Dear Mother of a Miscarried Child,
All Souls and All Saints day feel different for you, since losing your little one. You may feel as if you are straddling these two feasts. On the one hand, you greatly desired baptism for your child (or may have been able to conditionally baptize your baby), and so you have great hope that your little one may already be a saint. But on the other hand, it was impossible to baptize your child in the usual way. And so, still, you pray that your little one may rest in peace.
So, which day are you supposed to remember your child? Is your child a saint? Or a poor soul in purgatory? The Church doesn’t have a definitive answer but encourages us to hope in God’s love and mercy for all his children.
You may have worried about whether you did enough for your child. If the baby was older, you would have known what to do. A funeral may have been automatically offered as a possibility, and everyone would assume that you would purchase a gravesite.
But what about that tiny little baby, the one that you only knew existed for a few days or weeks? What about that baby that may have been too little to even find when you miscarried and so was never buried? What about the baby whose deceased body was surgically removed and disposed of without you being consulted? What about the tiny baby that was kindly buried by your Catholic hospital in a common grave? What if you don’t even know the exact place where your baby was buried? Are you a bad mother if you didn’t have a funeral Mass said? Do you love your child less if your little one didn’t have a formal burial service? What if he or she did, but you weren’t able to be there?
What if you were able to have the baby buried in a marked grave, had a funeral Mass said, but still ache whenever you think of that tiny body, buried in the hard, cold ground? What if you just wish you could hold that little one, just once? What if you wish you could kiss his or her tiny cheek, instead of their grave marker?
Grieving in November
In the month of All Souls, most people know how to deal with their grief. Most people feel comfort in having their loved ones acknowledged, written in Books of Remembrance, or mentioned by name at Mass. Although you can do those things for your child, you may feel uncomfortable doing so. What about you, whose child was never held by anyone other than you? What about you, as you grieve a child that others never saw? Is this month for you, too?
This terrible feeling you’re feeling? The tears you still shed, no matter how many years it’s been since losing your baby? You feel this way because you are a good mother. But how do you mother a child that you never really knew? How do you mother a child who you can’t take care of?
The most powerful thing we can ever do as mothers is to pray for our children. There are saints who were canonized because of the prayers they offered for their children (i.e. St. Monica). It feels like nothing. Maybe you forget to even pray for that child, because it feels as if you never were really a mother to him or her.
But you are a mother. You held that child his or her whole life long. You fed that child, kept him or her warm and clean. You did for that child what you would do for any of your children. In fact, you did it more perfectly than could have done it for a child who lived, because there was never a moment when that child wasn’t held or fed or warm. You literally cared for that child every moment that he or she existed.
And even now, even when it seems that you have nothing to give that child, you still have your love. You have your prayers. This month is a reminder of how powerful your prayers are. Whether it is has been days or decades since you lost your baby – even if you have never prayed for your little one – you can pray for him or her. You can name your child. That little one counts, because of your love.
The Church doesn’t have guidelines and directives for how to deal with a miscarried child. It would be impossible to make them, because sometimes it is impossible to find a body while miscarrying. Even when it might be possible, sometimes the trauma is too great, and the medical support is lacking. If you didn’t have a funeral, a burial, etc. you didn’t fail your child. You are a good mother simply because you love him or her.
The most powerful thing your can do, dear mother, is just to pray for your child, that he or she may rest in peace. We don’t know what plans God has for your little one. But we know that the prayers of a mother for her child are powerful. We know that love is stronger than death. We know that a mother’s love goes with her child always. That love, your decision to love that child and carry him or her in your womb – that love is what matters. And who knows? You may already be the mother of a saint. And if you are, it may be that God is continuing to do great things through your child. It may be that the prayers of that child may end up helping you get to heaven.
So, keep loving, dear Mama. Keep praying. More than anything else you did or could do, your love and your prayers for your child matter. In this month of All Souls, take heart — for Christ has conquered death. God willing, you will be reunited with your child in heaven.