by Dorcas Denness

Where do you turn when your hopes and dreams are like a stillborn baby in your arms – beautiful, perfectly crafted, but lifeless? In your confusion and pain, how will you process the disaster and what will you do? Recently, I watched friends deal with such a situation.

I sat in the chapel with a hundred people dressed in black. Straining my neck to see past the tall men in front of me, I looked for the little coffin, but saw only an empty table.

The soft music became louder, signaling the beginning of the service. Everyone stood and looked back at the centre aisle, as for a wedding. Walking towards the front came Jon, dressed in his black suit, tenderly carrying a wicker basket laden with beautiful flowers. He paced slowly, eyes fixed forward, his face contorting with grief as tears spilled from his swollen eyes. Making his way past friends and colleagues, he arrived at the front of the chapel, where Esther, his wife stood, still recovering from giving birth. Gently, Jon laid the little coffin down, containing the body of Kaira, their stillborn daughter. He stepped back to join his wife, their two-year-old daughter Carisse, and the three grandparents. He had just taken the only opportunity he’d ever get to fulfill his dream: to walk Kaira down the aisle.

Instead of giving her to a handsome groom, he handed her still body back to God who had given her life. It seemed he enacted the words of another agonizing father at the loss of his children:

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;

may the name of the LORD be praised(Job 1:21).

 Wiping away tears, we read the words beneath Kaira’s picture up on the screen, “Safe in the Everlasting Arms of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

After singing together and hearing Psalm 23, Jon gave the eulogy. Standing near the coffin, he began by lifting our eyes from the victory of death over Kaira, to the victory over death by Jesus. Convinced that Kaira was now more alive than ever in the presence of Jesus, he shared how the pregnancy had gone well with a very active baby. Two weeks before she was due, they settled on her name: the feminine version of Kairos, which means: “God’s sovereign time and divine purpose”.

A week later, they faced the news that Kaira’s heart stopped beating. Devastated, they wondered what divine purpose could be in such a loss. The next day Kaira was delivered by Caesarian, a beautiful child, but lips turned blue. They held her, loved her, and took pictures. Heartbroken, they cried out, “Why did God give life to Kaira and sustain her growth in the womb up to just two days before delivery? Was God disciplining us? Why are we the ones to suffer? Why God… why?

They brought their sorrow and questions to God in prayer and several days later… In the stillness of the night, extraordinary peace and calmness consumed our hearts. God was slowly turning our weeping into dancing, our mourning into praise. And as we prayed, we learned four things from Kaira’s very short life.

Choking back tears, Jon shared the first lesson: forgiveness. Medical people told them that Kaira had every chance to be alive if staff would have acted as soon as they picked up the baby’s irregular heartbeat and not delayed the operation. Jon’s words,

If only something was done differently, we would not be here for a funeral. Friends, it is so easy to focus on the ‘what if’s’. Such uncertainties cause only greater despair. But one thing we know: forgiveness comes at a great cost. Yet this was exactly what God the Father did. He sent his only begotten son, born into this sinful world, living as a man, with the purpose of death on a cross, so that we can be forgiven once and for all. Amazingly, Kaira’s death was not just a reminder of God’s infinite love, but in every sense to her name, he placed specific times and purposes for us to live out his grace. By the time we left the hospital, God had given two specific moments where we were able to say to the doctor and the midwife—who in our understanding, had every right to be blamed—that we forgave them.

Having refused the cancer of bitterness, Jon shared three more lessons: Secondly, Kaira’s death has given us a renewed love for people. Through her death, God has brought people together—weeping, uplifting each other in prayer, praying with deep conviction, people we didn’t know. This is the power of the gospel. In Christ we belong to a rich heritage.

The third lesson came in the days following delivery in the hospital. There they received physical care and support but neglected the spiritual – exactly where their need lay. Experiencing how Christ changes everything, they realised they could help other parents, having navigated the deep waters of miscarriage, IVF, birth, and still-birth. Jon said, God has directed our hearts to be present with those who may be walking their journeys of barrenness alone.

Fourthly, they received fresh insight into how God’s Spirit brings comfort. Jon woke up early one morning with this inspiration from the names of his two daughters: two-year-old Carisse, and Kaira in her heavenly home: In every of God’s Kaira moments, He gives Carisse (Gods’ grace). Carisse will never replace Kaira, but we’re reminded even in times of grief, the Spirit whispers to us to fulfill His purpose and will. Jon encouraged us to do acts of love and comfort which give meaning and purpose to life.

Turning his head to the wicker basket, Jon said, Kaira, Papa thanks you for lessons from your short life. I have learned forgiveness, love, service, and comfort. You are, in every sense, my godly princess – a true reflection of Jesus. God has chosen you for a specific time. And whilst Papa and Mama will never feel you hugging us, you will never sing Jesus Loves Me with me, Carisse will never help blow out your birthday candles, Mama and Papa know that God has and will be using you even as you rest, safe in the everlasting arms of Jesus our Saviour. We shall see you one day, Kai Kai, on that heavenly shore.

The closing song reminded us that God is still ultimately “Sovereign Over Us”.  Sovereign Over Us – Aaron Keyes – Bing video

In a simple graveside service, Jon and Esther laid their little daughter to rest, having already laid to rest their anger and bitterness. No doubt this would be tested in the future, but it made me think that even with the death of our most cherished dreams we can learn to receive forgiveness, love, service and comfort, and extend the same to others. We cannot change the past, but we have a God who gives strength for the present and hope for the future. This is not an intellectual philosophy, but a transforming reality.

P.S. If you’d like to support their new initiative to support others who face issues of grief and loss in starting a family, you can donate to: Cornerstone Event Account (BSB 012-287 Account Number 212899046) marking your gift “Kaira”.