During the winter, my sister had a miscarriage. She is young woman who loves the Lord and continues to suffer from the pain of this great loss. She is seeking to honor the Lord and grow in grace through this pain.
She sent me this very helpful article by Sue Nicewander and Jodi Jewell called Walking Through the Dark Valley of Miscarriage. My sister, April, said it has been a big help to her.
Almost everyone knows someone close who has miscarried. It is worth your read.
Here are some highlights of advice the article gives:
Walking Through the Dark Valley with Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage
The following suggestions and principles may be used by believers in any setting to enhance biblical discipleship with someone who has experienced a miscarriage.
1. Listen Compassionately
Patiently listen without judging. Compassionate listening and careful questions are especially important with a mother who believes her pain has been dismissed as irrelevant or unimportant. Ruth comments, “I got the most help when people came beside me and grieved with me. When Christ said to mourn with those that mourn and rejoice with those that rejoice, He was right. It is very healing.”
2. Speak Carefully
Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to know when to speak and when to be quiet. Don’t say something just to make yourself feel useful or helpful. And don’t try to fix the situation by rationalizing the experience, trying to reason away the pain, explaining the unexplainable or offering solutions for the loss.
Avoid pat answers such as “It is God’s way of handling deformities,” “God loved your baby so much that He wanted the baby with Him in heaven,” “Well, at least you have your other child(ren),” “I know how you feel,” “God planned it this way,” “It wasn’t really a baby,” or “You can try again.” Such comments are not only insensitive, but they deny the inscrutable transcendence of our God who often does not choose to supply answers.
And please don’t say “I’m praying for you” unless you’re actually going to pray. Jodi said she became tired of hearing those words because she didn’t believe them. “I’ll pray for you” is a common Christian lie. Prove you are praying by immediately stopping to pray with the parents. Then let them know that you will continue to pray for them and how you are approaching God on their behalf. Periodically ask if they have further needs for which you may pray. Then pray.
3. Be Patient
Scripture allows for time to mourn (Eccl. 3:1,4,7). Give parents the time and pace they need to grieve. “Let the parent cry with you,” Jodi advises. “This is probably the most important thing you can do.” Rather than apologizing for your ineptitude when the mother’s tears flow, express your compassion at her suffering. Be careful to express sorrow rather than disapproval. Ruth was criticized for weeping, but she wisely answered from Psalm 56: “God knows of our tears. He even has a bottle to collect them. It is okay for me to grieve. I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay. I just lost my baby.”
4. Share the Word of God
Let the parents ask tough questions without condemning them. Guide them to base their questions on the true character of God, then search Scripture together for the answers. Scripture was important to everyone we interviewed, especially passages concerning God’s unfailing love and sovereignty. Here are many of the passages they mentioned to be a help: Ps. 25:16-18a Ps. 27:4-5 & 6b Ps. 28:7 Ps. 34:18 Psalm 100:5 Isa. 40:11 James 4:7 Job 41-43 Jer. 1:4-5 Rom. 8:18-27; 35-39 Hebrews 4:15-16 1 Peter 2:18-21
5. Offer Comfort
Give cards and words of love, but not too many words. Be sensitive without ignoring the pain. Matt affirms that “It was best not to say too much. Mostly I just wanted to know that people cared about us and were praying for us.” Be careful not to stay too long or to talk too much, even when offering Scripture. Suggest spiritual music and God-focused journaling…
6. Get More Help
Informal counseling offered by friends can be very effective when the counsel is biblical. Enlist other friends to take time to sit with the grieving parents, to be available at critical junctures, to listen without feeling compelled to talk, and to be prepared to offer timely help from Scripture.
Arrange for practical help, such as child care, laundry, meals, shopping, rides, and so forth. Offer specific help, not “Call if you need anything.” Encourage biblical counsel from a mature Christian who is familiar and comfortable. “I felt a paradox of desperately wanting counsel, but also feeling so vulnerable that I didn’t feel I could trust anyone new to give me the real truth,” says Anita.
ADVICE TO COUNSELORS
- Identify the parents’ yearnings and questions.
- Help them express grief.
- Identify with their suffering. Point to God as our comforter.
- Be aware of self-pity and wallowing in anger, fear, or despair.
- Encourage them to build their relationship with God.
- Emphasize hope through worship.
- Work to strengthen the marriage.
- Show how they can minister to others who have suffered miscarriage.