| |

To Mothers with Empty Arms

Hospital Door for Stillborn Mother

I took a deep breath and started my journey down the hospital hallway.  My nerves increased with each step I took.  Was this really happening?

I made eye contact with a gentleman as he passed me in the hallway.

“How are you?” he asked with a smile.

I forced a weak smile and replied, “Fine.”  In my head I was screaming, “Awful!  Terrible!  How can you even ask me that?

Finally I reached the door.  The purple butterfly – a warning to everyone entering.  This was not a happy place.  I took a deep breath and entered the room.

And there she was….  one of my best friends…  holding her stillborn son.

It wasn’t suppose to be this way.

Cohen Bradly.  7 pounds and 11 ounces.  Perfectly formed in every way, yet he never took a breath.

Kristen was nearly 1 week away from her due date.  She went to her doctor for a routine check up and her doctor couldn’t find a heart beat.  An ultra sound confirmed that her baby had died and just a few hours later Kristen delivered her precious angel.

Baby Cohen was born directly into the arms of Jesus.

What do you say to your weeping friend as she holds her stillborn baby?

It is one week later and I still don’t know what to say, but here is my attempt…

To Kristen and all mothers with empty arms,

Your baby is real!  That precious life that was growing inside of you matters.  You gave life to a child.  The life was much shorter than we hoped for.  It truly wasn’t suppose to happen this way, but…

As our pastor said so beautifully at the graveside service on Saturday, you gave your child an amazing gift – the gift of eternity in heaven.  Your pregnancy, no matter how long or short, was not in vain.  From the warmth and comfort of your womb, listening to your voice and heartbeat, and then straight into wonders of heaven.  What a lucky life to live!

But it wasn’t suppose to be this way.  Our hearts are broken.  Our dreams are shattered.  And for that there are no words of comfort.  Your baby is truly the lucky one and we are left behind to pick up the pieces of our lives.

My promise to you, Kristen, is to never forget baby Cohen.  I will cry with you.  I will remember with you.

And someday I will weep tears of joy with you when I get to see Jesus place Cohen into your arms in heaven…

I love you, Cohen!  You will not be forgotten.

This post has been shared with permission by Kristen.  Please remember Kristen, her husband, 4 year old son, and 2 year old son in your prayers.


  1. This is so beautifully written Rebekah. It was a perfect sentence that Lester said, “You gave your son eternal life.” What a special gift. But, the bottom line still is, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We grieve with you Kristen and Crist and love you so very much!

  2. Oh how this post brought back a rush of memories, feelings and emotions. Just 1 1/2 yrs. ago I was the one who was sitting in that hospital room numb with the shock of giving birth to our precious baby girl who died at birth.

    Rebekah, this post is so thoughtful and sweet and I have no doubt that your friends will appreciate it! Your love and the way you honored baby Cohen will mean a lot.

    And to Kristen and family- I don’t know you but my heart aches for you. I’m praying that the Lord will feel very near to you during this time of heavy emotion and grief. I remember the feeling of wondering how to go on, how to make sense of life, how to live when someone so precious to you is not with you but now is in the Father’s presence. God WILL give you grace…
    -with love from one who’s been there

  3. Rebekah, you said it beautifully. My grandmother’s first pregnancy ended in stillborn twin boys at full term. She was treated like it didn’t matter by her family, friends, and doctors. She wasn’t able to give them a funeral either. Almost 70 years later she still hasn’t healed or forgiven herself from the experience. I’m sure Kristen and her family will never fully recover from losing her precious child. But I’m sure everyone’s support will help them immensely. I’m keeping them in my prayers.

  4. Rebekah, you said “It is one week later and I still don’t know what to say.”
    But you said it perfectly, you truly have a gift of writing. We have been praying for you, your small group and Kristen & her family.

    Love, your Dad

    1. Rebekah, I so agree — you have been given a very special talent, not only in writing, but sympathy, empathy and humor. God bless you in your continued blogging, and your friend and her family in their healing. I know Cohen is playing with my oldest brother Barry who also died at birth, along with the many, many other children who are there in Heaven. God bless you all.

  5. *tears*
    Almost 9 years down the line for me and I still don’t know what to say to someone else. Keeping Kristen and her family in our prayers.

  6. I’m so sorry that your friend had to go through this – or any parent, for that matter. Though I have to say she is lucky to have a friend like you. Your words are beautiful and I know you mean them from the bottom of your heart! xxoo

  7. Oh my heart is so hurting for this family and mother Kristen as I continue to pick up the pieces of my own 2 pregnancy losses, mine were/ are hard but cannot imagine the pain she and her husband must being going through. They are in my thoughts and prayers. If I can say anything helpful to her it would be, let other loved ones help you when they offer, let them make you a meal (Rebekah- make a meal train for her, there are free online services and email all her friends and family and church family, http://www.takethemameal.com/ is what I friend used for me) let people help you clean if they offer, let them take your sons overnight once or twice a week so you can sleep, think, cry, pray, etc., listen to encouraging music (like klove or Christian music), read encouraging verses! For me and my healing, and continuing healing even still is to say what’s on mind, don’t hold back any feelings (Kristen, you have the right to feel anything! Deepend sadness, emotional pain, anger, questioning why, or anything else!) it’s not fair what you are going through, no! Only God knows why and I pray he can wrap his comforting arms around you and that you can accept his comfort! Rachel

  8. Hi,

    My wife and I lost a daughter 5 yrs ago. (stillborn) and God has asked me to help people who have experienced this.

    If anyone needs any counseling from a father who has experienced the heartache, we can email or Skype,

    God Bless


  9. It is so hard. Our nephew was still born 12 years ago. We lost our first baby and our last baby, earlier on though. What you are saying is right, and true. I would rather have someone tell me they don’t know what to say then say they are sorry if they don’t really mean it, or try to act like they know what I am going through if they don’t. Forgive my raw emotions, but our last loss was very recent. (((hugs))) and prayers for that sweet family.

    1. Kelley, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. It is just not right that we have to experience such an awful tragedy like the loss of a child. This world is a messed up place. Thankfully, it isn’t our forever home!

  10. Thank you for this post. It is amazing how many people still feel that a miscarriage or stillbirth is not a big deal. You said it beautifully – born straight into the arms of Jesus.

  11. I’m so sorry for your friend and for all those who have lost babies. It has got to be one of the hardest things to go through.

    You words were beautiful, Rebekah, and so comforting. You have certainly seen your share of pain and loss this past year!

    Saying a prayer for peace, comfort and healing for Kristen.


  12. Audra, from http://rediscoveringdomesticity.com/, recommended I read this post as I recently lost a baby due to miscarriage.

    I just want to say that your friend is lucky to have you. Many of my ‘close friends’ didn’t do anything when I lost my baby. They may not have known how, but they didn’t even try.

    My thoughts are with your friend.

    1. Carrie, I am so sorry for your loss and the lack of support you felt from your friends. Sadly, miscarriage is extremly common. Perhaps your friends didn’t realize the depth of your loss because misscarriages happen so often??? Honestly, I don’t understand. I hope that I would be equally supportive to a friend who experienced a first trimester loss. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you are able to find healing through your grief (even though the pain may never go away) and healing for the hurt your friends may have caused.

  13. I am so sorry to hear of your friend’s loss. We lost a little girl last year and the incredible *aching* of a mother’s empty arms cannot be described.

    I wondered if you or your friend had heard of Angie Smith’s story of her daughter Aubrey. If you can, I would highly recommend getting a copy of Angie’s book, I Will Carry You. It’s an amazing, and yes very heart-breaking story, but I know that it helped me work through all the emotions, still clinging to God through it all.

    I’m praying for your friend – and for you as you walk with her. This year, I had a friend lose her little boy and it IS so hard, even having been there, to know what to say. Everyone is different and deals with things differently…

  14. I am so sorry for your friend,my sister and two of her daughters have lost babies early in pregnancy and it is hard to say anything and since it was early so many people didnt even know. There is no easy way to deal with the death of a child no matter the age or situation , the one thing that I have heard of that is so sweet is a group of photographers all over the country who go to the hospital and take pictures of you and your baby free of charge so that you always have a picture of you and your baby or family together. I know I wouldnt be able to let go .Bless your heart and please let your friend know we all care ,I write to several families who have children with Neuroblastoma and the rate of recovery is not good I just wish I was as strong as they are.

    1. Gloria, Kristen was blessed to have a photographer come to the hospital and take photos. The organization is called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Those photos mean so much to her.

  15. Rebekah this is just so beautiful and loving. May the Lord continue to work in you in glorious life-giving ways!

  16. Rebekah, I pray that God bless you always. A friend like you is what every parent who outlives a child needs. I pray that you and Kristen will continue to share with each other all of your lives. Child loss it a life changing event that never ends. It changes over time, but it never ends. 22 years ago last week, my son made an impatient entrance (at 26 weeks) into our family. He lived just one hour, but it was a beautiful hour. The more time goes by, the fewer people remember him. I cherish the ones who do. Thank you for being one of the people in Kristen’s life who will always remember. EVERY child matters.

    1. Every child DOES matter. Such wise words, Valerie. Thank you for your kindness and I hope that you are able to find new and meaningful ways to honor your son’s life.

  17. Dear Kristen and family, I know the heartache that you feel. Nov. 09 of this year will mark the 34th anniversary of our angel’s delivery into Heaven. I was almost 38 weeks along when I went into labor. I was scared already because she had been very still that day. So when the nurse hooked up the monitor I immediately knew by the look on her face that something was wrong. She made an excuse to bring in a 2nd monitor to check for a heartbeat, but I knew in my heart that my baby was already gone. When she was delivered her umbilical cord was knotted. She had probably died the day before. My beautiful Courtney Marie was perfectly formed, all 7 lbs.12 oz. of her. Even though it’s been almost 34 years, I think about her all the time. She had an older brother when she came into our lives, and a younger sister who was born 2 yrs. later. I wonder how much she would resemble them, which sibling would she most like? In 1980 they didn’t take photos, and we only got to hold our baby for a few minutes. I would give just about anything to have the beautiful photos you have, and the memories of time spent holding and loving your angel before you had to say good-bye. There are times when it seems like it was a lifetime ago, and there are occasionally times when I cry myself to sleep, recalling every detail of the experience, wanting to hold her, and knowing that I will some day. I will keep your beautiful family in my prayers. God bless you all.


    1. Laurie, I am so sorry you and your family have had to walk this difficult journey. It really is a shame that hospitals didn’t provide photographs and more time back then. There really aren’t words to say that can make your experience hurt any less, but please know that I’m thankful you shared your story and I’m terribly sorry for your loss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.