Miscarriage, Lent, and Being Still

It has been a month since we lost our baby. And over these weeks, I’ve watched myself with a sort of odd, detached interest: What does the patient do in grief?

I am 34 years old, and, until this point, I have been mostly untouched by real loss that belongs to me primarily. Does that make sense? I’ve grieved, of course, but mostly by proxy, for the people I love who have lost people they’ve loved, in miscarriage and in life. So I find myself, rather late in life, new to this grief business.

And so yes, I cry some (less than I expected), and feel irritable and anxious some extra (less than I expected), and overindulge in candy and wine (as I probably should have expected). But one thing I wouldn’t have expected is how incredibly time-consuming the nothingness of grief is.

It’s not that I feel compelled to sit around and be sad. I’m not even usually thinking about our babe. It’s just that when I’m out with dear friends, part of me is counting down to being alone again under my good wool blanket with a book I can pick up and put down at whim. When I surface from my daily nap, I spend a few extra minutes curled on the sunlit, dog-fur-flecked couch. It is a gift to me when J takes the kids outside or on errands or piles them all in our bed to read to them and I can wander around the house casually attempting to catch up on chores and mostly thinking my thoughts.

At first I thought this was all a bit convenient, like when I’m pregnant and I “crave” mint chocolate ice cream. (When don’t I crave mint chocolate ice cream? But suddenly now, I have an excuse to justify indulgence!) Everyone is telling me to “listen to my body” (this may possibly also mean ice cream) and to “ask for the things I need.” I probably gravitate toward stillness (a fancy term for laziness) more than other people. I am an introvert surrounded by small-to-medium children suddenly granted carte blanche to blow them off and do all my selfish introverty things. How handy!

But I think, maybe, it’s more than that. In the weird, awful, hopeful week of pregnancy limbo when I should have been vomiting but felt, incredibly, fine, just before I started bleeding, I fought back against almost paralyzing fear with frenetic busyness. I reassured myself by using Christmas money on maternity clothes that are now hiding in shame and hope in my closet. I added Scout to our homeschooling routine when she asked. I cooked and froze so many meals that, in addition to meals brought by friends, I’ve cooked only twice since our loss. Then, when we learned the baby was dead, I kept busy again in the comforting duties of mourning: texting the news, planning a burial, attending a memorial Mass, writing sympathy thank yous. I had a job to do, and so I was ok.

But now I am doing the hard work of doing nothing, so I found myself comforted by Simcha Fisher’s recent reflection on being quiet for Lent. She writes, “I’ve spent entire hours literally, physically in front of Jesus at adoration, and I don’t even realise until the time is almost up that I’ve spent the whole time jabbering spiritually away, trying to phrase things right so I trick the Lord into giving me the answer or experience I’m looking for.”

The chatter has quieted in my head, for now. I don’t really know what to ask for because I realize in a new way what Job and so many losses in my friends’ lives have taught me: God isn’t a vending machine, and prayer isn’t a drive-thru lane. Prayer is complicated right now, so I try to just check in with God, to just say help, and thank you, to remember He’s there while I putter around, or lie around, or eat more ice cream.

For Lent, Fisher suggests,

“I can have more . . . nothing. More time when I’m not doing anything at all, not even noisily yammering away in prayer, but simply being still before God. It’s true that I don’t have aimless hours where I can wander and meditate; but I have noticed that, when I seek out and lean into smaller moments throughout the day, longer spans of time do tend to open up, once I’m more open to seeing them.”

My Lenten plan was to be wretchedly morning sick, and I know that any new replacement plan must be uncommonly gentle. Maybe allowing myself to ask for and take these small moments is a piece.

3 thoughts on “Miscarriage, Lent, and Being Still

  1. Thank you for sharing your story . Some days can be so hard than others . Some days more lonely & heartbreaking than others , but all of them God was & is there , and that gives us hope , light & comfort . God bless 🙏

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  2. Thank you for sharing. Being another mother of loss I understand. It feels like a mindless time, living outside your body at times. I eat ice cream by the half gallon after. I know it’s hard not to question everything and God but try to remember, nothing happens that He doesn’t allow. I believe His reason is better than mine, even though it broke me. Hugs & prayers.

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