Grieving a child you never met is a process I'm still figuring out. Being pregnant soon after a miscarriage brought excitement that I should never feel guilty about, but it overlaps two concepts in my brain. I don't constantly think about my second child anymore because I'm about to have, Lord-willing, a second-born child. That does not- in any way- make that second pregnancy less important. If anything, I continually remind myself that my husband and I had the privilege of loving a child with a very short life on earth in a world where innocent children don't have complete protection in the womb. We waited over a year for that child, and we waited a year and a half for our little girl who is about to be born. We have learned God's sovereignty through the whole process.
Although miscarriage and infertility effect many homes, supporting families who are suffering is still difficult. Many families suffer silently, others share the struggle with a select few, and some find solace in sharing widely for others to comfort them and join in their road to healing. It is not for outsiders to choose or condemn how a family chooses to give or withhold details. But what can others do?
1. Stop assuming everyone is fine.
We all know the question "How are you?" can be said without care. Too often it is just something we say. But it doesn't have to be. Everyone is facing some kind of struggle, whether big or small. We need to stop taking fine as an answer. There needs to be a willingness to ask for prayer (and it doesn't have to be specific), and there needs to be a genuine person asking. If you know someone is suffering, instead tell them that you are praying for them- but only if you truly are. Prayer is something we all need.
2. Stop asking questions about having children.
To be honest, for one year solid I had people asking me every week about having a second child. There were jokes, questions, insinuations, and remarks. Some were genuine and innocent, but I wanted to hide from people- and sometimes, I wrongfully did hide. I wish people would have commented on other things instead of making me feel like having one child was incomplete- like what a blessing it was to be a mother. I felt like God had brought me far in my contentment with the size of my family, and then I would have a talk with someone and feel like I was falling back again. We need to affirm the blessings in other people's lives instead of trying to know the next juicy gossip topic or delve into subjects that have a high probability to make someone uncomfortable.
3. Build genuine relationships.
I already touched on this, but be actively building relationships filled with openness and love. If someone knows you to be a wise and loving person, he or she is more likely to share and confide in you. It should be no surprise that someone never told you of a deep struggle in their life if the only things you talk about are local news and the weather. If you do know of someone going through a trial or grief, find ways to encourage and build up your friend.
4. Give real hope.
At times that I did share of the ongoing painful situations I was facing, I received a mixed bag of bad advice and misplaced hope. I slowly learned over time that my hope could not be in having a child. Even if I received that child, I would find that true joy cannot come from anything on this earth. God gives us blessings, and we can be joyful with the things and people God places in our lives, but unless we find our joy in Jesus, we will never truly be satisfied. And that hope does not disappoint. It is the hope of eternity with Christ that can comfort every believer. Share that with anyone suffering, especially if it is a trial you have never faced. Tell them that you will pray that the love and hope of Christ will comfort them in their distress. Those who pointed me to Christ glorified God and left me encouraged to keep fighting for joy.
This list is not exhaustive, and my experience with miscarriage and infertility is my own unique situation. My fears and anxieties over my children still exist, and I still have to fight those emotions daily. I want this to be an avenue for us all to be unified in the body of Christ and open up discussions for growth in our relationships with one another.