Following multiple early pregnancy losses it was six years into our marriage before my husband and I carried a baby, a daughter, to term. After that another loss, this time further along, then our second daughter. Then another miscarriage when we thought all was well, and less than a year after that our son was born. All three of my children are “rainbow babies” - conceived in the months immediately following a miscarriage - and all of my pregnancies are marked by extreme nausea and vomiting. By the grace of God I can thank Him for what He has done in my life through these trials. I have learned the deep love of Christ through these things, I have seen His glory in the gory sorrow of an emergency room and in the precious head of a newborn son.
I can think of few times in life when more grace and graciousness is required than when grieving. Maybe this is my first time out of the house and I'm trying to live life as though it's normal and your words or hugs bring things crashing down. Maybe I’m surrounded by small-talking friends and I can hardly breathe and would give anything for you to acknowledge the pain.
Grief wants to be selfish, grief fights back against grace and graciousness with tooth and nail. It's exhausting, and I owe y'all an apology. I’m sorry for being anything less than gracious.
And so, since this is not my first grief rodeo, here is what I’ve learned.
If you are grieving don’t read "what [not] to say" listicles because they will only help you to justify frustrations and hurt. Friends that read "what [not] to say" are doing so because they are crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing. Because they love you. Friends that don't read "what [not] to say" are doing so because they are going to tell you what's on their hearts. Because they love you. More than just an exercise in futility, these lists are a temptation to bitterness, to feeling wronged, to count grievances and to put yourself on a pedestal ungraciously dismissing people as not being capable of understanding what you are going through. Grief is so stinking selfish, and selfishness doesn't need lists it needs a kick in the shins.
Receive muddled comfort graciously, and don’t be so brittle that people are afraid to handle you. Because people *will* say the wrong thing. People will talk when you want silence. People will be silent when you want them to talk. People will hug you when that physical contact is enough to knock you off the emotional tightrope. Because they love you. Yes, there are "wrong" things to say, "wrong" times to talk, and times when words - any words - are desperately wanted, and it can all, frankly, be pretty irrational, and it doesn't matter. The love of people mourning with you deserves better than lists and bitterness.
Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief - He knows grief better than any of us. Christians in Him might be clumsy but they are His body and we are all being shaped - we should let Him work on us without accusations. The awkward comforter is growing in Christ as much as the one in grief may be, so don’t occupy yourself with looking inward and measuring feelings, but turn your gaze to Him.
Look outward. Don’t be afraid to walk alongside another mother that is going through a miscarriage while your grief is raw, you have more to offer her now. Don’t be afraid to walk alongside a pregnant friend that is concerned for her baby, you know her fears. You have carried your child for the days God determined and you are a mother now. You will feel pangs of sorrow when you hear pregnancy announcements so recognize that for what it is: grief over the loss of your own pregnancy, not grief over the news of your friend’s pregnancy. You aren’t pregnant anymore, and that is a terrible sadness, but they are not pregnant with your baby. Rejoice with them for the pregnancy that is theirs.
Let your miscarriage change you. Let the grace crush you. When you are grieving the temptation to sin is thick around you, and you are given a strenuous workout. Use those spiritual muscles and don’t let sin cloud up your circumstance. Instead get strong enough to one-punch it. Congratulations, God has given you too much to handle! Now lean into him, he wants you to.
Be Brave. Your miscarriage is not a statistic. It is not part of the 20%. It didn't happen because X number of pregnancies end in loss. Likewise you cannot take comfort in statistics in future pregnancies. Do not fear, but trust in the Lord. This is a gift: miscarriage reminds us that we are always in God’s hands.
Be grateful. The Lord loves you, He loves your child and He grieves with you. Don’t miss the opportunity to give thanks. Particularly before our firstborn, I didn’t understand exactly what I was aching for. I was missing something, but it was sorrow without specificity. That first loss after we had a child, we were confronted immediately with what we were missing - and she gave us zerberts. We could see in every laugh, feel in every hug, exactly what we had lost. But we could also see one hundred fold how much we had been given both in her and the little ones gone on ahead of us. It is an enormous blessing to be given a child, an eternal life, even if our time to nurture that life is painfully brief. God made this child for you. He made this loss for you. Death is the enemy, but you don't “win” by having a full term healthy pregnancy, you win by dying in Christ to your sin.
Strong emotions shape you one way or another. Your grief is making you into something. Let it make you more Christ like.