Losing Our Baby

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Last month, my wife and I experienced a loss that many others have endured. In the eleventh week of her pregnancy, our little baby died. It was our sixth pregnancy and first lost child. And it deeply grieved our hearts.

The process of grief for this loss has been both difficult and insightful. With the latter in mind, I thought I would share some of the things we have experienced, with the aim of helping others and those who minister to them.

First, it hardly needs to be said that we believe our baby is a soul created by God to bear His image. While its little body died, we believe that his or her soul still lives. Moreover, we believe that his soul is consciously basking in the glory of God and will continue to do so forever, having been saved by the blood of Christ and justified by His imputed righteousness.

Second, we believe that God sovereignly ordained the death of our child for His own glory and for our good. We do not know what this good is, but we know that God is good in all that He does. We have made every effort to derive all the spiritual benefit from this grief that God intends for us.

Third, we believe that it has pleased God in His sovereign wisdom to take our child to Himself and not to give the child to us. While our hearts grieve for this little baby, it is no longer “our” little baby. Human parent-child relations are God’s provision for life in this world (as is marriage), and it did not please our Lord to enter us into this parent-child relationship.

Fourth, we have had some particular struggles and blessings in this grief process. The main struggle is simple grief over a death so close to home. We have felt it keenly. Babies draw out our hearts, and so the death of a baby wounds our hearts all the more. Particularly grievous to us were the ultrasound images that showed the absence of a heart-beat in our child. These were necessary and the medical staff were as comforting as they could be. But it were still emotionally brutal for us. The first ultrasound was viewed in the doctor’s office. The second was at the hospital (in the maternity ward, of course). We went there knowing that the baby was dead, but having to go through with it. There, we viewed a high-power image of the baby that will never be erased from our minds. The baby looked to both of us like our two boys, and had the effect of bonding our hearts with our child who would never be born. This was undoubtedly the hardest part of the entire process. Yet I would not now have missed it. Grief is part of the human condition in this world, and I want to be fully human. As a father, even of a child God has seen fit not to place in my care, I want to love my children, even with this pain. One of my thoughts as we drove home in tears was that even this is God’s gracious gift: a covenant child whose soul will live in glory forever and God’s sanctifying provision of sorrow for us.

Among the many blessings, the first has been the comfort Sharon and I have been to one another. I praise the Lord for the soul companionship of true Christian marriage. Also, the expressions of love and support from our church have truly blessed us. I am still the “new pastor”, so it has helped to bond us with our congregation to need their love and prayers. People often don’t see their preacher as a real person, and this has helped people to remember our humanity with all its weaknesses. It has also helped quite a bit to have already been blessed with children; I do think this would be much harder without them. The day we got home from the hospital we gathered our kids, told them the news, explained how to understand this death, then wept with each other in our arms. We want to get all the blessing God has for us in this sorrow, and holy bonding as a family is one of them.

I fully realize that babies are lost all the time. (Our doctor told us that 15% of all pregnancies miscarry, which I never imagined). We don’t want to be melodramatic, especially around others who have experienced this multiple times. But I also don’t want to be less of a human simply because I am a Christian. I believe that our faith in Christ enables us to enter more authentically into grief than would otherwise be possible. Naturally, I now understand this grief much better than I ever did before, and I am sure this will help me to minister wisely to others. On several levels, this loss has been harder for my wife than for me, I know. But I don’t think I will ever again respond to the question, “How many children do you have?” and answer, “We have five children,” without thinking of the sixth that God has taken to Himself.

People have asked us if we named the baby we lost. We did not, since God did not permit us to be his or her parents. God is now his one Father. But one of our particular delights in heaven will be learning what God has named him and in having our temporal loss filled up with eternal joy.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Posted January 3, 2008 @ 1:25 PM by Rick Phillips
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