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Let me tell you why I am grateful for my friend Robbyn.

On January 11 of this year, Robbyn gave birth to a precious little boy named Zion. Zion was not expected to live long because he was born with a condition cablled Trisomy 18, which typically results in fatal medical complications. Some children with Trisomy 18 don’t survive their own delivery, whereas others can live for hours, days, weeks, and in rare cases, years.

I go to the same church as Robbyn and her family, and our whole church community had readied itself for Zion’s birth. We anxiously wondered if we would get to meet him. We prayed that we would.

Then on January 11, we did. Zion was born. In fact, he defied the odds by living 10 whole days. Robbyn and her husband Josh brought Zion home to spend the time with their 4 other sons, each new day being a miraculous answer to prayer.

Then on January 21, Zion returned to Jesus.

As you can imagine, Josh and Robbyn were beyond devastated. We all were. The loss of a child is the greatest tragedy one can experience.

However, amidst their great and consuming darkness shown forth a pin prick of light. Out of their story of pain and loss, God was doing something amazing.

At the funeral we watched a video about Zion’s important life, and it has gone viral. Zion’s story has captured the hearts of people all over the world, and, perhaps more importantly, it has given Josh and Robbyn the opportunity to talk about their faith in Christ.

On the Today website, you can actually read the story in Robbyn’s own words, as well as watch the video and see photos of Zion. I hope you will. Not only is the whole family just beautiful, but God is doing a mighty work through Zion’s mighty life.

In addition to the press, Robbyn has been Instagramming photos of Zion’s days on earth. Every day since his passing, Robbyn has posted a new photo of Zion, accompanied by her thoughts and struggles, her grief and her faith.

And out of that, a ministry has emerged.

I’ve watched as Robbyn’s Instagram followers have grown, and I’ve read the comments of complete strangers who were encouraged and heartened by her words. Every day for the last month and a half.

There are a lot of reasons I am grateful for Robbyn, but I am perhaps most grateful for this daily practice of sharing a photo, and sharing herself.

It has taught me something.

The death of a loved one invites a swirl of care. For weeks after the loss, family and friends surround the bereaved with attention, meals, cards, flowers, gifts, anything they can think of.

But over time the comforters dwindle. Day by day, people go back to their busy lives, the tragedy no longer at the forefront of their minds.

Even those who suffered the loss must, eventually, resolve to walk forward. They must keep on living, return to jobs, return to raising children, return to the world.

So they do. And to outsiders, it might seem like they are doing better, that time eases the pain.

But Robbyn’s photos have given me a glimpse into the reality of the journey. Every day she invites us into her mourning. She lets us know where her heart is at, which lets us know how to pray for her and care for her.

Romans 12:15 says,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.

It’s easy to think of mourning as a finite season, during which we weep, we bake casseroles, we send cards.

But I don’t think mourning is a finite season. For some, mourning will be a lifelong path. Some stages will be easier than others, but I would imagine that the loss of a child is something you never really get over.

That’s why Robbyn’s photos are such a great reminder. She is not the only one missing her child every day. She is not the only one who lost a part of her heart, and carries the ache of its absence with her.

Though the rest of the world resumes its frantic pace, there are countless mothers who feel the emptiness of their arms every day.

I know many of you reading this have suffered that very loss, and carry that same ache with you. To you, dear sister, I want to say that I see you. The loss may have been years ago, but you are in pain, and that pain is real, and Robbyn’s photos have challenged me to do a better job of caring and praying for you.

To the rest of us, who want to love and care for our friends in their loss, I hope you will remember Robbyn. Though I would never generalize her experience as representing every woman, her story reminds us that grief does not end when the meals and phone calls stop. Our friends need us to bear with them through the long journey of mourning.

We may not be able to make the journey much easier, but we can make sure they don’t walk it alone.

As a final note, I am hesitant to make suggestions on how to care for mothers who have lost children through death, miscarriage, or failed adoptions. If you have experienced this loss and have the courage to share, please leave a comment below about what was helpful (or not helpful) to you. Or even a prayer request if needed. Because you are loved, you are seen, and you are not alone.


Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.59.09 PMSharon




  • Katie says:

    A good friend of mine lost her daughter, Gwendolyn, 36 hours after she was born. Erin started a ministry called Hope Mommies. If you have lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, I would encourage you to visit their website. They have a lot of resources for grieving mothers. It is a really incredible ministry.

  • Emily says:

    Someone shared this website with me recently. It is an interesting perspective to help people see how things they do are helpful or not in the context if a pro life audience.

  • Courtney says:

    I would say remembering the person regularly and acknowledging their pain/grief. Often people don’t want to bring it up because they don’t want to cause more pain. But I can tell you anytime someone mentions Rae to me I have immense joy. I can also promise you, you bringing up their loss isn’t going to “reopen wounds”. Those wounds never fully heal and that baby is thought of daily.
    I think another great reminder is for people to recognize the family as a family of x number of kids rather than one less because one isn’t with them right now.
    These are just a couple things I’ve learned while walking through losing children with friends and then experiencing that heartache myself.

  • Such a grief. Our family lost our beloved seven-year-old daughter Ruth three years ago from complications related to cerebral palsy. There is no way to describe this kind of loss. No way to carry it. All I can do daily is lay it at the feet of Christ and pray that he will make something beautiful out of it. Ruth was adopted from Uganda, and we are working to continue helping other children like her there. I recently read that people who handle grief best are those who are able to reach out do something positive with it. That said, during my own worst dark days, I gave myself permission to grieve however I needed to (as long as it wasn’t destructive). All expectations gone. Some weeks, I just curled up on the couch with a novel. Others I reached out and did something for someone else. The most precious gift I received was about a year after we lost our daughter. A friend gave me a memory bracelet engraved with ALL of my children’s names. Somehow I thought Ruth’s wouldn’t be there. But this gift was a tangible reminder that, yes, she was still part of our family. I also wrote about Ruth in my grief, a book I hope to sell to raise money for her former orphanage.

  • Sharon says:

    Courtney, thank you for sharing those insights. I always appreciate when you share about Rae.

    And Meadow, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the things that helped you–I love that bracelet idea. Such a beautiful gesture.

  • Cindy says:

    I lost two beautiful baby girls in 2001 and 2002. Both of our daughters were born in September. ( a week apart) every year that week in my life is more emotional than others. Even though many years have passed, a few of my closest friends call me during that week and lift me up in prayer. This is very helpful for me, because it helps me to know that their precious lives have not been forgotten. So if you know someone who has lost a baby, I suggest writing that birthday in your calendar and a sweet text, call, or card that says…. I remember too, I love you, I celebrate their first etc. birthday with you in my heart.

  • Laura says:

    We lost our baby girl Emma on August 4, 2011. She was born and we were blessed to hold her for 45 minutes before she passed. Although it’s been years, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. It’s a constant struggle to cary on knowing that a peice of my family is missing. I hold so much tighter to the family that I have here with me and that’s what gets me through. My husband, my family, and I all have a special angel watching over us, who we will see again one day. What is the most helpful is that people still talk about our baby girl. They mention her, send me notes. I know that she is not forgotten and that she has touched so many people.

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