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Miscarriage – Saying Hello Before Saying Goodbye
Disappointment didn’t begin to explain my feelings. This was the second miscarriage in six months. Having already one child, in my heart I wanted so much for him to have a sibling. I was grateful to my doctor for understanding my devastation and for my husband’s attempt at support but there were very few others who understood the depth of feelings I was experiencing. This happened in the early seventies.
During the 1980s I became involved in the beginnings of the hospice movement. In my training I learned a lot about grief largely unknown to the general public. The most important lesson I learned was helping grieving families personalize their celebration of their loved one. After five years in hospice, I went to work as a funeral director at a nearby funeral home. I received an education unlike any other. The funeral director highly encouraged direct participation in the funeral ritual to promote physical and emotional healing.
One young couple, whose first child had been aborted, came to us for help. We encouraged them to name their baby and tell us all the wonderful things that happened to them when they found out they were pregnant. Mom and Dad shared many special memories with us. In the midst of their grief, they smiled through their tears as they shared the hopes and dreams they had in the first few weeks of pregnancy. How disappointed they were when their dreams ended in miscarriage. We helped them make arrangements for a simple memorial service.
Their little one was tiny, only about eight inches long and weighed less than two pounds. I found a little doll outfit that the baby could wear. We arranged a viewing in a small intimate room in the funeral home like a friend’s bedroom. I put an afghan on a rocking chair next to the little casket, an angel night light, some stuffed animals and a children’s board book. The appointed time has come for the parents to see their little one – first to say hello and then goodbye.
Mom and Dad were visibly moved the moment they walked in the door. There were tears but also smiles. We left them alone with a few words of encouragement. After a while, they indicated that they were ready for the next step. Their parents and loved ones drifted in a few at a time to lend their support. The recovery has begun.
People who have had bad experiences with death or have never experienced grieving the death of someone they love often think that something like this scenario sounds macabre but those who know something special just happened and they now have beautiful memories about that. their child.
Years later my grandson was aborted. I had the privilege of making a little blanket for him and buying a little toy that was placed in the little wooden box that my son and his wife bought and decorated. His dad conducted his funeral service. Family and friends prayed and sang together as we comforted mom and dad and each other. The recovery has begun.
So, what can be done if a friend has a miscarriage? Reach out to them first with words of love, concern and your own disappointment. Any positive thoughts about your feelings when you heard about the pregnancy would be greatly appreciated as they are tangible proof that this child has touched your life. Perhaps you could find a special piece of jewelry, a window prism, or another small memento to give the parents as a gift in memory and celebration of their child. Another sign of your care could be a perennial flowering plant or tree. Anything that will reinforce that this little person has made a mark on the world will give hope and comfort to his parents. I wish I had this knowledge when my own miscarriage happened. I’m sure I would have healed much faster.
Knowing what I know now, I would encourage moms who have miscarried to write about their feelings and observations in a journal specifically for this baby. Doing something like a stepping stone, a small album or planting a specially chosen perennial will bring some closure. A cement lamb or duck perched in a special spot in your yard is another idea that couples have found helpful. The most important thing is to do something in honor of your child even if it is a long walk. Every child makes an impact in the world no matter how little. Begin the healing.
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