How Families Grieve (and Commemorate) a Lost Pregnancy

By Amy Tracy
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Whether a baby survives for just weeks or for several months in the womb, there's a profound loss of the hopes and dreams that parents carry in their hearts from the moment they learn they're pregnant.

There’s help available for parents navigating the uncharted waters of a pregnancy loss. One group making a difference is String of Pearls out of Denver. They provide guidance and compassion as families decide how to proceed after a fatal prenatal diagnosis.

Laura Huene, founder and president of String of Pearls, walked through her own adverse pregnancy diagnosis when her baby girl, Pearl, was found to have a fatal disorder during a routine ultrasound. The doctor advised them of their options, but as a labor and delivery nurse, Laura already knew the difficulties that lay ahead of them.

“There were no more decisions to be made,” she says. “We decided to honor Pearl’s life by carrying her for as long as my body would allow, and to let God be in control of this seemingly out-of-control situation.”

After a hard and emotional delivery, Pearl Jean Huene came into the world at 32 weeks.

“Our time with her is unforgettable,” Laura says. “We were able to lovingly launch her into the arms of Jesus. Not an easy thing to do, but a decision without regrets.”

Laura encourages parents in a similar situation to embrace the moment instead of planning for the end. She tells them to take their preborn baby for ice cream, a swing at the park or have dance parties in the kitchen.

“We already had a trip to Ireland scheduled, but we made it about Pearl,” she says. “We threw rocks in the ocean in Ireland and shouted her name, and visited gorgeous castles and cathedrals. That summer, we spent a lot of time at the pool with the kids. I sunburned my belly so she got her first sunburn.

“The Lord gave us so much grace to be present with our kids instead of being constantly sad. And they watched us grieve well.”

Whether a baby survives nine weeks or 32 weeks in the womb, Laura says there’s a profound loss of the hopes and dreams that parents carry in their hearts from the moment they learn they’re pregnant. She says women need to give themselves permission to grieve. She also warns that their circle of friends might change.

“The people you thought were going to stand by you are often not brave enough to enter into this time of grief,” she says. “And yet there will be new people you never expected who come out of the woodwork to be by your side.”

Her advice to those friends?

“Do something. Anything. Don’t be afraid to talk about the baby, because you’re not bringing up something that’s not already on their mind 24 hours a day. And don’t be afraid to sit in the sad with people.”

© 2017 Focus on the Family.

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