I personally believe, as Christians who would mourn with someone who lost a family member, we should also make sure to remember the littlest of people. Mothers and fathers of babies who die in the womb, just before birth, or soon after, are often put through the “just get over it” phase. The earlier in pregnancy the baby dies, or if there are disabilities such as Down’s syndrome or Trisomy 18, there is often a justification for shortening the mourning period.
I believe there is a time to mourn, and also that we do feel a deep sadness for the chidlren we do not get to actually meet because God set eternity in our hearts. Maybe I am making a leap here, and please let me know if this is not a right thought, but I do believe we were not actually meant to be apart in death. Not actually. So, it’s a natural state to mourn our losses.
I personally see grief as a gift. When I had a baby die in the womb at 16 weeks, something discovered at a regular OB appointment, I mourned deeply. I decided I would allow myself to mourn. I spent hours in prayer, and hours letting God hear my anguish. I spent hours reading scriptures. My other children were being taken care of by grandparents and their father. I just had to weep, think, pray, write, and remember. I wanted to go all the way with mourning. After all, God had created the child in me and I actually felt I was dishonoring God to not mourn properly. Now, this was just feelings, not gospel truth. Though now, I am so glad I did mourn fully.
What I did want more than anything though was to bury the remains of my child. I had been pushed into a D&E by my doctor, who was trying to be kind. I am outspoken, but chose not to ask or speak up. I do not know what was holding me back, but I didn’t ask for the remains, didn’t ask to be induced. I later helped get a line written in a law in my state that caused hospitals to be responsible to inform women they can have the remains when being treated for miscarriage or “fetal demise.”
I know there is a time to let the dead be dead and rejoin the living…but I believe the church should be supportive of those families who have experienced the death of a loved one no matter how small. A rose on the piano, a card of sympathy, a prayer from a pastor or maybe a women’s group leader, a book of rememberance in the church , something should be done to honor those who have had babies die in pregnancy or shortly after birth. I do not think this is a mandate, or that a church is less holy for not doing it. I just think it wouldn’t hurt to do a little bit more.
Of course, there are many women who have never spoken of their miscarriages. It’s too painful, or they have chosen to keep the secret to themselves. Others have had abortions and would never speak of it. If a church acknowleges the losses openly in general, this might help the silent mourners too.
I believe, as a prolife woman, thanking my God for the days I was pregnant with the chidlren I miscarried, and mourning the losses, has honored His creation. Again, this is just my opinion and not a revelation from God to me.
If you have had a baby die, I pray for you. I thank God for the time you had with your baby, no matter how brief, and I pray for your comfort.