Miscarriage, stillbirth, and a child who dies soon after birth present a family, especially the mother, with an especially difficult and painful wound. Everything in life has been put on hold for the birth of this child and everything anticipates the sound of a baby's cry, the cuddle of an infant's warm body, and the promise of a long and bright future. When something interferes with this and leaves instead a wound, a grief, and a sorrow that is hard to console, we often do not know what to say or do. Even pastors find themselves hard pressed to speak when the reality of our fallen world so brutally steals our hopes and dreams and leaves a new family, a new mom, with emptiness and sorrow.
Mother's Day is just passed and I am thinking about those who were mothers but whose children did not live to be held, cared for, and enjoyed. Though it has been so many years, I cannot but think what kind of young man or woman our first child might have been and I know that this miscarriage remains in the heart and mind of my wife even more than me. So my heart goes out to the moms who never got to hold or held only briefly the children who were given life in their wombs. God bless you.
I often think of Luther's comforting words to a mother who miscarried. You can read his words here. . . and here. . .
...It often happens that devout parents, particularly the wives, have sought consolation from us because they have suffered such agony and heartbreak in child-bearing when, despite their best intentions and against their will, there was a premature birth or miscarriage and their child died at birth or was born dead.
One ought not to frighten or sadden such mothers by harsh words because it was not due
to their carelessness or neglect that the birth of the child went off badly. One must make a distinction between them and those females who resent being pregnant, deliberately neglect their child, or go so far as to strangle or destroy it. This is how one ought to comfort them.
First, inasmuch as one cannot and ought not know the hidden judgment of God in such a case—why, after every possible care had been taken, God did not allow the child to be born alive and be baptized—these mothers should calm themselves and have faith that God’s will is always better than ours, though it may seem otherwise to us from our human point of view.Too often I think of some painful moments when inappropriate or unkind things are said in the belief that these will comfort them who feel the loss. We cannot explain the will and ways of God except to know that in all things He is merciful to us and seeks not to hurt or harm us. We should not try to put words in God's mouth but neither should we forget the comfort of the God who knits together every child in the womb -- even those who die! This God claims life as His own domain. This God expended the life of His one and only Son to redeem us unworthy sinners. He does not willingly grieve us nor does the mystery that cannot be explained mean to deprive us of the comfort of His presence when earthly answers do not come and do not satisfy.
You who carried a baby in your womb - even for a short time - are mothers and though you may have had other children, they do not replace the baby your loved, rejoiced over, and then lost. But though we sorrow now, we shall know the everlasting joy that cannot be taken from us (from the Gospel a month or so ago). The Lord be with you, moms who loved and lost your children. The Lord loves you and those children you lost. They and you are precious in the Lord's sight.