My response to a friend who just experienced a miscarriage in her home.
Little did I know that these two simple words could hurt her deeply and it is one of the worst responses coming from an ex-social worker and supposedly mature Christian.
I have been guilty in giving insensitive remarks, so-called practical advice and attempting to speak from experience (actually more like hearsay). They seemed so natural, objective and harmless.
Only when I was at the receiving end of such comments after experiencing 2 miscarriages, did I realise how hurtful they were:
“What happened again?”
“You didn’t rest?”
“You can try again next time.”
A few years back, a good friend asked me to blog about why it’s so hurtful to hear people make such comments. Others who haven’t experience a miscarriage often don’t understand how it feels. I wasn’t able to write then because in my heart, I was still feeling hurt and guilty from the comments- both receiving and giving them . Through the years I’ve been contemplating – why such simple remarks and even a ‘silent’ reply hurt deeply.
Why do I feel discouraged?
Why do I feel so sad?Psalm 42:11a
It was probably not pure coincidence that I read this verse when I experienced a miscarriage. I think discouragement is an understatement. Being the one fully responsible for the baby’s development in my womb, I felt condemned thinking that I indirectly killed the baby. And then sadness – a family member had passed on – my child.
When a family member passes on, there is a funeral wake or there is some visual memory, in physical appearance and life testimonies . People offer condolences, words of comfort and prayers.
But there is usually no funeral for a miscarried baby. In some cultures, it is a taboo to talk about miscarriage because it is considered a ‘mother’s shame’. No one really knows what to say as nobody has seen nor heard the baby. Only the mother has ‘felt’ the existence of the child. Hence, no one seems to be grieving alongside with you.
Humans yearn to be acknowledged. God knows we long to be heard and seen. He heard the cry of distress and saw Hagar when she was fleeing from her mistress.
And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.Genesis 16: 11
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a] She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.Genesis 16: 13-14
We long for our cries to be heard and we long for our tears to be seen. And I longed for people to hear and see that it was not just a sac, not just a foetus – it was hope, it was a life – my child.
If you know of a friend who has experienced a miscarriage, acknowledge her sadness and let her know you are available to listen when she is ready to share and reach out with acts of kindness. No questions asked nor advice given, I had wonderful friends who:
- came over to my home to cook and clean
- delivered a homecooked dinner for my whole family
- sent flowers and snacks
- not just say “praying for you” but really praying with me in person or in text
- gave me virtual hugs
Thankfully Psalm 42 doesn’t just stop at sadness but ends with hope. Walk alongside her in this journey of grief by hearing her cries of distress, and acknowledging her pain so that one day she can put her hope in God again.
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!Psalm 42: 11b