If you happen to be pregnant or are sensitive to solemn topics about birth and death please do not continue reading. We do not want to place any anxious thoughts or images in your mind as we share openly about the grief of miscarriage.
Last week, I began the baby loss series Grief to Glory and wrote briefly about our miscarriage. Through miscarriage I learned that a Christian can experience grief and the glory of God at the same time.
Someone once said to me, "Christians have feelings about feelings." Some of us feel bad about feeling bad! We second guess our grief as weakness of faith. When we read in John 14, "Do not let your hearts be troubled" we think that if we are troubled there is something wrong with us. Rather, when I read those passages I picture Jesus comforting us, as a mother comforts her child, (Isaiah 66:13) by rocking us in his arms and hushing us with his promised love.
In Romans 5 we are told to GLORY in our sufferings!
...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
God does not shame our grief! Instead, he gifts us hope and turns our grief to glory. Beautiful.
Today, I will share two other couples' stories of loss, hope, and faith.
Katy & Justin's Babies
God was there every step of the way as we grieved the loss of our babies. After miscarrying our first baby (our second child), I remember reading the Bible story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. The disciples had asked who had sinned the blind man or his parents. Jesus replied;
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
My husband Justin was a huge source of support and love as we turned to God together. We had seen the baby on ultrasound only a day before I lost it so we both were able to see the heartbeat and “connect” with this little one. At first I couldn’t understand why God would have let us see our baby only to lose her (always felt it was a girl) two days later. But as we grieved, I saw God’s graciousness. Baby G and her loss was just as great to Justin since he was able to see the little screen, the beating heart, and the little body moving around.
It was harder, however, for me as the months went on. As a woman there are many difficult physical aspects to a miscarriage: the post partum recovery, getting your cycle back (when your mind you should be X amount of weeks pregnant), being intimate again, being able to “try” again; so many different seasons of grief and letting go of your dreams and plans and trusting God that his will will be better.
In many ways, despite the pain, loss and grief, our two miscarriages brought strength and more intimacy to our marriage. We had gone through yet another trial together and God had once again carried us through. We had seen God meet us in our brokenness and hardships so many times before that it only made sense to trust God through these miscarriages since we’d already learned to rely on Him through over and over in our marriage.
As soon as a woman finds out she is expecting, thoughts of her life with that little one begin from that very first day. Thoughts about which season they will be born in, what life will be like with that little one, how old they will be at Christmas, etc. When you lose the baby, the reality is that you have lost a lifetime of memories and experiences with this child is very difficult. If there is anything I would encourage people to NOT say to someone who is grieving a miscarriage, it would be this. “Thankfully you can try again in another few months.” While this is very true, a new pregnancy does not replace the child you just loss. A woman who’s miscarried has not just lost a pregnancy but a real child. And no matter how happy they will be to find they are expecting again, it will be with a different baby.
Kristie & Brian's Baby
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
In the doctor’s office, after seeing that monitor, I turned numb while everyone went through the medical motions, then I cried and couldn’t speak for a few moments. I remember muttering through tears to the nurses something that God has our family’s plans in His hands, I’m trusting Him even though this is hard right now, thanked them and affirmed that today confirmed, however slight, doubts I had considered, even just briefly – only after the news that I would miscarry, did things come into a stark reality. I had all the symptoms of being pregnant, having been granted the opportunity to have known what that was like with our first born, but yet felt faintly off. I think because I was having subtle flickers of confusion with the pregnancy, the initial news was very relieving to me. I had not told Brian prior as I chalked up my feelings to being pregnant and the crazy symptoms that may or may not appear, and how they can differ with each pregnancy. However, after that day at the doctor’s, I realized what I had been feeling was a disconnect, an emptiness, and only after was I given those tangible words of description. Like C.S. Lewis writes, “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” Even if you never met your child, it’s an immense hole. I don’t remember questioning the why, but moreover, how do we respond to this? What does our enduring look like? How do we tell people?
I know for Brian it’s not manly to talk about his “feelings.” Not that he doesn’t talk about his emotions, or didn’t, but sometimes us woman want to change our husband into a girlfriend. One thing God had worked on me early in our dating and marriage was that I needed to give Brian space and wait for him (and go to God first), and although that was hard sometimes, really hard (and sometimes still is), especially when I just want to talk, those acts are many times one of the best ways I can be Brian’s helper.
I was fortunate to have my good friend Katy (above), who very recently had experienced a miscarriage too, who would also experience another one, alongside. Her counsel and encouragement was exceedingly cherished.
The greatest source of comfort for us was God. God himself. Believing God, not believing our belief about Him. He revealed himself even more so as The Comforter, The Provider, The Great Physician, and He was ever so faithful, not just in what He gave to us while we grieved and healed, but in who He is revealed in His words, revealed through each other and Evee, our dear family and friends, the people behind the devotions, podcasts, sermons, songs or movies or books or artwork or plays that the Holy Spirit would make our eyes and ears sensitive towards. It’s always God orchestrating that whole course – the delivery, the timing, the method. The joy was set before us, yes, and fixing our eyes on Jesus while we mourned our loss was our necessity. “… the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. – Job 1:21. Our miscarriage occurred in the winter, how fitting and poetic, I always thought. Coming through and out of Advent.
“What if suffering isn’t a problem to solve, but a mystery to live?” – Ann Voskamp
I remember needing to pray a lot for patience, for myself to wait on God, towards and for Brian (especially as we waited for the miscarriage to actually, physically happen – which took several weeks). I’m not saying that was easy, bearing with each other as you each move through grief is hard, but it’s also difficult for me to label it negative, because we were unified even more so, in the middle of it all. And how thankful I was that God prepared us, prepped our hearts for this loss, as perhaps we ourselves, and our marriage, would have looked different had it happened at an earlier time. But who’s to say? “Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing.” - Joel 2:14. God is always pruning when you allow Him to play Gardener.
I also remember a shared fear in having sex after we were given the “green light,” that fear and worry for what it would mean in the capability in having more children, the “damage” to my body, physical pain, medical bills, but it was also so good because it allowed us to come together again before Christ, run to the well that never runs dry, continually surrender, and accept that whatever comes or is given or hurtled our way, that our answer is yes in Him.
Satan used fear and pride in many capacities – the fear OF fear I remember well. I was scared I would allow myself to get jealous or bitter. Wouldn’t that have been natural? It's almost as if I was still waiting to hurt or become miserable from seeing friends' babies or hearing of new pregnancies or attending and shopping for baby showers or what-not; it never channeled further despair. Knowing full well that God stepped into that fear (onto, rather, like He crushed it), He gave me His power enabling joy in blessings, I love that in Ecclesiastes, sharing in celebration with others. That comes from Him, not any strength of my own.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” – Psalm 30:11-12.
That time was such a journey in clinging to the God (rather, Him clinging to us), who deserves and desires our praise, and our love - equaled obedience - regardless. It was a learning and an awareness of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ vs. getting stuck in worry and not able to release to Him. Recognizing those worry triggers, so I can go to God at the urge. And I still struggle in worry of course, I know we all do, but God still remains, and is our ever portion. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8). I think the Gospel gains credibility when we suffer because Christians are not spared crises or struggles – Christ suffers with us. We have a mandate to suffer.
I was reminded recently in Revelation, how God delegates many things to the angels, except the wiping of the tears from our eyes. God reserves that for Himself. Such a peek at His heart, isn’t it? He wants us to release that grief to Him, not pretend we are happy or silence our anguish or fear, or replace the Comforter with something or someone else, but so He can be the one to comfort, cast our burdens on Him. And feeling that comfort and peace may necessitate a waiting. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4.
Our oldest child, Evee, needed our care and attention a lot as she was sick quite a bit that long winter. I do just remember being so lavished with gratitude for her, washed over, for her presence, just cherishing, praying for the strength to live in the moment and eyes to see with newfound wonder, protection from worry. Our love for her was enhanced by this hardship. And as well as with Liam’s pregnancy. I know there were times of worry, but I remember far more the peace while our circumstances in other areas of life were unstable and chaotic. However long we had with Liam would be another gift. The family togetherness, dates and memories are what I remember most, and I mean that sincerely.
We talk openly about the baby with our children. Once we found out we were pregnant, we had told Evee (about 1 ½ years old at the time), about her baby brother or sister growing inside. And when playing or what-not, to be gentle to momma’s tummy. Evee had lost something too, death is inevitable. It felt natural to talk of the baby that was once given to us, the baby that never came out of my tummy, the baby that was taken back. We explained that her baby brother or sister was in heaven in the arms of Jesus, especially as she was aware of the baby, in whatever capacity, from the get-go. I prayed that Evee came to know God and to need Jesus and what He came to do deeper from her siblings’ loss, even in her little mind. A life is worth celebrating, even if only for a short while, and it was that baby’s gain going straight back to their Maker. Giving the baby a name - “Heavenly Baby C” – helped to identify with Evee, and us too.
In all the simplicity and complexity of the Gospel, maybe you find it so encouraging, so assuring, as I do, to talk about it with little folk, even if you stumble to find the words. But how thankful I am that I don’t have Him figured out! Ha! I do recall talking about Heavenly Baby Cooper more so when I was pregnant with Liam (born January 2, 2012), especially when Evee invited the conversation. I remember being so grateful, relieved even, for her curious mind as it was a way to continually treasure that gift, reminisce myself. I know I’m taking it out of context, but like Job prayed, “Teach me what I cannot see.” I can speculate all I want, but I may never fully know this side of heaven what God’s extended purposes involved, but I trust they were accomplished in the time we had with Heavenly Baby C, that He is using that gift for his overarching objectives. God is sovereign through and over our struggles, and He is faithful and trustworthy, whatever our circumstances. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” –Job 2:10. Those times of deep, confusing pain are those pristine opportunities to display Christ, and it is my hope (and consequently fear, that I’ll fail) to reveal Christ in all of our struggles, especially to our own families. To bear our painful circumstances showcasing God’s goodness, even being that that testimony is rendered through many tears, “ … but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” – John 9:3b.
I was so thankful God nudged us, in an incredibly gentle way, to making our circumstances known. How would people know what we’re going through if we don’t acknowledge it? He provided the way to get it out, expose our suffering vs. insulating ourselves. Spontaneously, at least how I remember it, when we found out we were pregnant, we had written a private Facebook note to our family and close friends, sharing our anticipation, asking for prayers, and that we had a doctor appointment the next day. I think we would be lying to say that we weren't, for a few moments at least, "blushing" at sending out that original note, as we of course knew the risks. Our doctor was so understanding, she confessed she herself experienced a miscarriage, and reassured us that this too would work out for our good and support, as it’s already a gateway in sharing. If we had not made our pregnancy originally known, it would have been complicated and difficult for me to express to some, some that I would have genuinely wanted to share, about the miscarriage. I think the devil can confuse personal and private, making them equivalent, and sometimes brands shame over a miscarriage, infertility, birth defects, whatever the case. And outside of children or even people altogether – a job loss, a goal or dream…
Sometimes we get so concerned with saying the “right” or “wrong” thing that we miss the opportunity to console completely. Ignoring, even if it makes you terribly uncomfortable, or avoiding someone in need, is unloving. Remaining stuck, frozen in our discomfort or the awkwardness or our insecurities may lead to apathy, and down a bad road. Consider others’ interests above your own. In what to do, risk the awkwardness, and first go to God for guidance and to be moved in compassion in how and when to comfort. And sometimes that means waiting. Discernment is a necessity. Just because something is true, doesn’t always mean something should be stated, and said by you, at least right then and there. If you don’t know what to say or how to help, it’s okay to be honest, and simply ask. And as the ones who received the loss, pursue humility, admitting the need for help, and ask that of others, even particular requests (i.e. “I need help with the other kids, etc.).
I don’t want to appear to be hard on those experiencing loss, but I do want to be vigilant. Satan will pounce on you big-time during a low point such as a miscarriage, and if we allow ourselves to become offended, we miss so much, because at times, the other party is processing, feeling inadequate, and grieving too, or saying what may comfort they, themselves. We cannot control others. Because the truth is everyone is an object of God’s mercy, no matter what they have done (or not done), and our world surely isn’t about mercy.
Even if someone says something in what you feel may be hurtful, flippant, trite, is just silent, whatever, it’s way too easy, comfortable even, to settle into resentment and bitterness. Teaming with God, ask God to search your own heart, and give those trying to comfort you mercy, extend grace, absorb their burdens. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. I think all of us have given a badly chosen, or maybe what we just feel is a bad response at least at some point in our lives, I know I have, like when the objective was just to fill, selfishly, uncomfortable space. Frankly, there isn’t an easy answer to what not to/to say, although I think many of us wish there were, like a formula. I feel it’s just a call for discernment, for wisdom, and is complex and quite gritty.
I remember a hard day, after we had initially found out that I was carrying a dead baby in my womb, and I was overwrought, just bombarded with grief, worry, fear, the lot I’m sure. Evee was napping and the house was quiet, and I just remember falling on the couch and sobbing. My Bible was in reach, and it was like I was coming up for air after flailing in water. I opened and flipped aimlessly, not knowing where to start, and asked God something to the affect of making me still to hear, and my eyes caught
2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
I’m not saying I escaped in that moment, but my hope was renewed, and my trust in God affirmed. I love those words.
Does the pain and sorrow come back, and unexpectedly? oh yes. It’s a longing to meet that child, for Evee and Liam to meet their brother or sister, in the company of the Lord God Almighty with other loved ones who have passed, the absolute best place for them to be. This deep yearning for completeness. All of life is a wait, isn’t it? It’s going to be living in a complicated tension all the while we are here on this earth, and just abiding.
“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us noone can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” – Psalm 40:5
Thank you for reading our Grief to Glory series on the topic of baby loss.
If you have loss a baby, the story of baby Simeon’s life is shared in Grief to Glory: Part Three // Lifted through Baby Loss. Also, baby Grace's life is shared in Grief to Glory: Part Four // Breathtaking Grace. Please know that we understand the solemness of the content we are sharing. It is our intention to have an open and honest telling of a Christian couple’s response to grief.