In the last year, my husband and I have suffered the loss of two children through miscarriage—one of the most profound griefs I’ve ever known. It was compounded by my confusion about how to grieve. I found myself going from gratitude to devastation—the experience sometimes feeling cruel and without reason.
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage, making this a common grief.As women, we have the unique blessing from God to produce life, so we poignantly feel the pangs of death in our own bodies. How do we grieve a child we weren’t able to hold in our arms?
A Picture of Godly Grief
Death is a result of sin. In Genesis 4, Cain takes the life of his brother Abel. From the fall in Eden to the first murder, death reigns on throughout all of humanity. Grief over death—without hope—can lead to despair. I recall the words of Job’s wife to him at the end of a string of miserable afflictions, “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). She grieved as one without hope.
But hope-filled grief is knowing death will end. We have the promise of resurrection, and God is sovereign in our pain. I’m struck by the words of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13).
Paul isn’t saying believers shouldn’t grieve. This was such a relief for me because initially, I felt silly. I felt like I should have some nicely wrapped, “But I know God is good” answer, and I couldn’t let myself mourn. Instead, Paul instructed them to grieve with the hope of the gospel. It’s good for us to recognize the loss of life within our bodies and grieve with godliness that glorifies God.
I believe I’ll see my child again. I believe that Jesus will return and what is mortal will become immortal. Remembering this truth makes me long for Jesus to come—it lifts my eyes back to God because he is the only good and perfect being in this sinful and sad world.
God’s Hope in Our Grief
And as we raise our eyes to him in hope of the resurrection, we’re reminded of his present sovereignty. To live with eternity in mind is to wrestle with the already and not yet. We know the resurrection is coming, we train our hearts to long for it, and yet we have to get up tomorrow and face the loss again. When my heart questions God, the Bible reminds me he has already shown action and compassion!
“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he has loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him” (Eph. 2:4-6).
Awareness of God’s sovereignty brought new life and new hope to me in my grief. Encourage your soul to dwell on this when grief threatens to overwhelm you. Let the “who” questions be louder than the “why” questions. It is only in the character of God that we will find rest for our grief-laden souls.
A tangible way to experience the loving sovereignty of God is to mourn with those in your church. God has built a beautiful network of believers, both locally and universally, who are united with you in Christ so you can experience each other’s grief and joy. Reach out to your church, to a trusted friend and weep together as you hope in Christ.
A word to those who will comfort those who are grieving: It’s hard to know what to say. I’ve been on both ends of this. I’m so desperate to help, that I end up sounding like a callous Christian with a pat answer. From my heart to yours, be cautious about saying things like, “God just wanted that child with him,” or “You weren’t supposed to be pregnant in this season,” or anything that pretends to know the mind of God. Don’t try to reason away the grief or question the legitimacy of the miscarriage. Just listen, hug, weep, encourage your friend directly from the scriptures (Psalm 103 happens to be a favorite comfort text of mine). Pray with them right there. Check in on them. Remind them of your presence and let it be a comfort.
All of us will experience loss in this life, be it a miscarriage or some other form of death. But we don’t have to grieve as those without hope. We have the very best of hope in Jesus’ death and resurrection and all that means for us and those, like our sweet babies, who have fallen asleep.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:16-18).
Bekka is a mom of two toddlers and wife to Drew who is studying for his Mdiv at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She holds her Masters in Biblical Counseling, is a certified biblical counselor, and works for Southern as well as a local non-profit counseling center. She also runs and edits the blog What Sarah Knew, a blog devoted to addressing women's issues from a biblical perspective. Follow Bekka on Instagram.