Several weeks ago, I received a call from my daughter telling me she was at her obstetrician's office and that her unborn baby was dead. She was 15 weeks pregnant and had gone in for a routine prenatal visit. The physician was unable to hear the baby's heartbeat and referred her for an urgent ultrasound that confirmed the diagnosis. My daughter had a missed miscarriage. Her body had given her no signal that something was drastically wrong.
My immediate concern was for my daughter; I knew firsthand the sense of loss that would overcome her. My concerns were for both her physical as well as emotional health. Our family grieved for the child whose birth we had been greatly anticipating. I also was filled with memories because I too suffered a miscarriage when I was her age and again four years later. Over the next few weeks, I came to realize that women who have had miscarriages never forget the loss of their unborn child. There were countless women that inquired about her and invariably those that had suffered a pregnancy loss began to share their story. Many shed tears even though most had gone on to give birth to natural children or became mothers through adoption. Each shared a sisterhood bond of grief and understanding regardless of the number of years that had passed.
I think miscarriage is especially difficult for women because it represents a death without closure. We are forced to say goodbye not only to the child but also to all of our plans and dreams. I am sure most women have daydreamed about their baby, "Who would he look like?", "What would his gifts be?", "Would he be a famous sports figure?", or "Would she find a cure to cancer?" In our culture, we don't hold funerals for children lost in early pregnancy. There is no grave to lay a flower or name to place on a marker.
Women often suffer silently and privately. Many women haven't started wearing maternity clothes yet so she may look the same on the outside even though there is an emptiness on the inside. She may find herself in situations where a well-meaning person inadvertently asks her about the pregnancy leading to uncomfortable and painful conversations. Many people try to reassure her by telling her that there must have been something wrong with the child or that she can always have more children. Unfortunately, these statements bring little comfort. I remember not wanting another child; I wanted my baby back! I also wondered why God would give me an imperfect child when I had begged him to make me a mother.
While physical healing may occur quickly after the miscarriage, emotional healing takes time. I don't think there are specific words that will bring comfort, but friends and family should realize that sometimes she may simply need a shoulder to cry on. Keep her in your prayers and pray that God will comfort and restore her joy. Tangible acts of kindness such as meals, childcare, flowers, cards or phone calls express love and concern.
Many women find ways to memorialize their child. Some women plant trees in memory; others may have plaques or ornaments that represent their little ones. Others simply remember the date and silently honor their child. If you have had a miscarriage and found comfort through Christ, I encourage you to share your story. It is estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. There are countless women who will find encouragement and hope through hearing your story.
In loving memory of two children and two grandchildren who have found their home in Heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Story submitted by Liz, from Michigan