Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Before Felicity, there was Paige

There are people you meet who change you. And then there are those who haven't met--who have never even had a first breath or cry--who change you. Today, I'd like to honor the life of Paige, who was born on October 6, 2000, by sharing how her life and death changed me deeply. I am so grateful to God for her and look forward to meeting her when I get to heaven.

Nine years ago, one of my dearest friends in the world, Joy, called me at 6:30 in the morning crying. I arrived at her house shortly after to care for her son. She left for the hospital unsure of whether the little one she'd been carrying for 17 weeks was going to make it. Other than a huge supply of tears, I felt empty as I dreaded what seemed imminent.

I have never known a darker day than this one.

It was so dark. And I was so inexperienced with grief.

I had no idea what to say...what to not to communicate my deep grief. There were so many questions that day and the days that followed I hadn't ever dealt with before. Was I allowed to grieve deeply as I felt like grieving??? Should I bring up Paige? Should I just wait to see if Joy wants to talk about it?? Should I ask to see Paige's pictures? What do I write in a card? Should I give flowers? If the flowers die, will that make her more sad?

It felt like every option of entering into Joy and Craig's grief was risky. It felt like I could fail at loving them by saying or doing the wrong thing.

I praise God for Joy, because it wasn't long before she called to check in. She didn't wonder what she should say. She shared the story of Paige's birth...about getting to the Emergency Room, the horrible bedside manner of the first doctor, the comfort they took in trusting God even after learning of Paige's death, the painful labor and delivery, the beautiful little baby that they were at first afraid to meet, and how they loved her so deeply, about the true presence of God they both felt in the hospital room. I wanted to know every detail, but would have felt invasive asking. I wanted to know as much about Paige's life as I could. I wanted to hold on to the details of her short earthly life.

In the days that followed, Joy would share with me how people at work wouldn't say anything. They didn't ask how she was, or share their sadness with her over the death of her baby. They just awkwardly entered her office to ask a question, and then took off. (Not all, but many.)

I felt convicted, knowing that I might have acted the same way. And so, I determined to not be that person.

I learned from Joy, through the life and death of Paige, that it is good and right to enter into grief with those who are grieving. It is good and right to take risks that express love, even if I doubt my eloquence. I learned that I don't have to have a close relationship with someone to express my own grief over their loss. I learned that it's better to say something, than to remain silent because I'm afraid it might make them more sad.

I still wish that Paige had lived her first 80 years, or so, of life here on earth.

But, I am grateful to God that He used her life to teach me how to love others better.


Anonymous said...


I am so incredibly touched. I am just sitting here bawling. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your sweet and honest tribute to Paige.

You were so comforting to me at that time and are such and incredibly empathetic person. God has blessed you with many gifts - listening, kindness, HUMOR, empathy, compassion, service to others, and the list goes on. These are all great gifts to possess when entering into someone's grief and you showed all of these to Craig and me during our difficult time. Thank you for your incredible friendship, Jenna! I love you and am anxiously awaiting the birth of your beautiful little girl!!!!!!



Karla Anne said...


This is such a helpful post. I have undoubtedly failed in this area in the past and been very clueless as to what to do. Thank you for your honesty....

Peter Milien said...

This is very touching thank you for your this lesson today. Jesus has left us with his spirit to guide us and to be aware of our brothers and sisters spiritual needs. First to bring the multitudes towards him. Secondly to induce love in our hearts and in our homes. As Jesus bared his cross up to calvery for us there were people who tried to help him in his journey. Talking with a love one in their Darkest hour is an act of denying self and helping that person bare thier cross God Bless you Jenna. Peter Milien

neely said...

I, too, am bawling at your post about Paige and Joy and grief and bearing grief with one another. Love you. Thank you for this.
-the sis, Neely