June 2021 was an exciting time for our family: our family of five was going to be a family of six! Our three boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, squealed with joy when we told them they were going to have another sibling. God had answered our prayer about having another baby.
The pregnancy progressed just fine, until it wasn’t. In the middle of week 10, my wife said, “I don’t feel sick. Maybe the nausea finished earlier this time.” But that explanation didn’t satisfy either of us. At the 12-week checkup, our fears were confirmed: the baby had no heartbeat. We had miscarried.
For several months we grieved and processed. We prayed about having another baby, and we read that the faster you conceive again, the more viable the pregnancy will be. The Lord blessed us 3 months later with another positive pregnancy test! New fears gripped our hearts with each passing week. And those fears grew stronger when this baby lasted 6 weeks before we miscarried again.
Perhaps you can relate. You’ve experienced the joy of a positive pregnancy test, the fears that come when something isn’t right, and the repercussions of losing a child.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, you have felt the strange mixture of emotions and obligations: grief over the loss of a child, caring for your wife (who will take the loss much harder), talking with your kids about why mommy doesn’t have a baby now, and answering questions from well-meaning people. You may even have a tinge of guilt because you don’t feel the loss as acutely as your wife and you can move on faster. You wonder if you’ll be able to have more children or any children at all.
What do you do? I encourage you to think about four principles that will help you as a man, a husband and a father grieve after a miscarriage.
1. Lean into the character of God
There is hope to be found in the Lord. The character of God healed and encouraged me more than anything else. The brokenness of life drove me to cry out to God, and He never failed me.
For several months I read through the psalms and built a journal of God’s character. I found comfort in who God is and what God does, and gleaned strength from running to God over and over.
Psalm 31 ministered to me in a special way with phrases like these: “You are my rock and my fortress”, “You have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul”, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress”, and “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you”.
My friend, though you are hurting, take refuge in the Lord and find hope in Him.
2. Serve your wife in the way that best meets her needs
Your dear wife carried the child, felt the pains in her body, and faces hormonal changes. As a loving husband, you hurt for her and want to help her heal.
Know your wife. Serve her by helping her grieve the way she prefers. My wife preferred to be alone for a time; a dear friend of ours wanted to spend time with close friends. Defer to her wishes and do your best to pick up the slack at home. If you can, handle some of the household tasks like laundry and cooking. If you have other children, give your wife some alone time or time out by herself if that will help.
As hard as this will be, just let her grieve. Prayer and a soft shoulder is your ministry. Lectures and theological talks probably won’t help—she just needs your support. I learned the ministry of presence by being with her, sitting near her, crying with her, and empathizing with, “I’m so sorry” and “I love you; we’ll make it through.”
At some point, it will be helpful to talk through the experience to give you both a chance to process. Tears and talk heal, but only if you’ve been supportive and not insensitive. Fresh wounds can turn bitter if left to fester. Ask the Lord for wisdom to know when the right time is to talk, and if she isn’t ready then don’t push it.
One other thing—remember the baby’s due date. Though she may not say something, she knows what day it is. A friend of mine said he didn’t want to bring up the memory, but at the end of the day his wife said, “Honey, you didn’t even mention the baby’s due date.” A simple note acknowledging the day or a brief whisper while hugging can communicate everything you need.
3. Reach out for prayer and encouragement
You are not alone. One thing that surprised me about miscarriage is the amount of people who have had one. Many people suffer alone because they don’t know how to bring up this topic or feel uncomfortable even discussing it.
Personally, I found both sympathy and comfort from several people when I simply told them what happened and asked them to pray. You have people who want to support you if they knew. Confide in a mentor or a close friend; one or two people may be all you need, but the support you gain is worth the awkwardness of sharing.
If someone comes to you and shares something like this, listen to them. Be slow to say, “I know what you are going through,” even if you have walked through that experience. A listening ear and a commitment to pray and check back in later will encourage your friend. If they ask for counsel, give them hope from the Word of God.
4. Shepherd your family at an appropriate level
Finally, if you have other children, you have an opportunity to shepherd them. This is one way you can teach them not only about the effects of sin and the fall, but also about God’s redemption plan and his promise to make all things new. Their ages will determine the depth of conversation, but don’t miss this opportunity to feed their little hearts with gospel hope.
Like the opening scenes of the 2009 movie Up, the joy of marriage and youth can be quickly destroyed by the loss of a child. Yet in your family’s grief, God is with you. He will pour hope and comfort into broken hearts. He sees the distress of your soul. Make Psalm 62:8 an anchor for your family: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
Resource: Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur
Growing Fathers Team
Zach serves as the lead pastor of Red Rocks Baptist Church in Morrison, Colorado. He and his wife Kate have 3 boys ages 7, 6 and 3.View all posts by Zach