Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: "An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart"

An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart from Loyola Press is a book that is small on size and huge on impact.  The subtitle is "Reflections for mothers and fathers aftter miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death."  It's a collection of brief (one-paragraph) expressions of different stages of grieving the loss of a child, alternating with Scriptures that address that topic. 

Here is one example from the chapter "Reflections for fathers":

I held her perfect little body.  Tiny toes and fingers and wispy dark hair.  It's hard to believe that just a few hours ago she was alive inside my wife.  Something happened - I'm still not exactly sure what - and she died just before she was born.  How could that precious little body be so lifeless?

Holding her wasn't like I expected it to be, but I'm glad that at least I got to tell her that Daddy loves her.
And on the facing page:
"...you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you."  Isaiah 43:5
The reflections are heart-wrenchingly honest cries, sharing everything from keeping busy so it doesn't hurt so much, to reflecting on an empty crib, to feeling imprisoned by grief, to the suprise of feeling slivers of joy break through when you think you will never smile again.  This book doesn't preach or teach.  There is no commentary to explain the Scriptures or the reflections.  It just sits in your hands and offers the thoughts of other moms and dads to give you comfort, let you know that you're not alone, and to give you a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.   Reading it made me cry and smile at the same time, and was strangely comforting in both.  It's a book I'm keeping around to give as a gift to others who have to deal with this awful sorrow.  I strongly recommend it, especially if you have a more poetic nature.  It will speak to your heart and to your soul.

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