Healing After Miscarriage

First, if you're reading this, my deepest condolences. I know your pain.

Secondly, please continue to the end for a list of practical things you can do on the way to healing.

'A Sad Sisterhood'
After two healthy pregnancies, my third was filled with unusual pains and twinges. On the morning of Sunday, April 14, 2002, my husband drove me to the hospital. All the while I prayed that it wasn't what I was thinking.

When the nurse confirmed I had miscarried, my usual quiet demeanor evaporated and I shouted out, "Oh, God, no!"

The nurse stroked my shoulder. Today, I can still remember her exact words: "It's a sad sisterhood we belong to."

We? This calm, take-charge woman also suffered a miscarriage? It was comforting to hear from someone who - from personal experience - understood what I was going through and was clearly able to carry on. "You're going to be surprised when you find out how many of us there are," she said.

National statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that at least 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Stillbirth (pregnancy losses after the 20th week) affects at least 1 percent of pregnancies.

My husband brought me home, and, once I was alone, I stood in my hallway in front of the Divine Mercy Image. Again, I would be uncharacteristically vocal. But this time there were no words. It was a long moan of pure pain. I knew Jesus understood.

'Pour It Out' to Jesus
The next morning, I turned on the television and saw my former boss, author and singer Vinny Flynn, on EWTN. The topic was Mary at the Cross. Mother Mary knew what it was to suffer the loss of her Son. So, it was natural to turn to her - especially through the Holy Rosary - after my loss.

Seeing Vinny made me think to call his daughter, my friend Colleen Flynn Free. I knew Colleen had been through miscarriages, and I knew I could benefit from her wisdom and faith.

Colleen said that what helped her most was "my belief that the babies that I lost are in Heaven and interceding for me."

Indeed, as Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, the rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, says, "People need to know that their child is alive with the Lord, alive in Christ, the One who brings us salvation and hope. These children can be our intercessors. They can be instruments for spiritual healing. And believe me, there is so much healing needed."

What the Church teaches is:

As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1261).

Colleen's other advice was straightforward. "We receive healing the same way as in anything else: Turn to Christ and to Mary," she said. "No matter what suffering you experience, the best thing is to go to the Healer. On days that were harder than others, I'd just pour it out to Jesus."

Because of her background as a singer/musician, Colleen instinctively turned to music for healing. "Music can minister to everyone," she said. Among those she found most helpful were Watermark and Marie Bellet.

She had been surprised to find out that she already had CDs with songs specifically about this kind of loss. "You know how you can just listen to a song and not really hear what it's saying? It wasn't until after my miscarriage that I realized, 'Hey! That's about miscarriage! Those words are what I'm feeling.'"

To help others going through the same thing, Colleen put her experiences in her blog, writing at one point, "When people see my family, and how blessed we have been, they usually have no idea of the suffering that we have experienced on the way to that blessing."

Tell Jesus Everything
Kathy Wabick of Buffalo, New York, echoes Colleen's sentiments. A wife, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother of seven, Kathy is the founder of Disciples of Divine Mercy in the Holy Face of Jesus, a lay ministry that prays with and for the suffering, sick, and dying.

The group also ministers to women who have had miscarriages.

"We tell them it's OK to cry," Kathy says. "It's OK to be angry. It's OK to be sad. It's OK to ask God why."

She contrasts this approach to what she herself experienced about 40 years ago. "Families want to make it better. The way they'd try to do it then was to not talk about it, to try to make it go away."

"Jesus doesn't want you to go through this alone," Kathy explains. "He understands you. He knows you're upset. He knows you're scared. He wants you to turn to Him. Tell Him everything you're feeling."

Like Colleen, the women Kathy speaks to receive comfort from the belief that their child is now in closer union with Jesus and able to intercede for them. "You have a family member who's never sinned," Kathy said. "When you get through grieving, you'll find out that you have a powerful intercessor in Heaven."

Kathy said people have returned to her to say their prayers were answered for healings and other special intentions.

"Women need to know these things," Kathy said. "That's why the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is so great. It's a place for all these women to come together for healing. Especially for those who were never able to hold or say 'goodbye' to their baby."

Kathy's own family arranged for a memorial plaque at this shrine. "I touched it and just wept," she said. "You never forget, and this shrine is a great place to remember them always, to remind you they're always there for you. I can praise God and thank Him."

Kathy continued, "In the beginning, it's a long road, but it's part of the healing. Turn and gaze upon the face of Jesus. Look at the Divine Mercy Image. He's all love and mercy. He's going to bring you peace."

What to Do Now
If you have had a miscarriage, here are more recommendations:

• Talk with others who have gone through it. You're not alone.
• Turn to Jesus, who is Love and Mercy Itself.
• Turn to Our Lady, Mother of Mercy.
• Turn to St. Joseph, patron of fathers, families, and the universal Church.
• Call upon the saints for help.
• Don't waste your suffering.
• Ask your baby, who is now in the presence of God, to pray for you and your intentions.
• If you have other children, show them extra love. They aren't the baby you lost, but you still can comfort each other.
• Name your departed baby. A real person lived, however long.

There is an optional closing prayer to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I'd like you to think about the words:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion - inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

God loved you out of eternity. He loved you before you were born. He loved your baby out of eternity, too.

Someday, like the women in this article, you likely will have a friend or family member going through the same suffering you know today. Helping someone else also brings more healing for you. It's a deed of mercy that blesses the giver and the receiver.

A Prayer After Miscarriage

O my Jesus,
my life has changed forever.

I'm separated in this world from my beloved baby [name].
I beg for Your mercy for me, and for all who mourn.
I rely on Your promise that all who mourn will be comforted (Mt 5:4).

Help me to persevere in faith,
so that one day I may praise You
in the company of my baby and all of the saints.

Please accept my suffering and unite it with Yours for the salvation of all souls,
and fill my emptiness with Your mercy
that I may continue to love and serve others in my life.

I surrender to You all my needs, doubts, and anger.
You are the Source of my strength, hope, and consolation.

Even when I don't understand what is being asked of me, help me to live in imitation of You and Your Blessed Mother in acceptance of the Father's plan of loving kindness.

Lord, thank You for hearing my prayer, even at times when the depth of my sorrow won't allow me to speak it aloud.

I entrust my baby to Your mercy,
as I entrust my life to You.



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