The loss of a pregnancy or a newborn is surely the most devastating part of infertility – and it is often the time when couples feel most alone. Despite being surrounded by family or friends, caring co-workers or fellow congregants, there is a sense of being singled-out for the worst possible kind of suffering. The loss is so great – not just the loss of a life, but also the loss of all the dreams that went with it, all the hopes it represented, and all the anticipated joy that is gone in an instant… and seems lost forever.
What does a couple need in a time of such profound heartache?
Aimee Alexander works at Northside Hospital’s Perinatal Loss unit. Her hospital delivers 19,000 babies a year. On average, there is one loss per day. Even though, statistically, it’s a small number, it is still utterly incomprehensible to every couple that crosses Aimee’s path. How does she comfort them all? “We can’t change the outcome,” she acknowledged. “We can’t make babies come back alive – or make people feel better when they don’t, and aren’t ready to. But, we can try to provide outlets for grief, a sense of hope that they will survive this, and the assurance that they are not alone.”
One of the couples I interviewed for Pregnant with Hope, Amy & Trey, experienced a devastating loss midway through a pregnancy. “I was put on bedrest, and it was a very rough pregnancy with lots of scares and bleeding along the way,” Amy recalled. “At 19½ weeks, my water broke and we were forced to deliver the baby, knowing that it would not survive. We went to the hospital and delivered a little baby boy.”
As Aimee said so often happens, they needed an outlet for grief, a sense of hope that they could survive their loss, and an assurance that they were not alone. They found all those things through the infertility Bible study that forms the basis for Pregnant with Hope. Amy said one of the most helpful things they learned was that “when bad things happen, God cries with you. He doesn’t do bad things to you. That realization helped me because – when we were angry or I was so hurt, I didn’t necessarily think He was doing bad things to us, but I wondered where He was! It made me feel better to know that God was hurting with me.”
God does grieve with us when our hearts are broken. He has tremendous compassion for our suffering. At the same time, He is able to see beyond the moment of grief to the joy that awaits in the future. The joy that He knows is coming. We cannot see it, and so we must trust in – cling to! – His faithfulness. Even when we don’t understand why something has happened, or how we will ever recover, we can lean into believing that He is a promise-keeping God who longs to give us His very best… and intends to. Our trust will enable our hearts to heal and our hope to be renewed.
Very few people are willing to attempt what Aimee Alexander does every day – to stand with someone who is overwhelmed with grief, pour love into their heart for as long as it takes, and wait patiently for them to realize: I’ll be okay. Very few. But God is always willing, and always able.
He alone has the compassion, love and grace to carry you through grief, the patience to walk alongside you toward the future, and the power to make that future full of joy.
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]