Below are some excerpts from the forward I wrote to Elizabeth Hagan’s new book, Birthed. Navigating the grief embedded in the human experience is something we all face, and this beautiful story will give universal words to your own personal pain. Take a read and then check out the book!
“At first glance I assumed this story was someone else’s: a story of infertility, sad and painful, worthy of something like detached from those of us who have never spent a moment wondering whether or how we would become parents.
But once I began to read, the story gradually started to seem familiar.
Like every one of our stories, like my story, this one is filled with pain and decorated with beauty so intense that we can’t believe it.
It takes a good amount of courage to voice the bleak desperation that is our shared human experience. We’d much prefer everyone saw the shiny veneer we so painstakingly cultivate in every way we can possibly muster. But you will read in this story and eloquent expression of pain, words to hang onto or appropriate to speak of your own.
[W]e have to speak of the pain of human life so we can speak with any integrity of the joy we experience: the long-awaited realization of a lesson learned, the deepening of love, the assurance of the presence of God. The light and the darkness both color our humanity and to speak of one without the other will never show us the landscape we so desperately long to see, the full story of each one of our broken and beautiful lives.
Read the beautiful, pain-laden words in this book. Read every single one, because when you do you will recognize yourself. And when you do you might find, as I did, that this story will help you grasp the courage you need to speak of your life in its fullness. You will know in the core of who you are that your experience is not a lonely aberrance.
And when you wake up to that awareness, like Elizabeth, you might just begin to recognize your own pain for the holy honor it represents, the rushing water that has smoothed your hard edges and the terrible chisel that has chipped away at everything superfluous and shaped you into who you were meant to be.
Whether you are a pastor, [like Elizabeth], or whether you’re the most faith-less person you know, whether you’ve agonized over IVF cycles or whether you’ve never spent a day in your life worrying about reproductive realities, I am telling you: you will find yourself in this story. Why?
Because this is not really a story about wanting to be a parent.
This is a story about becoming fully human.
This is a story about setting out to conquer the world and finding yourself on the side of the road, heart cracked wide open.
This is a story about finding a family, perhaps not in the places we thought at first, but instead in ways we’d never dreamed. It is a story of finding unlikely parents in our lives and learning to parent each other.
[This is] a story about giving up control, finally, and letting God do the excruciatingly beautiful work of shaping us into the masterpieces we were created to be.
And which of us has never lived a story like this one?
There are also many parts of the grief experience that are universal. While I myself have never personally gone through much of the journey Elizabeth invites us on in this beautiful book, there were moments in my reading that I felt the balm of recognition, that I felt my grief understood. Share this book with people who are living with infertility, and share this book with anyone who needs to know their experience of grief is shared. It is a healing gift.