Kelly Needham, wife of musician Jimmy Needham and mother of two, has a blog called Above All Else. In her words, her blog “is about learning to treasure and enjoy Jesus Christ above all else.” Recently she shared a post titled, "How to Handle the Grief of Miscarriage." Having lost her first three pregnancies, she understands that grief all too well. Needham states,
“Miscarriage is the membership card to a club you never asked to be in; a union of women sporting badges of infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, and even abortion. Women who share your emotions, questions, crisis of faith, and isolation, women whose desire to be a parent has been abruptly interrupted by suffering. This post is an effort to encourage those who are grieving and to help friends and family members trying to help.”
Yet there is hope in this loss. In her post, Needham shares encouragement for the afflicted and help for the comforters.
Here are 3 helpful encouragements from Kelly Needham for those afflicted with this grief.
1. Grief is an appropriate emotion for miscarriage.
Sometimes we think that grief is unhelpful and that we should simply hurry it along as quickly as possible. But even grief can bring glory to God. Needham explains, grief “communicates to the world that life is valuable from conception and worth mourning when lost.” Grief should not be hurried, and it’s something that those who are grieving should make time for. Needham suggests setting aside 30-60 minutes a day for alone time and crying. She writes, “Crying is good for your soul in times of mourning; don’t try to avoid it. Welcome it.”
2. Wrestle well and with courage.
Needham relays that “Like Jacob, to move forward we must face our fears, alone with God.” She encourages those afflicted to wrestle with humility, honesty, and patience. Needham states that though God has given us boldness to come before Him with freedom, He is still God and we are to be fearfully reverent before Him. “God is not on trial here,” she says. Though we are to come before God humbly, we should not be afraid to talk honestly with Him about our feelings, doubts, and anger. Even during times of waiting, God is near. Needham recommends reading through the Psalms to draw closer to God in both honesty and faith.
3. Remember to help others help you.
Needham explains, “One surprising part of grief is realizing that you often have to help your loved ones help you. We assume our friends and family will know what we need and say the right things instinctually. But most of the time, the compassion of others spills out in clueless and clumsy ways. Be prepared to tell your friends what you need, what to say, what not to say, how to help and what is unhelpful. It’s counterintuitive to tell others what kind of help you need, but it will make a world of difference if you will.”
She goes on to express that grief is isolating, and few will truly understand how you feel and what you are experiencing outside of those who have experienced it themselves. But God understands isolation and loss in ways that we cannot; when you feel like no one understands…remember that God does.
Needham also provides help for the comforters. She reminds us of Job’s friends, sorry comforters did they turn out to be. “You can hear the longing in Job’s words for friends that would stop telling him what to do and simply be in the wrestling with him, that they would plead with God with him,” Needham writes. Comforting the afflicted can be uncomfortable, longer than expected, and just plain hard...but here are 3 helpful ideas for those comforting loved ones.
1. Don’t minimize loss.
Many times comforters say words they think are comforting, but really all they do is minimize the loss as if it shouldn’t matter that much. Needham expresses,
“Each time someone tried to cheer me up by minimizing what I had lost, my soul was screaming: “But it mattered to me! That life was precious to me!” Instead, find ways to show that you understand something valuable has been lost.
My favorite way to do this is to send flowers. Buy a small plant, a simple floral arrangement, and leave a small note: “In memory of your little one. We love you.” This type of heartfelt expression goes a long way.”
In addition to flowers, Needham appreciated that years later her close friends would remember and ask how she was doing during the month she lost her child; it showed that they remembered, cared, and valued her loss.
2. Don’t push sadness away.
Sometimes we don’t understand the purpose of sadness and what if any good can come from it. But during times of loss, grief and sadness have a purpose. To help your afflicted loved one, become someone who is comfortable being around sadness. Needham uses the example of Sadness personified in the Pixar film Inside Out. She shares,
“Now, it might sound silly for me to use a kid’s movie for a good example of how to love a friend who is grieving, but honestly, it’s such a perfect example! Sadness does the opposite of what most of us do naturally: she acknowledges what is lost, and how utterly lost that thing is. She creates a safe place for Bingbong to express why that lost thing was so precious. And she doesn’t try to fix it or patch it up. So simple, yet just what we want when we’re grieving.”
3. Sometimes presence is better than a solution.
Job’s friends did one thing right…before they opened their mouths. When they first saw Job, they raised their voices and wept because they could see that his loss and pain were very great. They sat in silence with him for 7 days and 7 nights. -Job 2:11-13.
Sometimes that’s all a grieving friend needs to know, that you are there for them—to sit with them, hold them as they cry, or give them a big hug. Or as Needham suggests, “If you don’t live near, this could be sending things that remind her of you, like a candle she can burn and be reminded that you’re there for her.”
In addition to your presence, “Plead on her behalf for strength for that journey, for courage to move forward when it’s painful, for faith to listen for God’s answers when she doesn’t really care to hear them, for grace for the battlefield of grief. Be an intercessor, and plead with God as if it were you on that rocky path,” writes Needham.
Whether you are the afflicted or one who is comforting, stay in the Word. It is there that you will see God’s unchanging character, and though you may wrestle with it…it will also revive you.
“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” -Psalm 119:50
To read many more thoughts from Kelly Needham please visit her blog Above All Else.
Publication date: March 21, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.