sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
I never know what to say.
Jessica, a student of mine, stared at me, eyes dampening as she swallowed to clear the lump in her throat. She didn’t have to tell me; the pain within her had already filled the room. Still, she managed to choke out four words: “she lost the baby.”
My heart sank. Only a few weeks before, Jessica had revealed that her brother and sister-in-law were expecting. She divulged that information with such exuberance that our entire class rejoiced with her. Now, despite her best efforts to hide her anguish, Jessica radiated despair.
I care deeply for my students, desiring the best for them academically, professionally, and personally. When Jessica told me the news, I desperately wanted to assuage the soreness in her soul. My mind flooded with stories of loved ones who had given birth to healthy children after a miscarriage. Would those encourage her? There was no promise of a happy ending for her family.
I considered appealing to our common faith by exhorting her to rest in a God who knew all about suffering. Would that bring peace? She already clung to that truth, yet the wound was still raw.
I almost rattled off statistics about how common miscarriages were and successes in subsequent pregnancies. Would that quantitative appeal be a balm to her broken heart? Her family was on the unfortunate side of those statistics right now; they seemed irrelevant.
“I’m sorry, Jessica. That makes me so sad to hear.”
It’s all I could get out in the moment, and while it felt inadequate, it was much better than what I had thought but not verbalized. As I walked back to my office, I hoped she knew I cared, that her loss mattered to her classmates and me.
Suddenly, a thought hit me, widening my eyes and quickening my step. I sat down at my computer; I had something else to say. My fingers could not move fast enough across the keyboard as I typed a short email to Jessica: “I remember the pain of seeing loved ones struggle through a miscarriage. I’m praying for you and your family.”
Send. It wasn’t much, but it communicated what I needed it to: I was mourning with her.
Sitting at my desk, I stared into space, fingers tapping on the wood. This news never got any easier. I never know what to say. But, I’ve learned that we don’t always have to say much in the immediate aftermath. Family and friends need to know we care. They do not need the perfect words that will immediately ease their burden; those words do not exist.
When you learn of a miscarriage, being present for those hurting around you is more valuable than the words you say. The cavernous wounds of miscarriage won’t heal in a moment, so don’t force encouragement; it may have more potential for harm than good. Instead, be quick to listen, quick to embrace, and slow to speak.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University