As ignorant as this sounds, before we had children, I didn’t have very much experience with those who had lost. I truly had no idea how common miscarriages were because, for me, at least, no one around me talked about it. And until last year, when my friend Amanda, lost her precious baby when she was in her first trimester, I had never personally known someone who had lost a child. Now, a year later, I sit here reflecting on this day in such a whole new light.
This morning I sat in church as the our Pastor asked who in the crowd had been a Mother the longest. Then he asked who was the newest mom in the room. It took all of me, and the hand of a friend next to me, not to stand up and ask him, to ask all those who had lost to stand so we could honor them and lift them up. Whose thinking about all the women who have loved their friends children as their own, or who have loved and lost a child? What about all those who desperately wanted a child to love, but never conceived?
Then he began to share a story in Luke about a man who came to see Jesus because his 12-year-old daughter was really sick and by the time Jesus got to the man’s home, his child had died. Except the story didn’t end there, it went on to talk about how Jesus told the man his daughter was not dead, but sleeping. He brought the little girl back to life. As I sat there and half listened, I began looking for a distraction, my phone, my thoughts, anything to push down the anger and sadness creeping in.
Here I was sitting in church, and I couldn’t get the ache to go away. I began to sit there and pray that God would always show me the right way to show up for Jacqui and Dan. That He would help me to know when to speak and when to be silent, when to bake bread or just send a card. And I think it’s ok to ask for those things. It’s ok that this is all new to me, it’s all new to all of us. Heck, it’s still a gaping wound for them, so there will be days where they will tell us what they need and days when they’ll need space. All I know is that if the tables were turned, they would be there for us in a heartbeat. And I know that she’d bang down my door if I didn’t let her in.
Today my feed was filled with people releasing red balloons in honor of Ryan and it was so incredible! To see a community of people all over the world, come together through this tragedy and shine a light of hope into this families life. We were right there with you. We let our balloons go by the ocean as I prayed the winds would carry them down the coast line and as people looked up they would be reminded of Ryan and of others they know who have lost that they need to show up for.
If you know someone who has lost, my prayer is that you’ll show up for them. Be there as a shoulder to cry on, a homemade meal they might not have the strength to make, or a cup of coffee because sometimes making your own just seems like too much. And I pray you’ll see Jesus. I know that’s Dan and Jacqui’s hope too. That we would all see more of Jesus in this, or we will all go crazy trying to figure out why this is all happening.
If you’ve stopped by here in the last week, I just want to say a personal thank you for sharing Ryan’s story. We never expected when I wrote that first post that it would become the beautiful story that it has become. Jacqui just asked me to write something in her son’s memory that she could always look back and read, but it’s because of each and every one of you that he will be, that they will be, in our thoughts for long after today.
Also, many have emailed and asked about the funeral. The funeral details will not be released as the family has invited only family and close friends of the family to attend.
To all the women out there, young and old, who have loved or taken care of those in your life,
Happy Mother’s Day!
I think when horrible and sad things become the norm for us and we get used to bad things happening and we think we know exactly what to say and what to do then we have really lost our way. Being available is the only true thing to do. Be there in loves name.
These days I’ve been praying for Mom & Dad. I pray their marriage withstands and is strengthened by their loss. Too many fall apart. That is my hope, that is my prayer.
Thank you so much for sharing your mothers day with us. I have read your blog long before this awful tragedy. What you wrote today was beautiful and moving. I am a single mother of an Angel my son Cristian passed full term while I was giving birth . He will be 22 this November he was born on thanksgiving that year. Believe me even though I only knew my son inside the womb I miss him every day. Time makes it harder. I have an 18 year old daughter she is my everything. But I still miss him so much. You are right they are going to need your support for a very long time . Jacqui and Dan have beautiful friends. God bless you for all you do..
Melissa H says
This loss struck me pretty strong even though I have never personally met Jacqui. See, one of my dear friends is going through her first mothers day since her daughter passed away, also from a tragic accident. So my heart hurts for all the parents who have lost a child. It isn’t supposed to be this way, and it is natural to be angry, sad, confused. I really hope this story makes us aware of all parents on days like this, and also, not to forget Dan on fathers day because all too often we neglect the fathers in loss.
Thank you for sharing tour heart. You all are in my prayers.
I thought I’d share this link to Christa Black’s blog. She is a Believer who recently lost her daughter. She has, very openly and beautifully, written about her experiences, good and bad, over the last two months. I hope you have already received some consolation from her vulnerability, but if not here’s where to find her:
You are such an incredible friend… I wish that in some way I could do something for your family & Jaqui & Dan’s Family. My thoughts and prayers have been with you all since the day I found out that little Ryan went home to be with Jesus. All I can do from a far is continue to pray for the strength you all need to continue each day.
I have not been able to conceive and in a crazy way, I feel a loss… although I have never been pregnant, I feel a loss in knowing I may never know what being a mother feels like… so in a way, I morn with you all and although I know the pain can NEVER compare to Jaquis pain… I understand the ache in her heart….
God Bless you all!
My heart breaks for Dan and Jacqui. My husband and I know loss. We have not been able to recover. I only wish I had a friend like you to lean on in these desperate times. You’re an amazing friend. Blessings to you all…
Well done. One day when they are able to read again and it not be a muddled mess they will read what you wrote and feel your love. The first few months I couldn’t read anything and process it, but I would focus on Jesus Calling because it was short and seemed to speak directly to me, the grieving mom. Prayers.
Thanks so much for these posts. Like most others, I don’t know Jacqui, Dan, or Ryan but their story (and Jacqui’s Instagram feed, which just radiates the love they have for their special, little, red-headed boy), has gripped me and I needed insight into how the little family is coping. In light of this tragedy and the women in my life who I know have a hard time on Mother’s Day for various reasons, I too was feeling angry yesterday. I’m keeping their family and yours in my prayers.
Thanks for sharing. It sure would have been nice for them to recognize those at church who are still waiting for kids (me) and those who have lost (your sweet friend and my SIL). I know how hard yesterday was on both girls and so many others mommas who have lost their own. You are right – the best thing to do is show up and be present. There is nothing you can say in a time like this. I posted some stages of grief after listening to a sermon that really helped me – I hope it helps others as they walk through this journey as loss too. I imagine you and the mom are still in the shock phase – the promise is throughout it all that Jesus is weeping and He is near and close. He saves those who are brokenhearted. http://in-due-time.com/faith/getting-lifes-losses/
Thank you so much for continueing to share Ryan’s story. Please let Jaqui and Dan know that their son didn’t die in vain. You are right God does have a plan the “master plan” and although we don’t always understsnd that plan it always comes back to glorify God. I lost my mom when I was 22 and my heart breaks that my 3 boys dont’ know her, but I pray God would give Jaqui and Dan a glimps of what that plan is. I will coninue to pray for them.
Rosa from Chicago says
Happy Mother’s Day!! Thank you for everything that you do and for sharing this incredible story of Ryan. I don’t personally know them but I feel so connected. I pray for you as well and the many close friends she has because you are her strength. Hugs!!!
Kara-Kae James says
So beautiful, friend. I’m so thankful for women like you who walk in true community with others. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day even through the pain and the tears. Love you dearly!
Loved this post. I have been thinking of Jacqui all weekend. My baby boy died a year ago, and I still feel the need to talk about it. Jacqui’s story is different from mine, but I can imagine that for years she will have days where she still needs a listening ear. I admire how much you care about her and her family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so beautifully.
John Piper +Shane and Shane
This reminds me of God’s sovereignty and His Goodness. It is kinda rough and wouldn’t recommend it for you or the family quite yet. But is helpful for me when I need to give it to Jesus. Praying fiercely, you’re a great friend.
Lisa at Concord Cottage says
Hi Alyssa, I have been following your posts and Ryan’s story ever since you shared it. It really hit me as a mother and as a person who lost her mother at 10 years old. it is heart breaking and there aren’t enough words. I think it is amazing what you have done for Jacqui and Dan (and of course it will never bring him back) but to bring a community together to support them, pray for them and connect with them. I am a blogger also and live right here in Monrovia so please know I am praying for them and you and if you need anything at all please let me know because I am close. You did an amazing thing through love and friendship. Although nothing can take our pain away it hopefully will give some comfort. big hugs, Lisa
Wow. I needed this. I have a precious 8 year old daughter. She came after two miscarriages, and before two more. We are unable to,have more children. Very few women talk about miscarriages. Or we get comments like “that means something was wrong” or “thank god you weren’t emotionally attached yet”. I was emotionally attached to all four of those babies.
Jennifer Dawn says
Beautifully written! I’ve been following the story since you fist posted about it. My heart just breaks for the family! Sending love and prayers.
Jacqui, Dan, and their sweet babyboy Ryan have been on my mind and in my prayers constantly. I know tragedy and grief strike every single minute of the day for many in this world but for some reason that red-headed, bundle of energy and love has struck a chord very deep in me. I love Ryan, I pray constantly to this sweet angel and am just in awe on what ripple effects of love and awakening this boy has had on not just me but all of us. I pray for you too and just want you to know what a beautiful friend you are to your friends and what a blessing that is at a time like this. Sending lots of love to all of you and kisses to that beautiful angel in heaven.
My heart breaks by reading about this tragic awfull loss. I’m praying for you all. Hope that the wound eventually will heal.
Sending love from Sweden
GROW UP says
While it is incredibly sad that a family lost a child (a tragedy that happens many, many times a day in this world), I can’t help but be astounded and disappointed by the selfishness and short-sightedness of anyone who would actually release balloons into the air. It’s one thing to metaphorically release “red balloons for ryan,” but how can you be a person in the world and not have any idea what all of those balloons are doing to our environment. What about MY children? or their children? Where are the thoughts and prayers for them? Stop ruining their world for someone who isn’t on this world anymore. Do you research. balloonsblow.org