Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reality: Burying an Unborn Child

Today we buried Tereo, our child who died at 8 weeks gestation. 

Burying a miscarried child isn't something most people talk about.  There are many reasons for this, and I believe that one is because it boils us down to facing the ugliness of death.  It is horrible.  I have just lived through the death of a human being inside my body for the second time in my life.  People don't talk about burying miscarried children because they can't really wrap their mind around the idea of a body at such an age.  

I wish I didn't feel the need to talk about it myself, honestly.  When people have asked me how I am doing one week after our miscarriage, I usually respond with, "I don't really have many words yet."  For those that know me, words are not usually hard for me to find.  I love words.  But I share my rawness and lack of words with you today to show you how one family is facing the ugliness of death.  I pray these words somehow reach those who might need to hear them.  And if you are reading this following the death of an unborn child, know that our family is praying for you.  Your child's life matters, and we mourn with you.

There are so many sobering and humbling aspects of miscarriage, but one of the largest I faced this time was loneliness.  My husband and I are extremely close, and we have an amazing marriage.  He was in tears over the loss of this child, but even he could not face this death with me.  

There is a feeling of shame, doubt, and ugliness that cannot be described, and they are feelings you must face as a woman almost completely on your own.  

In the pit of despair, I was reminded again of the first commandment - You shall have no other gods before Me.  When God allows all other helpers and comforts in your life to be stripped away, you are left with nothing but your God.  As I sat there alone and scared, I was brought to a great peace with the loneliness.  A loneliness that made me realize that I am not capable of holding onto God in my fears.  He reaches down and bears this loneliness Himself.  He watched His only Son die, blood dripping from His veins, and He knows what that pain and loneliness is like.  
The Son's loneliness in death.  
The Father's loneliness in watching His Son die.  
Women facing miscarriage are not alone in the blood and tears.  
They are upheld by a God who truly feels the pain of this particular loss.  

When you see the body of a child at 8 weeks gestation, you think to yourself, "What do I do now?"  The ugliness of death is almost too much to bear, but the thought of discarding your child in the trash or the toilet is far too much to bear. 

We are the kind of people that march in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. 
We are the kind of people who adopt. 
We are the kind of people that welcome God's gift of life.
Life begins at conception. 
Every life matters. 
And then we see our tiny child's remains...

Death is ugly.  It is gory.  It is bloody.  It is not how God intended. 
But it is how God now brings Christians to Himself. 

When I see my child there, I know his or her soul is with Jesus already.  I know that God can and will raise the bodies of all the saints on the Last Day, no matter whether they were discarded or not.  I know that our first child's body, who died at 10 weeks gestation, will rise on the Last Day even though I have no clue what the hospital did with Jovi's body after my surgery.  I don't place undue burden or blame on anyone who chose a different option than burial for their unborn children.  In these moments, there is so much fear, anxiety, and innocence.  So few people talk about what they do in these moments that it is hard to make a decision.  The first two graveyards we called wouldn't allow burial without a death certificate, and you can't get that for an unborn child before 20 weeks in our state.   Medical professionals often speak of these unborn children as "its," and don't have good answers for how to proceed after death.  Having been through miscarriage once before and having four living children who are also mourning the loss of a little brother or sister moved us to this decision.  Since we were able to protect this child's body from being destroyed unlike our first miscarriage, we knew we wanted to respect this tiny person.  Tereo, as we named our child, was a person, and we believe all people who have died deserve a resting place. 

Tereo's body was created by God.  God cares about that body.  He made it. 
Do I know what God plans to make of that tiny body in the Resurrection?  No. 
But I know it will be glorious, and for that reason, Tereo deserves to be preserved. 

"...till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19 

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

We were blessed to be given a small burial site in a local LCMS church's cemetery. We are so thankful for such a beautiful gift from our fellow Christians. 
And so today, our whole family went to the cemetery. 
My husband dug a small hole at the site. 
He led us in a service for the death of an unbaptized or stillborn baby. 

We sang, "I am Jesus' Little Lamb." 
The children covered the tiny burial box with the dirt. 

And we laid sweet Tereo to rest next to the saints of the last hundred years. 

Tereo, pronounced Tay-REH-o, is Greek for "to keep, to hold, or to guard" as in John 8:51, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." 
This is most certainly true.

Until the Last Day, our child.