By Susanne Maynes
It was clear the young woman was in no hurry to leave our clinic. I had just spent an hour with her, and now we stood near the door saying our goodbyes.
I offered her a hug. She not only accepted it, but silently clung to me for about two minutes. “Thank you,” she finally whispered, her voice breaking. Then she slipped out of my embrace and slowly walked out the door.
This had not been a typical client visit. The topic was not unexpected pregnancy, but rather, an unexpected end to pregnancy.
A significant percentage of pregnancies end in miscarriage; therefore, a significant number of your clients will experience pregnancy loss at some point.
Providing support to moms and dads who are grieving the loss of their preborn son or daughter is one of the most pro-life things you can do — and you may be the only one in your community who is willing and able to do it.
Pregnancy centers can accomplish two vital objectives by providing ministry to those who lose a baby during pregnancy.
First, pregnancy loss represents an opportunity to share the gospel.
Yes, our primary mission is to prevent the intentional deaths of preborn children by means of abortion. Alongside that, we have a spiritual life-and-death message to share, and people are often more receptive to God’s love during times of hardship and pain.
The tragedy of miscarriage can open a surprising doorway to eternal hope.
Years ago, while pregnant with my third son, I attended a jazz piano class at my local community college. I befriended another woman in class who was on her first pregnancy. We talked about our pregnancies often.
One day, sitting next to “Mary” in class, I had the strange sense she was no longer pregnant. I dismissed the unhappy thought. After class, we walked toward our cars and she blurted out, “Have you ever had a miscarriage?”
When I said yes, her story tumbled out. How sad and confused she felt at the loss of her child. How no one understood. How she wondered where her baby was.
I told her what the Bible says — that her baby is in heaven with Jesus.
“I know that’s true!” she exclaimed.
Mary was not a believer, yet the truth gave her such hope that she grabbed onto it like a drowning person grabs a life preserver. From there, we were able to talk about her personal opportunity to see her child again, if she chose to place her faith in Christ.
Months later, Mary came by my house with a hand-knitted sweater she made for my soon-to-arrive baby. I was humbled by her level of gratitude for the comfort I was able to offer.
Pregnancy loss causes an invisible but devastating kind of grief. You can help comfort those who may have no other place to go with their pain. You might even have the opportunity to lead them to Christ.
As you minister in this way at your center, you accomplish a second objective: making a strong pro-life statement by your words and actions.
Here’s how John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, puts it:
“While many Christians can make the case for the dignity of human life in the womb when it comes to the evil of abortion, when it comes to miscarriage — which ends between 10 percent and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies — the response is often far different. By the words we say or leave unsaid, too often we risk dehumanizing the child who has died and discouraging the grieving parent.”
Stonestreet quotes Constance Hull, who points out,
“We pray at abortion clinics and try to educate the populace on the horrors of abortion, but we also need to be ministering to and supporting families who have lost unborn children. The more we talk about it, the more families will come out from behind closed doors to share their stories and begin to grieve openly.”
Hull concludes with an exhortation for pro-lifers to examine our own beliefs, words and actions so we don’t dehumanize the unborn or shut down the grieving process so necessary after pregnancy loss. She makes the point that we must avoid insensitive remarks like, “You can always have another child,” or “There was clearly something wrong with the child.”
She admonishes, “Let’s remember Job’s friends were the most comforting when they didn’t talk at all.”
In a recent Christianity Today article about grief steps following the loss of her unborn son, Tish Harrison Warren writes,
“I absolutely support efforts to advocate for legislation against abortion and provide crisis pregnancy services. But as a mom who was helped in deep grief, I’ve come to believe the movement also needs to embrace post-miscarriage care as part of its mission.”
This part of your center’s ministry should be more than an afterthought. Consider the power of the life-affirming message you send when intentionally helping grieving parents and honoring their children who died before birth.
You can make a huge difference in your community. Here are a few practical ideas, some of which can be modified from the template of your post-abortion ministry:
1. Offer pregnancy loss counseling to both moms and dads who need comfort. Train your staff or volunteers to provide this type of counseling.
2. Keep an inventory of “sympathy gifts” on hand for female clients who experience miscarriage. These could include personal items such as scented body wash or lotion, or fun cosmetics for younger clients. Include a printed, framed eulogy and a small, stuffed animal (lambs are ideal) as a tangible reminder of the baby who was lost. Use pretty gift bags and avoid “baby” designs.
3. Offer to provide an informal memorial time. Prepare an order of service including relevant Scriptures, songs and prayers.
Let’s speak a loud-and-clear life-affirming message by ministering to grieving parents and honoring babies lost. It’s the pro-life thing to do.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.