Grieving at the Birthday Party


When it is that birthdays become sad? My five-year-old wakes up making euphoric shrieking sounds every single day of December in anticipation of her birthday on the 22nd. Grown-ups don’t do that. When I was little, I spent each entire birth-week skipping and laughing and expecting the people of the world to treat me like a champion. This year, I ate frozen yogurt and felt like a champion largely because I didn’t cry.

Why is that? Why is it that the happiest day of the year for children can be one of the most difficult days of the year for adults? I think it is because, at some point, you become aware of death. At some point, you realize life isn’t all candles and cake and that brokenness and loss are real.

You see, my baby, my Brooklyn, turns one today and I’m trying to figure out why this is making me a little sad. Here’s what my thoughts have been doing:

I’m happy, but I’m also grieving. Brooklyn is one step closer to experiencing heartbreak and loss.

I’m thankful that her mind and body are working well enough for her to need me less, but I’m also mourning. Every milestone moves her farther away from being my little baby.

I’m excited to celebrate her cuteness and her wobbly steps and I can’t wait to watch her make a mess of her cupcake, but I can’t ignore the fact that someday she will hurt. Someday she will grieve.

Brooklyn isn’t named Brooklyn because of the borough. My husband and I love the name, but we have no special relationship with New York City.

When I looked up the meaning of Brooklyn, I was floored. Brooklyn comes from the Dutch word Breuckelen, which means “from the land of the broken.”

So, we named her Brooklyn Hope.

This world is broken and bringing a baby into a world full of so much evil is terrifying. But there is hope in the land of the broken.

Here’s the incredible thing about being a Christian; that underlying sadness that accompanies every happy moment is really a myth. It’s a lie! Jesus makes death and brokenness and grief temporary.

My sister-in-law just had her own birthday and my husband asked her if she felt old. Her answer was beautiful. She answered, not like a child who doesn’t yet know that death is real, but like a child of God who knows that death isn’t final.  She said, “I’m going to live forever. How can I feel old?”


I want to live like eternal life is a reality…because it is.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Brooklyn Hope is one today. She lives in the land of the broken, but I get to tell her about this thrilling hope she can have because Jesus broke the curse of death when He brought himself out of the grave. Because He resurrected, we will too. Brokenness won’t last forever.

My baby is one today and my soul is happy.