Hope and Healing After Childbearing Loss
- Kim Ketola and Teske Drake
- 2013 25 Jan
Editor's note: This is the final installment of a 3-Part series on healing from pregnancy loss. Today's article is co-written by Kim Ketola and Teske Drake. In Part 1, Kim Ketola writes on the guilt and grief after abortion. In Part 2, Teske Drake writes on the miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.
Grief is a language our hearts must learn if we ever want to find true peace as the parent of a child who has died before birth. But how can you mourn over someone you have never met or only met briefly? Thus is the case in situations of childbearing loss (abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth) or early infant loss. It takes faith to follow the Lord to a place of grief. And it takes courage to release the sorrow which may be the only reminder you have that your child ever existed, this ache of unrequited parental love.
Christ’s invincible love provides the bridge of heavenly hope. He is a faithful witness who is able by his love to redeem all sin in order to fit us for his kingdom in heaven (Revelation 1:5-6). This redemption finds fruition as we embrace our child’s memory in order to bid them goodbye.
From Kim’s Heart…
By attending a post-abortion Bible study support group, I gained so much. I found healing through:
- listening and leaning on each other, bringing hope
- praying to know the sex of our child
- naming our child--having a name confers honor and dignity
- paying tribute to their lives at a memorial service
My baby’s small heart has eternal meaning, because coming to terms with his life and death has made me a follower of Jesus Christ. My baby Immanuel’s ministry is to help people see the truth in abortion, beginning with me and now extended to you. His story has touched hundreds of lives. Though he only lived for those twelve short weeks within my womb, his spirit and life witness the eternal worth and value of each and every person God has created. He has taught me to love, and to trust, and to hope. I know I will see him in heaven, where the Bible says there will be no tears and where we will be one in Christ.
That beauty and new life and hope can be yours too. The apostle Paul said, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep [in other words, die], or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. . . . We will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is the purifying hope we have concerning our children right now: in their resurrection, they are already like Jesus, and therefore they love and have forgiven us, just as he loves and has forgiven us. And as Jesus cradles us in his love, he creates in us a pure heart (Psalms 51:10).
From Teske’s Heart…
The painful grief experienced amidst my daughter’s terminal prenatal diagnosis and subsequent death led me to a place of promise that I may have never embraced had I not known such grief. It was there, deep in the trenches, where God revealed Himself faithful and true. The God of all comfort planted in me a desire to comfort others with the same comfort that I was so blessed to receive from Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Thus, a ministry born out of loss to reach other grieving women for Christ. Subsequent miscarriages refined my faith and caused me to cry out to my Heavenly Father, “You are still my God!” amidst the pain of grief and loss. I’ve found great joy in carrying on the legacy of my children in heaven by sharing their brief lives with others for the glory of God.
God is for me and He is for you too, even when circumstances seem bleak. When God gave His only Son (John 3:16), He offered the gift of heavenly hope that is written on our hearts from eternity past, penned in Jesus’ blood. I’ve come to see purpose in the pain of my loss experiences and can relate to the apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians when he says, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
Memorialize Your Child…
Loving actions toward a deceased child help replace painful memories with loving thoughts:
- Place a memorial stone in a garden or cemetery, or create a special place for a memorial garden at your own home. Consider planting a tree in your child’s memory.
- Display framed calligraphy of Scripture in the child’s honor such as ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’ Mark 10:14.
- Plan a balloon release including a prayer with a friend to help you celebrate your hope.
- Purchase a gift in your child’s honor to display with other family memorabilia—a small silver baby cup engraved, a small quilt or crib blanket to use as a wall hanging.
- Make a memorial gift in your offering at church or place altar flowers in memory of your child.
- Choose a special Christmas ornament or keepsake box to honor your child’s memory.
- On what would have been your child’s birthday or due date, purchase gifts that would have represented his/her age and donate them to a local shelter for children in need.
- Write a song, poem or journal entry to your child.
- Purchase or make a pretty bookmark for your Bible to remind you of your little one with thoughts of love and joy.
- Sponsor a plaque or monument at the National Memorial for the Unborn in Chattanooga, Tennessee, dedicated to the memory of unborn children, particularly those lost in abortion (www.memorialfortheunborn.org). Online memorials allow you to share a tribute and read what others have written to their loved ones who have died.
- Make a monetary donation to a child-oriented charity or organization in memory of your child.
These caring gestures need not be explained to everyone; exercise discernment as you bring others into this circle of love and as God’s Spirit leads.
More than anything, seek hope and healing in the promises of God’s Word. The Lord tells us, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Approach God in prayer and embrace the hope of living fully in Christ, despite your painful past. Hebrews 10:23 calls us to “…hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” This unswerving hope in the Lord Jesus Christ brings assurance of our faith and His faithfulness, bringing hope and healing to our grieving hearts.
Teske Drake is a mommy to three babies in heaven, mother to two on earth, and wife to her one and only, Justin. Inspired by her own loss experiences, Teske serves as co-founder and President of Mommies with Hope, a biblically-based support group ministry for women who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Teske is the author of Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow: Finding Light Beyond the Shadow of Miscarriage or Infant Loss (Kregel, 2012) and she leads women to live in hope at www.mommieswithhope.com.
Kim Ketola is a broadcaster, writer and speaker. Her faith and life experience inform her understanding of one of the biggest untold stories of our time--the spiritual impact of abortion on the women and men who choose it. Her award-winning book Cradle My Heart, Finding God's Love After Abortion (Kregel, 2012) features a Foreword by Ruth Graham. Kim also hosts the weekly national program Cradle My Heart Radio with live and interactive stories of healing and hope after abortion (www.cradlemyheart.org).
Publication date: January 25, 2013