Category Archives: motherhood

Shiva: Death, mourning and hope in Jewish Tradition

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, dayan ha-emet.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Just Judge.”
After 4 years of trying, hoping and praying since my last loss, and 13 years in total, and finally after giving up completely, I was unexpectedly blessed with pregnancy again.

Sadly this pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, my 6th loss in total.

There are no funerals for miscarriages, no burials. No family get-together, no ‘sitting Shiva’ together. It is a special kind of grief, more lonely and perhaps harder to navigate than any other type of grief, because in our culture pregnancy loss is still taboo, something we still can’t quite face or discuss openly, and thus the sufferer is largely without comfort or understanding.

The traditional period of mourning in Jewish Tradition is 7 days (thus ‘Shiva’, related to the word 7). But the reality is that grief doesn’t follow a neat progression and cannot possibly be restrained within a 7 day period.

The loss of a child isn’t ‘just’ the loss of a baby right at that moment, but the loss of all the hopes and dreams – the loss of that child’s whole life – years and decades and life events that we thought was ahead of them. And even if a mother is graced with another child, this kind of loss changes you, and you always carry that little bit of sadness with you. You never ‘get over’ loss of a child.

I thought I had completely given up and resigned myself to not having any more babies, to ending my family on a loss. Now though of course, I find old wounds re-opened and longings renewed.

But for now, I mourn. 

Mourner’s kaddish
Jewish perspective on miscarriage and stillbirth
Mourning a Jewish miscarriage 
Jewish Prayer after miscarriage or stillbirth

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I am the Older Woman Now

psalm127

This article from Raising Homemakers appeared in my inbox this morning, and I thought I would share it, because the topic has been so much on my heart lately.

As you know, I would have loved to have more children, but after our fourth, my husband felt that it would be irresponsible to have any more, so we had a break of 7 years, and when we finally started trying again we had a run of miscarriages, so four it is.

My husband isn’t a believer, so he has no faith or reason for confidence that there is a good and faithful God whom we can trust to provide for us, and of course the prevailing culture tells us that ‘two is enough’ and any more is over-population. Please. My heart weeps for the church and our culture, because we are cutting off God’s blessings before they reach us, and we don’t know what we are missing.

I would like to encourage anybody who is considering a larger than average family, or even allowing God complete control over your family planning, to stop listening to the faithless counsel of your peers and know that the Word of God is trustworthy: children are without a doubt a blessing, and we do indeed serve a God who is faithful and good and who can be trusted completely.

the_bible_calls_debt-71559

But (and this is not meant to be a caution to put you off but rather a heads-up so you can plan your house-building, being fully informed about the cost) taking a leap of faith like this will require you to go deeper into God – to be willing to trust and obey completely in the areas of finance and time management to name but two aspects. It’s not a journey for the easy-believer or the faint of heart.

If God has laid this matter on your heart, take it back to him in prayer, seek his heart and his will, and be open to his leadings. Don’t miss out on one of the sweetest blessings he offers.

In my experience, it is a very rare couple indeed who end up inundated with children, and the hardest part about trusting God with your fertility is the possibility not that he will give you too many children, but rather that you might not end up with as many as you hoped.  ❤

Quiver-Full

I just wanted to share with you the fact that, since my husband is not a believer, although we agreed at the outset to have a large family, he changed his mind after our 4th baby was born.

I’m not posting with the intention of complaining about my husband, just really out of a kind of desperation. After five years of waiting, hoping and praying he would change his mind to no avail, this desire to have more children is still so painfully strong and won’t just go away on it’s own, and my husband’s mind is resolutely against it.

I ran a group for several years called the UK “Quiver-Full” fellowship, the word “Quiver-Full” coming from Psalm 127:3-5

“Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

It was designed to be a place of support and encouragement for those who are allowing the LORD to determine their family size and spacing, and those who are seriously considering this monumental decision.

When believers think of the spiritual armour Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6 (and it’s worth cross-referencing with Isaiah 59), one ‘weapon’ that is generally not considered is “arrows” – most of the armour and weaponry we’re used to fighting with is intended for close combat, but actually, our blessed little arrows are intended for long-range fighting.  Have you ever wondered about why the enemy is waging such a desperate, prolonged and appallingly wicked onslaught against children (not just abortion, but all the things that even believers take on board – the myths of over-population, the lie that children of believers don’t belong to the LORD, the lie that children are a burden instead of a blessing)?  It’s because he knows something we don’t seem to know – that the next generation of believers are the next generation of the warriors of the LORD, his enemy.

I don’t honestly know what G-d’s plan is for us, and I hardly know what to pray for anymore. I just know that the heartbreak of being denied something that I have desired so strongly for so long is more than I can bear, so if my husband won’t change his mind, I wish the desire would subside.