When Rejoicing Together Becomes Mourning Together
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
The blog post following the photo below was originally published on The Last Word, the blog of Elim Evangelical Free Church.
I debated whether or not to share my miscarriage story publicly. Ultimately, I decided to post this for a few reasons. First, I felt the need to share my gratitude for the support we received during this time. Also, I know reading from others with similar experiences was a great comfort to me, and it seems right to turn to others with that same comfort. Finally, I believe this subject is still not addressed enough in our culture, and the only way that will be changed is if people who have experienced this loss speak openly about it.
About one in every four pregnancies end in loss. Silence does not do these losses justice. Author Maggie O'Farrell says, "These passings should be marked, should be respected, should be given their due. It’s a life, however small." Let us do whatever we can to change our culture, to make it a supportive place for parents who are bereaved before they are fully, visibly parents.
On December 30, 2018, Jason and I learned we were parents, our baby due the next September.
In those few short weeks, we had planned to tell only a few people. Yet the news was so long awaited and so unexpected. We were simply so full of joy that we couldn’t keep silent. Soon we’d announced it to our closest friends, our entire community group, the pastors and their wives, the elders.
We wanted others to rejoice with us, to celebrate with us the way Zacharias and Elizabeth’s friends had celebrated the birth of John the Baptist, the way Hannah celebrated the birth of her son Samuel, the way Sarah and Abraham had rejoiced over their son Isaac.
We’d been told this probably wouldn’t happen. And now it had.
And our friends rejoiced with us. With hugs and tears and encouragement and excited daydreaming. With squeals of joy and words of wisdom. With the promise of a party when the secret was open, when everyone knew what the Lord had done for us.
The first three weeks of January became some of the best weeks of our life together.
On January 22, 2019, we learned that our baby had died.
At some point around the same time we had started celebrating with our friends, our baby had stopped growing. My body did not realize this, had continued to move along as though everything were normal, as if our celebration would end in a joyful delivery just like any other successful pregnancy. When we saw our first ultrasound, an empty sac was all that remained.
A shame shadows the untelling of a pregnancy. In our culture, it’s often hard to remember that a safe pregnancy and birth are not guaranteed, just as no one’s next days are. Telling others that the very joy you’d celebrated not two days earlier was now no more, that you are reversing the happiness they’d had for you—it makes sense why so many wait until their pregnancy is “safe” before announcing.
The last week of January became one of the worst weeks of our life together.
Yet that is what church is for.
It was little things that reflected this community: Text messages reminding us they’re praying for us. Buying toilet paper, Tylenol, and other household items so we didn’t have to leave the house. Ordering meals to be delivered. Cooking meals and dropping them off. Sitting and watching movies with me to distract from the pain. Being ready to comfort and help at a moment’s notice, but giving space when we needed it. Understanding when we couldn’t talk. Listening when we felt ready to talk.
The same friends who had celebrated with us mourned with us. This is friendship, community, family—Church.
Our God was big enough to grant us a child—a reminder of His strength, His goodness, His love. In sharing our news with other believers, we were able to share that reminder with them, that they might praise God.
Our God chose to let us lose our child—a reminder that this world is fallen, that it will never be truly right until He returns. By sharing our griefs with our church family, we share in that reminder.
But our grief also carries a reminder of hope. The retelling of the book of Revelation in The Jesus Storybook Bible includes this description:
And the King says, ‘Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see—I have wiped away every tear from every eye!’
Our grief is not forever. If we mourn together, we can together remember that God will make all sad things come untrue.
We mourn together as those who have hope.
Note: We found the following articles and book helpful during this time. Regardless of whether you yourself have experienced this pain, we encourage you to read through them for a better understanding of this issue and its place in the Church.