Leah Lebresco Sargeant: Losing My Child at Easter

She’d been bleeding for a week-and-a-half and bargaining with God for her baby’s life, writes Leah Lebresco Sargeant in Losing My Child at Easter. She and her husband Alexi found out on Easter Monday the child had died.

Leah has written a book on Catholic prayers called Arriving at Amen. She blogs at LeahLibresco.com. Alexi just finished work as an assistant editor at First Things.

They cried that day and afterwards, she writes. They wrestled with the meaning of Easter and the experience of Doubting Thomas, who had the chance to feel his Lord’s wounds. Leah found friends weeping with her as they shared their own stories of loss. “These other mothers were Christ to me,” she writes.

I spent the Easter Octave surrounded by images of the crucified and resurrected Christ — women bearing wounds it was hard to imagine they could carry, and yet walking, talking, eating, and loving me.

We lost our baby too early and too suddenly to have a body to bury. If I wanted to have a grave to tend, my only option was my own body, which had become the sepulcher for my child. And all around me, in the women who invited me into their grief, “The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matt 27:52). The mothers who offered me their grief for comfort were a sign of contradiction, living tombs. They put on Christ and answered my Anima Christi prayers: “Within thy wounds, hide me.”

Their friendship helped her to understand the Easter promise, even when “pregnant with my loss.”

On Hour of Our Death

In December’s Child, Mary Walsh shares the story of losing her ninth child and sharing the loss and the hope with her children.

By Sunday morning, the empty sac was like the empty tomb. The angel said, “He is risen; he is not here.” My baby’s life left my body and entered into the arms of Jesus. I baptized the baby as best I could. . . .

Joseph Peter, a real and true person, was entrusted to our care. He will never have a social security number or a birth certificate, but he will always have a place in our hearts as our Christmas baby. Personhood emanates from God’s gift of love and life. God’s grace sustains us through the prayers of others.

Suzanne Lewis’s heart soared when the doctor pointed to the second of the twins she was carrying, but then he said “I’m terribly sorry for your loss.” In I’m Terribly Sorry for Your Loss, she writes of being a tomb for her child, of the ways others tried (sometimes badly) to help her, and what she could do through her loss to testify to God’s grace.

In To a Still-Born Daughter, Scott Eric Alt shares a poem he wrote after the stillbirth of Caitlyn Elisabeth Alt. Describing her birth, he wrote:

A little while we held you here within our arms
To assure you that our love is great.
And though we know you skipped the hurt of Earth,
How beautiful your face that could not see.


SOURCE: Leah Lebresco Sargeant, Losing My Child at Easter, published on the First Things‘ website 22 September 2017.

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