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Episode 33 - The Beautiful Brokenness of Grief with Kelcey Crone


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Join us for a conversation with Kelcey Crone about the beautiful brokenness of grief. After their son was born into Heaven, Kelcey and her husband were in a pit of despair. Not only were they grieving their son, but his loss exposed their sin from the past and in the present.


In the nakedness of their grief, they turned to God, and He saved their marriage. Both individually and collectively, God radically transformed them and gave them a new purpose in serving others and living for Jesus.


In this episode, we discussed:

  • Vulnerability and how to process grief with your spouse

  • Satan using your loss to wreak havoc in your marriage

  • Making the choice to choose God every day

  • Becoming 'one' in marriage after loss

  • How loss exposes past and current sin (and why that could be a good thing)

  • Redemption and purpose after losing a baby

  • The value of community in grief

  • Being fed by the Bible and staying connected to Truth

  • Bible interpretation: what is exegesis and eisegesis?

  • Why Jesus' Second Coming and the Rapture brings us hope

  • Serving others can be a vital source of healing

  • Finding joy again and looking toward the future

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. Kelcey talks about how the loss of her son brought muck to the surface of the pond (a metaphor for sin and brokenness being exposed in her marriage). Can you relate to her experience? If so, journal some of the sin, hurt, and/or trauma that has been exposed since losing your baby. How has this impacted you personally? How has it impacted your spouse? Your marriage?

  2. In this episode, we talk about how expository preaching and Bible interpretation changed our lives. Kelcey shared that she began to be "fed by the Bible." Are you spending time in God's Word, and if not, what is holding you back? If so, what is God teaching you about His character?

  3. Serving in community was an integral part of Kelcey's healing. She talks about how volunteering with Bridget's Cradles is her time to honor her son in Heaven. Have you considered serving/volunteering? If you're interested but haven't started, write a list of nonprofits, churches, or ministries you'd like to connect with. Also, write a list of strengths, skills, and areas of passion you could use to serve others.

Graphics to share on social media or pin on Pinterest!

 

MEET OUR GUEST

Kelcey Crone is married to Jon, and together, they live just outside of Wichita, Kansas. They are a blended family and have a son in Heaven named David, who was stillborn in 2020.


Kelcey is passionate about following Jesus and serving others in memory of David through Bridget's Cradles. She serves weekly at their headquarters in a variety of roles, including operations, administrative, and events.


 

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MEET OUR HOST


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.


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


Episode 33: The Beautiful Brokenness of Grief with Kelcey Crone


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: [00:51:46] Hello friends, and welcome back to the Cradled in Hope Podcast Season Two and the first episode of the New Year. Wow! I cannot believe it's 2023 already. We are praying that you had a good Christmas and New Year's Eve and that the Lord felt close to your heart during the holiday season this past month.


To start this new year, I wanted to have one of my closest friends, Kelcey Crone, on the podcast to share her powerful story of redemption after losing her son, David. I met her in 2020 after she received a cradle for David, and I've had the honor to serve with her every week in Bridget’s Cradles.


She is a beautiful soul, a wonderful friend, and a sweet sister in Christ. I can't wait for you to meet her and hear her love for Jesus. That's one of the many things I love about her is how much she loves Jesus. I rarely can talk to her about Him without her tearing up because she just loves Him so much and she's so thankful for all He's done for her and all He's walked her through. I'll let her tell you her story now.


Ashley Opliger: [00:01:51] Welcome, Kelcey. It's so good to have you on the Cradled in Hope Podcast.


Kelcey Crone: [00:01:55] Thank you so much. I am so happy to be here.


Ashley Opliger: [00:01:58] Well, as I already said in your introduction, you are a very close friend of mine and a sister in Christ that serves with me every single week at Bridget’s Cradles headquarters.


So it's such a joy that our audience will get to know you and get to know someone who is helping with all the operations that go on behind the scenes at Bridget’s Cradles. We're so glad you're here and we're looking forward to hearing your testimony and David's story. Would you introduce yourself for everyone here today?


Kelcey Crone: [00:02:28] My name is Kelcey Crone and I'm a wife of Jon and a stay-at-home momma. And Jon and I got married in 2019, and he had a seven-year-old little boy and I had a three-year-old little girl, Roman and Nora. And so when we got married, we were a little bit older. When we got married, we had already had past lives, so we knew that we wanted to have a baby right away.


And so we got married in October of 2019, and then we got pregnant in January with David, and [we] can talk more about that a little bit later. But then after we lost David, we did have another little girl named Lorelei, and she's one and a half.


Ashley Opliger: [00:03:07] She is such a blessing to your family. I met you shortly after you lost David. And so would you go back and share more about his pregnancy and birth, and what happened when you were in the hospital?


Kelcey Crone: [00:03:21] Yeah. Like I said, we found out in January we were pregnant and very excited, and everything was really normal. I had morning sickness and everything, but as far as a pregnancy goes, it was really normal.


And then when I was a little over 16 weeks, I got really sick. And I was like, “Oh, everything's fine.” And I have a tendency to just sweep things under the rug, and was just like, ”I'm fine.”


My mom's a nurse, and I had to call her one day, Jon at the time was an over-the-road trucker, so he was out of state. And so I had to call my mom to come over to help me take care of Nora because I couldn't get out of bed. And I was like, “This is weird.”


And she was like, “I think you need to call.” So I finally called and I went in and everything was fine. And then that repeated for a couple days where in the evenings it would get really bad, and in the mornings I would be fine. And finally I went to the hospital, and I was basically shaking nonstop, and nobody knew what was wrong.


So I went through a slew of different specialists and had more blood work than I ever knew people could do on one person, and they had no answers. They knew I had an infection, but they didn't know where. And I was in the ER, and then they went to check me in, and last minute they decided to check me into the ICU. So that told me that there was more wrong than what I realized.


And so it was at the very beginning of COVID, and so Jon couldn't stay. And so it was really awful because at night it was so bad. I could not stop shaking; I was cold. And they had found out that I was septic, so that's what was happening. I had an infection and since they couldn't find it, they didn't know where to treat it.


So I was in ICU for a night, and then that next night is when everything got really bad. I was having contractions, I knew, my body knew, I was having contractions, and everybody, all the nurses and specialists kept asking me, “What's your pain?”

And I kept telling them, “It's like contractions.”


And they kept saying, “No, this doesn't have to do with the baby. We ruled that out.” And I kept trying to explain to everybody that the pain I was having, what my body was doing, I had gone through a natural labor before, I knew it was contractions. And all the nurses were like, “No, that's not what's happening. It's something else, it's appendicitis.”


And so it was really frustrating. And on top of that, like I said, Jon couldn't be there. So around seven o'clock that next morning on April 10th, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I was sweating and I had to hit the nurse call button because I needed to get up, I was in so much pain.


And one of the nurses came and helped me up out of bed, and I stood up, and my water broke. And so it wasn't until that point that people started recognizing what was actually happening. And again, when that happened, Jon wasn't there. So I was like, “You need to call my husband, get him here.” And then everything progressed after that. I was in labor.

And so my OB hurried up there and Jon got there in time, and they had me hooked up to a monitor and you could still hear his heartbeat. And then we delivered him. He was this tiny little perfect human. And when he came out, Jon was like, “He has your fingers and toes,” I have these long fingers and toes.


And he was ours. And we didn't know until he was born that he was a boy. We knew, our hearts knew that he was a boy, because that's the only name we had picked out was a boy name. And one of the nurses was really kind, and she was like, “You need to think of a name.”


And I was like, “His name’s David Bruce.” And in the ICU, you don't get the care that you get on the OB floor. Nobody really knows what to do in a situation like that. I feel like there was this confusion of how to handle it.


And it's not like on the OB floor, where they're catering to the needs of the mom. It was like I was being treated medically and not like a mother. And so the woman from the OB floor, she came up and she asked if we would like her to take pictures of David, and we of course said yes.


So she took pictures of him and put him in the cradle that we got from Bridget’s Cradles. And yeah, I came there pregnant, and I left with a box. Jon and I walked out of that hospital with a box in our hands with a cradle in it, and a little measuring tape, and just emptiness.


Ashley Opliger: [00:07:42] Your story is so heartbreaking and so traumatic, especially because you had to go through so much of it by yourself, and even in the hospital feeling so isolated, not just from your husband, but from staff that really understood what was happening and was comforting you in those very lonely and scary moments for you, not knowing what was happening to your body and to your baby.


I'm so grateful that that woman came up and brought a cradle for David and that they did give you some memories of him, and that you have pictures of him. And so shortly then after he passed away and you received the cradle, we got connected.


And this was during COVID, so we had a Mother's Day event and it was actually a drive-up event because at that time we weren't doing in-person events. And so you came to that, and I'll let you share more of your story there.


Kelcey Crone: [00:08:36] Yeah, so with the little cradle, like anybody that has received a cradle knows, there's a little card on it that says Bridget’s Cradles.


And I'm not the kind of person that reaches out for help. I'm not the kind of person that really does that. I'm very much a person that does things on my own. And so God was very much like, “You need to call this number,” and I got you (Ashley). And we had a beautiful conversation, and my heart was instantly drawn to what you were doing.


And even though I didn't know much about it, I was like, “A piece of my heart goes here now.” That's just how it was. And so when I came to the Mother's Day event, you came outside, and you prayed with me. And I had mentioned to you if there was a place for me to spend time there, that I wanted that. And you, at that time, offered that to me. And Jon and I forever say that moment changed the trajectory of our lives. Everything changed after that.


Ashley Opliger: [00:09:25] And I love that you always say that you came there, and then you never left.


Kelcey Crone: [00:09:31] Yeah, always. I do. Every time I tell people about it, “I came to Bridget’s Cradles, and I've never gone home since.” So a part of me is always there.

Ashley Opliger: [00:09:38] It's a good home away from home, if anyone's listening and has been there. I'll speak for myself, but also for many of my friends and the moms who come to support groups. It is just such a place of healing and hope.


And a lot of times people assume that a place that's in the realm of pregnancy loss would be a very sad or somber place, but I feel that our headquarters is a place of light and hope that points us to Jesus.


And although we do cry many tears there and we have our Kleenex boxes at our support groups, we also laugh a lot and smile and enjoy each other's company. And it's hard to explain that to someone who hasn't been there. But when you're there, you feel the hope and I’m so glad that God has allowed that space to be your healing home as well.


And we've been so blessed getting to know you, and for me personally, as your friend, getting to see God work in your life and change so much of your own personal journey with Him, but also in your marriage. So can we transition now and talk more about how David's loss impacted your marriage, what that looked like right after your loss, and how God worked in that brokenness?


Kelcey Crone: [00:10:48] Yeah. Those moments after were by far the worst moments of our lives, as anybody that's lost a child knows. The emptiness and brokenness in that is just unbearable. I always say there was just this, in retrospect, beautiful brokenness that occurred in our home.


And Jon and I, we were newly married, so we knew each other, and we loved each other and everything. But being newly married is still hard, let alone something like that on top of it. And that moment and the grief and the depth of what we were experiencing, I feel like it ripped open every hidden thing we had in our lives and it stripped us naked. I said, “I feel like the loss of David made us naked in front of each other for the first time,” and it was terrifying.


And it was something where I think God gifted us that because I feel like we were already at the bottom, and He was like, “I'm going to take this moment and I'm going to just strip you guys of everything. I'm going to make everything apparent to you, and I'm going to take this grief and it's going to be really bad, but you are going to be able to build back together something stronger than you ever would've had.”


And I think that in the midst of it, it didn't feel that way. But looking back on it, it's so apparent to me that God used that moment to strip us of everything. And we had to take those moments and make a choice. We had to choose God every single day, and that's not easy when you are in the midst of great grief like that.


It's a conscious choice every day to choose Him, because Satan is speaking in your ear all day long about it being your fault and what you could've done and the ifs, ands, buts about it. And you have to choose to block that and choose God every day in that grief.


And it wasn't easy; a lot of fighting, a lot of anger, a lot of distance, and then these beautiful moments of intertwinedness where there was nothing we could do but draw closer to God and grow closer together, because the emptiness was all that we had around us. And so it was just this flux of ebb and flow of tearing us down and building us up, and tearing us down and building us up.


And in the end, I feel like we were one. That oneness that people talk about in marriage, not that we didn't have that when we got married, but when the loss of David happened, it made that a true oneness for us because we had to experience those steps together and it made us something that was beautiful. The beautiful brokenness of it was just incredible.


Ashley Opliger: [00:13:44] It is so beautiful, the testimony between you and Jon, even the changes that I've seen in Jon, because he's been around our organization. He volunteers with us at events and comes to our couples groups. And the change in both of you individually, but also collectively in your marriage and in your family, it's been so beautiful.


And so you don't have to give any specifics, but I wanted you to elaborate on that brokenness, because a lot of times people don't realize when you lose a baby, or you go through any type of traumatic grief, it is an opportunity for all of these old wounds to be opened up again.


And that could be past hurts, past trauma, childhood trauma, relationship tensions, sin, current or past, because when you're in grief, you are the naked, ugly version of yourself.

You’re the most vulnerable you'll ever be when you're in deep grief. So in marriage, I think it was in Gary Thomas's book, Sacred Marriage, he actually talked about how a lot of people thought that the path of holiness was to be celibate and to pursue God only.


But in his book, he argues that marriage is actually one of the best paths to holiness because I think he used the analogy that your spouse is like a mirror that is shining back and showing you your own sin and brokenness, and working that out in the covenant of marriage.


And so if you would elaborate on what that looked like, how your past and sin were also part of it. It wasn't solely grieving David, although that very much was what it was, but it also was exposing so much more in your marriage as you were grieving and communicating. and trusting, and building this relationship.


Kelcey Crone: [00:15:32] I love that analogy of your spouse being a mirror. I think that's exactly how it is. There’s such importance in your walk with Jesus to have accountability.

And in a lot of marriages, it's hard for your spouse to be that person. And the vulnerability, being able to be a hundred percent vulnerable, especially early in marriage, I think that's really hard for a married couple to do sometimes.


And we both have pasts that are not pretty. We have histories and some really traumatic things that happened in our past lives, and both current sin and past sin definitely came to light because of that, because when the enemy is speaking in your ear, you fall.


And a couple of things, very intentional by God I feel like, that came to light in all of this that were things that were ongoing that we didn't really know about each other that were hurtful, and God used those moments to be like, “Hey, there's this that probably needs to be looked at too.”


And in the midst of it, when you're in that depth, I think that if it wasn't for what took place, that a lot of those things never would've come to the surface the way they did. And then we couldn't have moved forward as we did either.


Ashley Opliger: [00:16:56] We hope you are enjoying this episode so far. We want to take a quick break to tell you about some resources our ministry provides to grieving moms.

On our website, bridgetscradles.com, you can find hope-filled resources on grieving and healing including memorial ideas, quotes & Scripture, featured stories, and recommended books and other organizations. We share ideas on how to navigate difficult days such as due dates, Heaven Days, and holidays.


In addition, every month I lead Christ-centered support groups for bereaved moms called Hope Gatherings, both in-person and online. You can find a list of upcoming dates and sign up for our next support group on our website.


Lastly, we would love for you to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can find us on these three pages: @bridgetscradles, @cradledinhope, and my personal page @ashleyopliger. You can also join our private Cradled in Hope Facebook group for grieving moms to find community. We would be honored to hear your baby’s story and be praying for you by name. Now let’s get back to our episode.


Ashley Opliger: [00:18:06] There's one day that you and I were up at headquarters serving together as we often do. Because you and I have so many rich conversations, I feel like we were both cut from the same cloth, and we have many of the same beliefs and viewpoints in life.


And so we were having a conversation as we usually do, deep conversations, and I asked you a question that I wouldn't ask anyone. But because I know your story and I've seen how God has worked in your life through David's loss, I asked you, “Would you be in the same place in your faith and in your marriage had David been born alive?”


And I know that's a really hard question because obviously God is sovereign, and the way things end up is the way things are, and we can't go back and change things. But I had wondered, if he would've been born alive, what your life would look like now, because I've seen such a radical transformation in you and your husband.


And it's not that we want these painful parts of our stories to be the purpose for our life, or that we think that God had taken David for this purpose, but we do know that He can bring about good. And so would you share your response when I asked you that question?


Kelcey Crone: [00:19:20] Like you said, “I don't believe in any way that God took David from us. I believe the brokenness of this world took David from us. But I believe that God took that moment and gifted us something beautiful out of it.”


I don't believe that there's any way, without going through that experience, that Jon and I would be as solid as we are as a married couple, or as solid as we are in our faith.


The loss of David tremendously changed Jon's faith. When we very first lost David, Jon was done. He was like, “I'm not doing this. God has given me enough.” Just a little bit of history, he had lost a previous wife to suicide. He lost his brother in the Iraq war, and so when we lost David, it was just like, “What else is God going to take from me?” So it was a lot for him.


And then my past, I had chosen a different path many times to go the other way, to go away from God. And when this happened, when Jon and I got married, my faith was very strong. I knew, in that moment when it happened, that choosing God was my only option. That was my only option.


And so I drew close to Him; the only way I could survive it was falling on my knees in every broken moment. And I think Jon seeing me in that was a mix of confusion and anger and a building of his faith in that, because when Jon and I got married, he wasn't at the same place in his faith as I was.


And so that building that God did with him, partly in seeing my brokenness and my draw to God in that, I think I humbled Jon to that too in a weird way, where I was not okay, but I was getting better, and he was holding onto this anger, and he didn't know how to get rid of it.


And so in me drawing close to God every single day, then he started to do the same and it started to help his anger. It started to help his feelings to where he could deal with it better.


And so we always say that me coming to Bridget