Five Things 1,700 Grievers Have Taught Us | Part 5

There is Always Hope

They had nothing about them that would indicate greatness. Two photographers, each with a camera around their necks.

But greatness they had, and hope they gave. And they had no idea.

Their mission: when babies were not expected to leave the hospital alive, they took pictures of the babies and their parents and extended family. For ten years they had shouldered this burden or to them — this privilege.

When we met them, on one of the saddest days of our lives, little did we know the journey ahead of us, working with those who had ‘give up’ lurking and ‘hopelessness’ beckoning.

“And how long have you been doing this work?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s not our job. We are professional photographers, but this is our passion.”

Usually, I want to know “Why?” when someone tells me something I don’t quite get. Family legend has it that I asked the obstetrician who delivered me (June 2 for those who are givers), “Why did it take so long for me to come out into this world, and why was my mother screaming all those unmentionables?” I doubt if this is really true, but it does help make some sense of this obsession of mine. It is easier to think I was born this way.

So of course I asked them why would two reasonably sane people intentionally immerse themselves into the mess of pain and loss, and not charge a dime for their services. I expected some sort of ‘this happened to us’ explanation but was stunned to hear the depth of their motivation.

“Well,” they began awkwardly, “We lost all 5 of our children while they were infants. Two were stillborn, and three died of sudden infant death syndrome. We just have to do this. We can’t really say why. We just know we must.”

Our ‘Mustness’ – From Anchors to Sails

These quiet heroes changed me but certainly not instantly. Before hope reared its welcome head, tears, heartbreak, questions, and deep sadness took their rightful place. Grieving, even deep grieving, is necessary in this world, especially if we want to get to ‘mustness.’

And whether we have a few minutes, years, or decades left in this life, this question of: Does what I do matter? rarely leaves. What do we do with those heartbreaks of life? Why do some turn their anchors to sails, and others never get out of the dock? Their boat never fulfills its destiny: It never sails the open seas at all, much less around the world.

What thousands of grievers have taught us is that when we believe all hope to live a rich and fulfilling life is gone, we remain stuck, with our ‘anchors’ of loss and pain and grief. There are days when we can barely get out of bed, much less live a rich and fulfilling life again.

Yet a little sliver of returning hope restores us a bit, helps us out of the bed, and the journey out of that pit of grief gains a little momentum.

It is difficult to live a day without hope. Hope I lack – hope I must have.

At Spark of Life, we believe in hope.

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