It’s hard to know where to begin when a miscarriage shatters your heart.
The presence of pain means that there is more right with you than wrong with you. The more you love, the more you hurt. You hurt deeply because you love deeply.
A pregnancy loss can disrupt everything. Overwhelming grief challenges the deepest sense of who you are, your connection with others, with life and with God.
My daughter, Jessie Vredevelt Schultz, knows this grief firsthand. Her baby Chloe passed from the womb into heaven when Jessie was 13 weeks pregnant. By writing a love letter to Chloe, Jessie showed us how to embrace the sanctity of life, honor loss and look forward with hope.
Like Jessie, I, too, have suffered the pain of loss. My first pregnancy ended at my fifth month, when my doctor could no longer detect a heartbeat. Years later, my world came crashing down again when our 16-year-old son passed away after he was hit by a car.
As the poet Maya Angelo put it: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
I think King David agreed. Do you know that 78 percent of the Psalms are songs of lament? David passionately pours out his heartbreak, heaves hard questions at God and downloads his grief with a pen.
This isn’t someone who sugar-coats, stuffs or pretends. He is shamelessly real.
Why do I find that so encouraging? Here’s why: It gives me permission to be authentic and emotionally honest.
I find it fascinating that more chapters in the Bible are devoted to the life of David than any other human being. He was strong in spirit, incredibly creative, highly esteemed and obviously far from perfect. He also experienced the painful loss of a child.
David regularly practiced something that current brain science says promotes emotional healing and spiritual renewal. We see it repeatedly in the Psalms: In David’s darkest hours, when it’s impossible to imagine things ever improving, he writes about his suffering with raw, uncensored honesty.
The beginnings of his psalms ring with sorrow and abandonment. He doesn’t belittle or shame himself for his emotions. He simply lets them be what they are.
Slowly but surely, David’s tone shifts. His blues begin to lift. His eyes move from looking down to looking up. He transitions from brooding over his dreadful circumstances to declaring his trust in God, right smack in the middle of his anguish.
His external conditions don’t change, but his inner well-being does.
My daughter and I have discovered that processing our pain in writing helps brings healing. It slows us down to better listen to our hearts, gives our grief a voice, and helps us hear the still small voice inside whisper, “Peace.”
Would you like to move forward on your healing path? You can do so by writing a letter to your baby.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
- Approach writing with an attitude of radical acceptance. How you feel is how you feel. This is a no-judgment zone.
- Remind your inner critic that it’s OK to be honest.
- Open up and give grief a voice. This is a personal way of honoring the baby you lost and preserving the memories around his or her brief life with you.
- There are no rights or wrongs. Simply tell your baby what you’d like him or her to know. You might consider sharing: your feeling right now and your thoughts about seeing him or her again; gratitude for what you’ve learned; and how you and others are different because of his or her life.
- Take your time. There’s no rush. Feel free to write your letter over several days, adding words as new thoughts surface.
- Consider reading your letter to a safe friend.
Never underestimate the power of a love letter.