He turned to me, his eyes hard. His face pink and his mouth tight, anger barely contained. He yelled, “That was my child, too!”
His words shocked me. He’d called our baby a child.
I realized then that not only had he been grappling with the same loss as me, he understood that the blip of life I’d carried and lost was a child who could have been the culmination of our dreams. I hadn’t seen beyond the due date.
Sometimes our own grief can overshadow the pain a loved one is feeling. I believe miscarriage, because it is so unique a loss – sometimes intangible and crippling at the same time – can be especially difficult waters for a couple to navigate. But understanding how our spouse grieves and giving them that space to grieve in their uniquely personal way is important for our marriage. I’d thought my husband was feeling less than me when he was actually processing feelings that were beyond what I’d ever considered.
How to Grieve Together
I’ll share another more in depth piece on surviving grief as a couple at a later date, but I want to leave you, my dear friend, with a few things to consider if you or a friend has recently gone through a pregnancy loss. May these prick your heart just a bit and allow you to offer grace to your spouse who might be grieving in a way you don’t understand.
Learn his grief language.
Just like our love languages, we have grief patterns. Fortunately, this is something we don’t have as much experience with as our love languages, but when you’re in the trenches of a loss, you need to take some time to consider how your partner grieves. Is he someone who needs space? Does he need additional affirmation? Does he, like my husband, need projects to busy his hands while he processes his heart? His grief language is likely very different from yours, but allow him the space to walk through it in his own way. When you do that, you’ll learn how to reach him where he is.
There is something so powerful about praying together. It breaks down boarded barriers we didn’t even realize we’d constructed. When we are open with God, He tends to kick down those walls. When you pray as a couple through grief, you are allowing each other a glimpse into your brokenness in front of God, and that is a privilege that will bind your marriage and protect you through this season. No matter how differently you grieve, your shared loss is unique to you as a couple. No one else can fully get it. It’s as intimate an experience as creating the life you lost.
Plan for your future.
After the loss of a baby, life can feel flat. Joy can feel like a memory. Suddenly everyone is pregnant. And happy. And seeing babies that once made you expectant now birth in you a grief so deep you think it could swallow you whole. But what can be even more difficult through this stage is not being connected with your spouse in how to move forward. While your body needs at least three months to heal physically after losing a baby, then what? Will you try again? Will you pursue other options? Be prayerful and come to a decision point together as a couple. I can promise you that living by unspoken expectations will create a deeper divide as you move forward in your healing.
Above all, dear friend, know that this pain will evolve and God will show you joy again – because He is faithful.
This fall marks the ten-year anniversary of the loss of our first baby. I didn’t have faith then. So for me it was only darkness until I felt my sweet Noah quicken in my belly. But even though I didn’t know God was there, He was. He was with me behind that closed door as our baby left me, and He was with Mike in the woods as the dream dissolved into the morning haze. He is with you through this, and He is with your husband. Now in the loss, and later in the joy.
This article originally appeared at ErinWhitmer.com.