Not too long ago, our youngest child (with us on earth) wrestled again with why God took our littlest one earlier than any of us wanted. His tenderness toward his younger sibling amazes me. It’s been nearly eight years and he was very young when we lost our fourth to miscarriage. Sometimes he still feels the loss like it happened this week.
I’m so grateful that he expresses his sadness so we can help him process what he’s thinking and feeling. These conversations often lead to talking through other things he’s struggling with, to sweet cuddle times together, and to relief and peace as we move forward together with the lives we have been given.
But I often wonder, How do we support our children when we’re dealing with our own deep sadness?
Initially, after losing a child in miscarriage, we must deal with our own grieving, sadness, and confusion, but like everything in family life, we do it together. Letting our children see us grieve teaches them how to grieve in God-honoring ways.
When we lost our baby, we had just told our extended family and announced the baby at church. At first, I was frustrated that we hadn’t waited to announce the baby so I didn’t have to talk about our loss with so many people. Then I realized the gift it was that we had celebrated the life of our preborn child with our loved ones. We got to continue talking about our little one, about trusting God, and about being grateful we had even the short amount of time we did with this baby.
Through the loss of our child, I have learned some important lessons about helping children process their sadness and confusion about miscarriage.
1. Celebrating the life of our preborn children with their siblings helps them understand that life begins before birth.
We don’t know how many days each of us gets on earth. We know that each life is precious to God and that He continued to knit us throughout our mother’s pregnancy. Like a mama knitting a blanket in preparation for her preborn child, God continues to hold and shape us throughout the maturation process.
Psalm 139:13-16 says, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.”
God never leaves us. He knows what our entire lives look like and plans their length and purpose for His glory and our good.
Celebrating life whenever we can teaches our children how precious all of life really is. Whenever our children lose someone they love (pets, family members, friends), it’s an opportunity to talk about living lives that point others to Jesus and shining His light even when things feel dark.
2. Mourning with our children about the loss of their sibling reminds them to trust God when it’s hard.
The questions from our older children about where the baby went and why God took the baby so soon will be painful for us right after we lose a child in miscarriage because we are struggling with the same questions. Though we’re hurting, we must not neglect the opportunity to disciple our children in the midst of the pain each of us feels. Rather, we must take advantage of the teachable moments whenever we can. Telling our children we’re “too sad” or it’s “too much” teaches them to let sadness control them. Instead, we must train them to choose to surrender to hope instead of despair.
Many mamas give in to grief’s control. This robs them of peace, hope, and an opportunity to trust God more intimately. But we must remind our children that because of Jesus we always have hope. Hope and trust go hand in hand. We trust God because of who He is and what He has done, while also hoping for what He says He will do.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 tells us we must not grieve like those who don’t have hope. When we talk about hope in the midst of dark situations like miscarriages, we train our children to let Jesus’ light shine through them even when they don’t feel like it.
Talking about the hope we have in Jesus gives our children perspective on the purpose of life. We exist for God and to bring Him glory and attention through praise. As Acts 17:28 says, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
Let’s train our children that even death is an opportunity to trust God because He is the resurrecting God. He is the eternal God, and He created us for eternity with Him. Our lives don’t end with death. Our babies’ lives didn’t end with death. We are eternal beings. When we talk about the children we lost, we don’t have to say “Our baby was.” We can say “Our littlest is.”
3. Talking with our children about what life could have been like is okay, but then we must move the conversation back to trusting God.
A recurring stinging time for me happens when our family walks through parking lots. Daddy walks with one of the kids talking about important things, and the other two walk together continuing whatever riveting conversation they were having in the car. I often walk behind them, feeling my hand stretch out for the little hand I “should” be holding to keep our littlest safe until we’re inside the store. More often than not, I’m arm in arm with one or two of them as we walk, but many times I feel the void of our littlest one not being with us.
Part of my conversation with my son that morning was about what could have been: the friendship, the games they would have played together, the stories they would have told together, and having a buddy closer to his age. It’s tough to be the youngest child with the heart of an older brother. Sometimes he feels the void more vividly than other times. It’s in those moments that we take time to cherish the sixth member of our family.
He asked if he was never born if our littlest could have been born. I explained that he was born two years before we lost the baby and that God had his life planned. I told him we can be grateful that we got to know about the life of our littlest and celebrate our baby as long as we did. We talked about God’s timing and how we can trust Him to know what’s best for our lives even when we don’t understand.
4. Job’s life helps us teach our children that God can be trusted, whether we ever understand why hard things happen or not.
Though we have the benefit of reading what happened in the background of Job’s story, we don’t know if Job ever got that insight. He lost almost everything and still trusted God without knowing why. In Job 1:21, he said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”
No matter how great our pain and loss are, we can choose to be like Job and trust and praise God.
5. Showing our children God’s mercy and protection gives them the gift of knowing Him more.
After some time of talking about what we were missing out on, my son and I talked about what our littlest one is missing out on.
Our baby’s heartbeat was extremely slow. I have no idea what that meant. I don’t know what sickness and struggle our littlest had on earth, but I trust that God chose to protect our little one from this as part of His mercy and love for our child.
Our littlest won’t deal with the pain of scraped knees or broken bones, betrayal from a friend, or a broken heart from rejection. We may never know all God spared our littlest one from, but we are grateful for His immense love for each of us and for all He has already taught us from that short earthly life and the eternal life we will be blessed to be part of together.
The best part of this true story is that our baby’s earthly life is not the end. That truth gives us the hope that we need to keep trusting God. As parents, we have the honor of sharing that truth and hope with our littlest one’s siblings. And as we share that hope, we are given the hope and comfort we need as well.