Miscarried Hope - dealing with infant loss

Hope Changes Your Story

Rachel LohmanBy Rachel Lohman8 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Loss by Rachel Lohman


Hope is an odd thing. Hope seems to operate on its own unpredictable timetable. When death appears to have closed the curtain, hope shows up in a surprising encore. That’s exactly how hope entered the scene for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, as they walked into the final day of Holy Week.

I love how God chooses to resurrect hope in a deeply personal way. The first women to experience hope’s rebirth were the same women who witnessed Jesus’s murder on Friday. They were the same women who then watched Jesus’s lifeless body be carried into the tomb. The women who possibly felt the greatest fear and hopelessness in the deafening silence of Saturday were now the first to encounter hope again.

And so it is with you, friend. Of everything that you’ve experienced in the arc of your pregnancy and your loss, you felt it all first. You felt it most. You were the first to hold the positive pregnancy stick and feel that rush of adrenaline as your heart began pounding with new expectations. And later, with such cruelty, you were the first to feel the life inside of you threatened. Nobody felt the pains of death in losing your baby like you felt in your body. Nobody knows just what it was like to walk through the processional of silence and grief after your baby died like you do. And nobody else knows the intangible sense of loss when not just your baby was miscarried but your hope was too.

Hope comes to the hopeless first. And hope comes when it is least expected.

My greatest fear in the Silent Saturday season of my miscarriage was that I would never feel actively hopeful about life again. I was scared my relationship with hope would never be the same, that it was too damaged to be repaired. I simply could not fathom holding hope again, the kind that allowed me to dream wild dreams and release my clenched fists of control.

And honestly, I can’t pinpoint when I felt hope for the first time after my baby died. It wasn’t during some noteworthy occasion where I got dressed up and left the house. It wasn’t after a certain number of therapy sessions. Hope just began to appear again, unexpectedly yet slowly, not erasing grief but growing alongside it. It was as though hope really had been a seed planted in the darkness of silence and was beginning to grow.

I preface the resurrection of Jesus and the newfound sense of hope that comes with his defeat of death with all of this because it’s important to avoid putting expectations on when you’ll feel hopeful again after your baby dies. You will not have “feel hope today” written on a specific date in your calendar, as though it is a grief goal to reach. As loss moms, we live in the confusing tension of fearing hope and joy may wipe away the pain and existence of our babies’ lives. It can be scary to hope again. After great loss, we have trust issues with hope. Once more, Jesus gets it.

I need to tell you something important. When people would tell me I didn’t “need to be sad” after my baby had died “because [I’d] see my baby again,” I was like, Blah blah blah, that’s great, but that doesn’t change how much this hurts now. What good was a future promise when it didn’t touch my current reality?

Little did I know then how much the future promise was actually impacting my current reality. Knowing that this grand story my life is a part of will one day end in redemption drastically changed how I lived out the confusion in the middle of the plot. Without the implications of Jesus’s resurrection, my loss and grief would have been much different. Here’s what I mean.

I once heard a loss mom, who I gather doesn’t follow Jesus, talk about how final death feels and how heavy that finality is. I paused, chewed on this, and kept moving. A few days later, I was still thinking about it—and here I am a year later writing about it. I so often forget that death feels absolutely final without the promise of Jesus’s resurrection. If I didn’t believe in Jesus, I would be living now without any active hope of seeing my baby again one day. If I didn’t believe in Jesus, the few memories I had with my baby years ago would be all I’d ever have. And if I didn’t believe in Jesus, I believe I’d be grieving without hope.

There are two different story lines available for life: one that shouts “this story ends in death” and another that whispers “this story ends with the defeat of death and the restoration of everything death has touched.” One story ends with death. The other story ends with hope.

Maybe this is what the apostle Paul was getting at when he says we don’t have to grieve like those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). I always felt like it was just a verse people in the church said to grievers to politely encourage them to “cheer up.” But I see Paul’s point now. He’s pointing us to the choice to align our grief with one of two story lines: death or hope. Those who don’t know of or believe in Jesus and his defeat of death live in a world where death is final. They live in a world where miscarriage or stillbirth has had the last word in their baby’s story.

But to know Jesus is to have hope as the final punctuation mark in your story, which shapes how you grieve in the messy middle. Does this hope minimize the pain of loss? Absolutely not. But resurrection hope promises this: Miscarriage does not get the last say in your baby’s life. Stillbirth does not get to be the final verdict. Infant loss is not how your child’s story ends. The hope of heaven, brought to life again through the risen Jesus, gets the last word.

And when hope has the last word in any story, it’s going to be a story worth living, reading, and retelling.

Order your copy of Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Loss by Rachel Lohman