Grieving the loss of a child

She’s a mother without a baby. He’s a father without a child.

Empty arms lead to empty, heavy, and broken hearts. Whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or failed adoption, the pain is real. The grief is real. The reality can seem unbearable.

Statistics tell us that miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss. Studies reveal that 10 to 25 percent of all clinically-recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

Statistics also tell us that stillbirth affects about 1 percent of all pregnancies — about 24,000 babies in the United States each year.

But statistics don’t explain why it happened to you. And they aren’t a way forward.

But the Lord is. The Lord is always right there next to you (Isaiah 66:9).

Learning to Grieve

Grief comes in waves. Sometimes rough, sometimes soft and beautiful. Many times, unexpected.

The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 46:1 that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” There is comfort in those words. To know that in our darkest moments, we are never, ever alone. The God who knows the beginning, middle and end of our story is right next to us — grieving with us.

The Lord will show up in these moments. In Philippians 4:7, Paul reminds us that the peace of God transcends all understanding. When the world is expecting you to fall apart, you are not.

Just as the Lord knew the trajectory of our own lives, he also knew how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds your son or daughter would live.

In Psalm 139, the psalmist writes, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

In time, these words become a comfort, a partial explanation of “Why me? Why my baby?” You’ll never fully stop grieving the loss of your child, but time does allow the intensity of the pain to ease. Time also allows you to begin to more fully understand how the Lord is our refuge and our strength.

Learning to Move Forward

In Isaiah 46:4, the Lord says, “I have made you, and I will carry you. I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.” And He will.

The reality of your circumstances can seem unbearable. But the Lord is always right there next to you.

It’s OK to feel sad, and it’s OK to be happy. It’s OK to want to be alone, and it’s OK to need company. It’s OK to be afraid, and it’s OK to feel brave. It’s OK to doubt, and it’s OK to trust.

These emotions are all part of the grief process. And one of the biggest things you can do to allow yourself to begin healing is to simply surround yourself with friends who will lend a listening ear (or talk about anything but what you’re going through), or family who will clean your house and feed you when you aren’t sure where to start.

Consider, too, a professional counselor. Be proactive in facing your grief. Grief will be there — it is there — and it can destroy you if you allow it to. A counselor can be a wonderful resource, a person who can walk you through the physiological and emotional effects of grief. A counselor’s sole focus is to help you move through this season of life healthily. It’s a safe place to be vulnerable and to truly process what you and your family are going through.

Psalm 62:8 says, “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Whatever you’re feeling, you don’t have to be ashamed of it or hold it in. Allow the Lord to heal your pain through His presence and His people.

Learning to Embrace and Tell Your Story

Sometimes life is messy, but as we work through loss, we learn how to trust the Lord and embrace the circumstances that come our way. Through this, we can ultimately help people in the same or similar circumstances (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

This moment can define you, or you can let it shape you into someone who is more reliant on the Lord’s provision than on your own resources. The loss of your child is not the end of your story or the end of your life’s impact.

God promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Losing your child was not good, but the Lord’s ability to shape you through this tragedy is. Let Him in. Let Him guide you through the grief and bring purpose from your pain.

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