‘Pain filled our hearts like never before’ - Author pens emotional book about baby loss

Luke Brendling and his wife Lisa lost their baby Elle in April 2015, now the Norwich author has writ

Luke Brendling and his wife Lisa lost their baby Elle in April 2015, now the Norwich author has written a book The Wrestle is Worth It. Pictured here with daughters Lilah Hope, aged three, and three-month old Lucille Faith. Picture: BRENDLING FAMILY - Credit: Picture: BRENDLING FAMILY

It is every parent’s worst nightmare but for a Norwich author and his wife, losing their unborn baby became a heart-breaking reality.

The cover for The Wrestle is Worth It. Piicture: BRENDLING FAMILY

The cover for The Wrestle is Worth It. Piicture: BRENDLING FAMILY - Credit: Picture: BRENDLING FAMILY

Now, Luke Brendling, has put pen to paper in a bid to help others who have faced the same pain and find hope after tragedy.

It was five years ago on a Thursday afternoon in April when the lives of Mr Brendling and wife Lisa changed forever.

The couple were days away from the expected arrival of their first child, a little girl named Elle, but things changed rapidly during a final check up.

Mr Brendling, a former footballer turned itinerant minister, had been as prepared as possible to take the first steps into fatherhood.

Luke Brendling had been persuing a career in professional football before he 'gave his heart to Jesu

Luke Brendling had been persuing a career in professional football before he 'gave his heart to Jesus' at the age of 20. Here his is in the King's Lynn FC Reserve Team 2003/4 squad 2003/4 season. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant


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“The nursery had been decorated, the baby clothes laid out, even packs of nappies filled the cupboards,” he said. “We were ready to go.

“Nine months of talking, dreaming and planning the future, our excitement was at its peak level and we were desperate to meet our new addition.”

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But at that appointment, no heartbeat could be found and within seconds their world was turned upside down.

“I shot prayers up to Heaven quicker than I’ve ever prayed before, but sadly it was over.

Luke Brendling had been persuing a career in professional football before he 'gave his heart to Jesu

Luke Brendling had been persuing a career in professional football before he 'gave his heart to Jesus' at the age of 20. Here his is in the King's Lynn FC Reserve Team 2003/4 squad 2003/4 season. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

“As we sat in this lifeless room, all we could say was, ‘why God? Why let this happen?’ - It had to be a mistake.

“Pain filled our hearts like we had never experienced before. It was a day that changed our lives and an unwanted starting point of a new journey. It was the beginning of a very real wrestle with God.

“You don’t expect to walk out of the hospital with a memory box instead of a baby.”

It took more than a year for Mr Brendling to start penning his book, but after receiving counselling as a couple and attending child loss support groups, he realised that not only did writing act as an outlet, but he also wanted to help others going through the same thing - especially men.

“So many times, I was the only man at some of these groups. Over time I felt I had a responsibility to express how I felt as an individual and as a man.

“Sometimes we struggle to articulate ourselves in different ways that women can. We want to look strong and not say the wrong thing.

“There were times that were testing and although we grieved together, we also needed to grieve as individuals and differently.”

The couple’s faith played a major part in their healing process, which also came with its challenges too.

Mr Brendling describes “giving his heart to Jesus” at the age of 20 during a youth night in Norwich, the best decision he has ever made.

He had been pursuing a career in professional football but 18 months later found himself at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.

Since then, he has completed Bible College, worked at YMCA Norfolk, and served as a youth pastor. He also worked at Hillsong London for more than five years, before launching his own itinerant ministry in 2016.

Preaching gospel has taken him across the globe, including to Europe, Canada, and America.

“Along the way there have been tremendous highs but also terrible lows.

“Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean we’re exempt from life’s challenges.”

Mr Brendling described their loss as “the greatest wrestle of their life” and the inspiration behind his book.

And whilst he attributes his strong sense of faith and hope to getting them through their darkest days, he said that belief can be extended to other support networks in an individual’s life.

He added: “Whatever it is, don’t give up just yet. Pushing through the pain is uncomfortable but necessary if you are to move forward again and experience the reward of what is waiting for you on the other side of your struggle.

“You may not understand everything you have had to endure, but if you stay in the fight maybe one day you will be able to say, ‘the wrestle was worth it’.”

The couple, who now live in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, have since gone on to have two more daughters - Lilah Hope, aged three, and three-month old Lucille Faith.

Mr Brendling’s book The Wrestle Is Worth It is available now from Amazon.

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