Womaneering Podcast: the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

In this episode of Womaneering podcast, Tracy Johnson and Christy Bauman discuss the episode “What We Do To Women” from the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. Trigger warning: there is a lot of open conversation about spiritual abuse and dominance on women by misogyny and violent men in power.

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/womaneering/id1556620322?i=1000533354745


The Mystery of Funerals

The thick, rope-like straps across my high-heel sandals broke just like my cry spilling out in anguish when I saw his body in the casket. I ignored my limping ankle and continued toward the front of the viewing room. I was glad to see all the flowers surrounding him and amidst my thumping steps, I placed the small, 1945 black-and-white photo of my grandmother in his lapel suit pocket.

I couldn’t look at his face, it didn’t look like him, rather a wax statute you might find in a Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I was thankful his body looked so fake, so different than how he had looked alive just days before.

Physician Duncan McDougall proved in 1907 that there is a physical weigh difference of 21.3 grams after someone dies. It is believed to be the weight of the soul. It was so clear that my grandfather was no longer in his body and his soul had departed to another realm.

When they wheeled his coffin into the cathedral, I was flooded with the memories in my home town’s Catholic church. My grandparents were married here at 8am on October 24th in 1946. My sister and I sang in this same cathedral for their 50th wedding anniversary, and for the funerals of our great-grandparents. Our family history is wall-papered in these majestic walls.

Not growing up Catholic, I only came for those special events. It felt overwhelming to be walking into this cathedral where my grandfather was married and now buried.

The funeral begins, I desperately try to make it upstairs to the choir loft without my broken, super-glued shoe making too much noise. My sister and I sang but this time our voices beautifully crack under emotion anointing the sacredness of sorrow.

As we fist bump coming down the windy stairs with tears in our eyes, my sister says, “Awpa would have loved that we sang at his funeral.” I nod and follow her back to the front of the cathedral with my clacking shoe exposing our hushed return. My sister pulls us into a small alcove to wait until the moment of silence for the Eucharist is finished.

Immediately, my body is flooded with memories of my grandfather teaching me about these hidden pockets in cathedrals to be discreet when taking wedding photos.

Jack’s Photos was my grandfather’s photography business. In middle school, he started taking me to weddings with him as his assistant. I would set up lights and charge the batteries for the cameras and flashes. After a few weddings, I moved to be his 2nd shooter.

We probably shot over 30 weddings together. He quickly taught me where to hide inconspicuously while still getting the best angles for photos. The only mandate he ever told me was, “in a Catholic wedding, you can never take a picture when transubstantiation of the Eucharist is happening. As a zealous, non-denominational Christian, I respected the mystery of communion whether or not I fully understood it.

Twenty-five years later, standing with my sister in a side alcove in the cathedral at his funeral would I remember his lesson…we must respect the moment of transformation. The body memory washed over me reminding me that in a way my grandfather and I spent years playing hide and seek with our theology of communion, the church, and love itself.

What I believe Awpa was teach me was that we must not try to photograph the moment where the passing between life and death are in play. He suggested that one would waste their time trying to capture the invisibility of holiness.

Awpa was teaching me that a mystery is to be experienced not captured.

I stand there looking at his casket at the front of the altar, my grandmother in her wheel chair next to his body. I hear him saying, “stop and witness the mystery of death to new life.” As we make our way to the front, I step in front of the casket, I put my trembling hands on the cloth that covers him. Uncertain if it is allowed and incense lingering in my nose, I lean down and kiss his casket. Tears streaming down my face I say goodbye to his body promising to carry his lessons inside of me.

Thank you Awpa, for teaching me to stop and experience the mysteries of God rather than pick them apart in hopes of understanding them.


Marking Sorrow: An Ode to Love & Grief

 "Grief is really just love. It's all the love you want to give,
but cannot.
All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes,
the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest.
Grief is just love with no place to go."
It is quiet and dark as I creek open the screen door
I’m careful to not let it slam behind me
as the smell of their house envelops me
for what I think will be the last time with both of them alive.
familiarity closes around me like a theology of belonging,
I am home.
He is sleeping in his chair and she is in her bed.
Their hands are clasped together as they wait to see who will be taken first.
Awpa sees my silhouette in the doorway and bids me come in.
They both welcome me with such joy even in the late hour.
Their bedroom feels 40+ years comfortable to my childhood and adult body,
which automatically crawls in next to Mema at the edge of her bed.
Her warm silk nightgown is soft to my traveling body.
Her greeting is familiar,
“aww che’ my Cre-Cre”
I can tell by the frailty in her voice she has aged since I last saw her three months ago.
Awpa looks like it will not be long.
That is why we came.
The hospice nurse says she doesn’t know how long.
“It is better if you come.”
We talk for a few short minutes and then I crawl out of bed and say goodnight.
As I close the bedroom door, I hear them whispering to each other,
“goodnight sham, I love you.”
“I love you too, so much.”
With the morning comes nurses and aides, chaplains, and conversations.
We move Awpa to his chair and instead of coffee we give him oxygen.
He reaches for his rosary to say his prayers.
The circular, silver case is unclasped and lays open kissing the mahogany table,
the engraved image of the Virgin Mary peers back at me,
her arms down by her sides lay open ready to receive what is to come.
I am trying to take it all on before it will never be again.
This image of my grandfather’s morning routine that is slipping from him.
His round, short, sausage-like fingers hold the circular beads in his trembling hand as he fingers through the prayers religiously. His arms are bruised and cut from many falls in the night, he looks like a bull who has fought his way up against death and refuses to be stopped.
Slow and determined much like his breath that pumps through his aching chest. He breaks the silence.
“I am ready to go…but what about Mema?”
Death is like birth,
sometimes it comes two weeks early, and sometimes right on time.
Yet some have bent the ear of their Creator and pushed past their due date.
Death seemingly waits for my grandfather’s release because of how he holds so tightly to every moment with my grandmother.
What is this love that I see and hear whispered between their day and night?
Dehydration and a body shutting down fill the weekend hours into days.
I mentally must open my emotional medicine bag, making myself available to the act of midwifing death.
So much about the end of life is our will versus our organs and what passes through his body shows me that he is hollowed out, like his empty armchair where we would share coffee in the morning on my visits home from college.
Days turn to nights, I sleep in the living room on the couch near his recliner.
Through the night I listen for his breathing.
Sometimes he asks for help, other times he gives himself over to sleep.
Granddaughters and daughters fill the house with cooking and caring.
Grandsons configure equipment and plan to aid with aging.
He makes an upward turn and I breathe a sigh of relief.
Today will not be the end.
I kiss his cheek and make the sign of the cross on his forehead before I say goodbye.
We smile knowingly that this is not the end for us, we are forever.

The Beginning of the End

This is reposted from Red Tent Living, the original publication can be found here.

I am sitting in my car outside a speak-easy bar in downtown Fort Worth, I am mesmerized by the sound of rain falling methodically on my windshield. Because I am twenty minutes early and nervous, I pull out my poem and scan the words, trying to memorize any phrases I have forgotten. As a young woman denied the opportunity to teach at church or in seminary classes because of my gender, I often go to spoken-word events on weekends to practice “preaching.” The spoken word community is very different from the run-of-the-mill church crowd. People of all color, gender, culture, sexuality, and spiritualities congregate to lay down a spoken word. I walk into the low-lit bar and find a table. Although I recognize a few people from the spoken word community, I don’t know anyone enough to say hello. 

The night is nerve-racking for me, as poets get up and share, I continue to sit in my seat, holding the wrinkled paper in my hands, my heart-penned words waiting to be heard in an attempt to be understood. A beautiful, large Black woman gets up, and her voice echoes through the still room like a cacophony of emotions. She moves her body and her hands in a rocking sway as she

recites a story of gang rape. Her words are enrapturing and make me cringe, yet I choose to hold what she is offering, a part of her story for us. The crowd is in awe; tears fall and praise goes up until the room is once again quiet and the stage empty. The lonely microphone beckons me. I stand up, walk to the stage, voice shaking, and begin...

“My family owns slaves. I am a slave owner, and I am not sure what to do with the racism I have inherited...”

The Black woman who spoke before me looks up from her phone, her ebony eyes are patient with my white fragility. My voice cracks and I continue, pressing in harder, past my shame. I want to free my soul until I find my full voice. I continued...

“Her name was Yola, she cared for me from birth through college, I was closer to her than my own grandmother.”

Growing up in a small town in Southern Louisiana, I was lumped into the “ignorant” culture as I was of Cajun descent; however, even my low-class status yielded me, slaves. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and my own mother all had black women in their homes to care for their house and kids. These black women mothered me. It wasn’t until I received an email during my college years that told me of my dear Yola’s death that I realized I was her slave owner.

There is something terrible about the fear of being misunderstood. At our core, we want to be known.

My uncle had sent word that she had died, and our family had sent flowers as an act of condolence. I did not attend her funeral. Although I would have been allowed, I was not invited.

After Yola died, I discovered that I did not really know her. In fact, I did not actually know her full name—Leola; she had always gone by a family nickname. I also did not know that she had thirteen children, for I had never met any of them. These brutal realizations made me realize I was not her beloved, but rather, I was her work. My relationship with Leola was situated in a hierarchy—my family paid her less than $3 an hour to take care of everything in my grandmother’s home, including me. The death of Leola was the beginning of the unveiling of my inherited racism. It would take a year after her death, but I would make my way—alone—to her grave. I wept, apologized, and sang the song she always sang to me when she rocked me in her arms. 

 

“Oh freedom, ooooh freedom, oh freedom over me. And before I’ll be a slave, I will be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.”

 

White fragility is defined as the discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice. Racism is not disproved by niceness. Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, explains,

“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework—besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates in systems and structures enabled by nice people—is that it obligates me to be nice in return, rather than truthful.”

My love and close proximity with Leola do not discredit my racism. I inherited my family’s systemic structure of racism and slavery. I no longer want Black people to coddle me; I want to build a stronger muscle than white fragility. I want to build a stronger faith than the limited one I have inherited of oppression. Standing in the dimly lit bar in downtown Ft. Worth, I muster all the courage I have to finish that poem.

“Thank you, Black grandmothers, thank you, Black mothers, thank you, Black women, for seeing me and mothering me, a slave owner.”

I finish the poem; there is no roar from the crowd, just a few snapping fingers can be heard. There are nods of acknowledgment at my courage as a few other white people stand up from their seats and bow their heads with ownership of their own racism. When the night ended, I stood outside putting my rain jacket on before running to my car, the Black female poet was standing there smoking a cigarette. “Thank you for your poem,” I said, “truly, your words will stay with me for many years.” She smiled, blew out her smoke, and paused before saying, “your courage will stay with me as well.”

 

Christy BaumanLMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voice. She offers meaning-making and story work consulting. She is the author and producer of three works: Theology of the WombA Brave Lament, and Documentary: A Brave Lament. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, adjunct professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy co-director of the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma with her husband Andrew. They live in Seattle with their three kids: Wilder, Selah, and River.


womaneering the Red Tent

Womaneering the Red Tent

In this episode of womaneering the Red Tent, Tracy Johnson shares a vulnerable story about what it means to build a red tent community with women. Tracy and Christy converse about the hardships and beauty of risking relationships with other women. They discuss Anita Diamante’s book The Red Tent and Christy Bauman’s book, Theology of the Womb. Join us for the conversation at womaneering.com or follow us on IG @womaneering_

 

Womaneering the Red Tent


Womaneering Holy Week

As we begin holy week, this conversation in womaneering podcast couldn’t have come at a better time. Tracy and I navigate what it means as women to live fully into our bodies through holy week. The theme of our conversation is around what is required for a woman to birth death and to be a doula in the life/death/life cycle. Join us please as we help you spiritually prepare to know Jesus in His crucifixion and resurrection through the body of a woman. Join us for the conversation on the Womaneering Podcast and follow us on IG at womaneering_


Womaneering Sexual Health

Dr. Christy Bauman and Tracy Johnson continue the conversation about pioneering Christian womanhood in this episode about sexual health. Andrew Bauman joins to share his story about objectifying women’s beauty. The conversation engages topics of pornography, sexual shame, and asexuality. Join us for the conversation on the Womaneering Podcast and follow us on IG at womaneering_


Self-Care During the Pandemic: A Budget-Friendly Guide for Women

The pandemic has changed the lives of countless women around the world. Before the pandemic, women held the majority of the jobs in the food, hospitality, and tourism industries — all of which were hard hit by the pandemic. Beyond grappling with the economic effects of the pandemic, women have also had to take on new roles at home. Given the increased demand for your time and mental energy, practicing self-care is more important than ever right now.

 

One great way to care for yourself is by working with a therapist who specializes in women’s health and well-being, like Christy Bauman. Keep reading to learn what else you can do to feel your best during the pandemic — without blowing your budget!

 

Get Active

 

As Verywell Mind explains, exercise is an effective form of stress relief that can have a very positive impact on your mood. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic, bumping up your activity levels could be a great way to cope. Pick up running, hiking, or cycling. Getting outdoors is always best, but if you feel safer staying close to home, try following some at-home workout videos in your living room — there are plenty of free routines you can find on YouTube, as well as fitness apps that cost little to nothing.

 

Treating yourself to new athletic apparel can help you get motivated for your new exercise routine. For example, a new pair of leggings or a workout tank from Lululemon will make you feel beautiful and confident as you venture outside for an exercise session. Search online for Lululemon coupons before shopping so you can save money and stick to your budget.

 

Eat Well

 

Eating well goes hand in hand with regular exercise. Eating healthy, nutrient-packed foods will keep your blood sugar stable so you can enjoy consistent energy and emotional stability throughout the day. This will make it much easier to stay calm when your spouse or children leave unwashed dishes in the sink. Good nutrition will also improve your mental focus so you can plug away at your remote job, despite all of the distracting things going on around you. 

 

Eating healthy can even help you save money. Steer clear of pre-packaged products and stick with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. You’ll be surprised how affordable healthy eating really is when you shop smart and cook everything from scratch.

 

Go to Bed Early

 

Alongside healthy eating and exercise, sleep makes up the third pillar of health. It’s also one of the most overlooked elements of a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve been taking on additional roles around the house during the pandemic, there’s a good chance your sleep is suffering. But getting enough sleep every night is vital to stress management, emotional coping, mental focus, and more. 

 

Thankfully, you don’t have to splurge on expensive sleep gadgets or a fancy mattress to improve your sleep. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule — even on weekends — is the best way to fall asleep quickly and wake up more easily in the morning. Better yet, get outside in the sunlight immediately after waking to reset your body’s internal clock.

 

Spend Some Time Alone

 

With everyone stuck at home, it’s hard to find time for ourselves. But a little alone time here and there can do your mental health a lot of good. Women are all too familiar with the feeling of being needed, and while this is often a wonderful thing, it can get old after a while. Running around, tending to everyone can cause you to lose sight of your own needs. Carve out some time for yourself to take a solo walk, go for a drive, relax in a hot bath, or lock yourself in the bedroom with a book. You don’t have to spend a dime to give yourself some much-needed attention.

 

Pick Up a New Hobby

 

Making time for a personal hobby is a fantastic way to disconnect from the demands of life and practice self-care. Fortunately, the pandemic is a great opportunity to pick up affordable hobbies you can do from home. Find a used guitar and learn how to play, try soap making, rehab your furniture, or start an indoor herb garden — your options are nearly endless! Pouring your heart into something you’re excited about can be a breath of fresh air during the monotonous days of the pandemic.

 

The importance of self-care during COVID-19 cannot be overstated. Exercise, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and make time for things that matter to you. Whether you’re caring for a household full of kids or you’re still getting the hang of remote work, finding ways to care for your mental well-being will help you cope as we ride out the rest of the pandemic.

 

Do you need to talk to someone? Christy Bauman can help you identify your needs and learn how to live more fully. Check out the website to learn more!

 

For more information about Cheryl and Wellness Central, click here.


Everbearing: The Female Cycle & God

**Trigger Warning: There are explicit content and description of miscarriage, loss, and death.

The mist of rain falls on my unwashed hair and flannel pajamas. It is another overcast, cool morning, and the garden beds adjacent to my house have been beautifully tilled, yet I can’t stop harrowing the soil. My exhale sends a heavy cloud of condensation in the perfectly rounded out holes I am digging out. I have about twenty strawberry starters lined in a row by my rain boots, and my nails are packed with dirt. I feel wearily alive. It has been only a few weeks since my D&C procedure, this is the second miscarriage in eleven months and my body is desperate and determined to grow something that will live. So I plant each one of those strawberry plants as proof that I can keep something alive. My husband was gentle when he asked why I had spent over $300 on plants this month. It took a while to put words to but I realized that I was exhausted by so much loss and death, I wanted to surround myself with living things. The Holy Spirit is speaking to our human bodies throughout the seasons, igniting a desire in us to create. We as women are everbearing creatures, whether we want or don't want to raise children, whether our wombs are able or not able to bear children, whether we have stories of losing children, adopting or birthing children...

 

Women are everbearing creatures.

Our bodies are everbearing the cycle of life and death, our ovaries and uterus, in particular, are everbearing the cycle of hope and loss. 

We see this cycle again and again throughout Scripture. Isaiah 5 is one of my favorite examples of this. God is singing a song about what it is like as a parent to watch your son get his heart broken in his covenant relationship with human beings. 

 

[EXT]“I will sing for the one I love

  a song about his vineyard:

My loved one had a vineyard

    on a fertile hillside.

He dug it up and cleared it of stones

    and planted it with the choicest vines.

He built a watchtower in it

    and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,

    but it yielded only bad fruit.”[/EXT]

 

The verse always gives me chills.

It reminds me of the helpless parental heart which cannot make someone love their child; the futility a parent feels when their child gets their heart broken by a lost love or a lost dream. One of my favorite worship songs is entitled the Garden Song, which I imagine worship leader Jason Upton wrote after studying Isaiah 5: 

 

[EXT]“I want to build you a garden, in a dry and desert land, I’m gonna find a river there. 

For I have seen a garden grow in a land filled with injustice

 and I have heard a mother’s cry for her child to live again.

I have seen a withered soul fall like petals on the water, 

and I watched a flower grow, 

I have seen the power or resurrection, slowly rise toward the sun. 

No one knows what God has seen, 

human kind destroyed this garden, 

with bleeding hands we will plant the seeds, 

and You will make all things new again, 

God will make all things live again. ” [/EXT]

 

The process of creating a child is filled with awaiting hope, injustice, trauma, healing, celebration, longing, pain, and resurrection. It is much like this parable of the vineyard, which is a womb where God is trying to build a lush garden that gets destroyed because it is trying to grow in a fallen world. The Garden Song is a beautiful response to the brokenhearted Creator; it is a song I have tried to sing back to God in the years of my pregnancies. In the weeks of desperate waiting for a pregnancy to reach the 12-week mark, or when I have wept with blood on my hands when my baby never made it to a viable life, I have made this my prayer.

Co-creating life with God has made me a woman who has contended with faith and hope. Living through the ups and downs of a decade of reproduction, I have become a brave and wild woman who sings with faith, hope, and love. Each one of us has a birthing story, whether it is that we never had the courage to try, or we easily brought life into this world without struggle. Our birthing story tells us how we will come to the last stage of our lives, how we will lay down and die. I know my birth story and the story of my birthing years, and I will tell you this much, I will dance into my death as an autumn leaf falls to the ground.

 

I ask you to study the cyclical pattern that unfolds in your menstrual story, in your birthing years;

how do you come to the creation process?


Infertility & Loss of Hope

*This is an excerpt from the book, "Theology of the Womb", **Trigger warning: this article is about miscarriage and infertility

         Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, little yellow birds perched in a tree, four are painted blued with life and the other seventeen painted yellow with loss. The framed picture in my sister-in-law’s living room of twenty-one birds in a tree signifies her family, 17 yellow painted birds representing her children in heaven, and 4 blue painted birds signifying her children on this earth. The verse in Ephesians is printed clearly underneath the tree which reads, “to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”

She often remarks that abundance is different than she originally thought.

Reproduction was a long road for her, filled with years of giving herself injections, taking pills and medication for the hormonal increase, countless waiting rooms, and doctor visits. The agony of waiting and waiting to know if these embryos took, wondering if the implantations were successful. The warrior of a woman it takes to live through this process astounds me. The Proverb often comes to mind when faced with a longing unfulfilled, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” How many sick hearts I have encountered over the years. My own sick heart at many seasons in my life, but the heart of a woman who longs for children and cannot have them has been one of the sickest hearts I have ever known.

The women I have seen for therapy or done life through seasons of infertility, miscarriage, or a child’s death have been the heaviest of hearts. Infertility is referenced as the “shriveled womb” in the Bible, and I would even explain it more as a shriveled heart. The incapability of creating a child within you, if it is a desire you have, is devastating. Women and medicine have become desperate and brave by seeking alternative means such as in vitro fertilization or IVF, in which the art of creating children becomes a science. I feel deep gratitude for science allowing women to get pregnant while realizing the cost of co-creation with God through a petri dish is daunting at best.

Pelvic floor specialists report that trauma held in the pelvic floor due to traumatic D&Cs and births are prevalent. Research states that over 90 percent of women who undergo surgeries in their abdomen will have scar tissue problems, because “the female pelvis contains a remarkable array of structures, responsible for myriad complex processes. It is situated in an area of the body that is vulnerable to injury, accessible to objects from the external environment, and susceptible to infection. When structures in the pelvis heal, they can become bound by adhesions...causing pain and dysfunction.”

 

Our wombs are sensitive and powerful, fashioned by the Creator to bear witness to the complexity of creation...

Do not be fooled, the invitation to create is one of agony and glory.

 

Do not be fooled, the invitation to create is one of agony and glory, sometimes found in a petri dish and other times in sacred acts of intimacy. We must honor the process of healing when the womb is harmed for it is our sanctuary made up of that which is most holy.

When we bleed, whether years of infertility or miscarriage, something is being shed. Whether it is the potential for life, or life itself, it is being shed and we have nothing we can do at that moment but to stare down the invitation to mock death. I have feared death too long, fear only can be immersed in perfect love. I have few choices while on earth but one I do have in the face of loss and death is to choose to weep honorably and love deeper than I choose fear. I weep for injustice, I weep for loss, I weep for the pain of hope, the discipline of waiting, the ache to birth, and grief of death. I imagine God, receiving this gift of mine, whether is my blood, my low-grade eggs, an undeveloped fetus; whatever I am offering, it is a gift, my attempt to desire and create life. Can you see God asking you to carry the futility? That may look different for you depending on your story: maybe God is asking to continue trying to create or to let go of life not created. This intimate, sacred, painful image is my kindest, most loving thoughts. My fears being drowned by perfect love. There is an aftermath for the body that continues to attempt to create and remains infertile. 

Postpartum is not only for the woman who has had babies but also for the post-partum for the infertile woman.

Postpartum refers to the period of time for the mother after the birth and the postnatal care of the baby, it involves the sharp drop in the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which contribute to feeling tired, depressed, and sluggish. Postpartum, in particular to postpartum grief, is only recently being addressed in the medical world. The range of emotions in a woman after childbirth or child loss oscillates between longing attachment and bliss to protective nightmares and panic-ridden anxiety. The mother's brain shifts as the gray matter become more concentrated. We see changes in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and all the regions of the brain that control empathy, social interactions, and anxiety. When a woman is in recovery from infertility, miscarriage, or birth, one must be aware that it is hard to explain what is happening in the brain and the healing process of postpartum. It is helpful to engage anyone in a season of postpartum with curiosity and care through this transition period. 

Loss and grief have many symbolic similarities to birth, and in many ways, we give birth to death. In the aftermath of a loss, the burial process has looked, to me, a lot like postpartum grief. Postpartum is different for everyone, and I think the same is true with postpartum grief. Often after one has a baby we ask the question, “How was the birth?”. The same is appropriate for the postpartum griever; we should ask, “How was the death? How was the miscarriage? How was the attempt amidst infertility?”. Whether death is difficult and painful or worthy of the celebration of reaching eternal life is dependent on the details of the death, much like the details of birth. How did one come to die? Were they sick or in pain? Was there family nearby? Did they get to say goodbye to everyone they desired or were they taken too quickly? Was it accidental, intentional; timely, expected? These answers don’t tell us whether one should grieve more or less around this loss, rather it gives us details of how the person grieving might encounter the next few months of postpartum grief.  

With the "shriveled womb" of infertility, we must be people who come alongside and be curious about the "sick heart" of the infertile woman and how her post-partum is affecting her heart, body, and mind.