It’s been a year since I found out I was pregnant with my second child. We were over the moon after months of trying.
Two weeks before Christmas we heard those five awful words: “We don’t see a heartbeat.”
And with that, I joined a huge secret society of women who know exactly how it feels to grieve for a love that you never even got to meet in person.
Statistics say 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. And you’d think with 25% of us carrying this kind of pain around that we’d be better at talking about it. But we’re just not. And there are plenty of reasons not to talk about it. Some days it’s easier to pretend everything is okay and just deal on your own terms. And if you talk to other Christians, you’ll find that a lot of Christians are really, really bad at talking about grief.
Here’s what I’ve come to understand about grief. It’s a process not a problem.
Everyone’s process is important and unique so I’m only going to talk about mine. The least helpful thing you can do when talking to someone who’s grieving, or really anyone trying to live life, is to assume that your understanding or experience is universal.
My process started with a LOT of tears and feeling really stupid and ashamed for buying maternity clothes and doodling baby names on my notebook at work. I reached out to friends who were brave enough to make their miscarriages known, but, frankly, listening to healed pain when yours is so raw can be more frustrating than helpful. I listened to friends and family who tried to comfort me in a way that made it painfully obvious how little they understood what I was going through. My husband and I felt really brave trying to conceive again, and when that took a lot longer than expected, I got angry with God. I stayed angry at God for a good long time. I wrote angry letters and said some very strongly worded prayers when I could stand to pray. And that’s okay. I think God loves angry. God can work with angry and raw and real much more easily than feigned understanding or acceptance. I still don’t understand why I had to experience this pain. There is no good answer to infant loss, and people who use the Bible to try and explain it are doing more harm than good.
I’m pregnant again, which makes me terrified and thankful and mournful and excited on an unpredictable basis. It’s nothing like my first pregnancy.
There was a special kind of joy and naiveté allowed by anticipation without pain. I miss that. I’m not over my miscarriage; I don’t ever intend to be. I hope this pain makes me softer and real-er and kinder. I hope that every day keeps getting a little easier and that the window for hope and joy gets cracked open a little further. I hope that’s what God’s kingdom looks like too.
If you’re also part of this secret society, I’m so sorry. I hate this for us. If you know or love someone who knows this pain, be patient. Know that we all have the same amount of God in us and therefore the same ability to heal and to grow. We all do it in our own ways and in our own time. Pray for us, ask us what we want or need. Then do that. Respect the pain and the process and then sit back and watch us become braver and wiser than ever before.
Hilary recently moved from Tulsa where she was part of the architectural team that renovated the Mayo Hotel, Detroit Lofts, and Vandever Buildings. Now living in OKC, the things she misses most are Dilly Deli’s hummus, Elote’s tamales and long runs on the River Park trails. She’s been married to James Hunt, a Methodist pastor, for over a decade and they spend their free time running, cooking and enjoying the company of their hilarious two year old.