The Woman who has Lost a Child
After those six infertile years, I suddenly found myself gloriously, miraculously pregnant. I bought tiny baby clothes at garage sales and fixed up the nursery. My husband wallpapered some Disney characters on a yellow background. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs danced around the border of the room. We bought a crib and my brother repaired it to make sure the individual slats were close enough to prevent injury. An antique walnut rocker waited in the middle of the nursery, ready to rock my precious child.
Every night I prayed for my baby. So it seemed the utmost cruelty after three months when that tiny life slithered out of my womb. The spirit of my baby boy, Ryan, floated immediately to heaven. My empty arms ached. The crib stood empty. My heart broke into a million pieces.
Two years later, another pregnancy surprised everyone. I fought the morning sickness but also welcomed it. This child represented God’s makeup plan for the first loss. Again I prayed and thanked God every day. Then my little girl, Rachel, joined her brother in heaven. Again, empty arms reminded me that Mother’s Day represented a cruel joke.
How should we approach this holiday with mothers who have lost a child? Whether through miscarriage, SIDS or some other tragedy – mothers’ hearts bleed each time a child’s voice is silenced.
- Think before you speak. The mother who has lost a child is going through the grief process. She wants to hear about your growing family, but not yet. Do not, under any circumstances, repeat a Bible verse you think this woman needs to hear. Let sympathy be your first response and silence be your watchword.
- Wrap this woman in your arms and weep with her. A comforting hug is a thousand times better than empty words.
- Send a sympathy card on the due date or the birthday of that child. Even now, decades later, I remember the dates when my babies traveled to heaven.
- Send flowers. Especially with a miscarriage, no funeral and no cemetery plot offers closure. After we lost Ryan, someone gave me potted mums and again, another mum plant after Rachel died. I planted those flowers in the yard. Every year when the mums bloomed, I thought about my children. Even now, whenever I move to a new house, I buy mums and plant them as a living memorial. Whenever I prune them back or cut blooms to take inside, I ask God to take special care of my babies until I join them in heaven.
- Bake a nice casserole and wrap it with prayer. Especially with a miscarriage, nobody offers a funeral dinner. That mother still needs to eat, and no woman wants to cook while she grieves.
After you’ve done all or any of the above, go home and hug your children.
My first three pregnancies ended in miscarriage, so I understand some of the grief you have had on Mother’s Day. I wish churches would make a point to acknowledge the mothers who don’t have a little one around to prove their status on that day. The silence of the suffering is always the worst part.
You are so right, and I think it’s up to us mothers who have lost to tell our church leaders. Otherwise, how will they know?