My story of infant loss and finding joy in the mourning. | The Joyful Mourning Podcast: Episode 001 | A podcast for women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

In case we haven’t met, hi friend, my name is Ashlee Proffitt. I’m a wife and a mama. I have 4 children. 3 here on earth and 1 in heaven. A few years ago I founded The Morning – a community of hope for women who have experienced the loss of a baby. For nearly ten years I have had the honor of walking alongside many women who are grieving the loss of a baby — reminding hurting women of hope and that they are loved and that they aren’t alone. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to now bring those honest conversations to you and I am hopeful that amidst your own aching that these conversations would remind you that you are not alone in this journey. And for those of you who are here because you have a friend or family member who is grieving, thank you for being here — for learning about grief and how to better care for the one who is grieving.

Since this is Episode #001 I thought it best to start at the beginning. So while this podcast is not about me or even about my son, his story is why I am here, why I founded The Morning, why I have such compassion and empathy for grieving, broken mothers and why I have started this podcast. So I started with him. 

Since my very first blog post I have found freedom in sharing my son’s story. His life and his death and all the ways God used him to forever change me are a joy to communicate (albeit very difficult at times) but more than another outlet for sharing our story, my hope is that through this podcast hurting women would find joy and comfort. That women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss would be reminded that they are not alone in their grief and that they are deeply loved.

So What Is a Joyful Mourning?

Finding joy amidst mourning isn’t about a fickle sort of happiness that is fleeting – rather, a joyful mourning comes from a heart that is fixed on God. A heart that knows, no matter how fickle it may feel, her God is not — He is steady, unchanging, trustworthy, and good. He will never leave her or forsake her. When she walks through the valley of darkness and death, He is right there with her. When she walks through the fire, He is there. When she walks through the flood, He is there. And His love for her never changes, it never grows weary.

A joyful mourning comes from a heart that is at peace, no matter the circumstances, because her eyes are on her God even amidst the pain  — Isaiah 26:3 says “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

A joyful mourning comes from a heart that is full of hope, knowing that this isn’t the end — that God is still working and that one day He will fix all that has been broken.

But a joyful mourning is not natural — fixing our eyes and attention and worship on a God who could have prevented the pain is not natural, trusting in a future we cannot see or fully understand is not natural, giving way to fickle hearts that sway with the wind and every emotion is natural; that’s our default amidst grief. But that is why I’m here, that’s why The Joyful Mourning Podcast is here — to remind you of God’s goodness, of His love for you, of His nearness and His presence. Because our hearts need to be reoriented a little more often amidst grief. We need reminders of hope and truth just a little more when our world feels like it’s crumbling.

I am grateful to be on this journey with you friends; it is an honor and a privilege, one I do not take lightly. More than anything else I hope you know this: you are loved and you are not alone in your grief.

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In case we haven’t met, hi friend, my name is Ashlee Proffitt. I’m a wife and a mama. I have 4 children. 3 here on earth and 1 in heaven. A few years ago I founded The Morning – a community of hope for women who have experienced the loss of a baby. For nearly ten years I have had the honor of walking alongside many women who are grieving the loss of a baby — reminding hurting women of hope and that they are loved and that they aren’t alone. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to now bring those honest conversations to you and I am hopeful that amidst your own aching that these conversations would remind you that you are not alone in this journey. And for those of you who are here because you have a friend or family member who is grieving, thank you for being here — for learning about grief and how to better care for the one who is grieving.

I am so grateful for the women who have said yes to being a guest here on the podcast – women who are bravely sharing their stories of loss and what it looked like for them to find joy in the mourning in order to tangibly remind you that you aren’t alone in your grief and to provide honest insight on what it looked like to navigate a new normal – I can’t wait for you to hear from these wise, hope-filled, joyful women in the coming weeks.

So welcome to The Joyful Mourning Podcast friend. I am honored you are here and I pray this episode and those in the future will help you find joy amidst your grief.  

Since this is episode 1 it feels right and good to start at the beginning. This podcast is not about me or even about my son, but his story is why I am here, why I founded The Morning, why I have such compassion and empathy for grieving, broken mothers and why I have started this podcast. So let’s start with him.

In the spring of 2008 I buckled my 6 month old son in his car seat and drove to the nearest drugstore. I had suspicions that the nauseous feeling I couldn’t shake was more than a little stomach bug. My suspicions were correct. I was almost through my first trimester when I found out I was pregnant with my second son. And while the thought of having 2 babies well under 2 years old utterly overwhelmed me at first, the fear quickly gave way to excitement. Especially when we found out this baby was a boy. Two boys. So close in age. I dreamed they would be best friends forever. This would be my third pregnancy. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage around 9 weeks on my first wedding anniversary. I think after you are exposed to the reality of baby loss, no matter the specific details or how far along- any naive notions of bringing children into the world evaporate. And yet even knowing the risky nature of having a baby, of the statistics surrounding baby loss, having already lost one baby, my heart grew attached to this baby. Rightfully so, a woman’s heart is instantly divided the moment she finds out there is a baby, forever changed by his or her life – no matter the length of their days.

On October 8, 2008 Aaden Sage Proffitt came quickly into the world. And he brought our family instant joy. He lived 39 days. And for 39 days I was a mama to a newborn and a tiny toddler. My days consisted of feedings and laundry and diaper changes. Maybe it’s nostalgia and maybe it’s because I only had those 39 days but I look back at those 39 days and remember them as pure bliss, I’m sure it was hard but I don’t remember it being so, only joy — an absolute gift from God.

In the early hours of the morning on November 15, I woke up later than the previous few weeks. And I woke up on my own — not with a baby boy’s cries of hunger. I ran down the hallway to where he was sleeping only to find my perfectly healthy baby boy lifeless. The moments following can only be described as hell. A 911 call and CPR and EMTs and desperate calls to every single person in my husband’s phone begging every one of them to pray for a miracle.

And in between the phone calls I just kept saying “I’m so sorry Aaden, I’m so sorry.” My first response to his death was not anger at God but a strong sense of shame and guilt — I hadn’t protected my son, I hadn’t kept him safe, I had let my son down, his death was my fault.

An ambulance drove my baby boy away where doctors and nurses tried in vain to bring him back to life — while we huddled together in a cold hospital waiting room with friends and family, all of us still in pajamas. Everyone in that room was praying, loud, messy, desperate prayers. Except for me. I sat in silence. Stunned. I don’t even remember crying in that moment. And then my husband walked in and shook his head no. God had answered our prayers, but He had answered with a no. My son would not live.

My husband led me back to the room where my lifeless son lay.  I was told I couldn’t hold him and to this day I can’t understand why I decided to follow the rules in that moment — of all moments. I wish I had scooped him up and held him and given him one last kiss, and stared at his fingers and his toes, memorizing his tiny perfect body — instead I walked away. I fell to the cold hospital floor outside the room. In that moment I just couldn’t bear the thought of my last memory of him being a lifeless one, a cold, blue one. I wanted to erase that I had ever seen him like that. I wish someone wiser than me, someone more familiar with death and grief, would have grabbed me and said “don’t look away, take him in, look past the death and see the life that God gave, look at him, isn’t he beautiful.”

We left the hospital without our son. And it was so bizarre. No fanfare, no help, no assistance. Just a cloud of despair and shock and silence and empty arms.

And even in those early moments God was near, He was working. See, He isn’t afraid of the pain nor is He apathetic towards it. He had let death in and that was a truth I would grapple with for years to come BUT He had never left us; He was right there. He was there while I was sleeping peacefully that night, even as my son was dying just a few feet from me, but He was never not in control; See He is never surprised, He is never powerless, and He is never callous to His children’s pain and suffering and broken hearts. In the Bible we see Jesus’ response to death in John chapter 11, when we see Him weep over the death of his friend Lazarus. He knew He was going to restore Lazarus, that in just a few moments He would raise him from the dead and yet He wept. Why? Because He felt the pain of death, He felt the pain of Lazarus’ sister Mary — His heart broke with her. He knew He would fix it all and yet He was broken with her. He grieved with her. He cried with her. Nothing has changed — He still knows that there will be a day when He will fix it all, that death will be no more and yet He sees our tears, He knows our grief, and He has compassion towards our hurting hearts.

He began healing our hearts the moment we knew our son was dead. He began orchestrating and working in such a way that we knew we were loved by Him, that we were not forgotten, that we were not alone, that He was near.

Finding joy amidst mourning, amidst pain and grief, isn’t about a fickle sort of happiness that is exhaustingly fleeting – rather, a joyful mourning comes from a heart that is fixed on God. A heart that knows, no matter how fickle it may feel, her God is not — He is steady, unchanging, trustworthy, and good. He will never leave her or forsake her. When she walks through the valley of darkness and death, He is right there with her. When she walks through the fire, He is there. When she walks through the flood, He is there. And His love for her never changes, it never grows weary.

A joyful mourning comes from a heart that is at peace, no matter the circumstances, because her eyes are on her God even amidst the pain  — Isaiah 26:3 says “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

A joyful mourning comes from a heart that is full of hope, knowing that this isn’t the end — that God is still working and that one day He will fix all that has been broken.

But a joyful mourning is not natural — fixing our eyes and attention and worship on a God who could have prevented the pain is not natural, trusting in a future we cannot see or fully understand is not natural, giving way to fickle hearts that sway with the wind and every emotion is natural; that’s our default amidst grief. And that is why I’m here, that’s why The Joyful Mourning Podcast is here — to remind you of God’s goodness, of His love for you, of His nearness and His presence. Because our hearts need to be reoriented a little more often amidst grief. We need reminders of hope and truth just a little more when our world feels like it’s crumbling.

So maybe your heart doesn’t feel joyful or peaceful or at rest today. Maybe your heart doesn’t feel a strong desire to trust God or put your hope in Him. That’s ok. I’m here to remind you, as a mama who has spent the better part of the last 10 years learning what it’s like to love and trust a God who allowed such pain. This is me telling you that finding joy amidst sorrow is about leaning in to a God whose love for you never changes. And that sometimes that leaning in isn’t pretty or put together and that’s ok– David’s prayers in the Psalms weren’t always pretty or put together and since they are in the Bible I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s ok. I’m here to remind you that He is good and He loves you and He desires for you to run to Him with your pain just like Mary ran to Jesus in John 11 — run to Him with your anger, your fear, your doubt, your confusion and ask Him to fix your heart on him and in doing so to give you a heart that is at peace, a heart that is joyful amidst the mourning.

I’ll close praying Ephesians 3:14-21 over you:

“According to the riches of your glory God would you grant that these women would be strengthened with power through your Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of You. Our God who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Thank you for joining me today friends. Until next time, know this: you are more loved than you could ever imagine and you are not alone in your grief.


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