In the Arms of Jesus

My latest post for Amazing Catechists is entitled In the Arms of Jesus.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate motherhood and remember our mothers, an opportunity for our children to show their appreciation.

I celebrated my birthday recently. My biggest wish was to celebrate with my five sons ages 13-24. A few of them are no longer living at home so I was thrilled that they were all able to be with me. Never far from my thoughts, however, were those seven precious babies I never got to hold, nurse or raise to adulthood.

It is heartbreaking to experience miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.

After my miscarriages, I found that NFP was a beautiful consolation. I wanted to get pregnant again, but emotionally and physically I wasn’t ready. And with each miscarriage, I needed to give myself time to grieve.

These are some pointers I’ve come up with from my own personal experience in dealing with pregnancy loss:

1) Allow yourself to experience the stages of grieving (depending on the source, the common ones are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Grief is a unique experience for each person, but grieving is usually made up of several stages.

No matter how far along in a pregnancy, the newly-formed life is exactly that: a human life and the representation of husband and wife in love. The news that a woman is expecting and carrying a baby is usually greeted with elation. But in those first few moments when spotting occurs, and a miscarriage becomes inevitable, the experience can become an emotional (and physical) roller coaster.

2) Trust in God. This was difficult for me. I continually questioned God, “Why did you allow my baby to be conceived when you knew he wouldn’t be born?” Eventually, I experienced a light bulb moment: my baby, even though he died before birth, is a great gift from God and now waits for me in heaven.

During one particularly heartbreaking miscarriage, I cried out to my spiritual director, sharing with him that I was torn between saying, “God, Your will be done,” and “Please, God, don’t make me go through this again.” His loving response was: “Perhaps God is asking you to sacrifice the joy of holding this child in your arms so that He may quickly hold your child for all eternity in heaven.”

For me, the image of my baby in the arms of Jesus was a great consolation.

3) Talk to your spouse and comfort each other. Communication is important, especially in the aftermath of a miscarriage. Couples who use NFP must communicate about birth regulation and how soon the couple will be ready to conceive again. Conversations about fertility, abstinence and planning another pregnancy helped me as I grieved.

It is normal for both husband and wife to grieve. In my experience, because I was the one who carried the child, not to mention that I’m more emotional, miscarriage affected me differently than it did my husband.

4) Talk to your friends, especially those who have gone through miscarriage and pregnancy loss. In many ways, grief is a very unique experience. Some people grieve very publicly; others are very private.

5) Accept Help, especially with things like meals or assistance with other children. Grief counseling can also be helpful.

6) Write your thoughts in a journal. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to sleep and wanted to talk to someone (and didn’t want to wake my husband). Writing in a journal became especially helpful for me. My journal actually became my first published article in 1995, Five Little Souls in Heaven, and later became the basis for my first novel, Emily’s Hope.

7) Take your grief to God in prayer because God grieves with you. Some days, prayer was difficult and all I could do was manage was, “Please God, help me.”

Karen Edmisten’s new book, After Miscarriage, A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing and Hope is a terrific resource for those who have experienced baby loss. Besides sharing her own experience, the author also includes stories of mothers who have endured baby loss (my own story, “Eternal Gifts” is included).

For more resources on pregnancy loss, check out this link above: Baby Loss Links as well as my interview about miscarriage on Pat Gohn’s Among Women Podcast from 2011.

This Mother’s Day, I will not only remember my late mother, I will also remember those mothers who have recently lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth and picture their babies, like mine, in the arms of Jesus.

Image and Text Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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12 thoughts on “In the Arms of Jesus

  1. Hi Ellen:

    I never lost a baby, but spotted for a bit when I was first pregnant with my twins. It was terrifying. I can’t imagine your pain, but you’ve offered some great strategies for dealing with such tragic loss. My younger sister miscarried her first pregnancy, and it was heartbreaking for our whole family.

    Janice

  2. Hi Ellen:

    I never lost a baby, but I spotted when first pregnant with my twins. I was terrified. I can’t imagine what you went through. You have offered some great tips for dealing with any kind of tragic loss. The novel I will soon publish, has a character whose pain is caused by unresolved guilt and grief. Being lost in those feelings makes for good novels, but it makes real life miserable. Thanks for the great advice.

    Janice

  3. Thanks for commenting, Janice! I agree that being lost in those feelings makes for good novels (and I used my own experience when writing my novels!) I’d love to hear more about the novel you’re publishing. Please feel free to email me privately (I’m also a reviewer for Catholic Fiction.net) God bless…

  4. Ellen,

    These are such helpful tips. I didn’t have access to the internet when I was grieving. I wish I could have shared posts like this one when I needed help. I especially like ‘write your thoughts in a journal’. Just as your thoughts became the basis of an article and novel, mine have been used to write my Thomas stories and help those grieving. When I was writing all those years ago I hoped writing would help me heal. It did. I never expected I would ever share those words and be able to help others with them. It is amazing how God brings good out of every pain.

    Ellen, thank you so much for sharing your sufferings in such a public way. Your novel is very personal. This makes it such a great story that rings true. I wonder if you initially found it difficult to share your story in this way.

    I hope you have a very happy Mother’s Day!

    God bless.

  5. It is amazing how God can bring good out of pain, Sue. With regard to sharing my sufferings in a public way…yes, I did initially find it difficult to share my story, but it really was therapeutic. And I especially felt called to share the Church’s teachings and help others who have endured loss.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you too, Sue! God bless…

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  7. Great post. I had a miscarriage. It was my first pregnancy and totally devastated me. And people did not want to talk to me about it. It was like nothing had happened – for them. For me, it was a nightmare. I did not give myself time to grieve and it took years before I finally did. My husband and I did not talk about it much either until years later.
    But when a friend and a daughter in law had miscarriages, I was able to help them through it. I was able to encourage them to grieve and to talk about it. Your tips here are just perfect. Thanks.

  8. Thanks so much, Colleen. Like you, there were some people who did not want to talk about my miscarriages, as if nothing had happened. I think some people are just uncomfortable with situations that involve grief.

  9. I grieve with mother’s who have aborted their babies. Daily I pray that I be permitted to spiritually baptize all the children dying in any form of abortion with the Living Water that gushed from the open side of Jesus. These holy innocents are victims, too young to will, but not too young to suffer and die. Knowing God desires to bring good forth from evil, I widen my prayer to include their mothers and fathers, and all in their lineage, back to Adam and Eve, and to the end of time. I pray that God release from purgatory many of those in the lineage to accompany them to heaven in holy celebration, so that family always surrounds them. One day I hope to rejoice with all these children and those saved by the mystery of their short lives and deaths united to the Will of God.

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