14 years ago today my wife gave birth to a baby that was not alive. We called her Mara Noel (Bitter Celebration). It’s Valentines Day.
It’s been many years since our loss, yet each year around this time my wife and I feel a sadness that comes out of the blue. The sharp pain has dulled. The memories have blurred. But the emotional impressions persist. During these anniversaries, we can’t ever shake the feeling that something’s missing. We should be celebrating a birth, but instead we’re remembering a loss.
I share this as a reminder that holidays are often difficult for those who have experienced loss. Such is the case for a majority of families involved in Acts Metro. It might be the loss of a spouse, parent, family member or child. It’s often a stillborn marriage or romance that left behind the joy of a child in a pile of regret.
Grief is something that tracks us down and can’t be avoided. When it shows up, it must be faced. Avoiding it is toxic. But it’s often unexpected and always unwanted. It sneaks up on us at the most inopportune times.
Grace is the only helpful response in the face of grief. Offer support, not platitudes or promises. Grace is love in action, especially when we get nothing in return. Most relationships are transactional. We give and receive. But not during grief. Little comes back in those moments that’s warm and fuzzy, but it’s imperative to hang in there. Authentic relationships can be a conduit of healing during periods of grief.
During a family’s year in Acts Metro, they go through the highs of success and the lows of grief. Our mentors have the privilege of seeing it all and the opportunity to offer grace in very vulnerable places… like during bitter celebrations.