This post is dedicated to the parents, grandparents and families whose babies went to heaven before they were born.
“…O gracious and merciful Master and Lord, look down from heaven and behold the grief in my heart, the heart of a parent, as it sees its hope for life snatched away: the good and righteous life of my child through whom I had longed to praise the power, wisdom, and goodness of Your holy name” (Parent’s Prayer at the Death of a Child, Orthodox Prayer Book, new Varatic Publishing, Lake George, Fifth printing 2016, p.52).
At this time of year as I write my post for our December theme I remember parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters who said farewell to the babies who went to heaven before they were born. I always find it emotionally draining to write a post like this but I’m compelled to do it. You see, Christmas is not all joy and fun for some families.
My wife and I have six grandchildren. In addition, we have five grandchildren in heaven. I miss these five children even though I never met them. I hold them in my heart close and forever.
Over the years I have known and talked to a number of parents and grandparents who remember babies who died due to “pregnancy loss,” etc. The loss is real and memorable. It isn’t like these children are forgotten as if they were nothing. As a writer I view these brief lives as short stories, not forgotten ones. Regardless of what society may say, their lives mattered.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13). God knows these babies. Their conception did not take Him by surprise. He loved them even in the womb. There is so much I don’t know about life and death. There is so much I don’t know about God. Yet, He knows me and He knows my grandbabies in heaven. “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the bones are formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things”
The website www.ontarioprenataleducation.ca/infant-loss/ notes, “Even though most pregnancies are problem-free, it is estimated that one in four pregnancies ends in loss. The risk of miscarrying in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is between 15 percent and 20 percent. It is less common for a loss to occur later in pregnancy.” A reason I include this information in the post is to emphasize I don’t consider my five grandchildren in heaven as mere pregnancy loss statistics. Dear readers I hope they are more than that to you also.
As a Christian processing and accepting the death of five unborn grandchildren I find solace in the following part of a Parent’s Prayer at the Death of a Child. “…But as I stand before the impenetrable mysteries which You alone understand, my mind turns to the fervent prayer which Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, offered before the holy passion, in the garden of Gethsemane, saying, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from me! Like Him, I also bow my head before You today and cry out: Lord, let Your will be done!...” (Orthodox Prayer Book, p. 52).
It isn’t often that parents who grieve a pregnancy loss speak of their loss. This does not mean they have forgotten that the child was conceived. I know parents and grandparents who remember these children in some way. My way is to take time during the busyness of the Christmas season to remember five children I never got to meet and thank God they are with Him.