Friday, July 24, 2015

Permission to Mourn after Miscarriage

I know I haven't posted anything in a while. haven't really known what to say. I have some posts I wrote a few weeks ago - thoughts about decorating my house or whatnot - thoughts that seemed worth sharing then but just don't feel authentic right now. To write about that would feel too much like I was pretending. 

But my fear in writing about what is real to me right now is that it would feel like overkill to many readers. There is a subtle pressure to move quickly through grief and out the other side, usually because it's difficult for people to know how to be around someone who is hurting. I can understand that.

However, as I've thought and prayed about it, I know I need to just write about what is on my heart right now. So that is what I'm going to do, understanding completely that for some it may be of no interest. But for the one who wants to, who needs to hear from another who feels what you do, I write for you.


It's been almost two weeks since my miscarriage, and the strangest part is how quickly life goes back to normal. The sense of normalcy is almost enough to convince me that nothing ever happened. The busyness, the joys, the work, the routines; they are all playing out as before. In some ways the memory of that terrible night feels as though it may have just been a bad dream.  

There was a perfectly beautiful warm summery evening last week. I was making supper to the sound of my children squealing with delight as I watched them through the kitchen window as they splashed around in the pool with my husband.

My heart felt like it might just burst from it. Not only joy, but love and thankfulness welled up inside of me - for these beautiful blessings in my life - my amazing husband, my precious kids, this beautiful house God provided for us, the food on our table. Yet in the very same moment, without even having to look in that direction, I had a constant awareness of the little garden plot where my littlest blessing lies buried with a piece of my heart. This is my daily reality since my miscarriage - the truest joy and the deepest aching pain. And I think the pain of losing that little life we loved has made the joy of all I do have all the more palpable. I can honestly say that I'm completely mourning and I'm incredibly joyful at the same time. It is a strange experience, but one that I find echoed in the Scriptures: "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor. 6:10).

I have found that one of the traps you can fall into after a miscarriage is playing mental games to minimize the reality of what happened so you can move on as quickly as possible. It's easy to tell yourself that it wasn't that big of a deal because the baby was only a few weeks old and you never really got to know it, and so on and so forth. This tendency is often reinforced by the fact that most people assume this to be your experience. The reasoning is that, because you never knew it alive, it will be easier to move on quickly. It's not really like losing a child. And while some may find this reasoning convincing, the reality of what did happen is that we lost a child. I may have only known I was pregnant for three weeks before I lost my baby, but a mother's heart loves quickly and eternally (and thank God that it is so).

I got to hold my baby, unlike many women who miscarry. In one sense, it didn't feel like I was holding a baby. A part of me wondered if it even was the baby because it didn't resemble a baby at all (it was only confirmed later, after an ultrasound and a discussion with a doctor). But in that moment as I held it, wept, and felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, I also sensed that I was standing on holy ground. I was overwhelmed by the great sanctity of life.  I knew then in a tangible way what I had believed for a long time: God knits each of us together in our mother's wombs and every human being - no matter how small, how short a life lived, how disabled, how shameful, how broken or lost they feel in life - has great worth in God's eyes and ought to in ours too. We have become a society that values usefulness and productivity to the extent that if a being cannot be a functioning member of society or might hinder that society's progress, they are treated as unworthy of our time, affection, sacrifice, money, and sometimes, unworthy to keep on living. This dehumanizing tendency in our culture can make someone who has lost a child through miscarriage feel as though the life they lost was not worth as much as another life.  

So to the mom who has miscarried a sweet baby, let yourself feel the loss. Of course we will not always feel the pain as poignantly as we do at first, but we will always miss the child we so deeply wanted to hold in our arms.

I need to mourn my baby, not only because I need it for my own emotional health, but also because my baby is worth my remembering and my honouring. There was life that ended in death, just like I too one day will die. "I will go to him, but he cannot return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). I look forward to the day that I will meet my baby, and in the midst of the present sorrow, it brings me deep joy to think of it. 

(All images in this post from

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