Losing an unborn child is a different kind of grief than losing one that has been born. That may seem like an obvious statement, but honestly, it’s a thought I never even considered before last week. I had worked in the pro-life movement, trying to rescue the unborn from abortion. I knew that an unborn child is no less a child than one that had been born. Yet I have been insensitive to friends and family members who have suffered miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. I didn’t look at it as the same thing. For that, I apologize.
Don’t get me wrong–I always felt sad for those who lost unborn children. But I know I didn’t see it as the same thing, because I didn’t do the things I would have done if they had lost an already born child. I didn’t send them a note of sympathy. I didn’t offer to bring a meal. I didn’t sit with them for an extended amount of time and grieve with them. I didn’t visit them in the hospital. I didn’t check back to see how they were doing weeks later. I didn’t ask what I could do to help. I didn’t offer to watch their other children. I didn’t send flowers. I didn’t cry for them. Why not? Because I didn’t view it the same–pure and simple.
Now I do realize that, in some ways, it’s not the same. You don’t know that child. You haven’t held that child, heard her cry, watched her take her first steps, held her tiny hand, nursed her at your breast. In short, you haven’t had a relationship with that child, at least not the same kind of relationship that you would have had with a child who had been born.
I’ve loved each of my children as soon as I knew of their conception. But there is something different about holding that child in your arms for the first time. But I do know this: Even though I never held my little Jellybean (Emma or Isaac) in my arms, I miss her terribly. I am grieving for her. I am grieving the fact that I will never hold her, hear her cry, watch her take her first steps, hold her tiny hand, or nurse her at my breast. Never. At least not in this life. And some of those things will never happen at all. I will meet her in heaven, and I rejoice in that, but some of the things I will never do with her are earthly things.
I have learned much from the experience of losing a child, and I am sure there is more to be learned. I have learned a new compassion for those who have lost their children. I hope that compassion will extend to other types of loss–types that I haven’t experienced. I also have learned that, even though I have always believed that an unborn child is as much a person as a born child, I didn’t believe it as thoroughly as I had thought. I’m sure there are other blind spots in my thinking, and I pray that I can recognize those without having to go through tragedy.
I pray that all believers can see things the way our Lord does, rather than the way the world does. If we could, the world would be a much different place, because we would be much more compassionate, and that would make a profound difference.