Guest Blog by Shaunna Coin
Not long ago I was blessed to meet an incredible woman named Shaunna. Her story is laced with God's grace and conviction. Her family has been through unthinkable tragedy. Yet, her faith has inspired and equipped me to keep trusting God. She is taking over my anxiety tip platform today to calm your fears around the fear of losing someone.
“I’m so sorry—your son is gone.”
Over 20 weeks into our pregnancy, on April 26, 2017, the glass ceiling shattered when our first son, Knox Wesley, was born into this world still. The days, hours, and each singular minute spent in the hospital filled me with horrific trauma and overwhelming grace. God blessed us with the strength and resilience to persevere over the long labor to bring Knox into this world. We had precious hours with Knox in our arms, tracing every curve of his sweet face and body. Divinely placed support through the hospital chaplain, who blessed our son and provided us with wise counsel. Plus, hundreds of supportive family and friends were walking alongside us. God was near the brokenhearted.
Three months later, a new chapter to our story unfolded when we shockingly learned we were pregnant. In our great joy, it is simultaneously a moment I became acutely aware of the role anxiety started to play in my life. As a heart navigating grief, I began battling heightened anxiety, fear, and worry surrounding a new pregnancy and parenting soon after a loss with significant birth trauma.
I found myself in cycles of anxiety that would trigger spirals in my desire for control and eat away at my inner peace, which shifted again when Hayes began experiencing febrile seizures. I couldn't escape or find peace from the fear of losing another child. The deeper I desired control, the stronger the ripple effect grew of not trusting God with the very thing most precious, my son.
I want freedom
While control might have been the “shiny object” I was attracted to, it was exhausting. We are not made for control. Following a spiral season, after Hayes had experienced his third seizure, I knew the way I was living in my control bubble was no longer a healthy or sustainable way to continue. I remember sharing with one of my closest friends, “I don’t want to live this way anymore; I want to find peace .” God heard the cries of my heart. That same close friend stumbled on a Fearless Retreat for women just days after that conversation, centered on anxiety. It was the easiest, yes, and we packed our bags and headed for a weekend away with women we didn’t know—a divine contradiction for a “control” lover like myself.
My life changed in the ensuing weeks and months since that “yes.” It required me to put in the complex, humbling, and intense work of being honest with the lies taking up the majority of space in my mind. It all starts with a thought and believing a lie:
First, that something would happen to my living son, and I will suffer again, alone.
Second, I will not and cannot find lasting peace from anxiety and fear.
Third, Control gives me peace
I carried the secret weight of guilt that I was in some way to blame for the death of Knox. The guilt transitioned into finding “peace” in controlling every aspect of what I could do as a parent. If, through my control, I could keep Hayes safe, I would release some of the guilt I had long held that I wasn’t able to keep Knox alive.
Stand in truth
When I recognized how much control I desired and how much power my thoughts had over me and my anxiety, I knew that was no longer the way I wanted to live. By recognizing the lies overwhelming me, I could directly replace those lies with Truth from the Word. Those truths have become my battle armor; when the enemy seeks to destroy me, it is a direct call to match the lies and dispel them immediately. It is continuous work, and the enemy is ruthless—yet, the more I am in God’s word, the wiser He makes me. As He equips me with better discerning abilities, I am renewed with more peace and less fear.
Withhold nothing from God, and He will surely bless you.
I was called to the story of God testing Abraham, “take your son, your only son, whom you love,” and God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham was obedient, and before the very act, he was prepared to carry out an angel of the Lord called out from heaven and stopped him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy, he said. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your only son.” The angel declared, “…that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” God knew Abraham would struggle with the call set before him, yet he knew obedience to that calling would produce incredible growth in faith.
God desires my complete trust, how small I had made Him by keeping the very thing I treasured so deeply, my son, from Him.
Turning my lies into truth.
First, God will provide, and I can trust him with my children. I can live without fear of the future, and when my trust is rooted firmly in God, I am never alone.
Second, I will find lasting peace by releasing my fleshly desire for control. I will armor myself first in His Word where I can firmly trust God’s plans for my family because He is God and trustworthy all the time.
Third, seeking control makes my suffering too heavy of a burden to carry – its weight is consuming. It makes me spiral; it creates chaos in my heart and soul. It makes me dependent on the unreliable and undependable lies of the enemy. The enemy wants nothing more than to hold me captive, steal and kill my joy and hope for the future. But freedom is possible; freedom is PROMISED. Peace exists in trusting He will do what he has promised He will do.
There is Hope.
I know that my grief journey on this Earth will require consistent work until I am fully healed in Heaven. There is so much joy in my waiting; life is truly a gift. Trust requires our unwavering commitment even if the greatest storms test us. We may not have all the answers, but God indeed does.
I have a beautiful family and a thriving and healthy son. God has used my circumstances and positioned me directly as a support to other bereaved mothers, taking my brokenness and allowing me to honor Knox by loving others better. To find purpose in walking these difficult journeys alongside others – so that in our waiting, we still find and pursue great hope and joy. His good works weaved throughout my life, plans set long in place by no mistake, overwhelm me. How deeply He loves me, my children, YOU.
If your grieving or anxious heart relates to mine, please know I am covering you in prayer. Your pain is valid and seen.
Plug into a faith-led community that will walk alongside you, praying with and for you. A home church, wise counsel, and the Fearless Women’s Retreat and “Freedom Thoughts” Impact Group changed my life, giving me tangible resources and discernment in my grief & anxiety journey. To learn more about Fearless Retreats & Impact Groups, please visit here.
Open the Word; the greatest armor to guard ourselves against the lie that seeks to destroy our peace is found in God’s truth. Seek the Word first, ask questions, and create an intimate relationship with the God who desires your heart.
Invest in Godly friendships. One of the greatest blessings and magnificent ways God has shown how purposeful He is in His plans. It’s been a cornerstone of my faith, grief & anxiety journey to have friendships that point me towards God and are rooted in bold faith. Our purpose is to walk together.
My friends, the enemy works hard, but nothing works harder than hearts on fire for the Lord.
Ultimately, we know who is victorious, and the freedom found in that promise is one I want for us all.
If you are trying to help someone that has just lost a loved one, what is the best way to comfort them?
Be present. It sounds simple, but it is by far one of the most meaningful gestures ofsupport. Being present means taking the initiative to reach out and letting go of expectations tohave the “perfect words”. It often requires you to step outside your comfort zone to sit withsomeone in their grieving while setting aside your desire to “fix” things for them. Showing up asan active listener consistently, without expecting a set timeline of grief to be followed or rushingthem to “move on”. Grief lasts as long as their love does, and your ongoing presence as theywalk that journey will be a priceless gift.
What is something that is not helpful that people do while grieving a loved one?
How soon is too soon to bring up memories of the person who died?
Hey friend, Christy here. I hope this message blessed your heart as it did mine. Shaunna shared her moments of deep pain and the journey she has walked through after experiencing trauma. I know that she isn't alone in her trials, and you who are reading this may resonate deeply with her hurt.
I have seen that Christian counseling has been a powerful tool for many, including myself, as they walk on a path to freedom from fear, anxiety, and depression. If this post has left you feeling vulnerable and in need of guidance, I want to encourage you to take a step and reach for help. Here are some local and online Christian counselors I recommend with links to their practices. There is hope as you fight fear, trauma, and loss.
With Love, Christy