In early August, my wife and I discovered with joy that she was pregnant, and we were expecting our fourth child. God was adding another arrow to my quiver. We saw our baby on the ultrasound. We told our children, friends, and family the good news. Our next doctor’s appointment brought the devasting news that we lost the baby.

Grief like we had never experienced set in for both of us. Of course, I was drawn to the story of Job, who lost so much, yet still blessed the Lord. But there seemed to be a disconnect between the loss described in Job and what we were experiencing. The loss of our child seemed even disconnected from our lives. Job knew his children and they were part of his life. He raised them, and taught them, and had memories with them. I’ve experienced this too when my grandmother’s died. My grief then was driven in part by all the memories I had and time I shared with them. I never got to know the child in my wife’s womb. We have no pictures from vacations, no Christmas ornaments, finger-painted artwork, or any other material thing to hold onto. Why is there such profound grief for someone we don’t even know? Why do we grieve when we share no memories with this person? What right do we have to say with Job “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” when we can’t describe in any tangible way what we lost?

As my wife and I talked and grieved together one evening, I opened a book titled “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas McKelvey and began to read the liturgy titled “Loss of a Living Thing.” One line from the liturgy reads, “We made room in our lives, room in our home, room in our hearts to welcome your unique creation…” We have no tangible thing to hold on to, but we made room in our hearts and lives for this child. This is what has driven our grief. That space we had made in our lives now feels empty. We don’t have memories of who our child is, but we do have memories of the space we made in our hearts. And we are thankful to God for these memories.

I’m thankful for the memory of the conversations my wife and I had as we planned what life would be like with another child. Where would we fit them in our small home? Can I remember how to change diapers? How will we manage our other children’s extracurriculars while caring for a newborn? We knew it would all come together.

I’m thankful for the memory of how excited my children were when they learned they would have a new sibling. And I’m thankful for the memory of my wife modeling biblical grief to them and teaching them that we can trust God through our suffering. I’m thankful for the memory of our friends, family, church members, and community group who all rejoiced with us at the news of our child. And I’m thankful for the memory of those who have grieved with us as we have grieved.

As I continued to read the liturgy, my emotions prevented words from coming out, and my wife picked up reading where I had left off. A watermark now stains a section on the page from one of my tears that fell as she read these words: “Now this season of our shared lives is ended by death. Our hearts are unprepared for such loss, and we are deeply grieved. Even so, Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the life that was, for the gift of a living thing so easily loved. We are thankful for the many blessings of knowing this creature, and for the lingering imprint of such a cherished presence in our lives.”

The loss we have experienced is not something disconnected from our lives because our late child has become a central part of it. God entrusted us with a wonderful gift, even if for only a short time. We now trust God who is a far better caretaker than we could ever be. God’s grace abounds in our lives, and so we can joyfully say along with Job “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

My wife and I chose to be open about the miscarriage with our friends, family, and church. We did so because this child is a part of our family who deserves to be known as such by our friends and family. It is a child that deserves to be loved, mourned, and missed by those who know us. We were also open about this journey because we knew that the Christian life is meant to be shared together, whether in times of blessing or times of lament. Through this process I’ve learned some things that I believe to be helpful in pastoral ministry:

1. Be Watchful. When we went for our final doctor appointment, a midwife told us that 1/4th of all pregnancies ends in miscarriage. I was stunned by the statistic. That meant that many more families in the church I pastor have suffered this pain than I realized. There are many people who silently experience pain. They are the ones who don’t feel comfortable sharing their lives, but who are in desperate need of help. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone is okay. Pastors, be on the lookout for those whose demeaner has changed. There are silent sufferers in your midst.

2. Be Vulnerable. In our openness to share our lives, we have discovered friends who shared with us their own story about miscarriages. They have thanked us for putting into words what they experienced because it validated their own pain. Our vulnerability has led to a closeness with those we serve. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you must never reveal your suffering. I’ve found that it is helpful for others to see that you need encouragement and help too. Pastors, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

3. Be Present. Some of the best help we have received was not in words of counsel, but simply in friends being with us, and us knowing that they were grieving alongside us. There is a powerful healing and hope that is provided when you are surrounded by those who mourn with you (Romans 12:15). Pastors, make sure that you have a posture of welcome to those who are hurting so that you can provide this presence in their life.

Soli Deo Gloria.To God be glory, even in miscarriage.