Every year in the U.S., 90,000 children die before their first birthday. Benjamin and Jenna Jury never thought they would be parents that were part of that statistic. 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 they have chronicled it all in the new book “Faith Actually: Living Life after Tragedy.”
“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. So many people are hurting, and therefore, they keep their stories to themselves because they fear judgment or feel like no one can relate to their pain. We want to share our story so others who have experienced tragedy can know they are not alone in their grief, and that there are people out there who have experienced what they have experienced and do understand and care.”
The Jurys reveal 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,” says Jenna. “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. 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 Jurys hope “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,” says Jenna. “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. 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.”