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Friday, July 24, 2009

Death Before Birth: Coping and Survival

alonePhoto by kudomomo

Physical Survival:

Eat, Drink, Rest.  Miscarriage is hard on your body and if you’ve had any medical interventions it can be even more so. It is important to care for your physical body to help you recover. Adequate rest, nutritious foods and proper hydration are so important even though right now you may not care so much.

Exercise. Though it may be the absolute last thing you want to do because it requires too much energy, it will help too. God created the body to release certain hormones when you exercise. Certainly don’t overdo it but get out for a little walk. Fresh air, and the exercise will help.

Cry. Go ahead and cry all you need to. I went back to work a few days after losing Isaiah.  I actually cried the first week back pretty much all day. Not big wracking sobs but quiet tears. I couldn’t stop them.

Talk. If you need to talk, find someone who will listen. Spouse, counselor, friend. You need to find someone who is capable of being a good listener without telling you everything you should be doing.

Emotional Survival:

You are mourning a death. Life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16,Jeremiah 1:5) which means that regardless of how far along you were, your baby was your baby – a real person who died. You are grieving not only the death of your baby, but the hopes and dreams you had for that baby.

Guilt. You may be battling guilt and most likely it is false guilt. Maybe you had negative thoughts about the baby because your pregnancy was a surprise and didn’t fit into your plan right then or because the baby was causing so many changes. Maybe you were scared, maybe you were doing something that was said to increase your chances or miscarriage. Perhaps you exerted yourself at work, cleaning the garage or exercising vigorously. Even if you had a fall, God did such a great job in designing the little world that our babies would grow in, that they are very cushioned and safe within utero. I’m not saying it can’t happen but my doctor told me that it isn’t that common. I think that we all have thoughts of “should have or should not have” when it comes to losing our sweet babies. But life and death are in the hands of the Lord. If He had wanted you to carry that baby to term, do you think a little exercise, chocolate, or whatever, would have stopped Him from allowing it to happen?

Each person grieves differently. You and your spouse will not grieve the same way. There is no right or wrong way. I read everything I could get my hands on. It helped me to cry through other women’s stories and talk about Isaiah. That doesn’t work for everyone. It also affects people differently. Some women are able to work through it within days, others take weeks or months. Though I do not wish to diminish or demean the husband’s feelings here, it may not have been as real to him as it was to you. After all, he didn’t know the baby as well as you did having carried him or her. Just remember that God created each of us completely unique and the varying degrees and durations of grief were designed by God too.

Name the Baby. This may or may not help you. If it does, then do it. Don’t worry about what other people may say. I named our baby Isaiah. I don’t know if my baby was a boy or girl but that is the name I chose because it means “God is my Salvation”. It helps me that he has a name and isn’t “just the baby I lost”.  You can name the baby only for yourself or you can share it with friends and family. You can name the baby right away, or months later! Again, it isn’t necessary unless it will help you!

Make a Memorial. Depending on the number of weeks, you may have a funeral or a memorial service. I wasn’t far enough along for the first and wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a service. I have plaque with a scripture verse on it. I mentioned it in Isaiah’s birth story. Some other ideas:

  • planting a plant, tree or a garden
  • buying or making a special garden ornament in your yard
  • hanging a plaque
  • write a story or a song about your baby
  • buy a piece of jewelry and maybe have it engraved
  • just remembering in your heart

I’m sure there are other things too. You can do one thing, many things or none at all. There is no right way to remember your baby and whichever one will help you and your family is the right one!

Spiritual Survival:

Do you know the Lord personally?  He is the great Physician, the Comforter, the Healer. I could not have made it through on my own, and the Lord doesn’t want us to. He asks that we come to Him (Matt 11:28). Go to Him and pour out your heart. Sad, hurt, angry, guilty; just take it to Him. He knows already and He waiting for you to come to Him (Psalm 145:18-19, James 4:8). If you don’t know Him, I encourage you to seek Him today. Feel free to contact me or you can read God’s Simple Plan of Salvation to learn more.

God is in Control! Remember that He created all things and is in control of everything. He is not sitting on His throne wringing His hands wondering what went wrong. He has a plan! He allowed it to happen.

God is Good. His Goodness is not limited to what we understand to be good. I do things for my children’s good all the time. Like tonight when I forced her to take her medication and she cried. She doesn’t understand it, she doesn’t like it, but it is for her good. He’s our Heavenly Father and we are His children. He wants only the best for us!

Seeing the Reasons. He may or may not allow us to see the reasons He allowed it to happen but we need to trust Him that there are reasons. I was privileged to be able to see good things come of my experience but God doesn’t always allow us to know why things happen. We just need to trust. A simple five letter word that is often so hard to do!

Be Still! Spend time in His Word and just be still (Psalm 46:10). Let His Word minister to your hurting soul.

In Summary:  Do what you need to in order to cope! Do what feels right for you and don’t worry so much about everyone else and what they think. Do make sure that you are still meeting your responsibilities to your family, other children etc. or ensure that someone capable is. Ask for help when you need it! It is normal to be sad but if you have prolonged sadness, depression or feel like you can’t cope, talk to your doctor and your pastor. Don’t keep it to yourself!

What helped you to cope, survive and eventually thrive? Please share with those who will stumble upon this in their time of grief.

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