Pastor Blake Williams
Missions & Outreach Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
This title is borrowed from an article on The Gospel Coalition website posted July 6, 2017
by Jamie Carlson. Read Article Here . Before you read the rest of this, I would suggest clicking the link to read her beautiful piece. I’ve read this article multiple times and each time I’m so thankful for someone who finally put it into words. It’s hard for me to write this because my wife and I have never personally been through it. However, in the past 3 years my wife and I have had 10 of our close friends go through the painful loss of miscarriage and at least 6 more that are struggling with infertility. Each time I get the phone call or text, my heart drops into my stomach and my eyes well up with tears. The first time we had a friend go through it, they shared the same statistic that Jamie shares in the article, that one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
We were floored.
I know personally I wrestled with this statistic because it just didn’t seem real to me. How could this be so prevalent and yet, no one seemed to talk about it? But then it seemed like almost every month we were getting another call, or another message, asking us to change our prayers from those of health and a smooth pregnancy, to those of grieving and sadness. As a pastor, I wanted to know the “right” thing to say to these grieving parents in their time of hurt. As a friend, I wanted to hug them, hold them, pray for them, and support them. But what do you say? How do you care for someone in that situation?
To be honest, I wish I knew; because I would gladly share that with you here. But the reality is, each person and each couple is different. Sometimes oceans separated friends of ours; and the hugs and love we wanted to share could only be done via FaceTime and texting. Other times, our friends themselves didn’t know what they needed. But one thing is certain, they all needed and still need support. There is a profound isolation that couples grieving the loss of a child have, and without caring people there to support and love them, they might not ever find healing.
As I said, there isn’t a one-size fits all solution to helping people grieve, but one thing that is universal is to listen. Don’t offer platitudes, don’t throw Bible verse at them out of context, and don’t pretend you know how they feel. But lean in, listen, and love. Find a way to meaningfully serve that couple. Pay for a date night. Have them over to your house. Take them out to lunch or dinner. Give them a gift card for a massage or a mani/pedi. Pray for them and with them. And always keep in mind what they’ve been through.
One of the most difficult things that grieving people struggle through is that people forget their hurts. It’s one thing to minister to a person immediately in the wake of a loss, it’s fully another to remember 3, 6, 12, or 24 months later and let people know that you are still there to carry their burden with them. You might be having a conversation years later with someone and the topic of miscarriage will find its way into your dialogue. At that moment, it’s imperative for you to put everything else in your mind on hold and be there for and with that person. That’s an intensely personal moment and they’re sharing it with you.
I’ve been fortunate that the Lord has blessed me with many such moments. I wish I could
say I’ve handled them all the way I just instructed you to, but I haven’t and there’s no
excuse. My friends have entrusted me with a meaningful piece of their hearts and lives, and I need to treat it as such. My prayer is that as a church we would be a safe place for men and women who have gone through this pain. That we would be available to listen, grieve, and walk alongside anyone who needs a confidant in their time of suffering.
Friends, let’s be available to the multitudes in our church and in our society who are
walking this path and let them know, they’re not alone.