By Joanna Delalande
The loss of two babies shook Hannah Boland to her core
While her job is to make others laugh, few know the kind of grief Hannah Boland encountered with the tragedy of miscarriage.
The Australian mother of two and her husband Michael were hopeful their third child was healthy but their dreams were torn apart during the 20 week ultrasound scan.
The couple received news that their unborn son Stephen suffered from a rare brain abnormality known as Alobar HPE and was not expected to live.
He was born alive in 2011 and survived 47 hours before passing away.
Two years later Hannah once again became pregnant with a healthy baby Esther, but during a routine visit at 34 weeks they discovered she had died.
What followed was a nervous breakdown with severe depression and anxiety for Hannah.
"One of the things that happens when you go through something like that is you lose any hope or interest in the future. You can't see your life from that point forward," Hannah says.
Despite her despair, she says she held tightly to her relationship with God.
Having grown up in a Christian household, Hannah walked away from Christianity in her early teens but realised her need for Jesus' forgiveness after she was married.
Now, she says, her relationship with Jesus was what enabled her to get through her miscarriage.
Looking back, she comments: "I don't know how people get through a situation like that without Jesus as their foundation."
Yet Hannah confesses she went through a time when even reading her Bible was too painful.
"Every time I opened my Bible or tried to pray I would just be so overwhelmed with the grief and the sadness of what had happened. I couldn't even think straight and I would just burst into tears. There were days where the only prayer I could offer was, 'Lord, help me through this day'," she explains.
Even so, Hannah says she felt God's grace (undeserved kindness) was big enough for her in that situation. She said she felt a strong sense of reassurance from God that even if all she could do was sit there and cry, that was okay.
One verse that resonated with her throughout this difficult time was from 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 13, which says that God does not put on more than those who trust Him can handle with His help. Hannah clung on to this promise that with God at her side, she would get through this.
And she did. The grief of the loss of her children is still with her every day, but she got out of the "big hole", and started looking to the future.
As Hannah began asking herself what she wanted to do, she felt God calling her to become a stand-up comedian, using the stage to share the truth about Jesus.
"Having a laugh won't change your circumstances or actually fix anything, but it can give you relief and remind you of other things," she says.
Her main event at the moment is the Gift of the Gab tour in NSW and Victoria.
She is also the author of three books, 47 Hours with a Prince, I'm Sad and I Need Cake, and Superstitious Christianity.
Through God's grace Hannah was able to see her children for what they were.
"[My son] Stephen was a gift, a blessing, and a heritage from the Lord," she wrote in 47 Hours with a Prince. "We had asked God to grant us another child, and here he was! We had never asked the question, 'Why us?' We had never doubted that Stephen was a gift from God, and as we were facing these difficult questions he was reminding us of this, every step of the way."
As for her dreams for the future, Hannah has no idea. "I gave up trying to plan my own future a long time ago," she laughs. "I just leave that up to God."
Get in touch with Hannah at hannahboland.com