How to Find Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

How to Find Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von BuseckJanuary 9, 202317 Minutes

 CVB: You’ve had an emotional journey, but it’s also been a journey of spiritual growth. Tell us the story from the beginning.

Rosemary Pope: My husband and I were married right out of high school, at 18 and 19 years old. His parents were youth pastors and helped shape us and teach us the Word of God and to rely on Him. To that point, it had been easy. We didn’t really have any hurdles to go through. At 19 and 20 we got pregnant with our first child. At about seven months we found out that his heart had stopped beating. We delivered him and he was stillborn. We were blindsided by this and it wrecked us spiritually at that point.

A year later we got pregnant again with a little girl. About halfway through the pregnancy, we had a significant sonogram appointment and were given the news that her condition was incompatible with life. Once she was born, she wouldn’t survive. We were given the option to terminate, which I seriously considered because I had already been through such a loss and I just wanted it over with. But ultimately, I wanted to keep her. I wanted to raise her and I wanted God to heal her.

I had the realization of praying for her to be healed, but I’m also considering ending her life. If I really wanted God to heal her, I needed to give Him the opportunity to heal her. I knew I had to be okay with whatever the outcome would be, even if he didn’t heal her. I literally put her in his hands and we carried her as long as we could. I went into labor at eight months and we got to spend about five and a half hours with her before she passed away.

I really didn’t want to be pregnant again. I was just over the thought of having another baby because pregnancy had just become a nightmare. But I heard God saying, “Just trust me again.”

CVB: That’s hard when you’ve been through it twice like that.

Rosemary: Yes. So I trusted him and we got pregnant again. We ended up having a very easy pregnancy and carried the baby even past the overdue date. I delivered a healthy boy who is now seven years old.

CVB: Oh my goodness. Congratulations.

Rosemary: Thank you. Then after he was a year old, we felt ready to try again. We got pregnant again and then about seven weeks after that I miscarried that baby. Then a couple months later we got pregnant again and on Christmas day of that year, I miscarried that baby. We had just found out we were pregnant, too.

We waited a couple months and got pregnant again. This time we had another  easy pregnancy. I went way past my due date and delivered a healthy girl. She is now four years old.

After that we got pregnant and had another easy pregnancy, delivering a little boy. He’s now two.

CVB: Wow. It’s like the two extremes.

Rosemary: It is.

CVB: It’s very interesting. So you said you were ‘wrecked,’ by the first miscarriage. What does it mean that you were wrecked? And how did you recover from it?

Rosemary: It was just like our child was stolen from us and we couldn’t do anything to get that baby back. There was no searching to try to find who took our child or anything. He was just gone. I believed in God and it had been fairly easy to think that He has me and will take care of me. Then once that happened, it was like, “Oh, I have to really put to practice everything that I’ve been taught.” It devastated me. It felt like my faith had been violated.

CVB: How did you get past that? How did you get to the point of saying, “Okay, I’m ready to move on?”

Rosemary: Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. The remnant of a wound is still there, so it never completely leaves you. But time was a big factor in learning to not necessarily rely on my husband, Bobby, to be the one to carry me emotionally and spiritually. There was only so much he could do. Men and fathers tend to grieve differently than women. They didn’t carry that baby. It didn’t change them physically. They do handle it differently. Their mind isn’t always focused on this baby I lost.

I had to learn that he doesn’t always want to talk about it, and that’s okay. He did, but not all the time. I learned to rely on God through that time and just have my time alone with God and pray and worship with music. My husband would go to bed and I’d stay up late. He was okay and that’s how we did that.

Bobby Pope: Speaking to men out there, or women who have husbands. They may not quite understand. I had to hold it in. This may relate to what another woman’s going through. They may not understand why their husband isn’t grieving and all that. I couldn’t. We were so broke financially. I had to keep working.

I couldn’t have people feeling sorry for me. I couldn’t act like that in my job because the guys I grew up with, they don’t feel sorry for each other. A lot of times they just don’t. Not everybody is a Christian. So you have to chin up and trudge through it.

Now I did break after the first loss. I was mad at God and yelling at Him in my truck. I had a friend, a counselor at the time, and he handed me a copy of “The Shack.” I started reading it and it gave me a different perspective. I had been so mad at God, but that book helped me because I understood that he could take it.

When we lost our baby girl, I was in a different place. I now had some maturity with that type of situation. Exposure makes you tough and I’d already been exposed to this. So when I heard the news, it was like, “You gotta be kidding me.” I just wanted to get through it. I wanted to get on the other side of it, because I knew the sun would come up in the morning.

I wonder about my children who are alive now, and what they will be capable of. I think they’re going to be movers and shakers for the Kingdom of God, because Satan wanted to keep us from having kids.

We both considered it and said, “I think we’re tired of going through this up and down.”

CVB: So for you, Rosemary, with the second one, was it the same feeling or was it different? Because your husband had a different experience with the second baby.

Rosemary: Yes. It was definitely different. She wasn’t stolen from us. She was alive, kicking and moving inside of me. It was hard in its own way versus the first one. But going through all of that, I grieved her before she was gone. So it was a day we had expected and for me it was very hard. But being in that hospital room, it was also a very peaceful day. We were able to spend five and a half hours with her before she passed away.

Our pastor still talks about that day back in 2010, because the presence of God was so thick in that room. If I could go back and relive a day, I would love to go back and relive that day.

CVB: Really? That’s an interesting thing to say.

Rosemary: It is.

CVB: I don’t know that a lot of people would feel that way. Why, why do you say that?

Rosemary: Well, it’s that peace that passes all understanding. No one understands it. I don’t even understand it.

Bobby: We didn’t want to look at our girl because there was a chance that she would die immediately. We were both kind of hiding our faces to not see her. The moment that everything changed on that day was when we heard her cry out. That’s when everything melted away and she became our daughter. It was like, “Okay, I’m daddy. She needs her daddy.”

That was the moment where we said, “I’m going to relive that day again.”

CVB: So she lived another five and a half hours. So that was another thing that was very unexpected.

Rosemary: Yes.

CVB: What were some of the things that went on between you and that baby in those hours?

Rosemary: We just loved on her and held her. A lot of family members showed up, so anybody who lived close wanted to hold her and love on her they had their chance. They call it comfort care when they know there is nothing they could do to save her. So we just loved her. It was Christmas time and there were carolers that came by. They were singing Joy to the World and I was completely losing it.

There was a popular song by Mercy Me at that time called ‘Beautiful,’ and to me, that was her song. It talks about wondering if you ever could be loved and not worth anything. It seemed like, wow, this song was written for my daughter. We played that for her.

CVB: Tell me why you decided to do the book.

Rosemary: When I was going through the first two pregnancy losses, I scoured the Internet or bookstores, trying to find anything similar that I could relate to and see how those mothers got through it. I just held on to their stories for hope. There were some out there. But I always felt like I should write a book, but never felt ready.

Then a couple of years ago I felt God saying, “It’s time for you to tell your story.” So Joy in Suffering is my way of giving to other mothers out there. I just want to be a resource for them and help them during the hard times they are going through losing their baby.

CVB: When people get to the end and close the last page, what do you hope they carry with them from this book?

Rosemary: There were definitely a lot of tears, but I hope they walk away knowing God’s joy. Even though they may be going through something really hard, they can still smile and have good days and know that He is there with them through it all. He loves them no matter what.

Bobby: And they’re not along.

Rosemary: Yes. I wrote the book to help mothers know they’re not alone in their walk.

CVB: Do you talk to your children about their brothers and sisters in heaven and what are their thoughts?

Rosemary: Yes, we do. We don’t necessarily make a big deal out of it. We just talk about it. If they have a question, we answer it. Our oldest son, Buddy, he will say, “Was Enoch [our stillborn son] was he faster than me?

When we had lost those first two babies, we were given like a stuffed animal from different people. Those stuffed animals helped me when my arms were empty. I would sleep with them. But since then, I’ve given them to our kids and they definitely look well-loved now. They know they represent the siblings they don’t have here. They play with them and it’s been neat. I can’t imagine not sharing about their siblings with them.

Bobby: If we are meeting someone, I’ll say, “This is my oldest.” Buddy will say to me,  “No, I’m not,” just like that. I just say, “Okay. Yeah, you’re right.”

CVB: He’s got the concept.

Rosemary: My editor and his wife had a similar story where their daughter was incompatible with life. He’s told me that as a family, with their kids, they refer to her as the graduate because she’s already graduated to heaven. I love to share that with people because it makes you proud in a really sad situation.

Order your copy of Joy in Suffering: A Memoir of One Couple’s Pregnancy Losses and How They Found Happiness by Rosemary Pope