Article Library of Christian Thoughts September 24, 2018
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When A Baby Dies
Republished From http://www.joyintl.org
A baby's death changes the natural order. The loss of parents or grandparents suits a natural flow, albeit life-changing and very difficult. But children? Without a doubt, children should outlive their parents. When they don't, it's simply devastating. When our baby was born still, our anticipated life's journey was irrevocably altered.

Little girls play with baby dolls as they practice motherhood. From a very early age, a woman learns to mother. Later she wonders about marriage and birthing babies of her own. Eventually she finds herself announcing a pregnancy to her spouse, family and friends. Everything is as it should be -- unless the baby dies.

A baby's death changes the natural order. The loss of parents or grandparents suits a natural flow, albeit life-changing and very difficult. But children? Without a doubt, children should outlive their parents. When they don't, it's simply devastating.

When our baby was born still, our anticipated life's journey altered. We had hoped for a future with our baby and imagined cuddling her as an infant, comforting her as a toddler, and walking her to school when she got older. Instead, we never even heard our baby cry. She never drew a breath. We searched for medical reasons; there were none. What we did know, with searing clarity, was that my otherwise normal, healthy pregnancy had ended in one night.

Earlier, I had been awakened by a 'too good to be pregnant' feeling. I had poked and prodded my pregnant belly, awaiting the usual kick or flutter from our baby girl. A feeling of anticipation ran along my spine as I considered this might be the night I'd deliver our second child. I quickly thanked God for our many blessings and asked for His peace and comfort in our journey over the next several hours - and then promptly went to sleep.

But, she never stirred, never woke up, even as I went into delivery and delivered our nearly perfect baby daughter. She was full term -- so we were given a gift, this time. Unlike other times where we endured multiple miscarriages (less than twenty weeks gestation) that offered little by way of a visual image, this time we could see her. We could hold her, peer at her fingers and toes, and turn her every which way to soak in the details of her precious, perfect little form. We named her our Baby Grace, told her how much we loved and anticipated her, and then kissed her good-bye.

We were at a total loss. Although we were all too familiar with loss, she brought us a step closer to those parents, the parents who'd suffered a loss to SIDS. And we, too, became laden with guilt, wondering if I had protected this pregnancy well enough, wondering if I could have prevented the stillbirth.

My closest friends and family had no idea how to help us to cope with this terrible loss. Often filled with good intentions, they said things or offered advice that became misinterpreted. Many times, we were 'reminded' that as parents, we might 'try again' or 'it was surely God's will. Although well-intentioned, their words ended up being hurtful, particularly since we were under extreme grief. Our baby had died. The notion that God caused this was unthinkable; it made no sense to us. As grieving parents, all of these words felt like we'd been punished.

So how did we cope? We turned to our faith. We continued to pray for peace and for absolute acceptance of His will. We recognized that our baby was written in His book and her days had been numbered, before she had even been conceived. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb...your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalms 139: 13 & 16 NIV)

Today, we are drawn to others of loss. Every now and then, the phone rings, and the voice is from another mom who's lost her baby. She's searching for a sister in this journey. And I'm so very thankful God has gifted me with the opportunity to be there: to listen, to hear, to honor her loss, and to commiserate as we talk of our precious babies.

In a society that expects grief to subside immediately after a funeral, the days and weeks following are lonesome reminders that something has changed. To the mother who has given birth recently, her body is recovering as her milk dries up and her body heals. Ask her how she's doing. Baby showers and announcements will inevitably come to her, and she may delight in new life all around; however, she very well may not. She may ask to hold a new baby or be uncomfortable around pregnant women. Embrace those confusing emotions with her. (Initially, we loved being around other babies; later, we avoided them.)

Consider other ways of approaching these fragile, precious parents and honoring these babies. Attend the funeral. Remember birthdays or anniversaries of loss. Offer to plant a tree in honor of the baby. Point them toward local pregnancy and infant loss support groups. And, always refer to the child by name. Pray for your friends or pray with them. Invite them to church or offer to attend with them. Validate their feelings. Assure them that you know they are hurting for they indeed have lost a child. Grief subsides, but the memory and the reality of having lost a baby will stay. A parent was born as the child was conceived, and a parent having lost that child is ever changed.

Solace comes with time, not because this loss will end, but because the grief will ebb and flow as life chugs along around them. Birth to another baby won't replace the baby who has died, but the new birth will certainly busy their lives. Each baby is different and loved. One, now, is simply missing. One has been called home to our loving Father. And that, of itself, is a precious gift to remind our friends...gently, appropriately, and only when time has passed and healing has begun. Just like our earthly fathers call us together for meals and delight when we are all gathered 'round, our Heavenly Father also yearns for his children to participate in His glory and to live in His everlasting kingdom. Although incomprehensible, it's precious that now and again, He calls a baby or a child home.

Think of parents you know who've lost a baby. Think of ways you might reconnect with them. Ask how they are dealing with the loss of their baby, mentioning the baby's name. Who might you touch in this way, making a difference?

Resources:

Angel Babies: Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group
Meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 7 - 9 PM
Spirit of Life Catholic Church
801 1st St SE, Mandan, ND 58554

Missing GRACE Foundation
www.missinggrace.org

Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc.
www.nationalshare.org
 

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