Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Thoughts on What to Say

I have been thinking about writing this post for several days now. I guess it will be part venting, part self-protection, and part informative. I also want to say that none of what I am saying here is aimed at anyone who has left comments on my blog or any IF friends. We have also received an overwhelming amount of support in the form of cards, emails, phone calls, meals, etc and we are so grateful for it all. The vast majority have offered very comforting words, but unfortunately a couple of things that have been said have been hurtful. I think I just need to vent a bit.

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.
Through all of this, I have been greatly comforted by thinking about the loving kindness of our Savior. A.W. Tozer said Jesus was "the kindest man ever to live on this earth." At the death of Lazarus, Jesus comforted Mary and Martha, the Bible says He wept right along with them. I believe Jesus is our example, as He is in everything, of how to respond to a grieving person. I say this to also to let people know that there is no need to hold back tears around me because you think it might make me cry. It is true that I might, but that is okay, tears are healing. When it comes to what to say, I think that often less is more. My favorite example of this is in Job:

"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.


Dreamer4agift said...

Here from LFCA...

I, too, found it hard to deal with the comments after my miscarriage. While I knew ppl were trying to give/find a reason for it happening, the lines of "there must've been something wrong with the baby" or worst yet "it'll happen again when you're ready, you must've just not been ready yet"....yeah, didn't really bring comfort.

However, I am amazed at the strength you show with your faith in God. I questioned Him so often and for so're in my thoughts and prayers. ((hugs))

JamieD said...

I understand that there is probably no right comment after a miscarriage but it seems people always managed to say the absolute worst thing. It was best if they would just say, "I'm sorry" and move on. Don't try to reason it for me - I have done plenty of that on my own, trust me.

The one thing I did find comfort in is all of the people who came forward who had experienced a miscarriage themselves and could truly share my grief.

I am sorry and praying for you.

~Jess said...

Here via LFCA. You and your husband are in my prayer *hugs*

Katie said...

I'm sorry for your loss, this sucks! I've written something similar in my blog if you feel like a laugh, it's my top ten list. You and your family are in my thoughts,
fellow blogger from LFCA

WiseGuy said...

Here from LFCA...

So sorry for the loss of your child and the insensitivity you have had to go through after that.

Prayers and Hugs!

Monika said...

IF is hard enough with all the hurtful comments... I can't imagine how much it must hurt after a m/c. I am so sorry you have gotten insensitive and painful comments. I really can't offer advice or anything since I've never been in your shoes. But I definitely, absolutely, can pray and AM praying. A day has not gone by that you haven't been on my heart. (((hugs)))

Stacey said...

This is such a great post, Becky. It absolutely breaks my heart that you've already begun to hear some of these silly things. Just let them go in one ear and out the other! You are doing an amazing job dealing with something that is extremely hard.

I love this line that you wrote: "I believe it is important to offer grace and forgiveness just as God offers us when someone says something hurtful." That is amazing and true and something I need to hear.

You & your husband are on my heart.

Good Egg Hunting said...

Here from LFCA, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am. I just experienced my first pregnancy and early miscarriage myself last month after IVF, so I have a pretty good idea of how you're feeling. People do always seem to say the wrong things -- I most appreciate when people say, "I wish there was something I could say," because it acknowledges the difficulty of the situation and how imperfect any platitudes would be, but it also tells you that their heart is in the right place in wanting to take away your pain somehow. So I will tell you that I wish there was something I could say. Know that you are not alone and that there are people out here sending good, healing thoughts your way. I am so glad you have such a strong sense of faith -- I have that too and though at times in this process I feel it is tested, to me it has become stronger than ever for having endured these tests.

I Believe in Miracles said...

Praying for you.

Katya said...

Becky, I know exactly what you mean, especially when those coments come from people that dosent know what is to lost you child no matter how long he/she was with you. I lost our firt baby at 6 weeks to an ectopic pregnancy and I also lost a conduct. It has been almost a year and I grief form it every single day. All I can say is keep it strong. I'll be praying for you and your husband, you little angel and the babies to come.