May 23, 2017

Ask Chaplain Mike: The Grieving Process

By Chaplain Mike

Today’s Question
In your experience with hospice care, what is your approach to grief of those surviving the loss of a loved one? Do you think Christians tend to sugar-coat, suppress, neglect, or even ridicule the grieving process? After all, the loved one is in heaven/a better place; why should anyone be sad? Do Christians and even pastors underestimate how long the grieving process takes?

Thanks for this good question. During this time of year I take my turn leading a grief support group for those who have lost loved ones in hospice care and in our community, so the topic is fresh on my mind.

The Bible describes Jesus as a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Unfortunately, in our North American culture, we go out of our way to distance ourselves from death and the pain of loss. Christians and non-Christians alike have forged a death-denying society. As a result, we are not realistic about the aftermath of losing a loved one any more than we are prepared to face the experience of dying itself.

Hospice organizations with which I am familiar have a fairly standard approach to offering bereavement services. Here is an outline of the general program:

  • First, the period of initial bereavement is considered to be about thirteen months long. The first year of living without a loved one involves going through all the annual occasions once celebrated together without that person’s presence—birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other times and seasons that hold special meaning.
  • During that first annual cycle, those in the bereavement department make a number of phone calls to check in with family members to see how they are doing and if they need additional support. Visits are made as well when appropriate.
  • The bereaved also receive regular mailings with materials about the journey of grief and information about opportunities and services that might be of help.
  • The hospice holds memorial services at set times of the year to commemorate the lives of loved ones lost.
  • The hospice offers support groups led by social workers and chaplains trained in bereavement care. The form these groups take varies from hospice to hospice.
  • The hospice may offer educations or support opportunities for specific grief experiences—losing a child, losing a spouse, coping during the holidays, groups and camps for children and teens, experiencing a traumatic loss, etc.
  • In addition, bereaved folks may be directed to resources in various media, counselors who specialize in grief work, funeral homes, faith communities, and other groups that offer additional services.

I can speak personally for other hospice workers in saying that bereavement work could easily be a full time job, and we feel like we could never do enough of it to truly meet all the needs. However, I would also say that this cannot and should not be the job of an organization like hospice. The journey of grief is taken best within the context of a caring community: family, friends and neighbors, faith group. What the hospice does is meant to supplement that and fill gaps when they appear.

You asked how Christians generally handle grief. Do they “tend to sugar-coat, suppress, neglect, or even ridicule the grieving process?” I doubt that any generalization will do. Grief is hard for everyone, and the way we deal with it varies with each individual and group. I am happy to say that I have not seen many Christians “shrugging off” the pain of loss because of the promise of heaven. The few that I have seen usually have problems facing reality in other parts of their life too. Of course, it is common to hear a bereaved one say, “He’s in a better place,” or to hear those words from those who are trying to bring comfort. However, losing a loved one usually hurts so bad that our theological justifications take second place to the reality of separation. It becomes instinctively clear that grief is not about the one who died, but about the pain I feel because he/she is gone and my life is changed forever.

Grief is like a serious injury. A person with whom I have a bond is gone. That bond has been severed, leaving a deep and tender wound. It hurts. It is sometimes hard to find relief. I have to do what I can to relieve the pain, clean and dress the wound, protect it, and give it time to heal. I must adjust my life to allow for it, and it’s a damn inconvenience, I’ll tell you. Whether or not the person who died “is in a better place” doesn’t change any of that. Grief is not selfish, but grief is about me.

I often compare grief to losing a limb. If my leg were to be amputated or lost in an accident, my life would be irrevocably altered because of that loss. I simply could not live the way I did before. Furthermore, it would hurt. It would be hard to come to grips with my new reality mentally and emotionally. I might even think that God had treated me unfairly. I would be forced to accept new assignments from life—to heal, to rehab, to learn new habits and ways of getting around, to learn what new kinds of support I will need from those around me. Perhaps I will get an artificial limb and learn to do even more than I could before I lost my leg. Perhaps I will develop the desire to help others who have gone through the same experience. Who knows where this road will lead? All I know at the moment is that I’ve taken a turn somewhere and I’m not in Kansas anymore.

An illustration like that helps me grasp what the grieving process is like. If it’s accurate, I think you can see how much we underestimate the length, breadth, and depth of the grieving experience.

  • A loved one dies and the company gives you two or three bereavement days. Then it’s back to business as usual.
  • Your friends come to the funeral and call for about a week and then you don’t hear from them. The cards stop coming a few days later.
  • Your family has to return to work and all their other activities, their visits become less frequent within a few weeks, and within a couple of months they can’t understand why you haven’t gone through dad’s things yet, and why you refuse to talk about selling the house. What’s the matter? Why can’t you get over it and move on?
  • No one, not even your pastor, understands why you don’t want to come to church. They forget that you and your husband sat in the same seat for years and did everything in church together. Being there without him just doesn’t feel right. And if the congregation sings that song you both loved, you’ll have to leave because it hurts so much. The children’s ministry coordinator doesn’t get it when you say you’ll have to stop teaching indefinitely and pressures you to reconsider. There are few who can grasp the feeling that it will do you worse to come to church than to stay home.

Perhaps the most cruel words I have ever heard were spoken by a pastor to a grieving woman. She had lost her teen son. A couple of weeks later she came to worship and remained in the sanctuary after everyone else had left. There she sat in the pew and wept. The pastor came up the aisle, paused as he saw her crying and said, “Now Laura, remember your testimony.”

As if the only attitude that can testify to the Man of Sorrows is that of soaring with a smile over all our circumstances!

Christians groups that honor history, tradition, and liturgy have more resources to deal with the path of grief than those who don’t.

  • These groups tend to have a better theology of creation and the significance of life and vocation in this world. Evangelicals are often more world-denying and dualistic in their approach, which can lead to the kind of comment the pastor made above.
  • These groups tend to value the Psalms more highly and have spent centuries praying them, hearing them read in worship, singing them, and praying them. Evangelical and other a-historical expressions of the faith are unpracticed in words of lament.
  • These groups tend to have more depth with respect to pastoral theology, and so ministries of pastoral care and compassion ministries are valued more. Evangelicals value church growth and activism primarily, and so their view of the pastor is more of the preacher and CEO who inspires the church to go forth in mission.
  • These groups have more resources to commemorate life passages through liturgy and formal prayer. As Walter Brueggemann once wrote, there is a “formfulness” that we need in times of grief and sorrow. The chaos of our spirits is quieted in the structure of familiar, formal words.

Read your Bible, pray, and get busy is, to say the least, an insufficient model for dealing with the chaos that comes to our lives through grief. And yet that is what many churches promote and many Christians lean on to get them through.

Comments

  1. Perhaps the most cruel words I have ever heard were spoken by a pastor to a grieving woman. She had lost her teen son. A couple of weeks later she came to worship and remained in the sanctuary after everyone else had left. There she sat in the pew and wept. The pastor came up the aisle, paused as he saw her crying and said, “Now Laura, remember your testimony.”

    “Bad form Peter…” 🙁

    • What, she shouldn’t weep, because Jesus never did that….uh….well, nevermind……GRRRRRR

    • Ouch. He probably did mean it kindly (a reminder that we set our hope on the Resurrection) but that was a very bad way of handling it.

      Even in the raising of Lazarus, we are told “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

      He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus and restore him to his family, but that didn’t mean that grief was to be denied.

      I wouldn’t necessarily say that liturgical churches have a better handle on dealing with grief (it can be as awkward for priests and fellow-parishioners to know what to say or how to console the afflicted) but – well, Catholics anyway, and usually older churches – there are images like this Pieta or, at the very least, the Fourteenth Station of the Cross to give you a hook to hang on to; something to say “You know my grief, you know what I’m going through, help me bear it”.

  2. I spent a decade as a hospice nurse, and have buried both parents and a few friends in my life. Hospice was hands down the rewarding time of my life, where my vocation met the job that generated the paycheck. I only left because I cannot physically handle the requirements (night and weekend calls and visits, which my chronic health concerns no longer allow me to do).

    I think I have seen almost all forms of grief and berevement reactions, and agree that we expect people to get “”to normal ” in an inhumane and callous amount of time. OH…and they have to follow the steps in order, which is NEVER what Kubblr-Ross intended.

    PS….and when you hurt the worst you will belly laugh over a story or memory of your beloved, and when you are “fine” a commerial on TV will leaving you heaving with sobs. You never get over it, you just get on with it.

    • Adrienne says:

      Pattie ~ you were “right on”. I literally did find myself heaving with sobs because the music on a commercial just triggered it after losing my husband. Unfortunately not only the church but our society in the U.S. does not know what to do about grief. I remember reading a story by a woman who had attended the funeral of someone in another country. As the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery she saw men remove their hats, woman put their hands over their heart and so on. The following year she was again in a procession in the U.S. As is the custom in many towns the police stopped traffic at a traffic light so the procession could pass through the intersection. One driver gave them “the finger”. But that is what we can expect in our totally secularized society. ME is god and don’t get in my way.

      Since losing my husband, job etc. seven years ago ( I call it my “Job’s Whirlwind Time) I have journeyed with other widows – old, young etc. Some of us met at a Griefshare program held at my church. I wish I had never attended it except for the friendships I did form. It was typical evangelical seminar stuff – the workbook, the testimony, the “experts”. In one year we will lead you through the “program” and you will be fine. Many of the people were so much in shock they were literally unable to write in the workbooks.. And several of them couldn’t afford to purchase one. Hello church!! You are correct, you never get over it but on with it. As a Christian I can say that I am a “better” person since I am broken. The church doesn’t get it. Jesus did not come to make us “whole and healed” and help us have the great Marketplace, Consumerism lifestyle. He came and was broken for us – leaving us an example.

      • Since losing my husband, job etc. seven years ago ( I call it my “Job’s Whirlwind Time)…

        yes. those divine disruptions of truly intense ‘undoneness’ as if in a tornado/whirlwind…

        i coined a similiar phrase: The Crucible of Transmogrification…

        thanx for sharing that part of your journey…

  3. black cat says:

    After having watched my son be diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disorder, live for 15 years with it, and then suddenly pass away, I can say hands down that the worst people to go to for support and comfort are those in the church. It’s almost as if you’re denying God to their face if you dare be sad or grieve. I never left a place more readily than I left our church once our son died. I have found another, but I don’t miss the old one, that’s for sure.

  4. I actually just came from a funeral of a teen who was killed. That would be so horrible if my Church had that same kind of attitude.
    I can identify with the sugar-coating thing… but I think grieving can be TOTALLY different depending on what kind of faith community it is.

  5. David Cornwell says:

    I’ve had several experience with hospice organizations, and they are beyond question the most compassionate and caring organization for those who are approaching death, their families, and the grieving that I know of. I first was part this as a pastor when they were caring for those in my churches (numerous cases over the years). Recently they did their work for my wife during the final illness of her sister this became very personal.

    This very simply is the work of God with a needy people. They deserve our prayer and support.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Ignore the typos and stumble on. I’m tired this eve and apparently that’s what I did.

      • I totally agree about Hospice. We’ve had friends who died there, & how they were treated was with the most compassion & kindness that I’ve ever witnessed. Also, when they passed they were treated with respect; taken out with a nice blanket with faces not covered. In the hospital they sneak people out so they will not disturb anyone else with seeing “death”. I only wish we could have had my parents & in-laws in a hospice facility…I do regret this.

      • David,

        You were eloquent and thoughtful, as usual. You are right. Hospice organizations are wonderful and we should remember those who take care of the sick and dying in our prayers.

        Thank you, David.

  6. Chaplain Mike ~ I really appreciated the questions asked and your wise responses. “Grief is not selfish, but grief is about me”. Thank you for that! I don’t suppose I ever thought of it like that, but it is so true. My sister died three years ago and I still have trouble processing it all. I can cry at the strangest times and friends will inquire what’s wrong and when I say I’m sad about my sister they don’t quite understand, to which I’ll say, To you it was three years ago but to me it was five minutes ago. And one friend actually said to me, that in her opinion, losing a sister would be way down on the list of people to lose. I was so ataken back I couldn’t even respond. But I sure am alot more sensitive now to others going through their own grief. It is hard daily work and I hate it, to be honest.
    I just love all the writers here at iMonk and all the folks who comment too. I always learn something new here.

  7. Reading your post made me think of Denise Spencer tonight. Denise, our thoughts and prayers are still with you. I know how much I miss Michael, I can’t imagine how much you must miss him.

  8. Thank you, Chaplain Mike. I’d add, from my own experience as a hospice chaplain, that a “new” grief or loss usually reminds people of every previous loss they have experienced. Most folks don’t feel grief for *this* loss, alone. I think that’s one of the reasons why pastors and priests may make what come across as unfeeling remarks – every loss feels cumulative in a real way, and if we don’t permit ourselves or one another to grieve fully, each new loss risks bringing back the pain of an old loss. Perhaps it is a good reminder for us all to give one another the gift of our presence, our shoulder, our hug, rather than speak words that could be awkward, or even words which unwittingly attempt to distance ourselves from the others’ pain – because it feels too familiar to our own unhealed memories.

    Grief is complicated by lack of reconciliation, broken relationships, or a sense of injustice, too. (The latter may occur when someone dies too young or unexpectedly, for instance.) Anger, resentment, fear or other unpleasant feelings can become all mixed up with one’s grief. I agree with Chaplain Mike that having the Psalms & other scripture to speak to a loving & listening God, laments to share in a grief support group or among one’s family &/or faith community help all of us to remember well, and to “give grace” and forgive – even after this life has ended. “Love is patient…kind…does not keep record of wrongs…” can help us draw on the Holy Spirit for both the living and the dead. We all grieve losses through death and losses through human brokenness. God’s ongoing love, patience & presence is the consolation with us and through us to one another.

    • There is a saying that sounds callous but speaks truth…..”We can only grieve for one death.’

      Every death after that is an overlay of the first, deep loss, and can loosen the scab of pain OR give us tools to grieve this “new” death.

      At least for me personally, nothing has hit as hard as the first loss (my mother).

    • to “give grace” and forgive – even after this life has ended. “Love is patient…kind…does not keep record of wrongs…”

      Thank you, Ann, for your thoughtful addition. A good reminder of what can be an easily-overlooked element of the grief process, the surfacing of unresolved anger and then the guilt and confusion for feeling that.

  9. One of the things that led me to a liturgical church, was the emphasis of the normal routine of the church. No manipulated spiritual highs were expected every week.

    Try having your daughter go missing, become a suspected murder victim, endure three years of investigation, followed by her body being discovered over the side of a mountain in Colorado, a funeral almost a year after that.

    Then have well meaning friends tell you to “be happy in Jesus”, or, “how can you not experience His joy, no matter what”. All the while, averaging three hours of sleep a night for five years, trying to maintain my job and the rest of my family.

    The biggest comfort was my Christian friends from work, who simply drank coffee with me every day.
    The “normal” christian life is going to be full of every situation, tragedy and triumph that life can throw at us.

    • beakerj says:

      Rob, I just had my first big bereavement last year when my Mum died of cancer. I had a big grief breakdown, & it nearly ended me. It gave me the tiniest insight into a world of grief I never want to see again – the kind of world you must have endured. I am sorry beyond words for your Daughter’s death & you & your family’s grief & suffering.

      My church have been generally brilliant, but many of them have suffered big time, in one way or another. Had they been truly glib I would have slammed the door in their faces.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Then have well meaning friends tell you to “be happy in Jesus”, or, “how can you not experience His joy, no matter what”.

      You should have kicked their asses for that. That sort of stupidity and grinning callousness should hurt.

  10. Damaris says:

    My mother is declining fast with dementia. In the process, she is tormented by a sense of her sins and a worry that she’s done something terribly wrong. Sometimes she cries and cries. My sister is the one who takes care of her most. My sister is a card-carrying Heathen — but when confronted with my mother’s inconsolable grief, my sister realized that what my mother needs is sacrament, not explanation or philosophy. She is going to seek out an Episcopal priest for my mother, event though my sister doesn’t subscribe to Christianity any longer and my mother was a skeptic for years.

    I agree with you, Chaplain Mike; there is great comfort in mourning with God himself, in the words of David and Isaiah, and in the forms practiced by millions of Christians over the centuries.

    • Odd (?) that , other than my mom, the #1 caregiver for my 91 yr old dad has been my oldest sister Blanche, also of the “heathen” tribe. She has done more (x 100) than any of the other 8 siblings, some of them notorious talkers (that would be me). Oh how those heathen get around…….

  11. I agree that liturgical churches deal better with grieving than other evangelical entities. It feels manipulative to have a pastor do an altar call during a funeral, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. It’s just downright reprehensible to announce at the next Sunday service how many “hands were raised for salvation” at so-and-so’s funeral. I know that some pastors do this to try to give some comfort to families, to demonstrate that their loved one’s death made a significant, eternal difference in the lives of others…But then there are others who make the announcement because they are numbers-obsessed, or it massages their own egos, giving themselves a pat on the back for a funeral message so powerful, people got “saved” even amidst their grief.

    I worked with teens for years, and unfortunately, had to preach several funerals. I hated seeing youth pastors, many of whom rarely visited the schools, show up like buzzards on roadkill at the school office, wanting to “be available to counsel” when a student passed. I would make myself available to the school counselor through a phone call. I would tell her that if students or parents asked for a pastor, I was available. I wouldn’t camp out in the lobby, hoping I could catch some kid caught up in a wave of emotion and “lead them to the Lord”, inviting them to my own youth group meeting as a vital part of the process, you know?

    Grief is such a difficult and varying process. There are stages that every pastor should be familiar with, and every pastor should know that even though there is a formula for grief to study and learn, every individual experiences the stages of grief in their own way. I believe it’s important to comfort with scripture, but don’t be a verse-vomiter, drowning someone who is grieving in it. We all know that “all things work together for good”…but death is not a good thing for the people left behind. There’s nothing in the Bible that says it should be.

    My own dad passed away when I was 17. My mom and dad were very active in the church, and she continued to attend for maybe 5 years after his death. She’s still a member, but usually only attends for special occasions. The scenario CM described played out in her life…there was a mass outpouring of sympathy for a few weeks, then…nothing. When a spouse passes away, there’s not only the loss of a loved one, but a loss of identity as a couple; a loss of role as a spouse; and a heavy yoke to “be strong for the family” that one bears when they have young children.

    For these folks, be available, but don’t always wait for the grieving person to call you. They need to know that someone cares enough to pick up the phone. Return their phone calls. It says they matter. Include them. You don’t have to keep them busy, but keep them. They may not want to attend the group activities that they once shared with other couples, but they still desire and need human contact. Pastors, you don’t have to make every visit with them a super-spiritual visit. Be a friend. Don’t forget them.

    • amen, & amen…

    • David Cornwell says:

      “It feels manipulative to have a pastor do an altar call during a funeral, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. ”

      I went to the funeral once of a young man killed in an accident. He was a normal, somewhat rebellious young man, so some of the fundamentalists in this church were worried about his salvation. However the pastor did the most twisting verbal manipulation that I’ve heard so far, to say he was probably saved (much to the family’s relief.)

      Another part of this story, that doesn’t belong in this post: At the end of the service this pastor ordered his meek and mild wife to do something for him, by saying something like “Woman do… and …. My wife was so angry, that she still talks about it

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It feels manipulative to have a pastor do an altar call during a funeral, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. It’s just downright reprehensible to announce at the next Sunday service how many “hands were raised for salvation” at so-and-so’s funeral. I know that some pastors do this to try to give some comfort to families, to demonstrate that their loved one’s death made a significant, eternal difference in the lives of others…But then there are others who make the announcement because they are numbers-obsessed, or it massages their own egos, giving themselves a pat on the back for a funeral message so powerful, people got “saved” even amidst their grief.

      Something similar happened at my mother’s funeral in 1975 — the entire service was the buildup to The Altar Call Ending. In all fairness, it was because the pastor literally didn’t know how to preach anything else. One size fits all. Kind of like a sitcom of errors from today’s perspective, but wasn’t all that funny at the time.

  12. The march to the graveyard continues and we will all taste that first death. Death is terrible. It rips away from us our loved ones and puts an end to our earthly existence.

    Thanks be to God for our Great Comforter. He does help the grieving. May we have compassion and understanding for all those around us who grieve, and may we be able to speak to them about the One who loves fresh dirt. The One who loves to pull people up to Himself who are at the bottom of graves…never to die again.

  13. I can’t tell you how helpful your words have been in my own grieving process and in the chaos death brought. Thanks, Chaplain Mike!

  14. Pam Burns says:

    This is a good article and touches on some experiences I have had myself. I can say without a doubt that we as humans don’t know how to deal with people who are grieving and even those who grieve don’t know how to deal with themselves. It is a learned and learning process. I hope I can help others as they go through it by the few things I have learned. I’m going to try.

  15. i hate death. i hate it, i really do…

    have done my share of funerals; maternal grandparents, both parents, aunts+uncles, business acquaintances, & my 17 year old niece… 🙁

    [sigh]

    my mother used to tell me that death was part of life. i also used to tell her it seems so alien to the concept of life. but now i understand better her perspective after experiencing both the aging/progession of mortality & tragedy. no one ever ‘gets over it’. we do adapt & that also doesn’t me we can’t laugh & smile & go thru life with a healthy outlook. but the sense of loss of a loved one would not mean anything if were here today & gone tomorrow. grieving then, in a sense, is how we do honor their memory…

    i cry at all funerals. i do. it is because i can empathize easily with the loved ones that are feeling the loss more intensely than i. and everyone experiences grieving in their unique way. no time limit. no ritual is taboo or gravesite visitation or shrine arrangement either. memorial events, scholarships, grants, etc. also a way of honoring those loved ones that have died. but if there were ever a trite, canned, corny, Christianese gloss-over approach raised within earshot, i would not hesitate to point it out & how such a response is insensitive & not helpful at all… 🙁

  16. Great post! Thank you for your important work in this area.

    None of us wants to think about it, but none of us can avoid it. Death finds each of us. Either we lose our loved ones or they lose us.

  17. Good article Chaplin Mike. I am learning that one never gets over the grieving process…one adjusts and learns to live with the void. I was out of the church when my grandmother passed away. That was hard and it taught me that the death of my own parents will be incredibly tough. But I see reminders that trigger memories of my grandmother and it happens so often that it pops up and reminds me in unsuspecting ways.

    On Sunday night I saw the Broadway musical Wicked in the Kenendy Center of Performing Arts. I was getting ready for the play to start and all of a sudden it hits me. How much my grandmother loved theater!! One of the things she talked about with me was how much she loved seeing Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles. So all of a sudden while I was waiting for the play to start all these memories flood my mind of my grandmother and how much she would have loved to have attended Wicked.

    When I was done with the play and talking about it with my parents I told my Mom about this and I realized how much my grandmother would have loved to have seen a Broadway play. My Mom was like, “That’s normal Eagle”….”I see things all the time that remind me of my father or mother or other loved ones who are deceased, you don’t stop grieving, you miss them but life goes on…and its hard”

  18. Thank you for this. My husband and I are struggling with our fourth year of infertility. While there is no physical death, we are grieving the children we cannot bring forth, the life we expected and hoped for. Church members cannot seem to understand that I cannot sit in the choir loft and look out at everyone else’s beautiful children, help with Bible School or other children’s ministries. It must be that I am selfishly withholding my talents and time from the church. At church, more than anywhere else, we should be sensitive that all is not right with someone whether we know the situation specifics or not.

    • you know, there are elements of grief that are not as visible…

      when newly married, my then wife became pregnant unexpectedly. she miscarried shortly afterward…

      no one can adequately explain the odd feelings that happen when such things happen…

      or people that do have a deep attachment to pets. i have also become less critical or thinking such grieving silly when a pet dies…

      the human element of loss, whether it is because a deep desire goes unfulfilled, or the loss that may seem of little consequence to the observer still a deeply felt grief for the one going thru it, part of our uniqueness. the scripture that mentions how we are to, “mourn with those that mourn” did not leave us a list of what a Christian should identify as worthy of mourning. it is the reaction that we are to be sensitive to, not the reason we think we can quantify/qualify…

  19. M – The grief of infertility is very real, and I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    • Ditto…it dominated my life for the first three years of our marriage, We now have two adult sons and are expecting the birth of grandson number two…..and I wish that I could assure you that you will be likewise blessed. All I CAN say for sure is that God loves you and has a plan for your life….which can be cold comfort when you are surrounded by babies and pregnant women. ((hugs))