Pregnancy and infant loss often take more loss from moms than the baby. How can we recover hope when this happens?
The first chapter of my motherhood story began with the unexpected: loss. Death invaded the dreams my husband and I tenderly held of parenthood when the signs of miscarriage appeared on a sunny day in May.
In the months following my miscarriage, I realized I miscarried a lot along with my baby: my blissful expectations of motherhood, my innocent optimism, my dreams for beginning a family, my relatively uncomplicated relationship with God, and my trust in my body, to name a few.
A Loss of Hope
But there was something more I lost. It was like a thin thread, almost too hard to pinpoint, undergirding all of these feelings, questions, and losses. It felt like the puzzle piece you can’t locate, yet you also can’t make sense of the full picture until you find it. But one day I did. I realized I had miscarried hope.
Once you’ve experienced pregnancy loss or infant loss, your relationship with hope is never quite the same. Under the enormous weight of grieving the death of your baby, you’re grieving what feels like a loss of hope. I knew in my bones that my hope wasn’t completely lost, that God’s hope was too solid for any circumstance to rob, but I found myself living a daily, unfamiliar feeling: like active hope had left my life.
I craved the reassurance for active hope to return to my thinking, feeling, and dreaming. Without hope in the immediate aftermath of my baby dying, the present felt dark, and the future, for the first time in my life, stirred in me more fear than it did anticipation.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Creates a Deep Wound
A baby dying is not a surface-level cut a mother can ever patch. It’s a wound that lives deep in the heart, for which I believe resurrected hope to be the only balm. While there’s a lot of talk about the stages of grief, nobody told me about the stages of recovering hope again. How do loss moms who follow Jesus find their way back to living with an active sense of resurrection hope after suffering the loss of their precious baby?
I found the answer in Holy Week. Holy Week is what Christians call the week leading up to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (better known as the week between Palm Sunday and Easter). Holy Week is more than just a historical documentation of Jesus’s final days on earth; Holy Week chronicles the movement from death to hope.
When I sensed God showing me the parallels between my own experience of loss and the roller coaster of emotions Jesus and his disciples experienced during Holy Week, it felt like finding a place for my story to make sense. And more than that, it was the reminder I needed that the Creator of the Universe personally knew the pain, grief, and disappointment I was carrying.
Five Stages of Hope
For a loss mom, I believe Holy Week and the Five Stages of Hope that emerge from it can be an extremely helpful paradigm to process the unique grief we experience as we see the hope of new life turn traumatically into death.
- In the expectation of Jesus’s triumphant Palm Sunday announcement, we as loss moms remember the expectation and anticipation of the positive pregnancy test.
- In the shock of the Last Supper, we as loss moms remember the shock of the first signs of miscarriage/stillbirth.
- In the despair of Good Friday, we as loss moms find a place for the lonely feeling of being forsaken by God when we needed him most.
- In the grief of Silent Saturday, we as loss moms sit in the feeling of time standing still as the storm of disbelief, disorientation, and deep disappointment swirled around us.
- And in the active hope of Resurrection Sunday, we as loss moms are invited into a real, living hope that we, too, will see our babies again, because of Jesus’s miraculous defeat of death.
Could it be that the road map for recovering hope after pregnancy and infant loss was already written over two thousand years ago? I believe so – and it’s a road that Jesus walks alongside you on, hand in hand, as you courageously pursue hope after loss.
Author Bio: Rachel Lohman is the author of Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Lossand founder of Hope Again Collective, a handmade jewelry line that shares the stories of loss moms and has donated over $10,000 in practical grief resources to women going through miscarriage or stillbirth. She is a mother to two living children and one in Heaven. Rachel and her husband Mark currently pastor a bilingual church in Chino. Find more on the Five Stages of Hope and Holy Week in Miscarried Hope, and connect with Rachel at RachelLohman.com.
This post was adapted in part from Rachel’s book Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Loss, published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. ©2023 by Rachel Lohman. Used by permission.
Miscarried Hope is available wherever books are sold, including for 30% off at BakerBookHouse.com.