A Letter to Friends

Dear Friends,

This is a letter that no true, loving friend wants to write. But she does so precisely because she knows true, loving friends need and yes, even want, to share her burden.

For multiple reasons, I have not spoken to you of our latest news. The biggest one is that I am emotionally pacing myself. Even the most loving friends will grieve with us, and to grieve together means I must grieve again. And I can only grieve so much and still function, and tie shoes, and wipe noses, and slice and fry potatoes, and try to smile and enjoy the countless little gifts that surround us even as we mourn.

And why do we mourn? We mourn, in fact, because we have first been given a great and priceless gift. In early May, we learned that we had been given the gift of another child. In June, we learned that our child was a boy, our fifth son. We have named him Christian. And after many, many doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds in June and July, we understand that Christian’s physical heart is not as we would wish. It is not pumping properly, or not constructed as most healthy hearts are, or just not developing as a child’s heart in the womb is supposed to grow. We don’t exactly know what the precise problem is. But we do know that Christian is retaining fluid, far more than a baby should. And there’s nothing we can do to change that.

So, in the seventeenth week of pregnancy, we prepare to release Christian back to God much, much sooner than we would like. That time could be tomorrow, or in a week, or maybe in a month. It is a very hard and often strange reality to manage–great wonder and humility at what God has done to create and sustain our son thus far; fear and uncertainty about what exactly will happen; and at the same time great and terrible grief, now anticipatory grief, as we wait for Christian’s death.

So what can you do, dear friends, as we walk this road?

You can pray. You can pray for Christian, that he hears the saving Word of Christ and believes by hearing. You can pray that he feels no pain. You can pray for Jon and I, that we cleave together as we grope forward into the unknown. You can pray that I can weather the physical weight of pregnancy, giving Christian the best care he can get while he is still in my womb. You can pray that Jon knows best how to care for me and our family as the head of our household. You can pray that as parents, Jon and I can love and care for all of our children as they need, even while we struggle with our grief. You can pray that our ex utero children are comforted with the knowledge of Christ’s unending love to them and to their brother. Most of all, you can pray that all of us in the Olson family continually put our trust in Christ, placing all of our hopes and fears in Him, who does all things for our good and who will never leave us or forsake us.

You can cry with us. It can be awkward for people to hear our news, even when they love us. That’s okay. It can be awkward for us to share, and we (okay, I) will sometimes cry in the sharing. Sometimes that’s because I’m sad about Christian’s prognosis. But sometimes I cry because I know our friends truly and deeply grieve with us. And that makes me so grateful that I am moved to tears. So don’t be afraid of our tears, please. And share your stories of grief, too. Empathy bonds friends and makes comfort between us all the more poignant. It helps us to know that others have walked similar roads. And we are glad to give support to others as they bear their own sufferings and griefs, too.

You can rejoice with us. No, really. Please rejoice with us! Every child is a gift, even Christian. We are glad he is ours. We cherish every day with him. And I can’t emphasize this enough: all good news our friends have to share–an engagement, a marriage, an anniversary, a special birthday, and yes, a pregnancy or a birth announcement–we want to share with you, too. Few things become so clear in times of immanent death than how incredibly precious and beautiful life is. It has been such a joy to learn of blessings in other’s lives during the last few months.

I will write more in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you for loving us, dear friends. We love you, too.

Love in Christ,


18 thoughts on “A Letter to Friends

  1. Heather Ruesch

    Emily and Jon,
    You, Christian, and the children are in our prayers. Thank you for sharing your life with us as a testimony to Christ’s great love and care. We, as fellow humans and children of God, surely know the sadness of this fallen world. And we also know how it feels to be lifted up, thought of, prayed for, and loved in the midst of it all.
    I am so thankful for the opportunity to do so for you and with you. Sending all our love and prayers. ❤️

  2. Dave Elsea

    We’ll be praying for Christian, you and the rest of the family! God’s in charge and has a plan that is for our good although we may not understand his decisions. All praise and glory is His! God’s will be done.

  3. JOgden

    Dear family of Christian. I am send ing so many hugs for now as well as the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Your post is so beautifully written from the heart. We sent four beautiful girls home much to soon because of heart problems at different stages. My strong belief is God puts a soul in our children as soon as they are created and as they have no sin they get to go home to his arms they moment they pass from us. I wish you much Grace with yourselves and peace in these extra difficult times to navigate. Much love from Elora, Grace, January Hope, Augusta Faith’ s Mom as well as Lyrah, Jaith, Delon and Rowan.

    1. Emily

      Oh my, Jogden. Thank you so much for sharing about your precious girls. Jesus loves little ones, that’s for sure. We are so glad He died and rose for them. Hugs to you.

  4. Leisa Ramseu

    I’m sure you little one knows how much he is loved and how many prayers are going up for him and your family. Even in this most difficult time, God knows what is best. Take comfort in that. He loves you and won’t give you anything you can’t handle!

  5. Martha Galvin

    Our hearts are heavy with this news. We pray for God’s infinite peace and understanding in the midst of your trials and are thankful that Christian has a loving “home” while he is here.

  6. Ruth Armes

    Dear Emily,

    I am a friend of Amilia. Glenn and I were fortunate enough to have our son for 17 years before we lost him, but the length of time doesn’t matter when it comes to loving your child. Will definitely keep you all in prayers. God bless you and give you strength.

    1. Emily

      Thank you so much, Ruth. I so appreciate you sharing. May God continue to bless you and Glenn, too, as you wait to see your son again at the resurrection.

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