Dear Dottie, How Do I Heal After a Miscarriage?
I’ve been married for three years now and have been wanting to start having children. About four months ago, I discovered that I was pregnant and I was elated! But my happiness ended when last month I miscarried my baby. I’ll spare you the details, but it was awful. The dream of finally being a mommy, how I could see my whole life changing – it all came to this horrible halt.
My heart is broken. I keep wondering what I should have done differently. People are trying to be supportive but most of what they say has me burying myself even deeper into pain. Even my husband doesn’t know what to say. I’m terrified of getting pregnant again only to go through all of this again. I know this is wrong thinking, but I can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t some kind of consequence for something in my past.
I feel like I’m stuck in a fog of grief that I can’t outrun and all I can do is pray, cry, and mourn. How do I pick up these pieces?
You are experiencing natural and genuine grief in this loss. The pain goes far beyond the immediate loss of a child—life that God Himself gave to you and then allowed to be taken from you. That paradox alone is beyond human understanding. The pain jumps from the present loss to the thought of future emptiness and suffering through conversations and interactions where you are expected to reveal your feelings and hurts to mere acquaintances.
How well I know this painful experience since as a young pastor’s wife, I, too, became pregnant, shared my good news and began preparing for the arrival of our first child. Then the alarming signs began; and despite a lengthy period of bed rest and a willingness to walk away from my semester’s school work, I lost the baby while at home alone. Although early in the pregnancy, the fetus was easily identified as new life. My physical pain and emotional anguish and mental search for making some sense out of the tragedy—all seemed to come over me like a flood.
Here are some lessons I learned in the process of working through my personal grief and in walking through such sorrow with other women in subsequent years:
- To lose a baby in the womb brings the same sense of loss and sorrow as losing a child at any stage in life. You are “with child,” and then for whatever reason you are “without that child.” You embraced the privilege of nurturing new life with joy, and then you lose the opportunity to help the baby live outside the womb. The emotional bond is set when you know that the life has been given!
- A miscarriage is not the result of a woman’s personal sin but is rather the result of living in a fallen world (Rom 5:14).
- Life in the womb is precious to God (Ps 139:13-14). The child in the womb is covered by the atonement of Christ, and Christian parents one day will be reunited with that precious life (2 Sam 12:23).
- To be childless does not mean you have less of a marriage or that you are less of a woman. In reading about the women in the Bible, you will see that Scripture does not indicate childbirth for a number of notable women: Miriam, Esther, Priscilla, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene. Yet all of these women played an important role in the kingdom and within their families. Whether single or married without children, women are gifted from the Creator with maternity and a nurturing sensitivity that enables them to have very unique maternal ministries even to children and young people who do not come from their own wombs.
- Ultimately God controls life and death. Certainly He is pleased when wives and husbands welcome the responsibility of bearing and rearing the next generation (Gen 1:28), and He listens to our cries for children just as He did with Hannah. Yet He reserves for Himself the planning of our respective lives, with knowledge far beyond our own and with a master plan that prepares each of us for a special assignment in the kingdom. He will bless you, but He reserves the right to determine how that blessing manifests itself.
Finally, may I share with you from my heart how to move through this deep sea of sorrow and walk out on the other side with joy and confidence?
- Throw yourself into the arms of the blessed Jesus with a renewed commitment to spend time alone with Him working through your hurts and questions. Read your Bible, especially the Book of Psalms, and mark His promises. Meditate upon God’s words. Memorize key verses and write them on small cards to tuck in your purse and review when you feel overwhelmed with sorrow. Offer your petitions to the Lord; ask Him those difficult questions and shed your tears before Him; wait on Him to do His work! I am not talking about 10-15 minutes of devotional time; rather I am suggesting that you need to allot several hours for coming away from everything and everyone and taking time to work through your grief with the Lord. When I go through these agonizing battles, I pray aloud. I pour out all my feelings of hurt and frustration. I shed my tears. I write notes to mark these trials in the margin of my Bible, and I also mark the verses that will lead me to victory and remind me of the Lord’s power to heal and restore.
- Pour out your innermost feelings to your husband. Let him hold you while you shed your tears. Ask him to pray for you. Remember that he, too, has experienced loss, and he is also crushed to see your deep hurt and feel so helpless to minister to you; yet God has assigned him to protect you.
- Identify a very small group of 3-5 close friends and/or family members and give them specific ways to pray for you. For example, pray that you can sleep through the night; pray that you will not develop a root of bitterness; pray that you will focus on the opportunities you do have to serve the Lord, etc.
- Get up every morning, get dressed, and move through the day’s schedule with a determination to do your tasks. Sing songs and quote Scripture. Do things with friends and especially with your husband. If someone asks an inappropriate question, just say: “I am not ready to talk about that sorrow in my life. Pray for me.” Then move to another subject.
- Pray that God will give you another child. Be willing to trust Him. Don’t let fear cheat you from a blessing of God.
In the midst of this journey, remember that the Lord must have great confidence in you to allow such sorrow, believing that you are so committed to Him that you will trust Him to supply your need in whatever the situation and that you will bear testimony to His faithfulness as you walk through the valleys as well as when you are on the mountain-top.
Act with your will to do what you know is right based on God’s message to you. Give time for your heart to heal and catch up again. Pray with the psalmist David, “Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Ps. 42:11)
Devotedly yours in the journey,
Dorothy Kelley Patterson serves as the First Lady and Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Seminary. She has authored numerous books and articles including, Where’s Mom: The High Calling of Wives and Mothers, and A Woman Seeking God: Discover God in the Places of Your Life. One of Mrs. Patterson’s greatest joys is hospitality! She loves to cook and is known for her family’s famous “Kelley biscuits.”
*”Dear Dottie” is a featured, monthly column from Dorothy Kelley Patterson (aka – Dottie!). If you have a question for Dottie, please email us at email@example.com!