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Episode 30 - The Gift of One Day – How to Grieve a Grandchild with Kerry and Chris Shook


Join us for a conversation with Pastor Kerry and Chris Shook about how to grieve a grandchild and support an adult child who has lost a baby. After losing their grandson, Jude, they had to learn how to navigate grief both from the perspective of grandparents and parents. In this episode, they share how they came alongside their son and daughter-in-law and walked with them through their grief.

Kerry and Chris give practical ideas on how to show up for your children who are grieving a baby and how to navigate family traditions and holidays. They also share hope-filled lessons they learned from Jude who lived for one day on this earth. Their story will inspire us to live with intention for Jesus in memory of our babies in Heaven.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • What to do when you can't fix your children's pain when they've lost a baby

  • How to be a safe place for your child who is grieving

  • Seeing God work even in the middle of difficulties

  • Starting a Miracle Book and the impact it made on their faith

  • "Just for today" prayers

  • Honoring grandchildren in Heaven through family traditions

  • Special memorial ideas for the holidays

  • Normalizing talking about babies in Heaven and going to their graves

  • Learning the lesson: "Hard is not the opposite of good"

  • The power of vulnerability, including in the Church

  • About their book, The Gift of One Day

Full transcript below.

Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!

Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)

  1. Kerry and Chris share about their Miracle Book and how they recorded, in real time, how they saw God working in the midst of their trials. Is this something that you could do, even now, in your grief? What benefit would this have on your perspective? Write down a few instances in which you've seen God work in your grief journey.

  2. In this episode, Chris shares that the beauty of the body of Christ is that there's always someone who is up and someone who's down, and someone who's been through the same experience. God says in His Word that He uses those experiences we've had to help others. How can you use your story to help someone else?

  3. One of the lessons that Kerry and Chris learned from Jude's life is that "Hard is not the opposite of good." What does that saying mean to you? How do you see God's goodness prevail over this season in your life?

Graphics to share on social media or pin on Pinterest!



Kerry and Chris Shook have been married for more than thirty years and are the co-founders of Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Texas. They are New York Times bestselling authors. Kerry is the senior pastor at Woodlands Church and his wife, Chris, is the Director of Missions.

After losing their grandson, Jude Samuel, they wrote a book called "The Gift of One Day: How to Find Hope When Lift Gets Hard."

Connect with Kerry and Chris:

Facebook: /kerryshook

Instagram: @kerry_shook and @chris_shook1




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Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,300 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.

Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.

Connect with Ashley:

Facebook /ashleyopliger

Instagram @ashleyopliger

Pinterest /ashleyopliger

Follow Bridget’s Cradles:

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Instagram @bridgetscradles

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Episode 30: The Gift of One Day – How to Grieve a Grandchild and Support an Adult Child Who Lost a Baby with Kerry and Chris Shook

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.

Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.

Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.

Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:51] Friends, I am so excited to introduce our next guests, Kerry and Chris Shook. They are the Co-Founders of the Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Texas, and they are also New York Times bestselling authors.

Kerry and Chris lost a grandson, Jude Samuel, and have walked the road of grief with their son and daughter-in-law. I'm looking forward to sharing their perspective as the grandparents with our audience of moms today.

Kerry and Chris have so much wisdom to share, and I think this would be a great episode to share with your parents or in-laws after you listen to it. They give a lot of practical ideas on how the grandparents of a baby in Heaven can support their adult children after a loss.

So let me introduce Kerry and Chris. They have been married for more than 30 years and they have four adult children and six grandchildren. Kerry is the Senior Pastor at Woodlands Church and his wife, Chris, is the Director of Missions at the church.

After the loss of their grandson, they wrote a book called The Gift of One Day: How to Find Hope When Life Gets Hard. You'll hear more about this book in this episode. So let's welcome Kerry and Chris to Cradled in Hope.

Ashley Opliger: [00:01:58] Welcome Kerry and Chris to the Cradled in Hope Podcast. We're so honored to have you here today.

Chris Shook: [00:02:03] It’s great to be with you today. We've been looking forward to this.

Kerry Shook: [00:02:06] Really have; we so appreciate your ministry and how God's using it.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:10] Thank you so much. Well, you are the first couple to come on from the grandparent perspective. Your son and daughter-in-law lost their little boy in 2017, and you were grieving for your precious grandson but also for your son and your daughter-in-law. So would you share your story of losing him and what that was like as the grandparents?

Chris Shook: [00:02:36] Our son and daughter-in-law had long looked forward to having their first child, and when Josh and Kelly found out they were pregnant, our whole family, we have kind of a big family, four kids all married, so just all these soon-to-be aunts and uncles, the family all gathered around them. We were so excited, so looking forward to this.

And everything went normally until the 20-week checkup. And at that time they found out that his kidneys were not developing and that this was going to create a cascade of other issues, and that he was not expected to live very long at all past birth, that she would be able to carry him most likely to term but that he would not be able to live.

And then with that news as grandparents, to see our children just collapse, and just crying out to the Lord and hurting, and we did feel that we were grieving instantly with them over Jude, over this child, a name had been chosen, Jude Samuel.

We'd all looked forward to this event together and we'd already started as grandparents to have our own dreams and hopes and imagine what it was going to be like. And, then, to see our children grieving and at the same time, so we were grieving Jude and then grieving for our children.

At times it just felt like we couldn't breathe.

Kerry Shook: [00:03:50] Yeah.

Chris Shook: [00:03:50] It was just very difficult because as parents of any age, I think whether you're a young parent or a parent of adult children, your first knee-jerk instinct is to want to protect your kids. You want to help them, you want to save them from hurt, if there's a way you can save them from hurt.

And so there was, of course, nothing we could do to step in and help our kids, and we couldn't fix it for our grandchild. But what we could do is we could walk along with them.

Kerry Shook: [00:04:16] Yeah.

Chris Shook: [00:04:16] And just come alongside them, try to be a place that felt safe for them.

Kerry Shook: [00:04:20] And I think for me, I'm not the most emotional person, and when we heard the terrible news we were driving over to their house, and as a guy, as a granddad, it just broke my heart.

And I knew enough to know from being with a lot of people in ministry that my tendency would be to fix it. But I knew, walking through so many grieving moments with people, it's not that at all. It's just being with them and crying with them and hurting with them.

And so my mind triggered, for me, I had to like, “Okay, I want to fix this,” because you want to fix things for your kids. Yeah. I wouldn't do that ministering to someone at church. I would know better. But it clicked in, “We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to find a way.”

And right away Chris said, “Just know that they're going to be hurting so much and all we need to do is hurt with them.” And it just flipped my mind, and so I let my heart feel what it really felt, just crushed. And we just cried with them for I don't know how long, but that's really all we did. And then we prayed,

But that started the journey for us as grandparents, and that even though there were so many different things that happened along the way, that continued to be our place of just brokenness before the Lord, seeking, praying for a miracle, looking for miracles, but just knowing that God would have to do everything because we couldn't. We weren't strong. We were weak, and we were all weak together.

Chris Shook: [00:05:41] So we cried with them and we came back home here in our own house. And that night I just was on my knees praying for them and felt like the Lord was, wanting to see Him work, longing for Him to work, and not knowing how this would turn out.

And so I grabbed a blank little journal, it's a blank notebook, and wrote down a couple verses that the Lord was leading me to. And I thought, “You know what? We are not going to miss out on seeing You work, God. I don't know what You're up to and I don’t know what this is going to look like or how this is going to go, but I'm going to believe that You are here with us. I believe Your Word. And even when it doesn't feel like [it], we're going to hold onto You.”

And so a couple days later, there was an experimental treatment out there for the condition that Jude had, and it was in another state, and so I traveled there with our son Josh and his wife Kelly.

I traveled there with them as a support role, just going along. How can I take care of practicalities while they're the only ones that could really be there for their son, but what could I do to lighten their load, get meals, or help figure things out? And so I did those kinds of mom type things, but also I started this, we called it the Miracle Book and said, “We're going to watch, and let's just see where God's going to work, where He's going to show up.”

And every day, yeah. I mean, we'd go through the day and inevitably something awesome would happen. Maybe a tech was really overly kind. Maybe there was someone who stepped in and there were so many things along the way that just helped us recognize that God was there. And every night I said, “Okay guys, what have we got for the Miracle Book?”

Kelly might say, “Oh, today,” and it wasn't really focused on something that had to do with a physical miracle, a healing of Jesus. It was just, “God, where do we see You? We need to see You. We're desperate to just see You in our lives.” And so we kept on the lookout for that. We were watching for His goodness, for Him to show up.

And I think that really helped us because it changed our focus. Still grieving, absolutely, and having such a difficult time in that, but yet focused on and determined to see, “God, I will see You at work. I'm going to trust You.” And so we did. We just stayed with that and focused on the things that we could see Him doing.

I think we would've missed a lot if we hadn’t. That's what it took for us. We had to just daily, hourly, remind ourselves to stay in a place where we're going to focus on the Lord and sing His praises. And so we did that.

Jude was born early and he did live for 24 hours. And during that time, Josh and Kelly were able to be with him and hold him. And I know everyone's story is different; this just happens to be theirs. And I was with them during that time as a grandparent, so there in the NICU with them, and I again looked for ways that I could step in and just ease the burden.

And so when hard stuff came, I would just volunteer to, “Let me do this. Let me take care of this.” There's a lot of things that many of your listeners I'm sure might relate to, just the practicalities that go along with this type of thing. And I just leaned in; where I couldn't fix anything. I just did the small things I could to try to let them know that we were standing with them.

And I think as grandparents, it's been a journey and it still is. So now we're several years out and still wanting to honor Jude, and he is part of our family and he's 100% part of our family, and to keep talking about him and keep including him, and it's been our journey. We're still on it.

Ashley Opliger: [00:09:11] Oh, well, I'm so sorry for your loss of Jude.

And I'm just amazed and so impressed with how good of grandparents and parents that you are to step in and sit in their sadness with them, because I think a lot of times people are uncomfortable sitting in sadness and like you said, want to fix it.

But in a situation that's as out of control as this, the only option is to surrender to the Lord and be present. And I love that you talked about easing their burdens and the practicalities of everything because that is a really functional, yet loving way that you can be there and say, “I'm here with you. I'm holding space. I'm going to take care of the things that might be too hard for you to take care of right now.”

For me, when I was in the hospital after we lost Bridget, my mom was the one that called the cemetery and got her casket preparations, because that was just too much as a grieving mom to make those phone calls. And so I love that you did that.

I also love the Miracle Book, that in real time, even though you were in the depths of your despair and suffering, you were looking for God and for His goodness and His faithfulness, because I think a lot of, we like to look back and we’re like, “Well, we know God was there, so let's look back and see. Where was He in these moments?”

But you were walking through that in real time, in the suffering, and that's such a beautiful reminder to think we need to be looking for God even in the moments of suffering because it's hard, but there's so much beauty in it, and to have that written down so that when they do look back, there's all of those things that they can remember.

Kerry Shook: [00:10:47] Yeah. We were really also so impressed with Josh and Kelly that even in the middle of it, and we want them to grieve and they'll always grieve, they'll never get over it, but they're getting through it with God's grace and power.

But the first thing Josh said to me when I got over to the house, he says, “Well, we know God's not surprised by this, and we're shocked, we're devastated. Yesterday everything was amazing. And today, I mean, we're just devastated, but He's already, He's in the future. He knows it all and He wasn't surprised by it. He was already grieving for us.”