Join us for the final episode of our 3-part summer series called "Conversations of Hope with Ashley and Kristin."
Ashley Opliger and Kristin Hernandez are both bereaved moms who desire to point other grieving moms to the hope they've found in Jesus.
This month's episode is a Q&A with Ashley and Kristin using listener-submitted questions.
In this episode, we discussed:
How to navigate relationships after losing a baby
Forgiving friends and family who have hurt us in our grief
Why friendships may change after loss
Victim mentality and identity
Preparing our hearts for our baby's first Heaven day
Ways to honor our baby on milestones
Why it's sometimes harder to face the days leading up to a milestone than the day itself
Memorial ideas and random acts of kindness
How the Church can better support grieving families
What to do when you're in a waiting season
How do you know when you're ready to try again?
What can you do to stop being mad at God?
Full transcript below.
MEET OUR GUEST
Kristin Hernandez is the author of Sunlight in December.
Kristin is a writer, podcaster, wife, and mother to six children—one in her arms and five with Jesus.
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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 30,000 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:
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Episode 40: Q&A with Ashley and Kristin
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: [00:00:50] Welcome back, Kristin, for our final episode of our summer series.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:00:54] Thanks so much for having me back, Ashley.
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:56] Well, I'm so excited to dive into this conversation. We have been collecting questions in our private Facebook group for grieving moms and also on our Instagram and Facebook, and we have a podcast survey.
We had many questions submitted, so we may not get to every single question, but we're going to group them into themes and topics. But we're just going to dive in and talk about them from our experience and point you to some Biblical references as we go.
One of the topics that came up often was about family and friends and co-workers, strangers even, how often things that people say or do or don't do or don't say can be very hurtful in grief.
And I know you and I have talked at length about how during grief that we are to forgive and give grace to people, but that's really hard when you're grieving and you're already hurting. Oftentimes it feels like grief on top of grief when other people that we expected to be supportive or loving toward us are not showing up in ways that we would expect or hope for.
Okay, so the first question I'm going to ask is: How do you suggest handling relationships with people who take that, “I'll wait til you come to me,” approach to our grief? How do you forgive and extend grace, but maintain a godly boundary between people who have hurt us in our grief, those that realize the hurt that they caused us, and those that do not?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:02:18] All right. There's a lot in that question, and there is a lot when it comes to navigating relationships after loss. I know for myself personally, and you and I, Ashley, have talked to so many women who have walked through the loss of a baby and have been in a similar position as us, and this seems like such a common struggle is this, “How do I navigate friends and family and people who don't know what to do with me?”
And there's so much I can say and I'll just start with some of the things that come to mind immediately, and I would love to hear some of your thoughts and maybe we can dialogue this a little bit more. But I first off want to say that it is really hard and so we see you in it.
I think for me, something that has been really important as I am now about eight years removed from our first loss is I have learned that people cannot read my mind. And so it feels awkward to tell people what you need, but it's okay to tell people what you need.
And for some people that comes really easily. For others, I know for me, that was really hard for me. It felt really awkward. I didn't want to have to tell people, I didn't want to sound needy, I didn't want to sound a certain way.
But we can still lovingly tell people what we need. And I have learned with some of my more recent friendships or even just friendships, how I've navigated even old friendships since loss, I have learned that I need to be a little more specific, of, “Hey, around this time of year, this is how I feel. And I may go dark a little bit. I might drop off the face of the earth for a while. You might not hear from me. I want you to know that I care about your friendship, and if that happens, you absolutely can reach out. I don't expect that, but I want you to know this isn't personal.”
Or maybe saying, “When I get this way, I really would love someone to call me,” or, “I would really love this,” or maybe for you, it’s, “I would just love some space for a little while during that month,” whatever that may look like, I think just expressing to our friends and family what we need or how things make us feel.
As far as hurtful comments from people. I remember sitting with a counselor about a month after Ethan had died and was just really frustrated with some of the things people were saying to try to make me feel better.
And I remember her saying something to me that I don't think I would've realized on my own. And it seems pretty basic, but I remember her telling me, “Kristin, it isn't unloving to gently educate people and tell them, “Those words, I know you mean them to help me, but they actually are not helpful and here's why.”
And she said, “You don't have to do that in a way that's bitter or angry or any of those things. It is okay for us to lovingly educate those around us.”
And again, for some that comes very easily and our struggle may be to say it with love. And for others that may, that struggle may be like, “I just don't want to say anything because I don't want to stir up conflict. I don't want to hurt their feelings. I don't know how to say it. I just want them to know.” But regardless, there is nothing wrong with us lovingly educating those around us.
Ashley Opliger: [00:05:18] Yes, I definitely agree, and I would say a lot of that is dependent on the depth of the friendship and just how close and vulnerable you feel like you can be with that person.
And so certainly you're going to have friends where you feel like you can lovingly correct them and share your needs and communicate those things. Other people, that might be a little more tricky or maybe it doesn't feel safe to share those things or that you don't feel like it will be taken well, or that they'll follow through with what you say.
And so certainly it's going to be dependent on the relationship, but if it's a relationship or a friendship that you're really wanting this relationship to go through this trial with you, even if they're maybe not showing up the way that you want, it is worth communicating and giving them grace during that season so that you can get through that season together.
I certainly will say that I did have friendships that did not make it through my grief season, and that's not to say that I haven't forgiven those people or that I wasn't able to give grace to them, but certainly I think there's something to be said about going through a really difficult time in your life, and I think you find the people that are going to show up for you.
And sometimes, surprisingly, it's these people that you don't necessarily expect to show up. And sometimes what's really hurtful is when the people that you do expect to show up, they don't. And I'm not encouraging you to lose those friendships by any means, but I think over time God will show you the strength of these relationships.
And for me, what I found was that I really want to have friendships that go deep and that are going to be with me in the valleys of life and on the mountaintops and anywhere in between. And the people that were there for me in my grief seemed to be those people that were going to be there long term. But I know it can be really hard to express yourself in that way and to set up those boundaries with people that you love.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:07:13] Yeah, it's really difficult. I think something that I've thought of as my friendships have morphed and changed, and like you said, Ashley, not all of them are how they were before and for better or worse, in ways that it makes me sad and also in ways where I'm so happy for some of these new friendships that have come in these later stages of life.
But with all of that in mind, something that has been encouraging for me to remember is that throughout my life we've been in this constant flux with our seasons of life and where we're at. Like when I went to college, some of my friendships changed a little. And when I got married, some of that changed slightly and we moved, and that made things change slightly.
And again, and I completely agree with what Ashley said, we are by no means saying just drop friendships easily. People are worth fighting for. I am not saying, “Someone hurt you, forget them.” No, we will all hurt each other. We will all let each other down. Jesus is the only One who will never let us down, and so we are certainly not saying that when someone lets you down, just move on. That is not what we are saying.
But I am saying that sometimes there are natural progressions in life where things just change. And the loss of a baby, I feel like for me it felt like living 10 years of life in an instant.
All the ways I had changed in college and you saw the natural fizzling out of maybe an old friendship where you to really cherish each other, but it just changed a little bit because you moved away and there was this slow amount of time that changed. And I feel like the loss of a baby is like this instant you just grew and changed so many years.
You'll never go back to the person you were before. You can have joy and redemption and all of these things in the future, but your life is not going to go back to how it was before. And there's aspects about who you are that aren't going to go back to before.
And so I think it can be encouraging just to remind ourselves of that, that it's not always as personal as it feels, even though it feels so deeply personal and hurtful, that sometimes it's just the natural progression of we have changed. And God is constantly sanctifying us and growing us and changing who we are, and sometimes that naturally changes just how we fit in the circles we're in and what that may look like.
Ashley Opliger: [00:09:22] Yes. Actually, the way that you said that makes a hundred percent sense to me. Losing a baby is a very life-defining, life-altering event in your life, and you do change and you never go back to who you were before. And you become not an entirely new person but you definitely have changed, and your perspective on that makes a lot of sense.
And I think some of it was naturally falling away of friendships. Not like any sort of big fight or anything, but it was we grew apart because of that distance. But I will say, like you said, there have been so many rich and deep friendships that have come into my life because of Bridget, one of them being you.
And so there's been so many people now that God has given me because of Bridget, because I've gotten to meet other moms that have babies in Heaven. And those friendships, yes, they were started because of our grief, but they have gone the distance and they've been friendships that have been with me through all the ups and downs of life.
And I think there's something to be said about making friends when you're in the midst of grief or through losing a baby. When you start really deep and vulnerable with someone, you're just naturally going to have a stronger relationship because you're not just a surface-level acquaintance. You're going really deep. And to me, those are the friendships that I desire, there-for-you-no-matter-what kind of friends.
But to go back to this idea of forgiveness and grace, I will say that for me, a lot of times it was strangers or people that I didn't expect to hurt me. And one of the things with time and perspective that I learned was that I was walking around waiting to be offended.
And it wasn't that I was actually thinking that. It was just that if someone said something and it was insensitive, I was immediately offended and hurt and then it would derail my day and make my emotions go into a tailspin.
Like something as simple as I remember when my older son was at the park playing and there was a little boy and a little girl, and the little boy was like, “Oh, he doesn't have a sister.”
And then the mom of those two kids said, “Yeah, he doesn't have a sister,” answering back to her son.
And it made me so upset because I was like, “How dare her? She doesn't know that Branton has a sister in Heaven.” And it hurt me so badly and I was really offended by it.
And then with time, as I thought about it, I was like, “She had no idea. She was just going off of what her eyes could see. She didn't know the pain in my heart or the loss that I experienced, and she certainly was not trying to be hurtful. She was just making an observation and talking to her son.”
And so the thing that I realized is that I really need this prefilled grace cup that I'm willing to pour out on people in these circumstances. And a lot of times these comments catch you off guard and you don't even expect them. You're getting your hair cut and the hairdresser asks you, “How many children do you have?” And then you tell them you have a baby in Heaven, and then they just awkwardly say nothing because they weren't prepared to have that conversation.
Whatever it is. I've learned that people are often so uncomfortable with this that they're going to say something wrong and when they're saying it, they're not trying to be hurtful. I guess that's what I've tried to understand better is people's intentions at the core are good, I think, but they just don't understand when they say some of the things that they say, they really are very insensitive. Would you agree with that?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:12:50] Yeah, I completely agree with you. I would say most of the most hurtful things that I hear from others when they're sharing things that have been hurtful to them, or even when I think back on the things that have hurt me, a lot of it comes from a place of either having no idea, like that mom at the park, who based on what she saw, she was just helping her child process how different families look different and affirming what he saw.
So you have instances like that where they just don't know. And then you have instances where someone is trying to give you this encouraging word. It's like a gift that they are offering to us and often is incomplete, and some of those words can feel really hurtful, but the thought behind that giving of words is often to encourage us and to make us feel better.
And we know when we're in that position that a lot of those words don't make you feel better and they don't feel helpful, but the person speaking them cares so much about you and doesn't want to see you hurting, that they want to just say something to fix it.
And a lot of times that's where things go wrong. But I think it's so helpful for us to take a step back and to remember that this person is trying really hard. This person feels heavy hearted, that you are sad that I am sad, that there are tears. And they feel the weight of it and so they want to fix it even though what they say next may come out as hurtful.
And I heard someone once say, we need to learn to forgive others before they even speak. And so it's like you said, Ashley, going out with that cup of grace. I love that analogy, just going out ready to give grace and to forgive.
And in that same thought, think that as grieving women, something I have seen a lot and something that I know I have even fallen into at times and something that I have had to seek forgiveness in and to guard my heart against is that I think sometimes we think that we have a free pass to withhold forgiveness because we've gone through something really hard.
And we do not have a free pass to withhold forgiveness. That my baby died is a horrible grief, and it is very difficult and it is worth grieving and lamenting over and God sees you in that, but it is not a free pass to not forgive and to allow bitterness to fester in your heart when others around you are imperfect, when others around us don't show up how we want them to, when they say the wrong thing, when they say nothing at all.
I also recognize this is so hard. As I am even sharing at times with people what is helpful and what's not, I could see how from the outside and from the outside looking at it almost feels like a lose-lose, because it's like saying nothing can be hurtful, but saying something can be hurtful. And so what are we supposed to do?
And so just knowing that we need to just pour forgiveness out on people and not withhold this forgiveness and to not allow bitterness to take hold in our hearts. It's okay to be hurt. We will be hurt by people. It's okay to feel that. Those feelings are normal, to feel disappointed and to feel hurt. But to allow unforgiveness to take root is not okay. That is against God's Word.
He calls us to forgive. He has forgiven us of a debt we could never repay. And so I feel that's like a tough truth for a lot of us. I have been there. I understand that struggle, but we need to really guard our hearts, ladies. We need to really guard our hearts against unforgiveness because the enemy would love for us to believe that we have every right in the world to withhold that from others.
Ashley Opliger: [00:16:18] Yes. In fact, as you were saying that, I was thinking, “I think Satan wants to put us into a state of victimhood.” And I've fallen into this trap before where you almost just want to throw a pity party for yourself. Like, “This is my life. This happened to me.”
And it is very hard that you have walked through this and that you have this part of your story. But at the end of the day, if our perspective is that we're a victim and that everything that everyone says is going to hurt us, we are going to be living in this state of bitterness and resentment.
And the person that it hurts the most when we don't forgive and we're not gracious to others is ourselves, and so it really is just causing us unnecessary grief. And if I'm going to allow people to have that power over me and my emotions–to have such a small comment that was innocent and it had no intention to hurt me, if that's going to derail my day, that's not a good emotional state for me to be in. And I don't want people's words to have that power over me.
And so that grace cup really has helped me because sometimes I mentally picture it, like someone says something and then I just think, “Grace”.
One of the things that people say all the time, when they reference my oldest son, they always call him the first child, my first child, because he does have some of those first-child traits in terms of he's very responsible and observant and careful and things. And then my youngest son is a little bit more carefree. And so people will say, “Yeah, that second child,” when they're talking about him.
And it's like, “But he's my third.” And again, when people say that, I really just let it go. I have to, because I'm like, “They're not trying to be hurtful.” And when I let them hurt me in that way, it's only going to really affect me.
And then again, like you said, Jesus has commanded us that we forgive others the way He's forgiven us. And who am I to withhold that from other people? Because to be honest, I've probably accidentally been insensitive or said things that I shouldn't have or didn't show up for someone the way that I should have.
And I think all of us could probably agree that now that we have walked through this loss ourselves, we are so much more compassionate toward people who are grieving.
Whether it's the loss of a baby or the loss of a spouse, or going through a divorce, whatever it is, I think it turns our hearts more compassionate to people who are hurting. But I don't know that I, before I had lost Bridget, would've known how to show up for someone who lost a baby.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:18:49] Definitely, I'm sure I've said so many hurtful things to others before grief. Even after grief, there's times where I've still found myself thinking, “I don't think I said the right thing,” or, “I'm not sure what to say in this moment.” Even having been in that position before, I think that's really very common.
Ashley Opliger: [00:19:04] Yeah. And if you think about it, each of us grieving moms, we grieve differently and we need different things. So many times in support groups, when we talk about different things, maybe what we're going to do for our baby’s first Heaven Day or what not, we all have different ideas of what we need in our grief to process.
And so if you think about it in that term as well, for our friends and family, how are they to know exactly what we need when there's so much variability from personality to personality?
And so coming back to communication, I think that's where it's really helpful to just say, “My baby's Heaven Day is coming up, and here's something that would be really helpful or would really let me know that you're thinking about me.”
And I know that might sound selfish or maybe awkward, asking for things like that. But if you have friends that are showing up and they're saying, “Please let me know if you need anything,” or, “Let me know how I can help you,” I know that's very vague and sometimes we wish people would be a little more specific in how they ask to help us.
But if they are doing that and they're reaching out and they're wanting to help, it's okay to come back and say, “Actually, it would be really helpful if you could do X, Y, or Z.”
And if it's someone who loves you, they're going to jump on that opportunity and they're going to be glad that they can do something because they hate to see you hurting and in pain. And that's, like Kristin said, why sometimes they say the things they say because they see you hurting and they want to fix it. They know they can't fix it, but people just try. In our brokenness, we try because we don't like to see people in pain.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:20:37] And with forgiveness, I think it's a good reminder. I just recently in this past year have been really thinking about this word forgiveness and what it means and trying to study in Scripture what it looks like to forgive.
And so forgiveness is not always just completely forgetting what happened or not feeling sad anymore. So if you feel sad by friendships that have let you down, that is very normal. And those are emotions we can bring to the Lord. We can come to Him when we're sad.
But forgiveness, and I just love this picture because forgiveness is basically canceling a debt, whoever that person is that hurt you, it's freeing them of that debt. They owe me nothing. They don't owe me this. They don't need to make it up. Every time I talk to them, I'm not going to think of this. I'm not going to bring this up in my mind. I'm not going to hold this against them. I am canceling this debt.
It doesn't necessarily mean that there's zero hurt there anymore, but it's continually taking it to the Lord and releasing that person of that debt. Because I know sometimes we can go into those conversations and feel like, “Well, she owes me,” or, “He owes me,” or, “They need to,” and just releasing it. “You know what? That debt is paid. Jesus covered that debt,” and pouring that grace out and giving that forgiveness.
And Ashley alluded to this earlier, when we do have that victim mentality and we do want to make the distinction, grief is okay. We welcome you to grieve and to lament, Jesus welcomes you to grieve and to lament. But the mentality of, “Everyone owes me and everyone's against me and no one understands me,” can lead to a lot of loneliness.
I think with friendships in the very beginning, after we lost Ethan, I felt like I only wanted to be around other people who had walked through loss. I felt like, “No one else in the world understands this.”
And in the years that have passed, I have found that my life is so much more full and richer. And the women I have in my life now where so many of them have never walked through anything like this, it is such a more full version of community and the Body of Christ not only limiting myself to people who have been through exactly what I have.
And I have learned that we need to humble ourselves and be willing to learn from our sisters who have different struggles than us or have different life experiences than us, because they're able to come alongside us and be the Body of Christ to us in a way that if we surround ourselves only with people who are just like us, we're going to be missing out on what the Lord has for us when we connect with His local Church and His Body, and we allow other women to speak into our lives, even if they don't understand what it's like to lose a baby.
Ashley Opliger: [00:23:02] What you are saying about victim mentality, I agree. It's not just the grief, because the grief is a natural response to losing a baby–because grief is love and we love and miss our babies. But I guess if I had to describe victim mentality is when our loss and our grief becomes part of our identity.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:23:23] Yes. Yeah.
Ashley Opliger: [00:23:23] And we're known for our loss and it's sad, but I see it happen a lot in this pregnancy loss space where it's like the loss of your baby now defines who you are, and you can get into that victimhood mentality.
And I think that's where Satan wants us to live, is just this place of: This horrible thing has happened to you. “Everyone should feel bad for me for the rest of my life, and everything that everyone says is going to be hurtful,”
And I know we've talked about this before in past episodes together, but I don't want Bridget's life to have marked my life in a negative way. Yes, I grieve her and I miss her. But if I were to explain the impact that Bridget has had on my life, I would say it's way more positive than it is marked with sadness. She's taught me so many things. She's brought so many things into my life, and God has used her life in a huge way in my life to change my heart and my calling.
And I believe that's what God wants from us is to have that perspective that our babies, although we miss them and we grieve for them, they are going to mark our lives for the better, and we're going to be more compassionate and loving and find joy and friendships in life in following Jesus the rest of our life. I think that's what our babies would want for us too.
Ashley Opliger: [00:24:40] 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: [00:25:50] I'm going to change topics now. We had a couple of questions surrounding the first Heaven Day. One question was how do we prepare our hearts for our baby's first Heaven Day? And then the second one would be: How can we honor our baby on their first Heaven Day? So I'll let you start.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:26:07] That's a really great question because milestones are really difficult. And I wish there was a formula for this and there's not. I also think that can be very freeing.
Every year for us has looked a little different, and so before I give some practical ideas of things you can do to honor and remember your baby on their Heaven Day, I do want to start by saying that we can free ourselves by knowing that our babies do not need anything from us.
I'm pretty sure Ashley and I have talked about this a little bit before, that our babies no longer have need. They are in the presence of the Lord. They have everything they could possibly need. They are whole and loved, and they will not feel let down by us if you do not have the energy or the capacity to do something in their memory.
So just to give you that freedom that our babies are not with the Lord wondering, “What is Mom going to do? How much does she love me?” We do not need to prove our love for our children. They are just so whole and cared for in ways that we can't even imagine. And so just have that in mind as you think of what you're going to do for your baby's Heaven Day.
So with that in mind, every year has looked so different for me, and I think giving yourself a lot of space would be what I would recommend just going into their Heaven Day or their birthday, or your diagnosis day, or whatever those big milestones are for you. Every year those days have looked different for me.
There have been some days where I have felt like, “I just want to be with people I really want to celebrate.” And there have been days where I have thought, ”Oh, this year I really just want to be by myself. I really just want space to cry.”
And so I think even if you do plan something that involves other people, giving yourself space before or after to process, or to be able to be flexible and make changes, like maybe not packing that entire day.
Something that we have done every year is we usually go to Del Taco. I think that's a regional fast food place. They're really big in California. I don't think they're all over. But we usually go to Del Taco because when I was pregnant with Ethan, I craved Del Taco a lot, and so that's always our place.
Ethan's birthday every year we go get Del Taco, whether we go in or whether we go through the drive-thru, we go get Del Taco and we go to the cemetery and we have cake. That is our tradition.
There are years where we've wanted to do more than that. There's been years where we've felt like, “Let's go to the beach and let's have a whole family day at the beach.” And there's been days where it's been, “We're just going to be home. We're not going anywhere, we're not doing anything. We're not seeing anyone. But we'll go to Del Taco and the cemetery and have cake as an immediate family.”
So it has been a whole spectrum. This year is the first year where I feel like I'm doing something bigger, and this is year eight, where I'm doing a Hope Box gathering with Hope mommies and inviting friends together to gather to build boxes to get to hospitals. But this is the first year it's been a big thing like that.
And so I've heard of people doing something for a nonprofit, cooking a meal for their local Ronald McDonald House, doing pay-it-forward, random-acts-of-kindness things. I've seen so many ideas of things people have done, but I think just to encourage you as you are coming into these milestones is just to remember that there is so much freedom in what you choose to do.
And it is really for you and for those around you, and your babies have everything they need, and just giving yourself the freedom to know that it is okay if it's hard and you don't want to do something big. It is also okay if you want to do something big and you want to involve all of those around you. There really is freedom to adjust it however works best for your family.
Ashley Opliger: [00:29:40] Yes. I also want to say that for me, and this is addressing the question, “How do you prepare your heart?” For me, I've always felt like the days leading up, even the weeks leading up to her first Heaven Day and other milestones like her due dates and other birthdays, those have always been harder for me than the actual day.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:29:59] Oh, one hundred percent, yeah.
Ashley Opliger: [00:30:00] And it's so interesting, isn't that?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:30:03] Mm-hmm. The anticipation is always the worst for me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:30:06] Yes. I have talked to many moms who have felt the same way in literally the weeks and days leading up, just so much anticipatory grief, so much wondering, “What am I going to do to make this day perfect? How am I going to feel on this day?”
And I have told moms so many times, “The grace of God and the peace of God is going to be with you. He goes before you and He is behind you.” And I wish that moms knew when you do get to these really hard days that you've been worrying about for so long, a lot of times they are not as bad as you've made them out to be in your mind, but a lot of times those days before are.
And so I guess my advice for preparing your heart for those days would be just understanding that God's peace is going to go with you and to expect His peace as you move into this day.
And the same thing that Kristin said, that day is for you to honor your baby and how you need to do that and to grieve and to process and to celebrate and remember all of those things.
And I will say in the early years, because this October will be nine years for me, the first couple of years, especially her first Heaven Day, I'm a perfectionist and I just wanted it to be absolutely perfect for her. And I stressed myself out about, “What are we going to do?” And then also like wanting to set up those traditions that we were going to do year after year.
And we have found those things that we do year after year, and like you, some of it has changed, but we always have a birthday party. I have a cake made for her. And what's really neat is I have a bin that has a lot of her stuff and the decorations for her birthday party. So it makes it really easy because I just get that bin out every year and I decorate the table the same way-
Kristin Hernandez: [00:31:46] That's perfect.
Ashley Opliger: [00:31:46] … and have her little things on her table. And we get a Shutterfly book out that I had made of her pregnancy and her birth. We get that out and we have our family over and in a circle we go around and each share our feelings and our heart, the memories that we had with her, which I was telling this to someone the other day. And I was thinking, “We do this every year and we don't have a lot of memories with her, but it's just special each year to keep bringing those up and let ourselves feel it. and for my boys to hear these stories about their sister.”
But then we usually go and do a balloon release at the cemetery, and oftentimes we will paint rocks to bring to her grave.
But we actually have a lot of different ideas on our website. If you go to bridgetscradles.com, at the very top, there are different tabs. There's one that says Healing and under Healing it says Memorial Ideas and then Dates and Holidays. And so this entire page, I have pictures and descriptions of many of the things that I have done as a family.
But I do want to say this is not a checklist. This is not something that you need to go and be like, “Oh, I need to do this.” I want to just say this is for you. Whatever you find here that might be helpful to you in your grief, please feel free to do that. But if it's not going to be helpful, don't feel like you need to do all of these things just because I have done them or because Kristin has her traditions.
But Kristin did mention the acts of kindness, and on that very page, we have an Acts of Kindness section. And we actually came up with a PDF of 101 ideas that you can do in memory of your baby.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:33:20] Oh, that's awesome.
Ashley Opliger: [00:33:21] And you can click on it. And what's cool about it is we also designed, it's called a RAK card, R-A-K, Random Acts of Kindness. And we made it in Canva, it's a template. And actually you can go and use our template and you can put your baby's picture if you want, and then you can edit it to put your baby's name.
And it's really cute because then it says, “This Random Act of Kindness was made in memory of _____” and you can put your baby's name and their Heaven Day and print out a bunch. Or you can send the digital copies to friends across the country or family members, and then they can go out and do them and take a picture of the RAK card with whatever they're doing.
And so I know a lot of moms said that's been really helpful. The picture on the website, so that you'll see, is there's some cookies that have a B on it, and that was because one year we chose to bring those B cookies to the labor and delivery nurses where Bridget was born.
So anyway, those resources are on our website. Like I said, please just take whatever would be helpful to you. But we also have a lot of ideas for due dates, because I know that's another really heavy and difficult milestone. And then we do have a whole section for Christmas as well, so I will link all of this in this episode notes so that you can find all of that very easily.
Okay, so we are going to dive into another question. And this is a question about the church. And it says, ”How do you believe the Church can become more of a light and encouragement to women walking through the suffering of baby loss?”
Kristin Hernandez: [00:34:46] Church was a really difficult place for me to be when we first lost Ethan, especially that first year, really that whole first year, I really struggled to be in church. And I think there's so many reasons for that, really.
I think as a society, and I think this is really just a cultural thing, I think it seeps into the Church, but I don't think it's church specific. But as a society, we really love comfort and we really hate pain.
And we are very quick to diminish pain if we can, or to try to turn an eye or try to spin it to make it okay, or to try to find silver linings and things. And so in church, we want to feel this support and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And I think like we already touched on with friendships, there can be this attempt to encourage sometimes with things that aren't true or maybe just with a smile and the words of, “Oh, God's in control, it's going to be okay.” Or, “You’ve just got to smile because they're in Heaven,” and all of these things that sound really good.
And some of these things are very true, but it's this difficulty to grieve with those who are grieving because as a society we really love joy and we really don't like grief. We want to be happy. Everything is how to make your life better and easier and happier. And so I think this can seep into the church and that can be difficult.
And especially in the United States I think the prosperity gospel has crept into our theology even subconsciously. And the prosperity gospel is this idea of you follow Jesus and He'll make your life easier. So we're going to follow Jesus, or we're just going to pray and everything is going to turn out exactly how you want, and missing the big picture that, yes, Jesus does make things better, but a lot of times it's an eternal help. Well, every time it's an eternal help.
And sometimes there are physical gifts that come with that, and earthly gifts that come with that. But it's this eternal healing that we have to look forward to. It's this eternal restoration, this eternal redemption that we have.
He walks with us in the grief. We are promised suffering as believers throughout Scripture and the prosperity gospel dismisses all of that and just says, “You pray it, you claim it. Jesus is going to give you all of these things in this life,” and forgetting the spiritual blessings He gives us, but focusing on the material.
And so I think that even subconsciously can seep in. I know it seeped in for me. And so I think we really need to guard ourselves against that and really know our Bibles well and remember that lament is a spiritual discipline. It's something that we can do. It's something that we see throughout Scripture.
We see Jesus, on the night before He would be betrayed, cry out to God for another way. We see David fill the Psalms with cries of anguish. And we see this, and it's all in a way that still honors God as holy and as good, and that looks to Him for comfort, but also is very raw and real about a difficult emotion.
And so I know I'm all over the place with this answer, but I think as a church and just as believers in general, the Church is so big. And so different cultures, if we're talking about the Church, different cultures, even with the core foundation and having a solid foundation of Biblical Truth, our cultures are going to influence how we approach grief even as a collective Church.
And so the Western Church in America, and as all believers really, we need to really make sure that we have a solid understanding of Scripture and of theology of suffering, that when our brother or sister in Christ is crying and when they are heavy-hearted, that doesn't mean that they don't have faith in God. It doesn't mean that they don't love the Lord. It doesn't even mean that they don't trust God.
I think sometimes we're quick to say, “You just need to trust God.” Deep, heavy grief is not necessarily an absence of trust.
Now, when we grieve, we do want to guard our hearts against that because that can lead to this, but grief in itself is not just absence of faith, and so I think sometimes we can be quick to make it look that way and lump the two together of, “Well, they're sad, so they must not trust God.”
Just knowing that grief is a practice that we can welcome in our churches and we can still do it in a way that points to the Lord and that clings to the promises that we do have in Scripture and not empty promises that He hasn't given us, but real promises of an eternal hope and an eternal comfort that He offers us. And so clinging to that and encouraging each other of that and allowing room for lament is very helpful.
I have seen a lot of churches do this really well, and not every local church congregation does, but I know that the church that we attend and so many that I have seen do this very well. But every person within our churches is probably going to have a slightly different theology of suffering, depending on their experience and how they have interpreted Scripture.
And so that's why it's just so important for us. I think that all this long, disjointed answer, all of this to say I think the best thing we can do as a Church is really be in Scripture and understand what we are promised and what we're not promised, and to leave room for others to lament and to know that this lament and this wrestling with the Lord can be a process of growing in a greater intimacy and faith with Him. It's not necessarily something to run away from.
We want to encourage others to do that in a way that is guided by the Truth, and that is within the confines of looking to Scripture to wrestle, and praying to God and drawing to the Lord as we wrestle and have these questions, and not being so quick to dismiss it, where now we're wrestling in private and now we're not having accountability as we wrestle or even having Truth as part of it.
So I think just really being committed to Scripture and recognizing that Scripture does give room for lament and for questions like, “God, where are You?” That is something that we can ask, and so allowing others the space to ask that.
Ashley Opliger: [00:40:39] I love that you used the word lament. We actually had a local church reach out to us recently because they chose around Mother's Day to do a lament service just for grieving moms, and they wanted our support group brochures sent to them before this. And they had a special time reserved for these women to grieve and to lament.
And so my answer to this question would be just acknowledgement is the first place to start. It’s acknowledging that there is pain and that there are women walking through this. And not just women, but families, couples.
And so acknowledging that on hard days, like Mother's Day, acknowledging that there's going to be women and couples grieving in their church that are struggling with infertility or who have lost a baby. And I think that acknowledgement goes a long way because it makes you feel seen and validated in your grief.
And then the other thing I would say is, this is a very practical answer to this question, but my answer would be to have resources available and whether that's the church itself having a support group specific for this or they partner with a local organization or Christ-centered support group where they can have a resource available to refer people to.
And so here in Wichita, I understand that not every city has an in-person support group like we have here, but whether that's even getting them connected to an online Christ-centered support group, because that also goes a long way too. It’s saying, “I see you in your pain and here's some resources we've put together as a church that we trust that they have a solid Biblical background and that they're going to take care of you well.”
It's not that I'm saying they should outsource this entirely, because obviously the church also has a place. But I think there's something to be said about just acknowledging the loss and then having some sort of next step.
And I can't tell you how many times a mom has come to our support group because someone in their church recommended it and said, “Hey, you should go try out this support group. They're going to take really good care of you.” And that really means a lot for them to know that their church is looking out for them. And it's like, “Here's a community for you to go.”
And of course, more practical ways would just be showing up, if someone in the congregation has lost a baby, showing up and setting up a meal train, or helping with practical things.
I know a lot of times the hurt that comes from, it's really not just from the Church, it's from anyone, family and friends, is when your grief is not acknowledged. And so really everything that we shared at the beginning about family and friends could translate to this conversation about the Church. But I guess for me, the main things would be acknowledgement, the lament and resources.
So I think we covered that one pretty well. I want to now ask another question that both you and I can relate to, and this is a question that says, “Specifically for those of us who lost our first child and do not have living children, how did you stay intentional and enjoy the wait before trying again?”
I know I can speak to this, and Kristin, I'll let you go here soon, but I can definitely understand the pain that is becoming a mother but not having a baby in the home, and having given birth and preparing your life to be a mom and maybe even preparing your home for a baby and then going back to this empty house.
And you are very much a mother, but you don't have the physical evidence of it in your life. And it is so painful, and I'm not saying that it's not just as painful for women who have lost their second child or their third child, but there is a unique aspect of grief when it is your first child because I think the other aspect of it is that when it is your first child, at least for me, I felt like, “Well, can my body produce life? Will I ever be able to have another child? Is this how pregnancy is going to go for me?” And so I had a lot of fear about future pregnancies.
And so in that time frame, I know a lot of it for me was trying to figure out what went wrong and how I could fix it for the future. And I don't think there's anything wrong with being wise and going to doctor's appointments and taking care of your body and preparing for a healthy future pregnancy, but I do think there were times where I became more obsessive about it and was idolizing becoming a mom.
But one thing that I do remember in that season was that, and this is actually another question that someone asked was: How do you know when you're ready to try again or to have another baby?
For me, it was that I needed to know that my faith was greater than my fear because I had so much fear surrounding pregnancy and trying again, worrying, “Is this going to happen the next time? Will I even be able to get pregnant?”
And I needed two years to walk through my grief and just feel like I had more faith and I was standing in that faith than I was walking into trying again in fear. And everyone's different. So many people ask that question, “When do you know that you're ready to try again?” And there are people that try again very quickly, and there are people that need months or even years.
I was one of those people that needed years because I was grieving heavily, but then also starting the ministry in that time. And so coming back to that, I wish I could have gone back and enjoyed that season more than I did because I think I was just so heavy in grief and so worried about the future and was I going to ever become a mom to a living child. And I think I missed out on some of the joy and the extra time of that season with just my husband and I.
But so often we are ready for the next season and it's like the grass is always greener, but I also have grace for myself knowing that was a really hard place to be in.
And so if you are in that season and you're listening and you feel like it is hard to enjoy the wait, just have grace for yourself too, that you've been through so much and that this is a very difficult place to be in. But just know too that every season is a season and that it's unlikely that any of us are going to stay in one season for the rest of our lives.
And so as much as it is to just sit in that season with the Lord and let Him teach you and sanctify you in those moments, because oftentimes the seasons of waiting and longing and in being in grief, that is when you're the most intimate with your Savior, because you're relying on Him to get you through the next hours and then the next days.
And sometimes I look back on those seasons and miss how close I was to God because I really needed Him for every moment. And I was praying to Him for everything because I needed Him. And I'm in a season now where I'm like that, but it's a different season.
And so as we go through life just trying to appreciate each season, even the hard ones, because there's something that God has for us in that season, and that brings me comfort just knowing each season is intentional and there's growth and sanctifying, there's sanctification that happens each time.
So what about you? How did you feel in the first years and during the waiting season?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:47:47] As far as that waiting season, and you alluded to this. I remember thinking one day this idea of savoring this season that I didn't choose, knowing that there was a season that I was in, that I didn't really have a choice but to be in it, and so really trying to be present in it and to recognize the gifts that God was giving me in that season.
And like you said, actually that intimacy, just how close we are with the Lord when He is everything we need, and I want that to be how every season is. But I think we can all recognize that sometimes when we're going through our hardest seasons, that's when we feel the desperation the most and just how sweet that season can be.
But as far as knowing when to try again, there's so many factors that go into this answer. I've been asked this a few times and my advice has usually been to, first off, really pray about it. Give that decision even to the Lord. He may or may not give you a super-clear answer, but continue to give that decision to Him and then while that is happening, be on the same page with your spouse.
I think that can be really important, and that was not always the case for us. We weren't always on the same page, and so it was this constant praying that the Lord would help us be on the same page, give us clarity, help us to be unified in that decision. I think that's really important. And then thirdly, I think also taking into consideration what your doctors say and all of the considerations that may be unique to you.
And obviously the foundation, all of this is going to be giving it to God and allowing if He gives you a clear answer, going with that over anything else, but knowing that a lot of times we don't always get those clear answers. We have a lot of clear answers in Scripture, but certain things, “When should I try to have another baby,” or, “What should we do next,” a lot of that is not always going to be very clear for us.
And so I know for me personally, our experience was when we were pregnant with Ethan, we had tried for multiple years and had struggled with infertility. And so we started trying six months later because it had taken us almost three to get pregnant with Ethan and we thought it might take us another three. But it took us like two months. So that wasn't expected for us, we thought it was going to take longer, so that was a factor.
Now, for those of you who do know my story, my next four babies I did lose through miscarriage. And so a lot of that decision was out of my control. I did not choose when we would bring a baby home, and none of us are really in as much control as we think we are.
But I thought I had a plan of, “This many months later, we'll try,” and then we did, and then we went through another loss. And, “This many months later, we'll try,” and we had another loss. And then my body started having PCOS, and then I wasn't ovulating, it wasn't having periods for a while, and a lot of that was so out of my control.
And after our fifth loss, there was a lot of fear. I mean, there was fear from day one, even before that many, even just after losing Ethan, even during my pregnancy with Ethan, my very first pregnancy. But continuing to surrender that fear to the Lord and talk with my husband, get on the same page, talk to doctors to see if they had any wisdom, and then ultimately continuing to surrender all of those things to God and praying and asking Him for guidance and clarity and that it would be in His timing.
My pregnancy with our sixth baby, who is my living sweet little boy who's five, was really high risk with him. And moving forward, our family has made the decision that unless God makes it very clear, based on conversations with my husband and based on conversations with multiple doctors, my body is done unless God says otherwise.
And so a lot of those decisions were always out of my control. And so going into these decisions with open palms up to the Lord of, “God, this is hard and these are the plans I want,” but knowing that ultimately God is in control and He's going to guide your steps, and we can make plans, but the Lord is the one who's going to determine the timing.
Ashley Opliger: [00:51:49] Yes. And I think all of this goes back to the conversation we had the first episode in this series, which is A Foundation of Biblical Hope, and that our hope is not in another baby. Our hope is in the baby that God sent to be our Savior, Jesus.
And I know that sounds so cliche and simplistic, and we mentioned in that episode, it is a godly desire to want more children and to want to raise a living child on earth. But I think that definitely during that waiting season, there is a difference between surrendering that control and giving it up to God to determine if and when we have a baby, because so often we want to take matters into our own hands.
It's like, if we're not getting pregnant, we need to do X, Y, and Z or change this and change that. And I've talked to so many women about it, and I've been there myself. I've gone through infertility treatments, I've changed my diet for a pregnancy, all of the things.
And it is wise to try to be the healthiest that you can be and all of these things, we're not saying anything is wrong, but I do think where Satan can get us off course is when he tries to focus on it becoming obsessive, where we're trying to control everything and just getting to the point where we're overwhelmed with our fertility and how we're going to make it happen. And we maybe overstep boundaries that are not Biblical or things that we shouldn't be doing in a pursuit to have a baby.
And so I think it's just wise to guard your heart and to do the things that God has convicted you to do, to be the healthiest that you can be. But knowing that if and when that gift comes, that gift is coming from the Lord and not from our own striving, basically.
And I get it, going through infertility is so hard. It's an emotional rollercoaster every month of having that two-week wait and taking the test, and getting a negative, and then your hopes are dashed, and then you get hopes up again the next cycle. And it's just this vicious cycle.
And so I just want to say I understand the pain here and how difficult it is to wait, but I think in hindsight as you look back on seasons like this, you'll see that there was that intimacy and growth in your faith.
Most of the seasons in my life where I've grown the most in my faith and grown the closest to the Lord have been in these really hard seasons. And of course, we're like, we don't want to go through these hard seasons. But at the end of the day, I don't think my faith would be where it is today if it weren't for all of the things that have been hard that I've had to walk through with Him.
And the more that I've gone through with Him, the more that I've seen Him to be faithful to walk me through it. So the next time that I get into another season, it's like, “Okay, God, I know You're going to be faithful. I don't like being here. I would like to wiggle my way out of this if I could.”
But sometimes you can't, and that's life and it's hard. But we know that we serve a faithful and a good God who promises to be with us in these seasons of grief and longing and waiting. And I can trust that He's going to be there for you no matter what you're going through.
So there are several more questions that we didn't get to in this time, and so I'll save these questions for if we ever do this again. But this question I think is a good one for us to end on. It says: How long did you stay angry with God and what happened to start changing your outlook toward Him?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:55:08] I don’t remember the exact timeline of how long it was, but I did feel a lot of disappointment and some anger toward Him in the beginning.
And I would say the thing that really began to change it for me was really studying my Bible, because I had this false understanding that God owed me things that He never promised me and that God owed me, in a way. I felt entitled to things that I didn't have a right to, that I didn't deserve. I thought that God had made promises to me and that He had not held up His end of those promises.
And as I began to really study Scripture, I began to see that God never promised to me some of the things that I was holding on to, but the things that He had promised me were so much better and that His Word did speak to suffering a lot, and that there was a lot of hope about that suffering, and that He did have a solution to my suffering, and He did have a plan, and that He did realize the brokenness of it and how heavy it was, and that He sent Jesus to conquer death, that death was also His enemy too.
I would say really diving in is a really great place to start, really diving into our Bibles and studying it, and part of that is this process of wrestling. In my book Sunlight in December and on my blog and on my Instagram, I talk about wrestling a lot because I really think it was wrestling with God that was so impactful for me.
And we’re often afraid to wrestle. We talked about this a little bit earlier briefly about church. Sometimes we think that wrestling is wrong, like, “I shouldn't wrestle,” or, “I should just have more faith and buck up and be okay and put a smile on and not wrestle.” But wrestling is different than walking away. Wrestling is different than deconstruction.
Wrestling is holding onto someone else. It's gripping your opponent. It's looking them in the eye. It is a two-way interaction. There's a lot of contact that comes with wrestling, and so when we wrestle with God, we grip onto Him. We grip onto His Word. We look Him in the eye.
We can have all the emotions and ask for answers. We can look Him in the eye and say things like, “God, where were You? God, I don't understand this. God, help me understand.” But it's coming to Him with all the hard emotions rather than spinning on our heels and running away from Him because we're angry. That wouldn't ever be wrestling. But wrestling is when we're engaging with Him, even if it's uncomfortable and it's hard and it hurts.
And so in that wrestling with God, I think He really used that to draw me into greater intimacy with Him and to answer those questions. There were questions I had that as I wrestled and as I dug into Scripture, and as I prayed and sought the Holy Spirit and continued to go back to God's Word with my anger and frustration, He met me there and helped me and moved in my heart and gave me more understanding.
And so I think not being afraid to wrestle, but wrestling in a way that draws you closer to God with a posture of leaning into God, not running away from Him. Again, running away is not a wrestling match. A wrestling match is a gripping and grappling and clinging.
And so wrestling with Him, coming to Him with those emotions, not being afraid to do that, not feeling ashamed of wrestling, but being willing to wrestle and then looking to God's Word over and over. I would say those are things that were very helpful to me because I do relate to that feeling of feeling let down and the feeling forgotten, really. I think that's something that a lot of us probably relate to.
Ashley Opliger: [00:58:42] Yes. The feeling that I felt was rejection and abandonment at the beginning. “God, You say You're good, but this doesn't feel good to me. And if You loved me, why would You let this be part of my life?”
And, “How could a good God allow a baby to die?” That question we get asked all the time, and to answer what happened, to start changing my outlook toward Him, it's pretty much what you said, is just studying His character and realizing He is a good God and He's faithful and He's never-changing, and He's a redeemer.
He has a plan to make all of this right. My loss is not eternal, it's temporary. And so I'm separated from Bridget now, but I won't be forever. In fact, I will have eternity, thousands and thousands of years with her.
And when I started focusing on His character and His nature and that He is the only one that can heal my heart and fix my grief, and He's the only one that can offer me eternity with Bridget, aside from Him, there's no other answer. There's no other hope.
And I think for me, when some of that theology changed, of like, “Oh, He must have abandoned me or He must be punishing me,” and honestly, I think that's the enemy speaking lies and wanting us to see God in that way.
And he plants these seeds. Like, “See, God wasn't there for you. See, God let this happen to you.” And then you know in your head like, “Oh, how could God really love you if this happened to you?” He plants those seeds to make us doubt God and His character.
And the antidote for that is Truth and getting in the Word and knowing who He is. And. I know Kristin and I say this so many times, but get in your Word. And I'm going to say, this is just a little soapbox that I'm on recently, is get in the physical Word.
Yes, we have the app on our phones and it's great. It's nice that you can access the Bible anywhere you are. But I have been in my Bible, my physical Bible that I've had since my 20s every day, and I have highlighters and my little daily Grace Code tabs. And you don't have to make it all pretty or anything, but I think there's just something to be said about opening it up and reading it there.
And if you don't want to do that, go on your phone, that's fine. And I definitely read on my phone too, but. I think that discipline of physically opening up your Bible is really good. And He's never going to disappoint, and His Word is never going to turn up void. And so that's where you're going to find Truth and hope. And that's, in my opinion, where your outlook of Him will change because you're going to learn who He is and that He hasn't rejected you, forsaken you, abandoned you. He's been with you all along.
There is one more question, and it's actually a question that you and I are going to come up with a resource. I'm actually roping you into this right now, but the question is: Do you have a playlist of Christian songs that helped you in your grief journey?
I know that you love worship, you sing for your church. I've gotten the privilege to watch some of your church videos. You have a beautiful voice. I'm not going to put you on the spot to sing the worship songs right now.
Kristin Hernandez: [01:01:48] Thank you.
Ashley Opliger: [01:01:50] But I would love for you and I, we're going to come up with a Spotify list of our favorite worship songs.
Kristin Hernandez: [01:01:56] Yes. Oh, I'm so excited. Okay.
Ashley Opliger: [01:01:58] Okay. And we're going to put the Spotify list in the show notes so anyone can go find Kristin and Ashley's hope-filled worship songs. Okay?
So that's the final question. We will put that together. We'll put it in the show notes, we'll put it on our blog, and then I'm sure both Kristin and I will share the link on our social pages as well.
So thank you for asking all of these questions. I hope that this time and our answers were helpful to you. As always, measure everything that we say up to the Word, and I pray that this time was helpful for everyone, and for those who asked the questions that we were able to give a response that would be pointing you to the hope of Jesus.
So Kristin, thank you for being here and for helping answer these questions and for pouring all of your wisdom and your love and compassion into the last three episodes with me this summer. Would you mind closing us in prayer?
Kristin Hernandez: [01:02:50] Not at all. Let's do it.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for today. Thank You that we can gather together and look to Your Word for encouragement and for hope. And I thank You for Ashley and for Bridget’s Cradles and for the ministry that she has there.
Lord, I pray just for every single woman or man or family that is listening to this today. I just ask that You would bring Your comfort to their hearts, God, that You would draw near to them as they draw near to You, that You would help us to wrestle well, to ask good questions and to always cling to Your Word.
No matter what our feelings may tell us, no matter what our emotions may try to sway in us, God, that we would cling to You and seek You and the Truth that only You can provide. As we grieve and as we wrestle, we thank You that You are close to the broken-hearted and we thank You for the hope that we have because of Jesus, in Jesus name. Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [01:03:41] Amen. Thank you, Kristin.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes when they release on the 1st of every month. You can also find this episode’s show notes and a full transcript on our website at bridgetscradles.com/podcast.
There you can also download a free PDF for each episode, called the Hope Guide, which is filled with notes, Scripture, links, discussion questions, and so much more. Be sure to leave your email address so that we can keep you updated on podcast episodes, upcoming support groups, and other hope-filled resources.
If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to Bridget’s Cradles in memory of a baby in Heaven, you can find information on our website on how you can get involved and spread hope to other grieving families.
One way you can help is by leaving a review of this podcast on iTunes [or the Apple Podcasts app]. Consider the minute of your time as a way YOU can personally share the hope that you’ve found here with another mom whose heart is broken and needs healing.
Thank you so much for listening and sharing. Until next time, we will be praying for you. And remember, as Jesus cradles our babies in Heaven, He cradles us in hope. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope.
Cradled in Hope is part of the Edifi Podcast Network, a collection of faith-inspiring podcasts on Edifi, the world’s most powerful Christian podcasting app. To listen to Cradled in Hope and find other podcasts by leading Christian voices, download the Edifi app in the Apple and Google Play stores or online at edifi.app. Thank you so much for listening.
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