The rest of the story

Confession: I told you I miscarried a tiny baby last January. I didn’t tell you the rest of the story. Of necessity, this post contains personal details I would not normally share publicly. There are not many; I have been as discreet as I could. But I ask, especially if you are male, that you read respectfully.

The Rest of the Story

The problem with backing up to the beginning of the story is that it’s hard to know when to stop backing. You pass through months and years of events-that-led-to, and land not only in the hospital where you were born, but somewhere just before the book of Genesis, when all these things were developing in the heart of God. So I can’t tell all the rest of the story.

The piece I am going to tell you now started the month before my miscarriage, in December of 2014, when we said yes to a dream opportunity. A newborn foster girl was coming into care. Her older siblings had all been removed from the home, one was being adopted right now, and there was no kin. Would we be willing to take her? Continue reading

Giveaway: Silent Grief

Update: As of Monday, April 27, this giveaway is closed.

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Hi there, ladies.

Today I’m helping introduce a new e-book, just released by Kendra Graber. It’s called Silent Grief: Hope for Surviving Early Miscarriage.

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Kendra has six children in her home, and four more who are awaiting her with Jesus. Some of you will recognize her from her blog, Living in the Shoe.

In her new e-book, she starts by sharing her own story of miscarriage, then takes us through a Biblical look at life within the womb, our feelings of loss and grief, stories from other moms who miscarried, and tips for walking alongside a friend who is experiencing this pain.

kendra's family

Kendra shares symptoms of early miscarriage, some reassuring advice for the medical side of things, and tips for finding closure after losing an unborn child. She’s gentle, sympathetic, and down-to-earth. Throughout the book, she calls women to seek the Lord and trust His hand in all of life’s experiences.

If there is one thing I’m taking from the book, it is permission to grieve.

I find some books on miscarriage or grief too heavy to carry. Silent Grief is short (less than sixty pages) and simple—largely story-based, with some poetry, bright pictures, and a spirit of faith.

Here is a photo where you can see Kendra’s face. This is important to me, to see the eyes of the person I’m listening to. She’s not only a smiling mom lying on the grass surrounded by her healthy children.

kendra and husband

Kendra gave me a review copy of the e-book, and wants to give another copy to one of my readers. Please note my two disclaimers here:

  1. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read this. It is available on Kindle, or simply as a PDF document, able to be opened and read on any computer.
  2. You also don’t have to have miscarried. This book can help you understand miscarriage in order to encourage friends who have experienced it—Or perhaps your copy will become a special gift for a close friend who has recently walked through pain. Entering the giveaway is not an admission of miscarriage. I have to add this disclaimer not only for those of you who haven’t miscarried—but also for those who have, and will feel too exposed to talk about it here. You don’t have to share your story or use your real name. But you are loved.

Silent Grief is not an expensive e-book—only $2.99, available here on Kindle or here on PDF. Please consider sharing with someone you love. Leave a comment to enter!

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Giveaway closes in one week, on April 27, 2015. Winner will be chosen by the Lord Jesus this time. Now what do you think of that?

Giveaway is now closed.

This post contains affiliate links.

Processing miscarriage

Thank you so much for your advice and wisdom on my last post. I wrote what follows before I read your stories, but I could be quoting you. You also said some things I’d never thought of before. Thanks for being so brave in sharing your words.

Here are the suggestions good women gave to me, which I will share in turn. I will not tell their stories, but they were right. Thank you, Jean, Renee, Becca, Rachel, Marlene, Stephanie, Renita, Chastin, Hope Anne, and Cynthia. In the interest of being concise I’m afraid of sounding terse and superior… Please know that I’m talking out of pain I will not describe here.

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Confession: I don’t have a philosophy of miscarriage. It’s unfortunate that when a Trouble comes, my ideas and theories about it fly away. Or maybe that’s a good thing? I have found nothing to stave off the pain or to match the needs of varied situations, and a numbered list has a ridiculousness all its own.

But in the weeks following my miscarriage, Jesus began the work healing me. (He’s not done yet.) Here are some of the things His daughters taught me.

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1. Talk to other women who’ve experienced this loss.

One strange thing about pain (any pain, whether cancer or abuse or the death of a loved one) is that you enter unwittingly, even unwillingly, a sisterhood of those who have known this pain. After you come to accept that you are here, gathered with others around a life event you’d never have chosen, you may find much comfort in this place. These other stories are not yours, and do not need to define yours, but are there in a circle of strength around you. Your grief is not isolated. Your sorrow does not stand alone.

Miscarriage can be part of a healthy family story. It has touched countless women without destroying them; it is not the end of the path.

As Rosina pointed out yesterday (and several of you demonstrated), anyone softened by sorrow can offer meaningful care. Let’s not demand that someone must have walked in OUR SHOES before receiving the love they have to give…

2. Find a few physical things by which to remember your baby.

Early miscarriages especially give little closure, little to say goodbye to. You might fill a box with the notes and cards you receive over that time, plant a special tree or flower, stand a Willow Tree figurine on your mantel, write a letter, sew a little blanket, or put a remembrance stone in your garden. Somehow, touch the things that will remind you of him.

3. Give yourself time and grace.

Though many experience it, miscarriage is also a private pain—no one but you held this child. It is okay to feel a lot, to cry. You have been touched by love and human life, and cannot be unchanged. Journal, talk to a friend, listen to music late at night when you can’t sleep. Give your emotions and your hormones time to settle. Don’t be hard on yourself or blame the body that betrayed you.

4. Spend time with your spouse.

Let him comfort you and sorrow with you. He’s part of this story, and it’s his loss too, though he’ll process it differently. Even after the tears are done and the words are silenced, be together. Treasure his presence and his feelings.

5. Name your baby.

…Even if you do not share his name with others. He is real, and your loss is somehow validated by naming him.

6. Re-read Psalm 139.

I couldn’t find God’s heart in the weeks after losing my baby. Most of the time I thought He probably didn’t care. He drew near and opened my eyes each time I read David’s words about an unborn child, depicting the loving and intimate involvement of the Father.

7. Steep yourself in love.

There will be a few very painful reminders along the way: the first pregnancy news from a friend, the baby who is born when yours would have been, the next Mother’s Day. You will survive this thing by loving, not by hating. Open your arms and heart to the little people around you, and to the women whose bellies are rounded with unborn life.

8. Hold onto faith.

(This one was hardest for me.)

God may seem different than you ever thought him to be. Heaven may seem more real than ever, or an uncertain castle in the air. When you have no assurance of your own, lean on the faith of others and trust their words. Feel, more than figure out. You can experience the pain without finding answers for all the hard questions right now.

He is good. And the story is not done yet…

On miscarriage

Dear Son,

It is always easier not to feel.

Some days, even weeks, I am entirely numb, knowing I lost you but unable to feel a thing—no love, no loss, no tears. Then comes a day when it all breaks over me. And afterwards I get up and clean my house again and cook supper for my family.

I am getting good at loving people I cannot keep. When someone says to me “How many children do you have?” I do not know what to say.

There is one I loved who never belonged to me, and another whose eyes fill my mind, though I only see him once a week. There are three precious ones who were born to me, loved and nurtured while days turned into years. There is another I’ve loved for five months and will never forget. There is one baby with Jesus, and another whom I prepared for and gave a name to but never met, and another we pray for every night, who has not yet been. There are nine nieces and eleven nephews whom I love more than I thought possible, and more on the way, and more in heaven. There are children of friends and colleagues passing through my home every week, children whom I love like mine while they are here. There are little strangers whose pictures hang on my refrigerator because I love their mothers.

These names I say in my mind, these faces I hold in my heart. I do not know how many children I have. What does “have” mean?

My heart is not whole anymore. But you are in it as long as I live. This is what is true, though you feel irretrievably gone, passed clean out of this world into another where I cannot follow. I will never hold you in this life. My own body betrayed me, dropped this precious thing I intended to carry, dropped it down down down

You were a gift in a circle, from God’s heart to my body to God’s heart. I learned to wail like David, a song I never hoped to sing. My son, oh my son, my son.

I have rarely found God when I screamed into the sky (though I have done this many times in my life), but when, after my grief and outrage are spent, I turn to see Him standing at my elbow. He is always quiet then, and His eyes are steady. There are tears on His face.

I lost my Son too. I love more children than I can keep.

He is not up there somewhere dealing out pain to humanity. He is here in flesh at the grave, weeping, ready to speak the resurrection words.

I am learning that belonging to God does not spare me deep sorrow, loss, and pain. I am human—not immune to suffering, not held in a bubble of calm in a world of injustice, but allowed like Christ to pass through anguish. Love is the only thing that redeems, and love cannot live in this world without being wrenched on a rack.

But you? You are forever safe, forever loved.

God does not have to explain Himself to me, nor I to you. You have passed into the realm where questions meet the Answer, and all explanations are behind you. You are my rich gift of God—this is the name we gave you. I hold to Him in hope, and to you, though it does nothing to dissolve the pain.

We are loved, little son of God.

-Mommy

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Thank you for your kind words when I told you I lost a baby. It means something to me to know you care, though I dare not wallow in your sympathy. I would prefer this, especially if you have lost a pregnancy of your own—please tell me what comfort you found most precious then, what truth God planted in your heart, how someone loved you. Next time I will take my turn, and share what has been most healing for me.