A Story of Loss
Kristi and Josh Tisdale celebrated the birth of their daughter Madison in 2013. They have grieved the loss of their son Logan at 18 1/2 weeks, Jacob at 22 1/2 weeks, their twins, and three other children.
They wish this story wasn’t theirs to tell. The losses they’ve walked through have ushered them into a community of which they wanted no part.
Their decision to share their story didn’t happen immediately. After their first loss in 2011 and their second in 2012, they only shared with family and close friends. But after the loss of their son Logan at 18 1/2 weeks, Kristi says that she felt like she had to tell his story.
“I wanted everyone to know and remember him as part of our family. I felt responsible for telling his story and sharing his life with the world.”
Josh and Kristi began to write as a way to share, grieve, and process their losses. Since they first hit “publish,” God has used their experiences to minister to others walking through similar pain.
“The Bible tells us that we are comforted so that we can comfort others and that has become our mission,” Kristi explained. “The Lord has used this pain and suffering in our lives to teach and sanctify us, as well as share the same comfort with others who have endured this wretched loss.”
Inspired by their story, we asked Kristi and Josh to share with us how they have grown as a couple through their losses, and how other men and women walking through a similar difficult season can support one another.
A Story of Healing
Kristi says that through this process, “[Josh and I] learned that men and women grieve much differently. The most important advice I can give is to share your feelings with one another. No matter what you are feeling, share it with your spouse. The range of emotions and thoughts you have after a traumatic loss can be confusing and all-consuming. Having someone listen to you and talk through your feelings is such an important part of healing.”
“The first instinct of many men after a loss is to be strong for our wives,” Josh says. “It isn’t that it’s wrong to want to meet her needs during a painful time, it’s that our understanding of her needs is often wrong. This was my biggest mistake during our first two losses. It wasn’t until we started going to a group for couples that had experienced loss that I realized that by not communicating with Kristi that I was hurting, I was putting her in a place that made her feel like there was something wrong with her. She didn’t see me crying in the car on the way to work, so she thought I had moved on and she was the only one still suffering.”
Advice and Encouragement for Hurting Couples
For Josh and Kristi, communication is key.
“What we really needed was to get those feelings out in the open,” Kristi says, “and show each other grace every day. Those first several months were so tough for me, and I was unable to do many of the daily tasks I had easily done before. I felt like a shell of a person, and I needed Josh to be incredibly sensitive toward me and give me love and encouragement often.”
Josh advises that husbands should be aware that they will grieve differently than their wives, and vice versa. His advice to men?
“Your pain is real; hers is worse. Once you accept that, it can help you deal with some of the things you may not understand about how she is grieving. Your goal is not to make her better, but to be there for her and to walk through it together.”
Josh also has this advice specific for men coping with loss: “Don’t think of grief as a sickness that you need to get over. It can be easy to bury yourself in work or some other hobby to keep yourself busy, thinking you just need to pass the time until it passes, but that doesn’t change the reality that you have lost a child. Eventually you have to stop the things that you are using to stay busy, and all of that grief will be waiting to catch up to you.”
The reality is this: grief changes you. “We want people to see that the loss of a child isn’t something you just forget about and move on,” says Josh. “You don’t ‘get better,’ you learn how to adjust to a new normal.”
A Story of Hope
Josh and Kristi’s grief is real, but so is their hope.
“Our babies lives had a purpose, no matter how short they were,” says Josh. “This world is broken and this is not the way it is supposed to be, but there is an answer for that. Jesus is the One who has overcome the world. Our hope is pointing to the world that is to come, when the One who conquered death will wipe away every tear and we will know that it was all worth it.”
Josh and Kristi joined us as guests on our most recent episode of the Empowered Advocate podcast. To hear more of their story—their faith journey, the promises God has revealed to them, and how loss has affected them—you can listen below, or click here to subscribe and listen wherever you find your podcasts. You can find their blog at JoshandKristi.com.