For the Woman Grieving Her Baby

In 2005 I lost a child at 10 weeks gestation. I had no symptoms of anything going wrong. I went in for an ultrasound and discovered that our baby had no heartbeat. They told me this was called "Missed Miscarriage." It was a type of miscarriage I didn't know existed.

In the years since, similar things and worse have happened to women I know -- neighbors, college roommates, childhood friends. And I've learned that no matter how much I hurt for them, our experiences are not the same. I want to help and I want to say the right things -- ideally one exactly right thing that will bring comfort or an ounce of peace.

Sometimes I plan tea parties in my mind. I daydream an event in my home where I would gather all these women on my couches and tuck warm blankets around them. My home would be clean. The coffee table would hold boxes of the softest tissue. My kitchen island would offer cookies and fresh fruit and tea and coffee and hot cocoa. Big, big mugs to hold enough hot liquid to help swallow down each other's stories; to wash away the hurt.

I would design them all a journal. I would hand it to them, wrapped in tissue paper and string, with a sprig of Forget-Me-Nots. I would say, "It's okay to remember. It's okay to process the loss of your sweet baby, your child, until you have nothing else to say. Until the brutal mourning transitions into a fragile, yet beautiful butterfly that flies free and simply lands on you from time to time, a reminder."

I would lend them my books on miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. I would offer anything at all to ease the grief.

Most of all, I would say, "Please don't think you are alone."

I would say, "Find safe people to talk about your baby with. Find people who will listen and not try to minimize what you're going through."

I would say, "People will tell you, 'At least you have your other child(ren).' Yes, that's true, you do. You have someone else to get out of bed for and to pour your love into and to hold when your arms throb with emptiness. But children aren't replaceable. Your living children do not replace the unique bond you formed with the one who died. You have every right to remember and grieve and miss the one who isn't here. And you have every right to love the lost and carry the memory of your sweet baby in your heart, even though your arms cannot do the holding."

I would say, "Grief has its own timetable. Even when you think you've already grieved your loss, it may come back. It may hit harder two years down the road than when it first happened."

I would say, "Miscarriage is not a heavy period! Miscarriage is the death of a living, growing baby. Your baby." 

I would say, "In the darkest pockets of sorrow, you may feel you're going crazy. Grief and madness are not the same, but on this journey, they may feel that way. You will survive this. However, if at any time you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or if you begin to make plans or fantasize about your own death; if you can't get out of bed for days on end, please tell someone you trust. Please say the words, 'I need help.'"

As much as it's cliche and as much as you might not want to hear it right now, I would tell you, "It gets better. I used to think that perhaps those further down the path of loss -- further healed -- hadn't had as strong of a connection to their baby as I had to my Jordan. But no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times the grief comes rolling back in -- the strongest ocean waves threatening to suck you under -- it will get better."

You will always remember. You will hold that baby in your heart and carry them your whole life. You will not forget. But eventually, after enough tears and hard work to process this huge, huge hole in your life, the memory of your baby will not bring pain. It will bring a tender, sweet joy.

It's okay to do exactly what you feel will bring you healing. It's okay to write down what you're feeling and not mince words. It's okay to crouch in your closet and sob. It's okay to find the innermost part of the forest and scream. It's okay to sleep with a teddy bear when your arms feel so empty they might detach from your body. It's okay, friend, to do what you intuitively know will help.

Maybe that's planning a ceremony. Maybe that's a memorial service. Maybe that's making messy art. Maybe that's buying a baby blanket even though you have no baby to swaddle. Maybe that's starting a blog. Maybe that's training for a marathon. Maybe that's raising money for organizations that fight for children. Maybe that's sponsoring a child.

In our family, there's a day every fall that we call Jordan Day. It's not a birthday and it's not a celebration, but we make a special meal -- always Mexican food, as that's what I craved when I was carrying Jordan -- and we light candles and eat as a family, and we remember and acknowledge the missing member of our family.

Healing will come. You'll never forget. You'll never feel it didn't happen. But healing will come. It will leave a scar, but you will heal.

Until you heal, please know I am crying tears for you and with you. Because I know the depth of my love and longing for Jordan, I can imagine the depth of yours. So when you need me, let me know. I will walk this path with you.

You are not alone.


  1. beautiful post. I can truly say that I never felt so alone as I did when I lost our first son, at 35 weeks, after full labour, he had the cord wrapped around him. It was and is the most painful time of my life and every other loss has paled in comparison, not that there is comparing. You have found ways to celebrate that life and that is something I wish I would have done sooner so that my other children would have understood. Your words are perfect and I thank you for sharing from your heart.

  2. Jenn, I saw this post on my FB news feed. When I saw the title and I had to get up some courage to read it. I'm so glad I did. Maybe one day we can sit for a cup of tea, all tucked in and grieve together. My loss is for a baby who has never even been conceived - it is a deep sadness in my life but I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be if I'd had some time to get to know a child I was carrying, one I had wished for and started to carry. I'm so glad you have Jordan Day - what a beautiful way to honor him always and keep him close to your hearts and in your memories. Love, Jenna

  3. I hope you get to have one of those tea parties sometime! This is a really important post. There are so many sentences I could scrawl across my mirror with a dry-erase pen. Thank you for letting me walk with you. Love you!!!

  4. Just beautiful Jenn! Beautiful! I know you have had the right words for me many times and I thank you for reaching out continually to me. Love and blessings to you!


  5. Thank you for writing this. I think that missed miscarriages are one of the worst losses, because so many women don't know what they are until it happens to them. Big hugs.

  6. This is a beautiful post. I nearly lost my son, and I still feel panic when I remember his birth. The other night, I had the most real dream that I was holding a baby girl. Her name was Emily and she was MINE. It wasn't the kind of dream where I thought, "Where did this baby come from? Must be mine." I felt it deeply, I memorized her face, I lay on my bed next to her, cuddling her close. Someone tried to take her away and I turned into a Mama Bear and demanded her back. It was so, so real, and I woke up to empty arms. I can't have any more children, and suddenly I realized that there is baby girl in my heart who will never be born. For some strange reason I'm grieving that dream very deeply. It sounds so silly, I know, but I'm grieving it all the same.

  7. It doesn't sound silly at all, Patty. I've had dreams like that too, and they are stunningly real. It's amazing how strongly such a thing affects us. Thinking of you! Thank you for commenting.

  8. Thank you so much for your comment and your thoughts, Beth. I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter. <3

  9. Joy, you are an inspiration. I very much appreciate your comment. If you ever need a friend, I am here.

  10. Oh Wendy, where would I be without your sisterhood on this journey? Thank you!!

  11. Joanne, your story takes my breath away. I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. I can't thank you enough for sharing a bit of your story and for your comment.

  12. Jenna, you & me & tea.... when can we make that happen? I so appreciate your thoughts and experience. Loss comes in many forms. So many hugs for you.

  13. Thank you for sharing these encouraging, life-giving, grace-filled, and affirming words today.


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