Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of our unborn daughter, Nadia. It was a period in our life as a family that was particularly difficult. My uncle had died a few months before, and my mother would die six weeks later. One cannot really compare one grief to another, but this death was particularly painful for us. There is something about the loss of a child that is simply incomparable. You grieve not only for the loss of life, but also for the loss of the future. As a father or mother, you sort of map out the future of your child while they are still in the womb. You know that it isn’t real, but dreaming is a good and godly thing. You dream about their growing up, interacting with the other brothers and sisters, etc. You create a picture in your mind of what will be, of what could be.
Except it isn’t.
Really the way that we survived the whole thing is because of the care of our pastor at the time, Rev. John M. Berg. We did a memorial service, and it was possibly the most comforting thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ll try and post his sermon here sometime. I read it every year.
The whole matter also brings to my mind the sadness of our culture views life, even in the church. A miscarriage is the death of an unborn child. It is one of the greatest tragedies a family can experience. Yet for many, there are serious questions on whether this is even a life, far less all of the more spiritual issues involved.
My approach as a pastor is fairly simple. In the case of the death of an unborn child, we rely on the mercy of God. God is merciful, and He wants to save them all. We have the example of John the Baptist leaping in his mother’s womb at the greeting of “the mother of my Lord.” This demonstrates to me that A) Children in the womb can have faith; and that B) God wants to give it to them.
When one of my parishioners loses an unborn child, I try to comfort them with these words and that simple reality. We don’t know all the answers. We aren’t universalists. But we do trust in the great and mighty mercy of God, who sent His only begotten Son into the womb of Mary for us. I don’t know all the answers. But I know that God is loving and merciful, and that He longs for His children to be with him.