We’re rolling up on the day when many of us will change our social media profile pictures or profile frames to bear the pink and blue ribbon. We might update our status to talk about our loss and the hope we cling to that our unborn child is with Jesus. Or that the infant we held ever so briefly in our arms is now in the arms of our Savior.
These, and every variation, make the rounds each October 15 on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Often our expression of grief gets muddled in a public forum like social media where our audience is not necessarily of the same faith. Sometimes words of the world creep in instead of words of the Gospel. Sometimes we water down our faith and grief for fear of being thought “stupid” for deeply mourning the loss of a six-week-old child in the womb. If you stand in the belief that life begins at conception, the life lost after six weeks in utero is a life to be mourned.
For the woman navigating her grief in a nation where anyone, regardless of pro-life or pro-choice views might feel sad with you because they know you’re mourning, according to a recent Gallup survey, 48% would, as a pro-choice supporter, also actively encourage you if you had been considering aborting that same life with some going so far as to cheer you on to “shout” about it. In this contrast, be bold in your mourning and, when you’re ready to express it, your hope. Because, while this dichotomy in American culture is confusing and disheartening as a follower of Christ, imagine how much more so for the pregnant unbeliever who “chooses” to welcome a child but then miscarries.
Freedom in Grief
How we talk about our loss as believers matters. We can mourn in freedom knowing the loss we experienced, no matter how early or late in pregnancy or how long ago, is a real loss and not just a ceasing to be of a collection of cells. Your voice, sweet daughter of God, must be heard in its emotional frankness.
“I am devastated by my loss because my unborn baby died. I had to go to the hospital to deliver it and I can’t stop crying.”
“My baby who I held in my arms, stopped breathing and died. I’m too numb to feel anything.”
“This hope of a pregnancy sustained (finally) was denied to me (again).”
How much more is this a balm for the soul for the unbeliever struggling with her loss and how to express it in a world that would call her foolish for doing so than, “Remembering my angel baby today”? (There is no condemnation if this is your typical sentiment. Please just hear the call for something more.)
Unfortunately, what we commonly do is parrot the things people say to us as well meaning means of comfort that only end up being hurtful. We rush grief along urging ourselves and others to find peace in God as quickly as possible because grief is uncomfortable. Because we’re taught that if we grieve for “too long”, we must not trust God. It’s cheap platitudes instead of waiting in the grieving process. Even when Jesus knew he would restore Lazarus from death he wept (John 11:35). He wept because his friends were weeping. He wept because death is not how it’s supposed to be. He wept because he loved Lazarus.
Show Jesus in Your Grief
We can do more this October 15 when we choose to make a statement on social media or in public. We can weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). We can listen as others process and pray with and for them. We can open our mouths to say, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be…but Jesus!” We can come out of the shadows because we have shame around our own loss. Let’s face it, negative self-talk is bad, but negative self-talk around a pregnancy loss gets very dark, very quickly.
Let your voice, infused with wisdom and discernment from Holy Spirit, be a little bit louder and brighter than the world’s. Bring hope in the darkness by mourning as Jesus did. Be frank in your words so those who read them can grieve their own loss as real grief. How much better to see the life of a grieving mother-to-be be captured by Christ in you as you freely grieve your own loss than keeping your mourning private? Be courageous in sharing (or resharing) your loss and grief trusting in God, the Father to be your true comfort (1 Cor 1:3) in that vulnerability.