People do not look forward to funeral home visitation or funerals. However, when we have lost someone close to us, these events do often help us in the grieving process. We receive support from friends and family members, even by their simple presence. We are permitted to speak about our loss and shed tears without shame. As well, the fact that there was a funeral means that others are aware of the loss and can continue to provide support in the weeks and months to come.
When a couple loses a baby through miscarriage, it is often a hidden loss. Perhaps the couple has not yet shared their excitement because “it’s too early.” There is no public protocol for this kind of loss, and yet the grief is real.
I’d like to share my personal journey of hidden loss. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. It was very early, so only my husband and I knew about it. (We did later share this with our close family). I struggled privately with guilt for more than two years until I was able to have a healing talk with my husband at a couple’s retreat. Then, for the most part, I pushed this experience out of my mind as I cared for the children I was blessed with afterwards.
After reading the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo last month, I came to a fresh realization. I should not forget about this baby because I will see him or her in heaven. I always believed that life begins at conception, but I have not really lived accordingly in this case.
I wonder what the church can do to reach out to those grieving hidden losses. I’ve heard of a church that holds an annual memorial service for babies lost before birth or in early infancy. Anyone who wants to come can do so. This would be a place to let such grief be safely known and shared.