"I barely knew anyone who'd had a miscarriage ... until I experienced my own," writes Caitlin Seccombe Lubinski for Her.meneutics. "As I experience the grief of miscarriage, I am struck by the hush-hush method with which our culture treats an extremely widespread women's issue."
Lubinski says that in some ways she was "grateful for the privacy granted me" because in the first few months "it was an extraordinarily painful thing to talk about — even with my closest friends."
However, she says, "a few problems arise when we keep miscarriage private, away from the larger community. When statistics stop matching experience, our concept of reality becomes disjointed at best. ... I'm a 28-year-old, educated woman, and I knew the statistical chances of having a miscarriage were significant — one in five known pregnancies for my age group end in miscarriage, and a far higher percentage exists for women in their 30s and 40s. But the truth of cold numbers often fails to dislodge long-held beliefs based on personal experience. Because I knew of only two women who had miscarriages, I still thought of miscarriage as a rather exceptional case, like the chances you have of breaking your femur if you decide to go skiing. They exist — but you only know a few people in your lifetime to whom it happens."
But, Lubinski says, miscarriage touches so many more women than we realize. "I think that if we girls and women and boys and men grew up with a more open sharing of the grief of miscarriage, then the loss, when it happens, would not seem quite so alienating. ... Imagine if we moved to the same comfort level with talking about miscarriage that we feel when someone talks about a really bad car accident they once had or the death of a grandparent. What if we accepted miscarriage as an open topic for discussion? Isn't it odd that we haven't? Think of the many important women's topics we make an effort to discuss more openly: breast cancer, sexual harassment, abuse and infertility, to name a few. ... Imagine if, as Christians and as women, we could more openly acknowledge the burden of miscarriage. We could at least talk about the guilt a woman feels when a beautiful newborn baby causes her to weep, and perhaps through the dialogue of a community, that guilt would lessen as it revealed more candidly the processes of grief women who miscarry walk through."
Lubinski adds: "Perhaps this secret grief ... needs a bit more air and light. Perhaps it needs the freedom of expression that we assign to other forms of grief, so that after sharing and receiving our stories of miscarriage, we can see clearly enough to reach out and tenderly remove the tendrils of pain that grow on each other's hearts."
As Whitney Hopler writes in a Crosswalk.com article titled How to Heal After a Miscarriage or Infant Loss, "Suffering the heartbreaking loss of a baby either before or shortly after birth forever changes the way you'd imagined your life would be. All the dreams you'd cherished of parenting that child died along with him or her. Yet, despite your loss and grief, God has given you promises that nothing can ever take away. Embracing those promises is the key to healing after miscarriage or infant loss."
And as Kim Ketola and Teske Drake write in a Crosswalk.com article titled Hope and Healing After Childbearing Loss, "Grief is a language our hearts must learn if we ever want to find true peace as the parent of a child who has died before birth. But how can you mourn over someone you have never met or only met briefly? Thus is the case in situations of childbearing loss (abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth) or early infant loss. It takes faith to follow the Lord to a place of grief. And it takes courage to release the sorrow which may be the only reminder you have that your child ever existed, this ache of unrequited parental love. Christ's invincible love provides the bridge of heavenly hope. He is a faithful witness who is able by his love to redeem all sin in order to fit us for his kingdom in heaven (Revelation 1:5-6). This redemption finds fruition as we embrace our child's memory in order to bid them goodbye."
If you have personally experienced a miscarriage or known a friend or family member who has, how have you responded? Do you agree with Lubinski that this "secret grief" needs more light? What do you think is the best way for women and for Christians in general to approach this real and widespread issue?
For further reading:
- Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Miscarriage
- Carry Each Other's Burdens: Ministering to those Enduring Miscarriage
- When Nightmares Come True: Facing Miscarriage and Keeping Your Faith
- Praying Through Infertility
- How Can I Cope With Infertility and Miscarriage?
- Overcoming the Fear of Miscarriage: Learning to Trust God with My Own Emotions
- Find Hope When Your Arms are Empty
- Safe in the Arms of God: What Happens to Babies Who Die?
Anna Kuta is the editor of ReligionToday.com.