Four Years Ago Tonight…

…I fell asleep slumped over a hospital bed.
Up at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
And the next morning Selah died.
And I was kicking myself for moments-lost-in-slumber.
Today this card came in the mail.
One word
full of so much love…
From the doctor who was our doctor during that last week..
And it brought it all back,
for me.
At first there was the piercing pain.
And then the numbing pain–
With whole chunks of time that I honestly can’t remember.
And also there was the walking-pain,
Where it was all about just putting–
Clinging to Him.
And to each other.
That’s what I remember.
But what I also remember is…
The love.
Christ’s love through others.
If you want to know how to help a friend walk through grief,
just ask our friends-and-family.
At first…
It was meals and tears and coffee delivered,
children cared for and homework gathered,
Adoptions finalized just minutes-in-time.
It was phone calls to funeral homes and trees planted in memory.
Shared poems-of-cherry-blossoms,
And early mornings of walking-talking.
It was notes taped to car windows and hugs without words,
And pastors-freeing-us-to-weep-openly.
It was bathrooms cleaned, expenses covered,
And pink-balloons-and-cupcakes-pointing-away-from-despair.
It was scrap books and slide shows and memorial bulletins,
And later…
It was photos left up and notes slipped in mailboxes,
And glances-across-church-aisles-when-certain-songs-played.
It was scones and hot chocolate on birthdays remembered,
And sweet words of love when the cherry trees blossomed.
It was others saying “5 children” instead of just 4,
And adoption so beautiful in the lives of so many.
It was Christmas-ornaments-displayed carrying her photo,
And a single white rose, just even last year.
And even now
it continues…
Four years later,
Him using others, to show us His love.
His love pushing through the lingering sadness,
To remind us of the joy,
His gift,
And the glimpse of it, that we can catch–
Through the love within His family.

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  1. Oh sister, I’m in tears as I write this. Thank you for sharing this very moving post and for sharing it on Women Living Well link-up. I’ve read your blog numerous times before and I never knew. May the Lord continue to comfort your hearts.

    • Thank you so much for these words-of-kindness Kate…
      God has been really good to comfort our hearts and I know that there are many many many mamas out there with hurting hearts…last night when I was thinking back, there were the usual pangs of sadness and longing (just wishing we could know and enjoy her now)…but also this overwhelming sense of how God has shown us His love in such a deep way (often through the hands of others). Thank you for caring…

  2. I am so moved by this beautiful post. I have to say my family of God did not step up like yours did. Of coarse I am the pastors wife so they probably thought I was OK. I know one thing is for sure if ever tragedy strikes in my realm I will be there to do all the things you mentioned. I am so glad you were loved and supported. Thank you for linking this lovey post! I am saying a prayer for you now. Hugs sweet friend.

    • It’s all so recent for you Tesha…
      I thought about you after I posted this…and had mentally/emotionally walked back down the journey of sorrow and grief and missing a little one last night.

      I wish you were around the corner so I could just run on over right now and give you a hug. I am going to pray that God will put it on the hearts of those in your church family to surround you with comfort.

      That’s one main reason that I wanted to share this…
      I’ve been on the other side where it’s hard to know exactly what to say or do–

      But…whenever God prompts…it’s worth it to step out and take a risk to reach out.

  3. Wow… this is powerful stuff. Thanks for being so strong, so open and so honest. It’s amazing that you’re using such a tragic thing like even this, for the glory and praise of our lord Jesus Christ. This is just… beautiful…

  4. Oh, Kara! I am in tears for your pain and for the beauty of Christ living in and through you and all of those who have walked with you on this journey and been his hands and feet of love ministered to you and your family! What a blessing it is to live in Christ and to know that His love can bring beauty even in our darkest hours … Love to you, Kelly

    • Thank you Kelly…
      I’m thankful for our growing friendship and what you wrote above is exactly–
      how I feel.
      Seeing Christ’s-love-lived-out through those willing to be His hands & feet,
      It is absolutely beautiful.

  5. Hey Kara, so understand the one foot in front of the other … sometimes one breath at a time. Thankful that eternity is set before us and forever is ours for the taking. Blessings to you all.

  6. reneestam says:

    so sorry about your loss, lots of hugs and love sending your way.

  7. HopeUnbroken says:

    oh, this is beautiful, kara. i think too many times “we” think it is too painful if we bring up the name or the memory of the one lost. but you and others have taught me that it is the remembering that helps with the healing. it is important to REMEMBER. and if tears come with it, they are simply one more step in the overall process of the grieving and healing. i have learned to not fear them.
    thank you for sharing this. i’m praying for you today, friend. i love your beautiful heart. love YOU.

    • I love your comment Steph…this is absolutely so so true.
      And even though I’ve felt all that personally…I still sometimes hesitate to bring something up or to ask the questions that I know might cause sadness to resurface.
      It’s not that we dwell on these things…
      Tears and remembering don’t mean a loss or lack of faith in Christ.
      Especially when through the tears, His love shines bright and the hope He offers is illuminated.
      It all just keeps us listening for the whisper and nudge of the Holy Spirit, with eyes upward…looking towards eternity…
      Thankful for you Steph.

  8. So often the church can fail to love on others during those times. We think we have to say something that is helpful and stumble over our words but it’s really in the actions where the love is felt. And to remember that loss is felt over and over, year after year. Thanks for sharing your heart and showing Christ through your pain.

    • It’s so true Christina…some of the deepest love we’ve experienced came from such almost-random-but-God-inspired gestures. It’s crazy beautiful to me when God puts something on someone’s heart and you just KNOW it was all from Him. So encouraging…

  9. JennyErvin says:

    Oh Kara, It has been ages since I have stopped by to say hello! what a beautiful post and my heart aches with you over your memories of precious Selah. May the Lord comfort you today, sweet friend.

    I have just started a linkup over at A Mother’s Heritage and would be so honored if you would share this post over there. Sending love your way today.

  10. Remembering, grieving…

  11. Jenn Porsche says:

    Thank you SO much for your honesty and sharing this! Having our babies remembered and included means the world and how wonderful people continue to keep your daughter’s memory alive. I’m so sorry for the loss of you precious Selah.

  12. Triciakeierleber says:

    You ready for this: I love how you love how much I love my daughter! Lol Mouthful!

    It if because of this this love that you’re posts about Selah rip me apart. I empathize with you, I grieve with you, I know, (or don’t want to know) the pain it would be to lose my baby girl.

    Keep sharing them! We’ll keep crying with you, and I know these posts bring peace to some that experience this terrible loss!

  13. Kara, once again written in a way that not only glorifies the Lord but instructs and builds up His church….so well done. This is a reminder I hope will transform me into doing acts of love and not thinking about what might feel awkward…just do it!

    That week from April 18 to April 25 in the hospital with you and Jas and the kiddos is a blurr for me but also a “memory stone” of how the Holy Spirit, His Word, His church, and your tenacious clinging to Him and to each other carried you through to stand in His grace….like Ann Voscamp says, “All’s grace in Christ alone.”
    Love you tons,

    • Love you Mom…
      We are forever thankful for how much you and Dad were knee-deep-with-us-walking-through-it-all that week.

      When I think back over all the loving acts and words from others, it so awakens my desire to respond whenever I feel the Holy Spirit nudging. Because it’s just SO incredibly beautiful and encouraging when His Church lives out love that way.

      P.S. Um…wait…did you just actually post a comment online !!??!!! :)

  14. A beautiful tribute to the communion of the saints and a child well loved. I haven’t been through that kind of grief, can’t even imagine it, but you have conveyed it beautifully here. Nice to meet you from Ann’s place.

  15. Thank you so much for being willing to share from so personal a loss and from your journey to heal. I especially love the Christmas ornament idea. How lovely to have something to put on the tree each year that reminds you of the beauty and joy she brought to your lives.

  16. arichter01 says:

    Oh, sweet friend. What a beautiful post! So sorry you have had to lose a child, I didn’t know you then but I hurt just hearing that you (such a sweet spirit) had to endure so much pain. I’m so glad you were able to still feel God’s presence through it all. Isn’t it wonderful that HE is always good even in amist such pain?


    • I have a big sign in our family room that reads–
      “God is Good All the Time”
      There were days when I wrestled with this…
      But in part because of the response of His followers, it was and is IMPOSSIBLE to deny. His loving fingerprints were all over our story, even when the sorrow was deep.
      I always feel a heart-connection with you Angela…thank you friend.

  17. lbmoreland says:

    Teary at this moment. You have written so beautifully. At a time of loss, about the same time as yours; we too saw the Lord’s loving care in all the ways that you mention above. It was good to be reminded about the simple gestures that meant SO MUCH.

    • Feeling such a connection with you (it’s crazy how close that kind of pain binds hearts)…I can tell you understand.
      So thankful that you were so cared for by His family as well.

  18. my sweet ruth (gracelaced) sent me here. i’ve lived this pain AND this beauty. the beauty of the Body of Christ effortlessly carrying us through our own loss four years ago. even reading your words, i feel i know you. and your heart. i am honored to learn of your precious selah and hear her story. AND witness your amazing faith and joy fight as you claim and point back to the Cross for all hope! bless you…..

    • Is this Sydney’s mama?
      Ruth told me about you…your story touched my heart.
      I love the song you and your husband shared…brought tears this morning.
      I told Ruth today that I would love to share your song and adoption journey at some point if you’d ever want me to?
      I felt the heart-connection listening to your heart cry in that song this morning…

  19. she’s beautiful. thank you for sharing her life again. as a nurse at a children’s hospital, it is so good for my heart to hear of loved little ones in the midst of all the hard. and whenever people talk about grief, it seems i always hear what NOT to do. all that love from those around your family sounds so beautiful and i’m thankful jesus could love you all in that way.

    • I just want you to know what a powerful impact our caregivers up at the Children’s hospital had. We were placed on a floor where “children aren’t supposed to die” because no one understood the seriousness of Pompe at the time.
      But–our doctor will be a forever friend. And we had one nurse, Jessica…who God placed in our lives because He knew we’d need her. She was a believer and we still run into her from time to time…she will FOREVER have such a special place in my heart. Just please know the deep, deep impact you have on the lives that you touch…

      • Our incredible doctor Windy even sent a card this year…can’t tell you how much LOVE is felt in that simple gesture. It’s huge…the impact that those caring for hurting-little-ones (and their families) can have.
        Your words make me sense that you are also one who would show that kind of love.

        Just know–for hurting families–it is incredibly meaningful.

      • Jessica Jordan says:

        I have no words … The Lord is so much bigger than we can ever fathom. I could have never known when I heard that faint calling to leave college ministry and take the plunge into nursing school that someday, so many years later, I would be reading such incredible reflections about a patient and family who touched my soul so deeply. I realize that God’s purposeful hand placed me in that room, Selah’s room, equally for the Chuppies’ benefit as well as mine. It is incredibly humbling. Thank you Lord Jesus, for knowing us all so well.

        • I’m still spillling tears after writing you on FB…
          Just know–
          Your are a treasured piece in the puzzle of our lives.
          Just know…
          He used you to show His love.
          And we are forever thankful Jessica.

  20. Wild Optimist says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Selah is lucky to have you praying for her still. This is a lovely post honoring her and the Body of Christ here on earth that comforts you. I’m glad they were there, and I hope you always feel held by Him.

  21. Tara_pohlkottepress says:

    this grief, it pulls me to you. wishing i could hold the four years ago you and the today’s you all in one. for you to look in her eyes, to guide her through. to say that this is beautiful is to do this an injustice.

  22. i am sorry for your loss but also joyful for all those that have shown you that love in the after…i can not imagine myself but….lovely post…

  23. Barb Spencer says:

    How very beautiful. I found myself tearing up as I read this even though I didn’t know you then or your precious Selah as your heart came so vividly through your words. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so thankful death is not the end and that God is the victor. You will hold your sweet Selah again thanks to Jesus. ~Barb

  24. Beautiful. Love that you always write the beautiful truth, even when it’s hard…the hardest for a mother. Much love to you and your family today as you celebrate, remember, grieve and are just plain sad. Her short life has reached so far because of your willingness to share it. Love to you and your’s!

    • Sweet Sara friend…
      I know you know this walk…of trusting Him with little ones struggling.
      Heading your way to see if there is any update.
      Your family is always close to my heart…

  25. Emily Wierenga says:

    this made me weep… an incredible and powerful write.

  26. Wow, I wasn’t prepared for this when I found your blog. But I’m happy I did. I have not experienced this kind of grief but have friends who also have outlived their children. I’ve always been inspired by their faith as well as their strength as you have too.

    • Thank you Anne…
      Only by His grace.
      I know others who have lost kiddos have really wrestled with Him.
      And I so “get that”.
      But–God was gracious to just give us a place to cling to Him through it all…

  27. In Christ, there will be no more moments lost in slumber, no more guilt, no end of chances to love. Sharing a home in God’s love, I hope that Selah knows our children in heaven and that they will play together among His cherry blossoms. So sorry.

  28. Jen Ferguson says:

    The picture of the Mother’s Day card — pierced my heart. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful little girl that graced your life.

  29. Kara,
    So many warm blessings to you and your family here on earth, and to sweet Selah in Heaven. Thank you for sharing some of who she is with us.
    “And these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.”

    • Thank you Ann…
      I need to come visit you soon (hopefully after my crew is in bed tonight).
      So much encouragement in your words.
      My dad is an M.D…you have such a place-to-be-used-by-God.
      Can’t even begin to explain the role that our doctors and nurses up at OHSU played when we were going through all this with Selah.
      And then the following year when we adopted Lydi and she had medical concerns.
      Just such a key place of being His hands and feet and love in our lives.

  30. I’m so sorry for your loss, Kara. Thank you for sharing about it so honestly and in such an edifying way. My grandfather passed away on the same date one year earlier, so we have an anniversary of sorts in common. This is a very hard week for my grandmother, but you offer some helpful ideas in how I can love her well.

    May the Father of mercies comfort you in this affliction, beautiful sister in Christ.

    • It’s funny how those dates do matter…
      Brings up so many memories.
      Makes me feel connected to you…
      Thank you for taking the time to share and I know your grandma will benefit from your loving heart.

  31. Wow. thank you so much for sharing this and holy cow do we have a beautiful church and a beautiful God whose timing is always perfect.

    • Totally how I feel.
      This year brought back tears…but not that deep, aching sadness of previous years…
      More just an incredible sense of how beautiful…the hands that serve (for Him).

  32. *tears* Such an inspiration to be Christ to others.

  33. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

  34. Tears in my eyes as I read this, Kara. I’ve been praying for you this week.

    • Thank you Bonnie friend.
      I know you “get it”…
      That isn’t-easy-deep-push-through-see-Him-in-the-midst kind of LOVE.
      Praying for your journey friend.
      You are an inspiration to me…I think back to the before…and the now.
      God is good.

  35. Selah…how beautiful her smile :). I imagine four years must feel like yesterday and I give thanks for the way these have held you through it all. Sending my love as we remember together.

    • It’s so true Lara.
      It does feel like yesterday…
      But then I look at our Lydi.
      Who we middle-named “Grace”
      Would have been more fitting….
      For weeping last but a night, but joy comes in the morning (with Him).

  36. I, too, am crying as I read. Thank you for sharing this and for giving the rest of us some practical ways to help the grieving. I pray God continues to comfort and bless your family.

    • Thank you Shanda.
      For even taking the time to weep with us, to share tears…and to care.
      And it’s so true–
      The practicals were huge for us.
      Often tedious.
      But–such a HUGE expression of His-love-through-others.

  37. Renee Ann Smith says:

    Such a poignant post, Kara. Thanks for sharing your heart with us. Blessings.

  38. Anna-Marie says:

    What a lovely post for your daughter. I teared up reading this and am so glad you are surrounded with family and friends who allow you time to heal, however long that takes. I will say a prayer for you and your daughter Selah


  1. […] had a great time together! Last week, we took a moment to “pause and value” our Selah (and to give thanks for the love we’ve been shown by so many since her death). We continue […]

  2. […] in charge of fitting together the puzzle pieces and He knew we needed that time to walk through some piercing days of grief. Still, the whole way through, we could rest in […]

  3. […] It was the same for me when our Selah was so sick and even more-so when she died. […]

  4. […] Four Years Ago Tonight (ways to weep with those who are hurting) […]

  5. […] voice and He seemed far away. And battles with sin-resurfaced that made me feel so weak. And the death of our child, when I wrestled with His […]

  6. […] to our family. And our church family has journeyed with us down the road of adoption. They’ve wept with us through the loss of a child. Her ashes are buried under a tree that flowers each spring on the […]

  7. […] silence can also speak volumes. An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache. A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to […]

  8. […] I chose Matt Chandler because his messages were so meaningful in my life when our daughter Selah died. […]

  9. Trusting God says:

    […] We have been in that ominous room of waiting before, When the fear seeps in and it’s easy for the catching breaths of panic to take control. […]

  10. […] empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache. A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the […]

  11. Impossible says:

    […] it was back in those first days of grief, His love this week surpassed. And once again, it was others He used to share His love with […]

  12. […] raises and adoptions and good grades and soccer-victories. Through the depression and diagnosis and death and disabilities and near-divorces. Be willing to dig-into-the-messy. Not fixing, but walking […]

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