I will start with some thoughts on what not to say. I think one of the most hurtful things is to start talking immediately about the work God is doing in my heart through this, how he is sanctifying me and making me more Christ-like, and fulfilling His purposes. While these things may be true, there is nothing comforting, compassionate, kind or loving about these words. They have the effect of making me think God did this because I am so un-Christ-like and that if I was just a better person this wouldn't have happened to me. I am in no way saying that I am Christ-like, just that I am already searching, as I think most do when they suffer a miscarriage, for what I did wrong. Questions about whether I did something spiritually or physically frequently run through my mind. This leads me to the next what not to say. Assuming that when someone faces a trial it is because of some sin in their life or because they have in some way gone astray is not accurate and most importantly not Biblical, see Job. Some trials are testing and because God wants to take someone deeper still with Him (I would love to go to this conference, I did one of Priscilla, Beth and Kay's Bible studies and it was life changing). Some other hurtful comments are:
- Implying that this happened because we did IVF since you don't agree with IVF and that it is likely to happen again if we do another IVF. How do you know how God led us? The fact is God led us to IVF, adoption was my plan.
- Applying your own situation or worse your friend's sister's husband's brother's cousin's situation (I know that makes no sense I just strung them together randomly) to someone else's and assuming that if they just did ______ like you did or the other person did, then they would get pregnant whether it be surrender, claim your healing, or what ever. While God is unchanging He does not always choose to work in the same way. He may do a miracle in one person's life, work through a doctor in another's, lead the couple to adoption, or any number of other things. One thing we can be sure of, whatever happens it will be in His way and timing. Often even when you have surrendered it all to God, He says wait.
"When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." Job 2: 11-13
Job's friends actually did a pretty good job at first, it was only when they opened their mouths to try to explain why everything had happened to Job that things starting going downhill. The point of this post is not to make anyone fearful about what to say, but rather to let people off the hook in regards to feeling like they need to have the perfect words to say or feeling like they need to provide an explanation as to why this has happened. There really are no perfect words. I think it can actually be more hurtful when we are too quick with our words. It is okay to be honest about the fact that you don't know what to say. A simple I love you, I'm praying for you is fine. I have been greatly comforted by a number of people who didn't say anything at all, but just gave me a hug. Of course I am not saying that I don't want you to tell me if God lays something on your heart to share with me. I am especially not referring to fellow bloggers who have shared their own stories with me, I have so appreciated the comments that have been left. For a few more do's and don'ts, I really like this article from Stepping Stones Ministries. They also have an article called On the Loss of Our Child which is worth reading. This article has some additional information and so does this one.
I know that the vast majority of people do not want to be hurtful and are well intentioned. I believe it is important to offer grace and forgiveness just as God offers us when someone says something hurtful. However, I do feel like I have been given the opportunity to share my thoughts and hopefully spare someone else the pain that I have experienced.