – there's a lot of moms that would say, I knew something wasn't right, but I didn't know what to do about it. And so in the seventh visit, that's when we were finally given the ultrasound appointment and we found out there was no more heartbeat.

Yeah, yeah. Now when you first became pregnant with Grace, were there any indications early on that this would be anything except a normal pregnancy? No, I was a young healthy mom and that's why also the doctor said, look, you're good, you're healthy, you're young, you don't have anything that we're concerned about.

And so it didn't seem like there should be a problem. However, at that 20-week ultrasound that all of us moms have, there was a diagnosis of a filamentous cord and they chose to know about it and close that file and never talked to me about it. And that was really problematic because those situations require early delivery and intervention.

And the baby themselves, they're healthy, but their connection to life or the umbilical cord connection is going to be compromised over time. So walk us through the loss of your daughter. Well, with Grace, you know, we were really in foreign territory. We had never had a friend go through this. We didn't know about it.

It wasn't on our radar. We skipped those things in the pregnancy preparation books. Those chapters weren't very appealing. You know, you just were hopeful everything works out. And I really had no idea what we were walking into. And it was scary.

It was hard. And I had a lot of regrets because when we met her, we were exhausted and we were scared and we didn't hold her near long enough. We did not take hardly any pictures. We only have a disposable camera roll of pictures that we received from a nurse. We didn't have video.

We didn't have any family come in to meet her. There was just a lot of things we didn't know what we could do, what was allowed, what my wife might have found more helpful. Nobody was guiding us through that process and helping us understand. And so then in the aftermath, you know, we were really just wondering, what do we do with this? It felt very raw, very broken, very hard because we had so many regrets and so much hurt and pain. And we did a funeral and that was really beautiful. And we looked for support afterwards, trying to see who could maybe journey with us through this.

And I was very surprised to find that in reaching out to multiple organizations, nobody responded to my emails or my calls. And it became apparent there's just not enough support that's actively involved and really there and helping people presently. And so we felt the Lord was guiding us to start something, not only to honor her, but to help people so they didn't go through this alone and that they felt supported and loved in the journey. You know, handling the grief and sorrow that must have been there for you, how did you handle that? Well, I would love to say I handled it really well, but I don't know if I did. You know, initially we just emote and we cry, we grieve, you know, women, we talk a lot and I just had to keep playing through the story and honestly trying to figure my way out of it, almost like trying to work my way out of a nightmare.

Like, how did this happen to us? I just couldn't believe it had happened. And then I kept replaying what I could have done different and how I could have saved her. But of course, all that was futile because I couldn't bring her back. And, you know, we just didn't have anyone saying, you know, this is normal, this is how you do this. I just ended up going into a really dark place.

And, you know, this isn't uncommon. I had insomnia and I was really struggling to just feel like I wanted to be part of this place. I wanted to go home and be with the Lord. And my husband was really grieved because he saw me just kind of wasting away and he was wondering what has happened to my wife. And so we got help from going to a support group we found. We found online support. We went to counseling. We talked with our pastors. We began to really reach out and seek out help so we could do it well. But what was really instrumental as I reached out on my online support group and I said, you know, our marriage, which is normally so vibrant and strong and we have a wonderful marriage, we're really rubbing each other raw and we're struggling right now. And that's when they said, you know, you should really check into "The 5 Love Languages" . It's a great tool for your marriage. And that began a whole new journey for us once we read the book and we put that into practice in our marriage. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find more simple ways to strengthen relationships at FiveLoveLanguages.com. You can take an easy assessment of your love language right there.

It's absolutely free. Just go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. Candy McVicker has written, along with Dr. Chapman, the book we're featuring today, Holding on to Love After You've Lost a Baby, "The 5 Love Languages" for Grieving Parents.

You can find out more at Candy's website, CandyMcVicker.com, just like it sounds M-C-V-I-C-A-R, CandyMcVicker.com or go to moodybooks.org, moodybooks.org. Candy, before the break, you mentioned your husband and that you all went to support groups and ultimately counseling as well. Did he tend to handle the grief and pain differently from the way you handled it?

Yes, he did. He had this ability to just turn off the grief for a period of time and I couldn't. My mind perseverated on all these things and he had to go to work and be a provider.

Then when he slept, he slept deeply and I was awake. He wanted to try to be a good provider and to do things for me that would make me feel safe because he couldn't keep me safe from the loss. So he was almost like over trying to just, I'm going to provide a good home and be a good provider. I just really wanted his time and I wanted him to serve in our ministry with us and I wanted to be able to hear his heart more for his daughter. He didn't realize that that would be helpful to me. He thought bringing her up and saying her name would bring me down and it was the opposite.

Once he realized, no, that actually connects us more and I feel safer with you knowing you're being really kind to talk about your daughter and opening your heart to me about her and what you're feeling, that was very freeing for him and it really bonded us together. Yeah. Candi, have you discovered since then in working with other couples that it's often the husband process his grief different from the wife?

Yeah. Men do handle it differently. I find that they are much more quiet about their grief and more compartmentalized about their grief and so they tend to put that more on the shelf and women, it's very much in the forefront and they're thinking about it all the time. Men need to be invited into a timeframe to talk about it. I feel like they feel if they began to talk with their spouse about it, this is going nowhere.

They're trying to solve or fix an issue that can't be solved or fixed and there's a pressure putting on them when the wife is talking about all her feelings and her emotions, he's sitting there panicked thinking, I don't know what to do about this. I feel helpless and she doesn't need him to fix it or make it all better. She knows he can't but she just wants his presence and his listening ear and his love and his affection and so as husbands understand that, that gives them freedom to say, okay, I can listen and not feel like I'm being a bad person to not make it better. She also needs to then realize that he can't be her only outlet. It's very important because there's no way he can handle all the words and all the emotion that she's going to offer to him. That's why I suggest for women, go to the support group, go to talk to your friends online, go meet with the other ladies, talk with your counselor, talk with your pastoral support. So that's important. Women need to have additional support, I think, than even the men do. Yeah. I think that's one of the values of this book is it's helping couples understand that those differences in terms of how we process grief is pretty normal. If we understand it, then we're able to cope with that better.

Let me ask you another question, Candy. After you lost baby Grace, were you afraid even to think about getting pregnant again? Yeah, I was terrified.

You know, it's very common. You just, you really think, could I ever go through that again? And what if it just happens again? And you feel very vulnerable, very scared, even though the desire is so strong to continue to build a family. And so even when we became pregnant, I remember getting down on my knees just sobbing in the bathroom one day because I said, Lord, the fear is so tremendous.

It feels like an elephant on my chest. I am so afraid to go through that again. And I need to release this all to you. I can't control anything about this. What happens will happen. I'll be the best mom I can. I'll advocate the best I can, but ultimately I can't control the outcome.

So I'm just going to trust you. And I'm going to choose to love this baby for every day I get to have it. And I'm going to choose to tell this baby how much I want it and how much I long for it to be here and bless this child.

And so I took a whole different outlook on the pregnancy and it released a lot from my heart and I went through it much better once I just released it all to the Lord. But I have many moms call me and they're just, they're so stuck in the fear and in the pain. Some won't ever try again. And some who are trying again, they, they don't realize even that fear goes to the baby. Like you, you're, you're interconnected and you know, they feel your emotions. And so to try to be free from fear, you know, his perfect love casts all fear. And so I think it's really imperative that you get the support for the fear and anxiety.

Yeah, yeah. And realizing that God is with you as you walk through that, I think the whole spiritual area, so, so important. How did you handle the additional pregnancies that came after the loss of grace? Well, you know, I had two living children after grace.

And so we have a 17, almost 17 year old and a 13 year old. And the, the pregnancy that followed was over three and a half years after grace. We'd had adoptions that fell through. We had infertility. There was a lot leading up to that. And so then when I got pregnant and we started to have complications, I was like, Oh my goodness, not again.

And yet I had much better knowledge at that point. And I feel like grace, that's one of her gifts to me is I knew better how to navigate this in the medical system and how to advocate for my baby and my, to have the support needed for a high risk pregnancy. So I was on bed rest for six months and she came early. She was a month early. She was in the NICU for, you know, over a week. And so that was, you know, the challenges we had to face, but she's a healthy child and we're so grateful she's here and she's amazing. And and then another three years later, we had our next child and that pregnancy had a lot less complications, but each time I had to advocate and I had to, you know, work hard to make sure I had the right doctors and the right team and, and to help make sure I had people who were on my side to help me get this baby here safely. And they, they didn't take it trivially.

They, they weren't, you know, minimizing the risk or not addressing the issues at hand. And so there's sort of a mama bear thing that kicks in and you're like, I'm going to advocate. I'm going to get my baby here safe. And now with our fourth pregnancy promise, we didn't know we were pregnant. And all of a sudden we realized it was a miracle that we would get pregnant because we weren't supposed to anymore. And, and so we were very shocked to, once we realized we were pregnant and started to get excited, then it was over so quickly because we lost that baby at 15 weeks. And that was sort of like a, you know, wow, what just happened? We named the baby promise because you know, we didn't know the gender, but I know we have two deposits in heaven and I'm very grateful for knowing that we will see them again.

Yeah. How was your faith impacted by what you've been through? Oh, you know, it takes a beating. I'll just say, you know, it's very hard to go through this because you're, you're, even though I trust the Lord so much and I had such strong faith and I still do, my faith was really rattled because I felt like this sense of security that God would always protect me and that I would not have to go through the hard things, which isn't biblical. Like I realized, you know, we will have trials and tribulations in this world. There are difficult challenges for us and, but we have a faithful one through the Holy Spirit, comforting us and guiding us.

And I know Jesus is our advocate. And so I had to go through to a dark place and get to the end of myself and just really pour out my heart and, and realize he's still God, you know, no matter what, he still sits on the throne. He's still our savior.

He still is there for us with open arms. And, and I knew there's an adversary too, who's out to kill, steal and destroy. And so I, I guess I had this faith crisis moment, but it was imperative to grow my faith.

Like I, my husband, I talk a lot about when you're squeezed, what comes out. And, you know, I felt like there was a new oil, a new wine, like a beauty that came forth through this whole process that I, my faith went deeper and stronger and like nothing could take away my faith. Nothing was going to separate me from the love of God.

And I felt like he has me and he has a plan and no matter what, it is a good plan and I can still trust him. Yeah. I think it's sad that sometimes when couples go through this sort of loss, they kind of turn away from God, you know, feeling like God didn't treat me fairly and that sort of thing. Whereas our deep need is to run to God, right?

Yeah. It's very common, you know, for us to hear couples say, I don't think I could ever go to church again. I'm, you know, I'm still angry with God and, you know, I understand that God can handle our pain. He can handle our anger. You know, I tell him, tell him all about it.

Just share your pain with him, but he'll still be waiting with patients for you. You know, he is a gentleman. He stands at the door and knocks. He doesn't barge in. And so he's going to wait for you to say, I surrender. You know, I also pose the challenge to people to say, well, what do you think happens after this life? Like if you love your child so much and want to be with him again, do you really think anger with God gets you there and, you know, pushing him away?

You need to invite him back in. And so, we all have to go through it. And no matter how strong your faith is, I can guarantee it'll be affected in some way if you've gone through trauma. It just does. And that's a moment of growth though, right?

We all need to grow. Yeah, absolutely. People sometimes talk about getting over a loss like this. What do you think about that idea of getting over it?

Hmm. Well, I actually got a letter from a relative telling us early on, get over it. And that didn't sit too well with us.

In fact, my husband wrote a very strong letter back to the person regarding that because he said, look, we're not, it's not like an old pair of shoes we want to leave behind that didn't fit right and we'll just get a new pair of shoes. You know, this is a life. And we weren't created to just be so callous. I think that's what the world would like us to do about life.

You know, it's just easily disregarded and it's not important. And, you know, but the Lord created us to love our babies and to cherish them. And they're, you know, a heritage and we should have a quiver full and they're a blessing. And so to have them no longer with us is devastating and it's not a bad thing to miss them and love them and honor them. I don't think we ever quote unquote get over it, but we do take strides to move forward and we can get stronger and less troubled where we're not able to function or we just aren't really having joy. Like we do move into a place of joy again. There is the ability to laugh again and to enjoy life again.

But it takes time. It takes time to go through all the emotions and all the layers and to process and you still will have bad days. I am not in a bad place like I was in the first few years after losing Grace.

I have so much fullness in my life and so much laughter and joy and I have a wonderful life. But when it comes to her birthday or when I meet somebody and their child's name is Grace or they have the same birthday as my daughter, something will just trigger in me and I'll just be sad for a moment. Like, oh, I wish our story had been written differently. But you know, I don't stay there very long. I'm not in the depths of sorrow. I just have a moment and I'm kind of, you know, I might cry a tear. I might just go take some time to pray.

But you do go on and you have the ability to have a thriving, beautiful life. Yeah. Candi, do you remember the first time you were able to laugh, you know, as a family or with your husband? Was there is there something you remember you recall that that was funny and you gave yourself the permission to just laugh out loud? You know, my husband's a jokester. That's one of his ways.

He likes to lighten the room a bit. And so he says, did I lose my funny or something? You used to laugh all the time at my jokes.

And I just looked at him one day. I'm like, you're not funny anymore. And he goes, oh, really? You know, it was just this funny moment. And then we just started laughing hilariously because it was like, well, he is funny, but I wasn't finding it too funny. And so, you know, he he is always trying to just joke and prod me a bit that way and lighten it.

I'm the more serious one. And so I need him around. He makes me laugh.

Yeah. But but there is a sense to that when he started to share with you what was going on in him, you know, he handled it differently that or did you feel this that I'm I'm bearing the weight of all the emotional load here and I don't see him carrying it. And did you realize that he just kind of carried it differently than you did? Yeah, I mean, I definitely have a respect for him.

That was a new kind of respect. Like I I realized different things about his character and his personality that came through all of the pain that made me feel even closer to him. You know, he really is a good father and he he was really hit hard and not being able to parent this daughter just as much as me. And he's I see him with his children and he would do anything for them. And he's so good to them and to us as a family. And so yes, I saw that his way of doing it differently wasn't bad. It wasn't wrong.

It's just different than how I do it. And so, you know, we need to give our husband some grace and and realize that they need to be built up and honored to and respected and appreciated and and he when he had that from me, it's like it goes back and forth. We'll do anything for each other, you know, when we feel that.

And so I'm very grateful that I had that realization because I have met many women. They just they sour against their husbands. They they just, you know, they become so critical at how they're processing this and it starts to really, you know, break down the marriage. If there's a wife listening right now who's felt that, what would you say to her? Just what is the father's heart for your husband? What's his heart for him? You know, he created him. He loves him. He died for him. And, you know, if you could just look at him anew with the father's eyes, I think that will change things and to pray for him and to bless him.

You know, he's not the enemy. He's your your beloved. And so do what you can to invest in the marriage to restore that sweetness. You know, we we go to marriage conferences and we we make sure we take time where we have a weekend away together and we, you know, we go on walks and we read the word together and we pray together. And it's it's a constant deposit. We're constantly investing because otherwise life just begins to deplete that account and you realize you don't have much left there.

So you need to invest in him and in your marriage. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . We're talking with Candy McVicar today. She's the founder and executive director of Missing Grace Foundation and co-author of Holding on to Love After You've Lost a Baby "The 5 Love Languages" for Grieving Parents. Find out more at moodybooks.org.

That's moodybooks.org. Candy, after a pregnancy loss or the loss of a child, how do you think couples can love their mate? You were talking about this a little bit before we took the break. How can they love their mate through the process of grief? Well, I think that implementing "The 5 Love Languages" is is really critical.

Like it is a game changer. And so if if you can read the book, read "The 5 Love Languages" chapter and understand how to implement that, that will really help. We tend to love people the way we want to be loved. And it's often not received the way we intended it to be received. And so the person is not hearing your love. They're not understanding your love. They're they're not seeing that.

And they're they're wanting something different. So figure out how to love them the way they need to be loved. And then when we relate that to our grief, for example, with my husband, I wanted him to just be with me and to serve in our ministry with me and to honor her together. And so as he began to serve side by side with me at our events and working at the office and helping me with projects, I just felt such tremendous love. And I was so thankful that he was doing it in honor of our daughter.

And then for for me, I you know, I think he's a great person. And I have these thoughts in my head about how much I appreciate him. But I realized I wasn't vocalizing them. And so he was he was, you know, starved in the area of affirmation verbally. And so I had to learn I have to express these things.

I need to text it, I need to say it, I need to write it. And I, you know, I often spoke about what I was recognizing in his fatherly love and what a good provider and husband and friend he is and how many ways he honors his daughters in heaven. And that just fills his love tank, you know, and there's there's just a lot there. So as couples, when we ask them to implement this, and then we talk about it in our support groups, it is actually really fun to see all the changes that begin to happen. They come in and they start to say, you know, wow, this is really oiling the gears of our marriage and we're beginning to get along better again. And we're beginning to appreciate each other more and we're doing much better. And so I know that it can make a big difference for couples to implement this.

Yeah. Well, you know, you're discovering "The 5 Love Languages" and applying it in the midst of the grief process is what drew me to want to join you in writing this book. Because I do believe that our deepest emotional need as humans is the deep need to feel loved by the significant people in our lives. And sometimes when you're going through grief, the emphasis is so much on the grief, as we've talked about earlier, that you're not really thinking about the love relationship between the husband and the wife. But when we do, and as you indicated, when we start speaking their primary love language on a regular basis, we're meeting that deep need and it's drawing us closer together. And we both feel loved and we can process everything better, you know, if we genuinely feel loved by our spouse. Absolutely.

That's exactly right. Let me ask you another question. Is it possible to take a break from grieving? I do think it's possible.

Yeah. And I think it's important to do it. We do need a mental break because it's very exhausting. I'll just say grief is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy and you feel wiped out.

You literally feel just tired all the time. And, you know, when you can just give yourself permission to take a little bit of a break, it does a lot of good. So for example, you're going to go watch a lighthearted movie or just go out with a friend for lunch and take a break or go to the spa and get a massage or pedicure, whatever that would be.

Or maybe you go on a little vacation and you go to a place that's pleasing to your senses and it just feels good to get some warm sun and the sand on your feet and all of that is nice to do. But what I realize happens is many people feel that it's also like they're dishonoring the child or they're not being a loving parent or that that's somehow saying that they're ignoring them in some way. And so what happens is parents have a guilt complex because if you have, for example, the baby there with you, you would not just leave it alone in the car seat or in the crib and just forget about it for hours on end. You're nursing, you're changing diapers, you're checking on them all the time.

So we're wired to want to be thinking about them and to be aware of them. And so it's really hard for moms. They'll say, I just don't know how to turn off my head and how to just walk away for a little bit. That almost feels like I'm being a bad mom. And it's like, well, if you had your child here, even then you would need a babysitter once in a while or your mom and dad to come over for a few hours and give you a break to go on a date with your husband or to just go get some errands done and just have a break.

You would do that even if they were alive. And so how much more when you're going through something weighty and heavy, do you need a break? And so definitely take time and carve out time in your personally and as a couple to take some breaks.

Yeah. I hope the mom or dad who's listening and who has lost a baby really hears what you're saying because it's for your good and really for the good of God's kingdom for you to take those breaks so that you can continue then to come back and process life. So that's a good word, Candy. Thank you. What would you suggest to someone who's listening who hasn't lost a child, but they know someone who is grieving their infant or a child? How can we be a good friend to that person who has experienced that? Well, I think a lot of people when they learn of somebody who's lost a baby, they don't know what to say.

It's very uncomfortable and they feel nervous about how to handle that situation. And often what comes to mind are the remarks, the platitudes that they've heard other people regurgitate in other conversations around trauma. And so without really thinking through what they're about to say, people often just tout these platitudes and say things that are going to end up having lifelong effects because our words have power and many people will say, I'll never forget the moment so and so said this years ago, it really hurt me or it really helped me. And so it's very important to pause before you say something. And I believe prayer is very powerful in that moment that you just ask the Lord, would you guide me with my words?

May they be filled with love and life and may they bring comfort. And just pause and ponder for a second before you say something, would I find those words helpful if I just lost a loved one? Would I think that that would help me get through the day better? Would I feel supported and loved?

If you would say no to that, then don't say that. And the other thing is people who lose a baby often want to share their story. And so ask more questions and learn more about their situation and let them share and do less talking. I also spend a lot of time just holding someone's hand or weeping with them. I don't try to force the tears, but I just have a tender heart.

And if it comes naturally, don't be embarrassed or try to stop that. They'll appreciate your care enough to cry with them. And just acknowledgement is critical and validation. Don't minimize their loss and don't try to take their grief away from them. Let them have their right to grieve and allow them a chance to process with you if they invite you into that. Depending on the depth of your relationship with them will also determine whether they invite you into the deep place of their grief.

They may keep you at arm's length because you don't have that kind of intimate relationship with them. And accept that boundary. You know, honor their boundaries that they set if they're not comfortable to share with you some of the more deep places in their life and in their grief. But just love them through it. Continually extend grace and continually acknowledge and just be a loving friend like you would to somebody else. But maybe throw in a little added extra love.

A little more support, right? What are some of the things that people sometimes say that really are not helpful, actually sometimes very hurtful, to grieving parents? Well, you know, when we say it's all for the best, well, that's not going to help because we don't feel it's all for the best. When we say, well, at least it wasn't a real baby when we're referencing, you know, if somebody's referencing an ectopic or a miscarriage, well, yes, it was a real baby.

It just hadn't developed fully yet. You know, when they say things like, well, you'll have another. Maybe not.

That person may not be able to have another child. You don't know that. Well, you're young. You'll have more. Well, you know, that doesn't help either.

So there's a lot of things that people say. Even if you say, well, it's God's perfect plan, that doesn't feel very helpful if we repeated that to you in the midst of a trauma. You know, you just got your leg amputated. And we say, well, wow, that's great.

You got your leg amputated. What a great plan God had for that. You know, that wouldn't feel comforting to you. So always think about how does it feel to say these words back to myself in a bad situation. And so we want to be very thoughtful about, you know, choosing those words very carefully.

Yeah. Well, what are some of the helpful things that we might say to someone who's lost a baby? Well, there's many good things we can say. You know, I miss them so much. This isn't taken lightly. It truly affects all of us. Please know we're deeply saddened by your incredible loss. The world's not going to be the same without them here.

We all missed out. It's not okay. We're not okay with it. To say, you know, I can't fathom how badly you're hurting, but I want to love you through it well. Can I hug you? Can I hold your hand?

Would it be okay if I visited the grave site with you? You know, what ways would you like us to support you? You know, to do things like give them a gift card to go out to eat or to get a massage or, you know, to do something special or meaningful or to pay for a cleaning service to come clean their house if they're just, you know, needing a break.

There's so many beautiful things you can do. Go over and mow the lawn and just take care of it for them. You know, anything you can do that says I'm here, I realize you're still going through this. We still love you.

Sending them a card on the birthday is really impactful. Hey, we're thinking of you. We know it's their birthday and we miss them. We love you guys.

We're praying for you. You know, that offer to go to the graveside with them, I'm guessing if we did that with a friend, they would never, ever forget standing there at that graveside talking with us. You know, you're right.

I think that would be very impactful. I don't think very many people do that. Again, a lot of people are very uncomfortable around this, but I have a friend who she knows I can't visit Grace's grave. It's in Minnesota and we're in South Carolina and she goes and puts flowers there and takes a picture and sends it to me and it just makes me smile. Even though I know she's not physically, you know, her body is still laid there. Her spirit's in heaven, but her body, that's still the body I gave birth to.

It's a place of honoring and so it means a lot to me. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman and thanks for telling others about this conversation. Maybe you know a couple going through a loss of a baby. Send them to FiveLoveLanguages.com. They can hear the podcast right there.

Go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. Well, Candy McVicker is our guest and our featured resource today is the book Holding On to Love After You've Lost a Baby, "The 5 Love Languages" for Grieving Parents. Candy, as we come to our last session, let's talk about the couple who has children, living children, and then they lose a baby. How do they process that with those children? Well, we need to understand how hard it is for these children who lose a sibling. They're grieving too and they often get overlooked and forgotten about because the parents are just so burdened with what they're going through with the loss. And so we need to have the whole family unit step in to just love on these other children. And as parents, they need to realize this is going to affect all aspects of their life, just like it affects the parents' life. So they're going to address fear, anxiety. They're going to feel concerned that, well, if my baby brother or sister died, what if I die?

What if my parents die? They're going to feel the vulnerability of what comes with death. They're going to have a lot of questions and things that they don't understand. And depending on their age, you'll have to give age-appropriate support and love to them through it. I often suggest drawing and writing is a really great way to process where we draw and write things out or going to a San Tre therapist who can help the kids process.

It's a great form of therapy for children. But just being patient with them. You might have to shift how you do things with the kids with your typical discipline and structure because they need a little bit more wiggle room and some grace. You know, they might have behaviors. They might act out. They might feel real angry.

They might have troubles at school. And so all of that is an opportunity to talk about the feelings. What are you feeling and how can, you know, and walking through that with them and how can we help them? And, you know, acknowledging to those around them to let them know they've lost, even if, you know, you've had an early miscarriage, but the baby knew, the child knew that you were having a baby.

You're going to need to let people around you know so that they realize, well, my child's struggling because they lost a sibling even though it was early on. So we can help these kids really well. We can actually help them come through this strong. We can give them tools and resources, give them things that are meaningful. Like we give them a bear and we say, this is your brother's bear or your sister's bear that we would have given him, but we're going to give it to you and you get to hold and care for it now. So there's ways we can do these things in an honoring way and help them.

But do it as a family. You know, families who grieve together will stick together long haul and go through this well. The kids will actually end up being very empathetic caregivers. It's amazing how many people I meet who share my baby brother or sister died and that's why I'm a doctor today or that's why I'm a pastor today and that's why I'm doing the field I'm in because that affected my life. Yeah, yeah. So grandparents and extended family can be a real part of this as well, right?

Absolutely. And definitely grandparents, you know, they're doubly grieved. They're watching their child go through the pain of loss and they've lost a grandchild. And often they feel sort of on the back burner and everything that they're not seen or noticed for how badly they're hurting.

And so they need to get support and help too. And, you know, I love it when families get together and they do things that are very meaningful. One thing is, you know, to just like have like a bonfire and everyone sits around and talks and is able to share or there's a family journal on the, you know, the table in front of the couch and it's a journal that everyone can write in or put notes in or pictures in when they think about their grief. And you can look through and see who's put things in that journal lately.

And, you know, there's ways to incorporate. Even, you know, special occasions when you have a wedding or, you know, a holiday, you have a candle lit that's a memory of the baby that honors and acknowledges them. And everybody gets to be able to feel like, oh, that's the candle. That's for our loved one collectively, the one that we're all missing. Yeah. Now you say in the book, it's not a good idea to rate the grief of others. Tell me what you mean by that. Well, we call it the grief-o-meter, meaning we all feel this or we do this to others.

And we want to try to caution people through what we share in the book about not doing this. And that is that we say your grief has a certain place in my mind of acceptance and an allotment of time of what you're allowed to grieve. So for example, you had an early miscarriage. Okay, I give you a few weeks or a few months, but you need to move on and get past it. Or you lost a, you know, two-year-old and that child, it was a really bad, scary, awful death.

And so I give you a year or two years to really grieve that. And you start to put this weight on the person and they feel that, that you are thinking they should be done now. And also just an importance level. So for example, in my support groups, I'll say everyone gets validated here. Everyone's baby matters here. And we're going to uplift and honor everyone's story. And if somebody's sitting in the group says, well, I only had a miscarriage. I mean, yes, I miscarried them at 18 weeks, but you know, I can't imagine what you went through with your stillbirth. And immediately they've negated their own story and this other person feels like they don't know how to support them because they're already putting down their own story, but they, you know, their story is equally important.

And so we can do it to our own selves. And so let's just say all life matters and that every baby's story is important and precious. And let's be honoring of each other and each other's own journeys and not rate what we think is a level of, you know, attention and time that's allowed to be given to the grief. Candy, I know that after you went through this, you did establish a nonprofit organization Missing Grace Foundation. Tell us about that and what you've been doing through that.

Well, we started it shortly after Losing Grace and we had no idea when we started it what it would grow to become. And so we have support groups, we have mailed resources, we ship out care baskets and care totes to hospitals and clinics. And these have all the items needed that a parent would want to use while they're with their baby or shortly after losing their baby or child.

These are things that will bring comfort, everything from a hand and foot molding kit to footprints to a memorial bracelet and candle and a bear and blankets and outfits and literature. We have online support, phone support, support group meetings that are in person or online. It's grown where we help thousands of people throughout the nation and the world. And so, you know, we're the little engine that could. I guess we, you know, we're a small organization with my husband and I and a handful of wonderful volunteers but we do a lot of work and are able to help reach a lot of people. And Missing Grace can be reached at missinggrace.org. And GRACE is an acronym. It stands for Grieve, Restore, Arise, Commemorate and Educate. And that's the goal and mission through our programs.

Yeah. Well, it's been great to have you on with us today. And I'm so excited about what has happened through this ministry. And I would encourage our listeners who know people or who may be going through this themselves to go to your website. And I think our listeners will also find this book to be extremely helpful. And if you know someone who is going through the loss of a baby or a child, I hope you'll get a copy and give it to them as a gift because I think as they work through the book, they're going to find real help. So thanks for being with us today. Oh, thank you so much. It's a pleasure. And our hope today is that this conversation has encouraged you through a loss of your own or maybe given you the ability to reach out and enter into the loss of someone else. Featured resource by Dr. Gary Chapman and Candy McVicar is Holding on to Love After You've Lost a Baby, "The 5 Love Languages" for Grieving Parents. You can find out more at moodybooks.org.

That's moodybooks.org. And next week, a woman who awoke from a coma to a life she could not remember. Hear Marcie Gregg's riveting story in one week. A big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
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