What if you could leave this earth, even for just a few moments, to see what lies beyond? No, I am not talking about the current billionaire space race, but of near-death experiences. Recently I saw a near-death experience movie that highlights the true-life account of a 4-year-old boy who suffers complications during surgery and visits heaven for a short time.
The Christian movie, “Heaven is for Real,” is about Colton Burpo recovering from surgery and telling stories to his parents of things he couldn’t have possibly known. One very touching scene was when Colton relays the story of a young girl coming up to him in heaven. This young girl indicated that she had died in her mommy’s tummy and that Jesus had adopted her and she couldn’t wait to meet her parents someday. She didn’t have a name because her parents had not named her.
As Colton told this story to his parents in the movie, it was clear that they had never discussed a miscarriage they suffered through before conceiving Colton and that he couldn’t have known such details. What a beautiful notion of hope this scene portrays to the many parents and families out there who have suffered the loss and pain of a miscarriage. For those parents who have lost children prior to birth, there is great joy in knowing that they may see their child in heaven someday.
Miscarriage in our culture today still tends to be one of those silent sufferings that many women and couples carry. So many emotions surround miscarriage, including grief and loss about the child’s death, sadness, guilt, anger and even some hopelessness. Miscarriage is still one of those areas that people don’t talk about often or tend to keep to themselves. Many couples even wait to announce that they are having a child until later in the pregnancy so as to not draw attention to themselves in case of the possibility of miscarriage. How can loved ones best walk with those who have experienced this deep pain and loss? Often, families and friends don’t know how to walk with those who have suffered miscarriage, or even how to offer comfort and hope.
I came across a good article called “how to help during miscarriage”, where the author, Katy Harrison, has several tips about how to help others during this very difficult time. She suggests just doing something and not waiting to be asked. People grieve in their own way and may want space to go through this loss, the author notes. However, it is OK to bring a meal, shop for groceries, or even ask about a specific task that needs to be done.
There are miscarriage gifts that can be purchased, but sending heartfelt notes can be just as impactful, acknowledging that the loss was important. Be comfortable talking about the baby and make note of the date on a calendar to send a note in the future. The author also noted many women experience a tremendous sense of emptiness, so sending things to cuddle are often very well received. Whatever is done, being able to authentically show you care, and meeting the needs of the mother and the family in this time of grief will help everyone to better cope with their loss.
For all those who have miscarried a child, there is great hope we can take in the words of Christ when he stated: “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14). Our own Catechism of the Catholic Church states that we can entrust our miscarried children to the mercy of God who desires salvation for all men (1261).
With this knowledge, any family that has lost a child can have hope that they will be able to see their child in heaven and unite themselves to this child through prayer. There are several websites available that offer prayers and other very beautiful spiritual resources to help parents get through this time. The National Catholic Register suggests that “Catholic couples have options to help in the grieving process, including having a funeral Mass for their child and a Catholic burial, requesting the ‘Blessing of Parents After a Miscarriage’ from the church’s Book of Blessings, and, perhaps most simply and importantly, naming their unborn child.”
If you or anyone you know has suffered a miscarriage, please see additional materials on foryourmarriage.org (search: miscarriage). All parents who have suffered a miscarriage can take hope in these words from Lamentations 3:22-24: “The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning —great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.”
Tremblay is the marriage and life ministries director for the Diocese of Green Bay.