Living with Infant Loss and Learning to Grieve

Jordan Tate’s Just Keep Breathing is one of the most brilliant and tragic books I have ever read. It is powerful in all its gravity. It is beautiful in all its honest pain. Just Keep Breathing will bring you to tears and then dry them with joy.

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Every time I sit down to write this review, something stops me. Jordan Tate’s Just Keep Breathing is one of the most brilliant and tragic books I have ever read, and I feel writing a review that will do it justice is nearly impossible. The book is poignant and poetic. It is so truthful that it reverberates like the last deep note in an orchestra. All around is still, the final sound is over, but the silence of space left by the last long note is circling you, almost humming and haunting all around you, seeping in through your pores until it becomes part of you. It is a silence that speaks. Jordan Tate’s book is like the emptiness after that note–somber, echoing, still, and eternal. It is powerful in all its gravity. It is beautiful in all its honest pain.

Through the pages of the book, Tate invites the reader into the sorrow of losing their two beautiful daughters. It is more than that, though. It is a window into grief and how God interacts with us when we are in such devastating places. This grief is so encompassing, so painful that it becomes numbing at times. Tate brings you into this space, and in the midst of it, she opens herself up and lets you see the broken heart of a bereaved mother. Her vulnerability is covered by the ever-present love of our Heavenly Father, and the reader begins to see the joy in the sadness and how love and loss can live together.

It would be a lie to say that this story did not have me reading through rising wells of water. There were moments when I had to put the book down, have a good cry, and then compose myself. I had to sit with my thoughts and ruminate on the deep wisdom found in Tate’s words. She holds nothing back as she shares her experience with hope and loss, not once, but twice. Through the anger, frustration, and deep sadness, she shares how God was nearer than ever before, how His love and His compassion that was shown through friends helped guide her and her husband through the hardest season they have yet to face.

The book is mostly a collection of Tate’s journal entries she wrote as she processed carrying and birthing her two daughters. She gathered her entries and added a few sections in order to craft a book with grieving mothers in mind. She wanted to dispel the silence surrounding infant loss and create a space for mothers to openly process together. I joined the collective of grieving mothers gleaning wisdom from Tate, as I, too, have lost three babies in early pregnancy.

Tate spends time talking about her friends and how they felt during this time of mourning. She even incorporates two excerpts from them where they share their experience of survivor’s guilt and the overwhelming task of loving friends through such dark times. I found these sections very helpful because I want to be a good friend when those I love go through hard times. Tate explains how grieving in groups is powerful, and she paints the picture of what that looks like in friendships as time passes and life returns to its normal rhythm.

Not only is the content deeply moving, but the writing is well-versed and seamlessly raw. To write a book is an overwhelming task, and to write one so well that contains such depth of heart and unparalleled vision is quite a feat. Tate is to be applauded on many fronts. She is honest, she is brilliant, she is challenging, and she is brave.

Just Keep Breathing will bring you to tears and then dry them with joy. It is a magnificent journey worth sharing. I challenge you to seek out a copy and add it to your library. It will prove helpful and inspiring.

Tate, thank you for your words. Thank you for the way you share your story and the trust you place in the Father. The faith you possess is priceless and will keep readers coming back to the Father over and over again. Through you, I saw that losing isn’t all loss, and emptiness isn’t baren.

Here is a short excerpt from the book:

I can honestly say that up until this point, March 13, 2013, was one of the very worst days of my life. I was finishing up at work for the day and Chris happened to be in my office as we were going to ride home together. I received a call from my midwife who had just been sent our ultrasound images and called me from what sounded to be her car. When I heard her voice, I knew something was not right. She went on to tell me that there was “definitely something wrong” with our baby, and that her jaw, brain, and possibly heart appeared to have some major issues. I can’t describe what it felt like to hear that news. Chris knew from my face and instantaneous weeping that something was very wrong, and I listened on while trying not to become physically ill. As she spoke, I envisioned my baby spending months in a hospital NICU. In my mind’s eye I pictured her with severe disabilities that would rob her of a normal life. The news about a potential diagnosis didn’t affect my love for her in any way. I felt nothing but intense affection towards her as I began to shift my perspective to life with a disabled child rather than life with a healthy child.

Our midwife told us she would call the maternal fetal specialists in a city nearby to set us up for an appointment, and she was able to pull some strings and get us in the very next day.  At this point, I assumed that our daughter’s condition was serious, but I didn’t know how serious. My mom drove up to meet us at the hospital the next morning, and we watched and waited in devastation as the ultrasound technician at the specialist’s office completed another anatomy scan without saying much at all.

The technician left to get the doctor, and I could barely breathe. I held my mom’s hand and stared straight into the light above my bed in sheer disbelief that this was actually happening. When the doctor came in, he confirmed that there was something seriously wrong with our baby. He began listing off the various parts of her body that appeared problematic, and my whole world came crashing down as one word and one word only stuck out in the midst of the conversation: fatal.

Featured Image by Janko Ferlic

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Dawn King is a Carolina native with a Neverland heart. She's an Enneagram 4 that believes beauty can be found even in the darkest of places, light is always bright enough to outshine darkness, and love is stronger than any madness or evil. She values kindness and honesty more than most anything else. She will always believe that to change the world you must first change yourself.