Reflections on Grieving

Two years ago, on May 18, 2018, my wife and I lost our second child in a miscarriage. Not too long after, on September 17, we would lose our third child in a miscarriage. I had written a blog post on the first miscarriage, but didn’t with the second because, really, I didn’t have anything new to say.

This post is something of an extension for that post, two years later, with other things that have either been on my mind or have been mulling around my head as I reflect on the event. My hope is that at least some of this would be edifying to the flock.

Personal Feelings

As I mentioned before, I’ve written on the emotions and feelings experienced in the immediate aftermath of our miscarriage. I can do little more than repeat myself on many of the emotions I experienced already.

Perhaps the worst feeling I still feel is one of inadequacy. Dads are supposed to be the big, strong man that can defend his family and keep them from danger. My oldest daughter calls says that I’m like Batman, because I’m her hero. Yet what could I do here? I couldn’t save my children. I couldn’t keep them from dying. I wasn’t able to do anything. I didn’t have the chance to be a hero. At times, this feeling of inadequacy drove me to grief. My children had died, and on my watch – was it my fault? Of course there was nothing I could do, and it was God’s sovereign will – yet it still makes me worry that somehow I failed as a father. It’s an emotion in my heart that I can’t shake off.

Another feeling that lingers is simply one of regret – regret that I won’t ever be able to hold or raise these children properly as a parent. I’ll never get to hold them in my arms post-birth. I’ll never get to watch them crawl around the floor. I’ll never get to hear them babble on as they learn how to speak. I’ll never be able to sit there and teach them holy and divine things in family worship. In an instance, all of that was taken from me, as the news of the miscarriage came.

Of course, what helps me through this is hope and faith. Hope that one day, we shall meet them again, and our family will be reunited. Faith in Christ, and knowledge that the children I can never raise up in the Lord have no need of my instruction, because they are with the Lord as we speak. Faith in the fact that the Lord who said “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) is the same Lord who also said “the promise is for you and for your children” (Acts 2:39). There is grief felt regarding this fallen world, but hope and peace in the world to come.

Perhaps most unexpected an experience was learning just what it means to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). Around the same time as our first miscarriage, two or three families in our church had healthy births. I would go to church with the scars of the miscarriage on my heart, and see these newborn babies being held by their mothers. I was suddenly reminded of all those articles that pop up on Evangelical websites talking about single people on Valentine’s Day, or single women on Mother’s Day. Yet what was I supposed to do? Tell those families to leave their babies at home? Of course not! Nor was I to have the attitude similar to those who are single and complain about Valentine’s Day. I had already wept for my loss – now I could rejoice with them for their gain. For crying out loud, I was grateful they weren’t experiencing the pain I was feeling! Why would I wish that on anyone? Why should they minimize their joy because of me? God had gifted them with children, and now more infants were to be brought into His covenant and raised up under the tutelage of His holy word.

It was a reason to celebrate. And I could celebrate with them even as I grieved.

How Some Respond to Your Grieving

I’ve heard it said one of the worst things to say to a person is, “I know how you feel.” Most people, as far as I know, rarely use this phrase anymore, probably because it’s recognized as one of the worst things to say to a grieving person. At best, it’s tactless and ill advised.

In it’s place, however, has come the tendency for people to share their similar experiences with the person grieving. Now, am I saying here that it’s wrong to ever share your experiences with people? Not at all. It can help make the person realize that they’re not alone in their experiences, and it might even be comforting to see how God has provided in the lives of others. It can help two people bond together.

However, in this particular instance, I noticed a trend where someone would ask me how I was doing, and before I could give a full response, they began to discuss their own experiences. In fact, the whole discussion would be redirected from me to them. I was barely able to get a word in, or explain myself. In one case, a person went on and on about their own miscarriage, as I sat there listening, and then by the end our conversation was pretty much treated as over. In the vast majority of these cases, it was probably a great healing session for them – not so much for me. It’s hard to “weep with those who weep” when only one side is actually doing the weeping.

Even worse were those moments where people would presume our experiences were the same. I had one father who had suffered a miscarriage say, “How are you doing?” Then, before I could respond, he added, “I know it wasn’t too bad for me…”

I almost said so many things at that moment. I almost asked if he wanted to take my place in the shower when I broke down weeping after the realization of our first miscarriage. I almost asked if he wanted to take my place in the doctor’s office, where I broke down sobbing after hearing confirmation of the death. I almost asked if he wanted to take my place after I received a phone call about the second miscarriage, when I broke down in my car. I almost asked if he wanted to take my place in all those moments where I felt grief, sadness, guilt, and so many other emotions. In the end, I didn’t give much of a response, and he didn’t press any further. Once again, it was a great talking session for someone else, but not for me.

The entire experience has made me realize that in order to properly “weep with those who weep,” you need to give the other person a chance to weep. Even if you don’t say “I know how you feel”, don’t act as if you already have a good idea how they do. Let them express themselves. Let them share their grief. You’ll be able to share your own experiences properly, and you’ll make them feel much more appreciated.

Plus, sometimes in moments of grief, the best thing you can do for a person is just be quiet and listen.

When Worldview Meets Reality

There are a lot of slang terms thrown around the internet these days, among them being phrases like virtue signaling or purity spiraling. Though each have their independent nuances, both basically mock those who say one thing, when really their open opinion doesn’t matter. The idea is that someone might have a belief, but in the long run

If there is one experiential lesson that the miscarriages have taught me, it’s that many Christians in western society are not consistent with their own worldview. Most orthodox Christians would probably affirm, when it comes to abortion, that they’re pro-life. They would admonish pro-abortion people who minimize the murder of offspring as a medical experience isolated to the woman alone. They would agree that it’s a human life taken away, and that such slogans as “my body, my choice” are vacuous and deceitful.

What does it mean, however, when something related to this topic occurs? For example, many people agree that abortion is murder… but when you ask if it should then be judiciously treated as a murder, you can practically hear the gears grinding as they start to backtrack, and suddenly the sin of murdering your offspring isn’t as bad as they were formerly making it out to be. It’s one thing to espouse a position, but another thing to follow it through to its logical conclusion. Sometimes people don’t think about the consequences, while others rarely think about what it means in application. Through the suffering of our miscarriages, and indeed the pregnancies of our children in general, I noticed that it was the same for some Christians.

Mostly this came from my experiences as a father. Those who would probably decry the slogan “my body, my choice,” would suddenly act as if the loss of a baby in the womb was an experience isolated to the mother. Those who would oppose any attack on the traditional, historical family structure suddenly seemed to forget that, in child-bearing and child-rearing, God designed two parents to be involved.

One of the clearest moments of this for me was when I went to my church for the first Sunday immediately after our miscarriage. A woman came up to me and said, “Give my condolences to your wife.” I looked her in the eye a moment, then said, “I’ll take them, too.” She didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t press the issue. However, the experience left me realizing that for a lot of Christians, while they may protest abortion, as far as it concerns children in the womb, they do indeed think like the pro-abortion crowd. My emotions and my role as father had suddenly been minimized simply because I wasn’t the pregnant one. It had just been presumed that only one parent was really experiencing any grief. People would ask how my wife was feeling, but would never once ask me how I felt. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying my wife didn’t deserve compassion or sympathy… but let’s not forget that there are fathers experiencing grief when a child is lost as well. Few at my church are aware of what I wrote in the first section of this blog post because few have bothered to ask or inquire about it.

I hate to pen these words, but I probably received more sympathy from my unbelieving, secular co-workers than I did fellow members of my local church.

Do I question anyone’s salvation or accuse them of not loving me? Of course not. Howeve,r many modern Christians seem to have a presupposition of traditional family values, but an application of modern liberalism.

Concluding Thoughts

As I wrote before, my hope was that this post would be edifying or helpful to some.

I have little else to say on the topic, other than God is good, and all of His flock who suffer, for whatever reason, still have that final hope that those whose sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb will find this reality in the age to come:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

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