There is something special and unique that happens when a mama who is hurting finds another mama who can identify, a mama who understands; a mama who can share the burden of grief simply because she’s already walked the same road. It is comforting to hear her speak of joy and hope. It is comforting to hear her story. It reminds our aching hearts that although it feels like no one can understand, there are women who can.
I am honored to share our first Story of Hope & Healing featuring Sterling Myers.
Sterling, thank you for trusting us with your story. I am grateful for your bravery and your joy. Thank you for sharing June with us. She is a beautiful treasure.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a pastor’s wife and wedding planner from Chesapeake, VA. I’ve lived here my entire life and being near family has always been so important to me, so I doubt we’ll ever move away. I have always been an “overcommitter,” packing as many things into my calendar as humanly possible and doing “all the things.” I thrived in this, until I found out I was pregnant. Everything about me changed. I knew I would HAVE to slow down. My child would need my attention. So, I quickly learned to say no and became extremely selective in the jobs I would take that could keep me from spending precious time with my daughter.
Tell Us Your Story of Loss.
My loss experience began when I was 19 weeks pregnant. Our anatomy ultrasound showed abnormalities and, eventually, would lead to genetic testing, and further screening. At 32 weeks pregnant, a doctor told my husband and I that our daughter would die. He said “Go home, work on your marriage, cry, and hug each other.” His medical advice. By God’s amazing power, our daughter, June, was born and lived. On August 23, 2016, I met the most wonderful tiny person who would change me forever. She had a great number of difficulties and was seen by every specialist in the book, but she was the most beautiful blessing I could have ever imagined. On August 28, 2017, just 5 days after her first birthday, she died in our arms.
Our loss is two-part. With June’s genetic findings, we discovered this could happen to any of our potential children. For that reason, we decided to no longer have children of our own. A double whammy, for sure.
What surprised you most about grief?
Because I didn’t expect June to live a long life, I braced myself for her passing every single day of her life. I tried to prepare myself. I tried to wrap my mind around it. In the end, I had NO IDEA what I would feel and experience after her death. The main thing that surprised me was how much it would affect me physically. Moments when I could not find my breath would come out of nowhere. I was so exhausted in my body, yet it was the kind of exhaustion that keeps one from sleeping. It was probably emotional and mental trauma manifesting itself through my physical self, and I definitely did not see that coming.
What was the most meaningful thing done for you during your grieving?
One week after June died, my husband and I left town. We went out west, to California and Arizona. We saw beautiful creation that reminded us of June. We prayed, read the Bible, walked, hiked, and had conversations about how our life would look now that she was gone. It was cleansing and allowed us to be alone in our thoughts and feelings. There were several amazing family and friends who made that trip possible. It would be my #1 recommendation to any couple experiencing loss of a child. Get away, let yourselves feel, spend time together.
Love came to us in so many forms. From people attending her funeral to the couple who donated their burial plots to us, so the 3 of us could be laid together one day. We were given monetary gifts, gifts of labor, and paid time off from our jobs. I can’t pick out one gesture of love as “best” because each one was so necessary in the moments which we received them.
What’s the one thing you wish people would ask you?
What advice would you give to someone who has a friend who is grieving the loss of a baby?
What resources have been the most encouraging or helpful to you in your grief?
Sometime in the week of June’s passing, my husband and I read the beatitudes. For some reason, The Message translation was the one we grabbed and I asked him to read the Sermon on the Mount. The first few verses grabbed me in the gut. From Matthew 5:3-4:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
God’s Word has been the most help to me. It’s been there all along, but my grief has propelled me to crave God and know more about Him. I am thankful He truly understands what it’s like to lose a child. I know it’s not the same as Jesus, Savior of the world, but He has felt and that comforts me.
What verses have you found to be the biggest source of encouragement and/or comfort?
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Losing a child feels like you have no control. Things are not supposed to be this way. I’m learning to trust that God’s plan is GOOD, even when it’s hard to understand.
What encouragement would you give to another mom who is grieving?
What is one family tradition that you have established to remember / celebrate your baby?