Written By Eudora Chuah, Singapore
Earlier this year, a couple whom I was close to shared with me that they were expecting another addition to their family. The wife was six weeks’ pregnant. Knowing how much they loved children, I was happy for them.
But there was a problem. The doctor had told them that there was a high chance that there would be a miscarriage, as the baby’s heartbeat was faint. It was matter of “when” rather than “if”, they were told.
I was informed of the tragic news six weeks later. My friend had suffered some bleeding and after a trip to the hospital, it was all over.
Some might view the incident as an unfortunate but random “pregnancy loss”. But the gospel explains why such tragic losses occur: physical death happens as a result of sin and gives us a glimpse of the pain and separation caused by spiritual death.
Faced with the pain death brings, grieving is natural. Christians can and should grieve. Yet, we know death is not the end. As believers, we grieve with hope in Jesus.
And that’s exactly what the couple believed and did. Later, they shared with some of us that they had bought a small tree to remember their unborn child, whom they had named “Star of Bethlehem”. It served to remind them of God’s kindness to them through Jesus, the baby whose arrival saved the world.
The pain and suffering my friends faced because of the miscarriage will not be the end of their story. When Jesus returns, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. We will live in a world without death, mourning, crying, or pain, as these will pass away (Revelation 21:4). Knowing that things will be made right can help us find joy amid the anguish that miscarriage and death bring.
Responding to a miscarriage
When my friend suffered the miscarriage, I didn’t know the right words to say. So I decided to offer practical help: helping with the laundry, and buying her other children ice cream.
Having been through such an experience, I’ve been thinking about how we as a community of believers can support those who go through such trying experiences.
1. Grieve with the parents
Be a listening ear and be ready to grieve and cry with them. Although we may not understand how they really feel, we can support them emotionally and reminding them that they have a community who care about them.
2. Make or buy something to remember the baby
My friends bought a plant to remember their baby. This is one way that we can honor and mark his or her short, but precious, life.
3. Be sensitive to the feelings of those who have miscarried
When the miscarriage happened, I was encouraged to see mutual friends—who had just had their own babies not long before—try to be as sensitive and careful as possible in their words and actions towards the couple.
4. Be careful not to say well-intentioned but hurtful things
Telling friends who have miscarried to adopt, or to remind them of the other children they have, or to try again may be well-intentioned but inappropriate. Having existing children neither negates their loss nor makes it easier to bear. In the moment, they don’t want another baby; they want the one they had.
The truth is that there is not much we can do to help in times of such devastating loss. But we can certainly learn to be more sensitive towards friends who suffer a miscarriage. May God grant us the wisdom to know how to respond in the most loving way.