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Mothers Despite Loss

Updated: May 6, 2023

The first Sunday in May is International Bereaved Mother's Day. It is a day dedicated to honoring mothers who have lost a child. At Mothers' Milk Bank of Tennessee, ALL mothers are at the center of our mission. We know all babies are forever held in our hearts as mothers.

Some mothers find a sense of healing by donating their breastmilk to other babies in need. Teardrops and Milk Drops is our donor program for bereaved mothers that offers a simplified path to donating milk after a loss. In 2022, 11 selfless and heroic mothers donated their breastmilk to Mothers' Milk Bank of Tennessee after the loss of their baby.

In honor of International Bereaved Mother's Day, we have a special guest blog post from Autumn Patrick. We hope each reader will be encouraged and inspired by her and her son's story.

I am the mother of Roehman Elliott. He was born on April 20, 2022, and transitioned into Jesus’ arms four hours later.

We call him our “Little Roeh” and he became our miracle boy, our tenacious warrior, and our little anomaly. A few years prior to having our boy, I had a dream of his name. God spoke to me and told me we would have a little boy name Roehman and that we would call him Roeh.

Roehman means: protector of truth

Roeh means: prophetic vision

Elliott means: Jehovah is my God.

When there seemed to be no way, God made a way. I was told at a young age that I would not be able to carry children. We surprisingly got pregnant with our Little Roeh and it became a beautiful journey that has shaped us and continues to do so. We were told at 20 weeks that he was not fit for life and that I would be sent home to pass him through utero. This was heart wrenching news. We came together, my husband and I, as well as my church community, my family, and believed for different results.

We saw God move mightily.

Not just in Roehman but in our community and in our own lives. God did miracles all the way around. Coming to 32 weeks, worrying for our son's life and believing for different results, we reflect now and find that a thousand little miracles surrounded his life. Not only did Roehman survive to 32 weeks, but he was born alive. Many are given a due date but God gave Roeh a birthdate. He was born and was held by his earthly father as he transitioned to the arms of His Heavenly Father.

We asked the Father for a miracle and later realized that we had already received it: it was Roehman himself. We continue to hear testimonies that follow his life from the faith that was birthed through his life. And from Roehman's life, I have experienced even my life being saved and transformed through walking through this journey. Jesus has saved me.

We rest in knowing that death is not the end. It is only a transition from this place to the place we were all created for: Heaven.

Though we are separated, it will not be forever. And until then, we long and desire to give Jesus all of our love, our attention, and devotion for who He is. We now have a piece of us with the One we know and love- they’re together. This is where we anchor our hope in- Jesus.

I remember the moment I chose to join the milk journey. I remember thinking the enemy would not want me to help other babies and to instead stay in the loss- that’s when I chose to resist this and choose to help other babies. I will not allow the loss of Roeh's life on this side rob me or any others of experiencing life. This is when I chose to donate my breast milk. It has become one of the best decisions in this journey. I have found so much healing emotionally, mentally, and physically through this decision. Jesus has used it to speak into hopeless situations and to allow Him to bring beauty from ashes.

I encourage every mother who has experienced a loss to thoroughly think on this. We are mothers despite loss. There is nothing that can rob us of this gift and blessing. And I know from our decisions, babies will be saved through choosing life even in the face of death.

I know through this journey of walking through something that I never thought of, Jesus will use it for His glory. I think of this passage in John 11:4, “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”John 11:40, “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Roehman's legacy on earth has left an imprint that has impacted many- many all over this nation and even some across other nations. Jesus has used his life to impact many in believing that “death is not the end” and the grave has been emptied. Knowing that when Jesus came out of the grave so did my Roeh. So did others. So did I. Jesus emptied the grave so that death would not have the last word but so that His life would resurrect ours.

Roehman is alive. Because Jesus is alive. Roehman has left a forever impact on this earth by calling people to believe for the impossible. When there is an impossible situation, we no longer question or have a hint of doubt, but we now believe even the unseen for it to become our reality.

Roehman's life shaped many and continues to do so and this makes my heart, as his mom, overfilled and overflowing with joy knowing his life was not wasted but was used to touch the impossible. I find that going through this journey is completely impossible without Jesus. I also find that I never thought I would go through this and I’m sure all of us, mothers who have experienced loss, would say the same thing. We, mothers, long for our children to always be remembered, talked about, mentioned, and known. I found it to be difficult for myself to help bereaved mothers before I had Roehman. Now that I find myself walking through this journey, I find that bereaved mothers need others. This journey can be lonely. One of the hardest things that I come across is loneliness. Walking in relationship with Jesus is the first and foremost important thing that I need. I don’t know where I would be without Him. But I also find that while we are walking physically here with others, bereaved mothers need friendship, need relationship, need community- we need others, and we need connection.

An outlet to share and to be heard.

An outlet to sit and rest and heal.

An outlet to grow and to expand.

An outlet to keep going and persevering.

Loss is not something that can be fixed or just “done with”- it’s a process- it’s something to be walked through, carried through, and seen through. We as mothers who have experienced loss, desire and need community that doesn’t exclude personal questions, but asks continually because even though loss happened in a moment it continues for a lifetime because it’s a life that was lost.

I’m so thankful for my community, for my friends, for my family, and for the new friends that I encounter on a regular basis- I’m thankful for friendship because in the journey it makes a difference to walk with a hand rather than alone.

For those who have lost, I want to testify that Jesus is everything. I never knew that before having Roehman I wasn’t quite living. Now I can say after, I have never felt more alive than now. Jesus has brought me to life, and I believe He longs to do that with others- for death not to be the end but only a transition into the fullness of life. Death is not the end to our story. It may be a part, but it’s not the full story- the grave is empty and though death tried to have a hold on us, He is calling us out of the grave and into His marvelous light.

This cannot compare to the glory that is coming.

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