Healing After a Miscarriage

Five Steps Toward Healing After a Miscarriage

            “I’m sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat.” I was five months pregnant and the ultrasound technician confirmed my fear; a fourth son or daughter had died before I could cradle the baby in my arms. As I dressed, I heard a doctor talking about the ultrasound patient before me who, upon learning she was expecting twins, had told him she would end the pregnancy.

            In tears, I returned to my doctor who said to expect a spontaneous miscarriage, or—as he called it—abortion, within a few days. When my body continued to embrace its precious treasure, he scheduled me for a TAP, or therapeutic abortion procedure.

            I reeled through the process, so routine for the nurses and doctors who ended pregnancies every day, but so devastating to me. I wanted to proclaim to each of the medical personnel that I was different; I would never choose this course of action if my baby were alive. One kind woman brought me a general surgery consent form so that I wouldn’t have to sign the usual document. The hospital kept me overnight for observation—in the maternity wing.

            Each of my miscarriages was devastating. Each left me with a child-shaped hole in my heart and in my soul. Well-meaning but inadequate comments like, “You can always try again,” or “It must have been God’s will,” gave me no comfort.

            However, today my heart is full and, though still tender, my soul is healed enough to offer suggestions for dealing with miscarriages, whether your own or a loved one’s.

If you have lost a child through miscarriage:

1)      Acknowledge the loss of an individual. Name the child. You will know him or her in heaven.

2)      Mark your loss with a ritual that feels right to you, whether with a formal church service, or a quiet gathering of friends and family at home.

3)      Allow yourself to grieve. Though you didn’t have time to know your child’s face and voice, you knew your hopes and dreams for your child. You anticipated the birth date and carried the child close to your heart. Perhaps you imagined how he would look or what she would grow up to be. Though the details of individuality are still a mystery, God knows and loves your child, and the world suffered a loss when your child died.

4)      Accept that your spouse may experience the loss differently than you. It’s not unusual for one parent to feel much more distress after a miscarriage than the other. With any death, people grieve in different ways. One may want to be alone; another needs to be with loved ones. One person may talk over and over about the loss; another may be made speechless by pain.

5)      Accept that you and your spouse may have mixed feelings, perhaps even relief, about the miscarriage. Parenthood is frightening. You can’t help your feelings, but you can be sensitive to each other.

If someone you know has lost a child through miscarriage:

1)      Acknowledge the loss of an individual. Send a note of sympathy, call, or visit with the bereaved parents.

2)      Let the parents know that you will keep them and their child in prayer. Perhaps you can commemorate the baby’s short life at your next church attendance.

3)      Realize that the grieving parents may not feel the way you expect them to feel. Accept that people grieve differently and that their emotions may fluctuate even hour to hour.

4)      Be sensitive to how difficult it may be for the couple to be around others who are expecting a child or have a new little one. However, continue to include them in invitations to baby showers and christenings, perhaps adding a note to say you understand that this might be difficult for them. Let them decide whether they are ready to accept.

5)      Don’t offer platitudes in an attempt to cheer the couple out of their loss. A simple, “I’m so sorry,” and time spent with them in companionship will let them know you care.

            Today I experience profound gratitude as I watch my four grown daughters, and yes, their births eased the pain, though they didn’t replace the children I lost. Not all women are blessed with motherhood after miscarriages. My heart goes out to them. I know God’s does, too.

            When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [   ] Jesus wept. (John 11:33,35 NIV)

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