Service of Loss & Holy Eucharist

Shorty after we lost our child, James and I watched a beautiful child of God be baptized into the body of Christ. Baptisms are so amazing, aren’t they? Baptisms always make me cry. Seeing grace wash over that human. There really is nothing like it. This one was different. I started tearing up as I watched this baby respond to God’s grace and continued crying as I suddenly realized this was a service we would never share with our child.

That evening I also realized we wouldn’t have a funeral or memorial service. Every person deserves that. If our child were to have passed in the NICU they would get a service and this should be no different. I wanted to do a service of remembrance, but that sounds funny, doesn’t it. “A Service of Remembrance.” As if we could ever forget. I looked in the the United Methodist Book of Worship to discover a largely unused “Service of Pregnancy and Infant Loss.” BOOM! There it was. This what we had to do.

On Saturday we gathered in the chapel at Hayes Barton with 20 of our closest friends and family to honor our baby and give spiritual acknowledgement to the loss of this child. My friend and colleague, Adam, led the service. It was simply beautiful. Our baby deserved this and we deserved this. James and I cried A LOT. Towards the end of the service we shared Holy Communion. This was important to me. James and I were able to serve the body and blood of Christ to the people who had been holding us through this tough time. As Christ followers we know a lot happens around the table. James and I have been able to serve communion a lot together, but there are two times that stick out the most. The communion we served at our wedding reception and the communion we served in honoring our first child. It is important for us to come around the table not only once a month, but every time we need to draw close to Christ and others. So there we were, with tears in our eyes, “The body of Christ broken for you.” (sniffle) “The blood of Christ shed for you.”

When I was pregnant with our baby I received communion at least once a week. As I consumed Christ’s body and blood, the Eucharist was also shared with our little minivan. Because Christ table is wide and open to all, the same body and blood I shared with my baby during pregnancy is the same body and blood I shared at the service of loss. Our baby was with us before, was with us at the service, and through Christ, will be with us always.

3 thoughts on “Service of Loss & Holy Eucharist”

  1. Joy, I just wanted to tell you how incredibly grateful I’ve been for your posts and the sharing of your story. My niece’s infant daughter was stillborn last November, and I’ve been at a loss, a lot of the time, with how to offer support and love in a way that helps her and honors little Izzabella. I’ve looked at it like a ‘regular’ death, but it’s not…it’s so much more. You have given me insight that has helped me tremendously in understanding those days and weeks after you lose your precious baby. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of hearing about your journey.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. My heart breaks over your family’s loss. I am finding that it doesn’t get easier, I am just finding ways to cope. Grace & Peace! Please let me know how I can support you!

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  2. Don’t make me cry! What a moving reflection once again. I’m so proud of you for doing the service of remembrance and having your friends present. The thought of communion spanning time and distance, and your baby in the communion of saints, is breathtaking. My husband and I did a similar service just the two of us in our backyard. Truly a gift in the journey of grieving. By the way, I just found out about a book written by a UM pastor who lost a child to miscarriage:

    Maybe we should get a group together and do a book club. Only half-joking. We aren’t far from you. Anyway, food for thought.

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