From Loss to Life

This blog is written by SIDS America co-founder, Cheryl Darnell, whose son Billy died from SIDS. The thoughts reflected here come from Cheryl's heart to encourage others who are also experiencing the death of a child from SIDS. Her desire is that you might find hope and healing through her words and know that you are not alone.

Jun
8
2014
Cheryl Darnell

This past school year, a 35 year old mother sat in the same piano class with her preschool daughter as I did with my son. I didn’t know the mother very well, but she seemed to have a calm and kind spirit, and I was always blessed by the bubbly joy that emanated from her little girl.

About 6 weeks ago, we learned that this mother had begun experiencing severe migraines. Four malignant tumors appeared on her brain, and she’d been given 4 to 8 weeks to live. Apparently, she had been diagnosed 4 years ago with terminal cancer, but she shared with very few people, as she didn’t want the cancer to “define” her. She felt that God had called her to “live her life fully,” and after her cancer treatments, she enjoyed a year and a half of “feeling normal” (enjoying life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, worship leader, and missionary) before the cancer fatally spread.

I could barely wrap my mind around this scenario. She has been joyfully and faithfully raising two...

Mar
29
2014
Cheryl Darnell

Six years ago on Saturday morning, March 29, I awoke to my absolute worst nightmare. Puzzled as to why my baby hadn’t awakened to nurse yet, I went to get him up, finding him unresponsive in his crib. Billy had died of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Our hearts, lives, and dreams were completely shattered. The moments, hours, days, and months that followed were the darkest and most painful I’ve ever experienced.

I had no idea that within my deepest suffering, I would discover some of God’s most beautiful truths and promises. I never fathomed the depth of love I could feel at the same time that my heart had been inflicted with its deepest pain. I had no clue that in just over the next few years, God would use our son’s life- and death- to bring healing in our own hearts and marriage, and to reach hundreds of other hurting families, bringing healing and hope to them.

I could share so much as I reflect on the pain, the healing, the questioning and doubting God, the...

Apr
17
2013
Cheryl Darnell

 

Written By:  Martie Spurgeon

 

“For I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18

 

SIDS brings suffering to the hearts of family members touched by its sudden arrival.  It hurts.  It is unseen and nothing could prepare us for the void it leaves in our families for years to come.

When a child dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome it causes the parents to feel vulnerable and uncertain of what the future holds for them or other children they have. 

Sudden death brings sudden pain, sudden suffering.

 This verse is for us.  It serves...

Mar
13
2013
Cheryl Darnell

Written by: Martie Spurgeon

Psalm 46

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”

What comfort this verse can bring to the grieving parent!  God is a refuge – a hiding place, a safe place.  How we long for that after our world has been turned upside down!  How we desire a safe place to hide.  I remember after our daughter died the fear that filled my heart.  Fear fills the heart of every parent who has suffered the unexpected loss of a baby.   This reality becomes crystal clear:  Life can change in an instant.  Everything seems uncertain and unsure.  This verse helps us to realize that God is there for us even when everything around us seems unsure and unstable.  God is not just a refuge; oh no, it is so much more personal that that!  He is our refuge if we are His.   

Not only is God our...

Feb
13
2013
Cheryl Darnell

“What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.”  Psalm 56:3

Written by:  Martie Spurgeon

We had loaded the family into the van and were heading up for a hike at a nearby mountain here in North Carolina.  Our youngest daughter had been so excited about hiking and had chattered about it all day long as we prepared for the time when Daddy would get home from work and we would go on our adventure.

The hiking destination is about thirty minutes from our house and the trip there was filled with talking and laughing and a general buzz of noise.  We made the turn to head up the mountain to the hiking trail.  On either side of the van we were surrounded by mountains.  It grew a little darker as the road narrowed.  Suddenly our youngest who was four at the time began to cry; and I mean really cry!  I was stunned and looked for something that had caused her pain or even a sibling who had caused her pain; but there was nothing.  “...

Jan
21
2013
Cheryl Darnell

Written by:  Martie Spurgeon

 

We talked about the benefits of planning and looking ahead in the New Year that lies before us.  The benefits are there for everyone; but the grieving parent can find that taking time to plan for the days and months that lay ahead is actually a huge step in the grieving process. 

We saw in the last article that planning benefits us because we are able to see that life really does go on even after the death of our child.  We also took some time to talk about the benefit of seeing the life does exist outside of ourselves and our hurt.  Taking time to plan can allow us to see that there are people that are hurting and need someone to come along side and help them.  This too, is a huge step in the healing process that takes place during the journey of grief.  We ended our last post talking about how it is beneficial for the grieving parent to see that life can be reconstructed even after it...

Jan
4
2013
Cheryl Darnell

Written By:  Martie Spurgeon

 God is a God of order and routine.  One of the greatest ways to see God delight of order is to view the changing seasons.  Everything follows a pattern.  We have spring, then summer, followed by fall and the winter.  The cycle continues - month after month, year after year.  Sure, we can have season that are mild or extremely hard – but overall we know that after one season follows the next and there is an anticipated pattern in the weather for each season.

God delights in order.  He has designed our bodies to function best in a consistency of order.  Can you imagine if there were no season changes?  How boring that would be!  Isn’t it nice to know that Tuesday follows Monday and that Friday comes at the end of the week?  Imagine if everyday was a Monday. Now that is a scary thought! 

Not only is God a God of order; but He has designed us and our bodies to...

Dec
13
2012
Cheryl Darnell

Holidays can be so difficult for grieving families. Festive cheer surrounds us, yet for those grieving such devastating loss, it can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. Grieving families may not feel like celebrating, and others may or may not understand. The absence of our babies looms heavily over us, and we can hardly find reason to be joyful at a time that causes such deep pain. 

A mother from our Dallas Support Group sent me an email recently in which she referenced Luke 2:19 from the Bible: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." It's right in the midst of the Christmas story- Mary is holding her newborn son in a humble stable, a mass of angels breaks through heaven to sing of the King who has come to save the world, and after shepherds witness the miracle themselves, they begin a mass communication effort to get the word out that God had come- as a helpless, human baby- to earth. Amid all the fanfare from the...

Nov
15
2012

This post is written by Martie Spurgeon, gifted writer and mother of 6. Her daughter Ally died of SIDS on December 13, 1997. Be blessed by Martie's hope-filled and encouraging words, birthed out of her own grieved-yet healing- heart.

Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

How different are our views of death compared to God’s thoughts on the subject.  To us, death of a loved one is something that is dreaded, feared and we are left many questions of how their death could have been avoided or prevented.  This is especially true when it was one of our dear little children.  How deep the pain!  How comforting to know that God views death in a completely different way.  

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

There are some verses in the Bible that take on a special meaning after the death of a baby.  For me, this was one of those verses.  The day our...

Aug
24
2012
Cheryl Darnell

Here is one of the most profound messages I've ever heard on grieving the death of a child. May this bring some comfort and encouragement to you parents, grandparents, and others suffering the loss of a child to SIDS. And may it give a voice to those of you who may not quite feel the ability to freely express your pain and grief. I'll stop there- Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer's message speaks for itself:

Lament for a Son

2 Samuel 18:5-15, 19-33

A Sermon preached in Duke University Chapel on August 12, 2012 by the Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer

A friend of mine serves a church similar to Duke Chapel in that ministers offer prayers for healing and anointing with oil during communion. He shared with me his recent experience of being one of the ministers of anointing on Easter Sunday. Easter is a day when the worship service is crafted to reveal extreme joy...brass instruments, choral descants, banners, and lilies all speaking to the abundance of...