Husband-and-wife author duo Benjamin and Jenna Jury earlier this year released their new book, "Faith Actually: Living Life After Tragedy," with the aim to offer hope to grieving parents. In spite of Jenna's diagnosis with pre-eclampsia, the couple believed God would perform a miracle after their son David was born at 27 weeks. When he died six days later, the Jurys went on a faith journey with God they never intended to take, and which they have chronicled in this new book.
Every year in the U.S., 90,000 children die before their first birthday, a little-known fact and, like most parents of victims of infant mortality, the Jurys never thought they would be part of that statistic.
"You often cannot recognize when people are dealing with the loss of a child," says Jenna, who served with her husband as associate pastors for several years. "This isn't a topic that most people talk about or even feel comfortable talking about."
She says many people are hurting, but that they keep their stories to themselves for fear of judgment or believing no one can relate to their pain. The Jurys want to share their story so others who have experienced tragedy can know that they are not alone in their grief, and there are people out there who have experienced what they have experienced and do understand and care.
The couple reveals their struggles with their faith after the death of their son, as well as the subsequent crisis that developed when Jenna became pregnant just six months after David passed away. Jenna says it was during that time that she wrestled with being angry at God.
"I couldn't understand how a loving God could allow a baby to die," Jenna recalls. "When I started to become sick while pregnant with Brooklyn, I was angry and afraid we were going to lose her too. I asked God the tough questions, and in the midst of my anger I felt he was telling me to trust him."
"Both Ben and I grieved so differently," she continues. "He drew closer to God and I wanted to pull away. I can't pretend it was easy. Some days I was still angry. I missed my son. I knew Brooklyn wouldn't replace him, and I wanted both of them with me. But it was during that time that I realized God doesn't make bad things happen to us. He wanted us to have David as a part of our family. He grieved for us as He did his friend Lazarus."
The authors hope that "Faith Actually" will be a resource for people who have lost a child, as well as help the family and friends of grieving parents know how to respond properly.
"Sometimes just being there is all people need," Jenna explains. "Sometimes we do not know why something happens. In fact, most of the time we won't have the answers. Sometimes saying nothing at all is the most important thing we can do. Just love them, be there for them and help remain patient with them in their hurt."
"If they act out in emotion or get mad at God, don't correct them," she says. "Let them vent and be there for them as a safety net. Be a judgment-free zone for them while loving them. Don't tell them it was 'God's will'. Sometimes things happen because we live in a fallen world. Sickness, pain, and death is a reality in this life. We cannot claim to know what God's will is in someone's life. The Bible says God forms us in our mother's wombs, He makes no mistakes."
Currently in the process of adopting a little boy from Vietnam, the Jurys chronicles their journey on the website ThePeacefulNest.org where anyone interested in the process is invited to follow along.