Sunday, 19 December 2021

Pause In Advent #4

Last week, Liz sent me a link to an appeal she'd seen on Facebook. A Norwich group which supports women who had experienced miscarriage or neonatal death was having a "Reflective Carol Service". Those who felt the pain of loss especially at Christmas could come together, and remember. Their speaker had pulled out the day before and they were asking for someone to come and give a short sermon/talk. 

It had to be someone with personal experience of baby loss. I put out feelers among local friends who might help, but got nowhere. I was sad about that - I'd have done it, but did not meet their criteria.

What would I have said? I would have acknowledged their grief - made so much harder when people all around are saying "after all, Christmas is a time for the children, isn't it?" - when we are bombarded with adverts about what we need for a 'proper family Christmas' - when hearing other people talk about what they are doing 'together' just exacerbates the sense of loss, of something missing. As if the rest of the world has forgotten their pain, glibly asserting that 'time heals' - not realising that broken hearts bear lifelong scars. I would have told them it was important to acknowledge those brief lives, so precious, lost so soon. And I would have reminded them that GOD has not forgotten them or their babies.

Up and down the land people read Bible account of the birth of Christ ... no room at the inn, angels, shepherds, wise men - and we so often stop at Matthew 2:12. But the end of that chapter is important too. The story of King Herod's attempts to kill the baby Jesus by slaughtering all the baby boys in Bethlehem - Matt 2;18 quotes the prophet Jeremiah ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more’

This too is part of the Christmas story - recognising that not every pregnancy ends with a happy, healthy child. And I think we should take time right now to remember bereaved parents, with love and sensitivity. In Luke's account, he says "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." - how did she feel to realise that she and her baby had escaped safely, while other families were being torn apart? How did she feel as she watched her son die, [John 19;25]  did she think back to those bereft young mothers, all those years ago?

There is a time to weep, and a time to mourn - and I pray for those who went to that Carol Service- that it will have given them comfort, and hope - and light in their darkest moments, strength to get through this Christmas Season. 

We have read in the news of too many babies, toddlers and children dying in the past few weeks- in the cold waters of the channel, in burning homes, in flyaway bouncy castles, and perhaps worst of all, at the hands of the very adults who should have cared for them. There are many homes where someone has had to go and remove presents from under the tree, close a bedroom door, take down greetings cards, because the pain of loss is just too great. 

When I was 5 my mother gave birth to a son, who died within the hour. As was common then, she was told to go home and get on with life, and maybe have another child later. My beloved brother arrived when I was 7½. Mum rarely spoke of that lost baby - but she was anxious through both my pregnancies, afraid I might lose my child too. When she was 67, she died following a stroke - but a few hours before her death she sat up in bed and said, quite clearly "I shall see my baby in Heaven". I wept, to realise that she had kept this loss in her heart, for over 30 years, but I saw that her faith was giving her hope, as she herself faced death.

For all those who are bereft right now - especially these women, may they feel peace and love - and  experience the truth of Matthew 5:4. 

God has not forgotten you, he is with you in your grief








25 comments:

  1. Thank you for such an uplifting and heartfelt post. Miscarriage/stillbirth happens more frequently than most of us are aware, it devastates. Blessings to all those who need them. Sarah Browne

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    1. Thank you Sarah. You are right- many women hide the grief of early miscarriages. 🙏❤️

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  2. A very poignant post, Angela.

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  3. And all the other women who have lost babies through other causes... how sad, how sad to have loved and lost... there are many more women out there (and their men as well) who have this thread of lament woven into their lives.

    Such consoling words, Angela... thank you.

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    1. Thank you Kirsten, and yes there are grieving fathers too

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    2. PS love your Advent Pause this morning

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  4. So important to acknowledge and for those who have suffered losses, those losses stay with the heart forever. And as you say, the Bible acknowledges the loss of families even within the joy of the Christmas story.x

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  5. This was so beautiful , I have tears in my eyes even though I was fortunate to never experience this loss.

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  6. A beautiful reflection, Angela.
    Christmas always seems to me to be a time that goes down to the very crux of life. It's a time of celebration, spiritually and certainly secularly, yet always for so many it is painful and difficult. What a travesty it would have been for those suffering, if Jesus had been born in a magnificent palace with announcements and pomp and circumstance. Instead, He was born in an unsanitary stable with humble parents, and no matter what our situation, He comes willingly at Christmas to share our life just as it is. May He comfort those who are expected to get on with life after heartbreaking loss.

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  7. I and both my daughters' had miscarriages as did several of my friends so I found this a very apt and sensitive reflection. The account of the slaughter of the innocents from Matthew is a grim reminder of so much human suffering, pain and grief both throughout history and in the modern World.

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    1. Thank you Ann. Not having had a miscarriage I was hesitant to write at first. But I am grateful for your comments. I hope you are able to spend time with the family this Christmas.

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  8. Gosh Ang, your poor mum 😔. That's how it was back then wasn't it? My Nanna gave birth to her last child at 45 a baby girl that was named Pauline but she only lived for 15 minutes. The same message was repeated to her, forget about it and move on. I came along a year later and I think my appearance brought her some much needed comfort, I loved my Nanna a great deal. I'm so glad that your mum's faith sustained her right until the end, what joy she must have felt knowing she would be reunited with her baby boy xx

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  9. A very thoughtful and reflective post. Best, Celie

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