Today is Pregnancy loss and Infant loss remembrance day.
It seems that people don’t really talk about miscarriage or stillbirth. As a result of this, you may assume it is a very rare event. Sadly, it is so much more common than most people seem to realize.
I understand not wanting to talk about death. I really do. It is very sad, and people don’t generally like to bring up unhappy topics, or think about them… but I believe it really needs to be discussed more often – maybe even more so when it comes to those babies who have died in the womb or shortly afterward.
The pain of losing any child is devastating- but the most terrible thing about miscarriage loss is that it is so often swept under the rug, as if the child didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong- people don’t intentionally do this. A lot of times, they avoid bringing up such matters, in order to protect the feelings of (usually) the mother or father. They think that moving on is the best thing for everyone. But they’re very often wrong.
I know people who are in their 40’s and 50’s, who had a miscarriage decades ago, but were advised never to talk about such things… that it wasn’t appropriate. Because of this, their heart still stings bitterly, and tears come to their eyes when they think about it, because they have not yet had a chance to process their emotions properly regarding their loss.
Many people tend to expect women who have miscarried or lost a newborn infant to be able to move on and try again within a very small window of time (perhaps because they didn’t have memories attached to the child, besides the pregnancy?). They don’t seem to understand that even children we don’t get to know have just as much of a physical, emotional, and spiritual impact on us when we lose them, as one we have memories attached to (I know many people who have lost both a child who was several years old, and had a stillbirth…and they said the grief was the same, and in some ways, the stillbirth was harder because people didn’t reach out to them as much). The stages of grief you go through are no different. The loss is no less a loss, but it is treated as such by so many.
Go to any bookstore and try to find a book about miscarriage or stillbirth. It’s very difficult to do. I have been to many where the topic simply couldn’t be found at all. (This is one reason that spurred me on to publish my book, Answers in a Time of Miscarriage, after my own to help others who have questions and need answers and encouragement).
Sadly, I have to deal with death a lot (I never used to imagine that would be the case). I frequently draw memorial pictures for bereaved parents. It breaks my heart every time I see those beautiful faces, knowing how much each one must have meant to their family, and knowing the fresh agony they are having to endure. I draw so many children who have passed away, that many times people will see a drawing I’m working on and timidly ask, “Is that baby alive?” I fear that many people find me morbid as a result of this.
However, I see great honor in drawing these portraits for people because I know what it means to them. I have seen the bittersweet tears in their eyes when they see a portrait of their babies, making them look alive again. I have seen them joyfully being able to share images of their child, when before it might have been too uncomfortable to.
It brings me a certain joy to have an opportunity to provide a tangible means of comfort to people who are suffering, and that is reason enough to keep doing that.
Infant loss and miscarriage really are much more common than I used to imagine they were. I remember reading about Susanna Wesley as a child. She had more than 20 children, but I think over half of them died (feel free to correct me if my facts are remembered wrong). I remember reading about the circumstances of the deaths of her children, many of them infants, and thinking how thankful I was that didn’t happen that much nowadays. Now I know better… It happens a lot… People just don’t talk about it!
Whether by SIDS, stillbirth, trisomy 13, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, infant loss is more frequent than I ever before imagined. And I think that if it’s so frequent, it should be more visible to the world, as uncomfortable as it might make people feel. People need to know their babies mattered. That their suffering had a purpose. That there are others who have been in their shoes.
So to you who have lost a child too early, I want you to know you’re not alone, and your child mattered. I pray that you find comfort and peace as you remember your child today.
Angel of my Tears
How do you love a person
who never got to be,
or try to envision a face
you never got to see?
How do you mourn the death of one
who never got to live.
When there’s nothing to feel good about
and nothing to forgive?
I love you, my little baby,
my companion of the night.
Wandering through my lonely hours,
beautiful and bright.
What does it mean to die before
you ever were born,
to live the lovely night of life
and never see the dawn?
Ah! My little baby,
you lived like anyone!
Life’s a burst of joy and pain.
And then like yours, it’s done.
I love you, my little baby,
just as if you’d lived for years.
No more, no less, I think of you,
the Angel of my tears.