On Suffering the Loss of a Child

And How to Strive for What Matters Most in Difficult Circumstances

On a Friday afternoon last month, just when one’s thoughts might wander to the weekend, I received the call. My wife had gone to the doctor for a routine checkup. But the doctor couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat. At 9 weeks along, we had lost our 4th child—Mary Rose—to miscarriage.

My family, huddled together, looking into the grave of Mary Rose

The burial of Mary Rose and other miscarried infants in Mount Olivet Cemetery; Wheat Ridge, CO

The floor seemed to go out from under my feet. Too many realities struck me all at once; I couldn’t process them.

The initial shock turned quickly to sorrow as some of the implications began to take root. One of the hardest aspects for me is accepting that I won’t be able to get to know her, at least not in this life. I won’t be able to memorize and anticipate her smile. I won’t be able to hear her voice. No “papa doggy” rides. No sleepless nights, which I would gladly have endured.

To not be able to experience Mary Rose is a gut-wrenching loss. To suffer it profoundly is understandable and fitting. Feeling the loss keenly manifests her loveableness.

Yet at the same time, to suffer—and only to suffer—the loss would be to miss an opportunity. For good—some good, at least—can come from anything. Even from death. To find that good and bring it to birth is to honor even more the life of the one who passed. I owe it to Mary Rose to try to make of her death the greatest contribution possible to what matters most. But how? (more…)