Populating Heaven With Our Losses

October pregnancy loss awarenessShe searched and she searched. She zoomed in and zoomed out. She turned on the Doppler and it was a flat line. No rhythm.  No heartbeat. I kept staring at the tiny bean on the screen. I kept willing that little heart to beat. I kept praying, “Jesus, come on!!  Please make her live!!”  She turned to me then and said, “Well there has definitely been some growth but there’s no heartbeat. I am really sorry.”  The tears welled up in my eyes and began to spill down my face. I continued to lie there until she left the room, just sobbing. As I was preparing to leave I kept looking at the still shot on the screen of my lifeless baby and I grieved. I mourned. I longed to reach out and touch her with my fingertips. I longed to hold her. I longed for this child.” https://kimberlygriggs.wordpress.com


“Nuh uh, Mommy, you have four,” four year-old Ransom corrected his mother when the doctor asked how many children she had. Kim Griggs had answered “two,” thinking only of him and his older surviving brother Jaden.

The doctor looked at her funny, as if she didn’t know how many children she had, so she explained that her first two, Dot and Isaac, were in heaven.

That was four years ago.

For Kim and her husband Kevin, their journey with loss began ten years ago when Dot was just 9 weeks gestation. They’d had a routine ultrasound at 6 weeks, and everything had looked fine. But when they returned at 9 weeks, the baby’s heart was no longer beating, and she still measured at 6 weeks.

Kim said, “That’s when my husband first realized what abortion was. He was pro-life before. But he had seen that heartbeat on the ultrasound at six weeks. And he saw the baby so clearly on the screen when there was no heartbeat. Seeing the image on the ultrasound was cemented in his mind. Even though he was already pro-life and already had a kid.”

Since then, Kim and Kevin, and their sons Jaden and Ransom, have grieved the loss of three more babies who died in Kim’s womb.

Their third was in February 2015, which Kim described on her blog:

“Today we had an ultrasound. We found out we were expecting about 5 weeks ago and it has been a very long 5 weeks…. My numbers (HCG and progesterone) came back low and then the next test they jumped. Each test has been a test of faith. Each test God showed up and showed off in a way I wasn’t expecting.  Then two weeks ago we had an ultrasound that didn’t show exactly what we expected to see…. Two days later my symptoms increased making me sick and unable to eat much. Usually this is a really good sign…the worse the symptoms are, the better the baby is doing. So I went to the ultrasound appointment today in anticipation that we would see a thriving baby and heartbeat. What we saw was a baby that is about a week or two behind and cardiac activity that was extremely weak.  We are shocked. We are devastated.”

When a baby dies while you are pregnant, the loss is unique. The fact that mom and dad and the rest of the family have just lost a baby can be obscured simply in the terminology with words like fetal loss or miscarriage.

Kim pointed out four ways pregnancy loss is unique:

She said the biggest way is, “The loss is not acknowledged as a loss. You can’t see the baby. You can’t touch the baby. You can’t hold the baby. You can’t feel the baby.”

The second way is that fetal loss is, “seen as a medical issue, a medical problem. Not a death.”

Third, “There’s no body to bury, no funeral, no closure, no good-bye. It’s a silent death. The suffering is in silence.”

Finally, many women also, “deal with physical loss as well.” Kim described the physical experience from one of her miscarriages on her blog:

“The miscarriage began Friday evening. After fainting once in the bathroom and then multiple episodes of hearing and vision loss, nausea, cold sweats and fever, and loss of feeling in my limbs it was determined that I needed to go to the ER. Friends had to come and get our kids and also to help carry me out of the house…. I arrived in the ER only to pass out on them and was taken back immediately. 

I remember thinking that I was dying. I wasn’t being dramatic. The pain, the feeling of drifting away, the lack of ability to control my thoughts or my body, the crushing pressure on my chest…I literally thought I was hemorrhaging to death….

It was determined that I was having a reaction to the miscarriage….” Kim was released, only to have to be rushed back to the doctor once more, and she couldn’t walk for days. She said it took her 6-8 weeks to recover physically.

As Dr. H. Norman Wright writes, “Even if you attempt to ignore the loss, the emotional experience of it is implanted in your heart and mind—no eraser will remove it.”  The Complete Guide to Crisis and Trauma Counseling, Wright, p. 63.

Wright explains further about these unspeakable losses, “Miscarriage, abortion, and the inability to have a child are losses that are both devastating as well as shrouded by silence. The silence could be because these losses are such private incidents, or perhaps the incident creates shame or a desire to forget, coupled with self-blame. In any case, these are losses where there is no stream of supporters to walk the affected through the grief.” Wright, p. 67.

But God. He turns our mourning into joyful dancing. He takes away our clothes of mourning and clothes us with joy. (Ps. 30:11)

And miraculously, the Author of Life has used the pangs of death and mourning and sorrow that Kim and her husband Kevin have suffered to speak life and hope and healing and to help others see how they too can be a beacon of hope and life in their communities.

Kim explained that, “Women who lose babies need closure. People who’ve gone through their own personal hell need closure.”

And Kim led her community to host a memorial service for anyone who had suffered any kind of pregnancy loss—whether through miscarriage, abortion, infertility, working in a pregnancy medical clinic, or being related to anyone who had suffered pregnancy loss.

Kim said it is important for PMC leaders to consider what it looks like for staff in dealing with loss after loss after loss, and how are staff who’ve suffered pregnancy loss handling their own emotions when the young woman leaves the clinic on her way to abort.

She said when she worked at a PMC, there were days that it would be hard not to beg the woman not to have an abortion—that she just wanted to say, “Please, I’ll be a good mom. I’ll love your baby.” She added, “Of course, I know I couldn’t say that, but the thoughts run through your mind.”

So, it’s important for an ED to make sure staff suffering from pregnancy loss have acknowledged their loss, and have had ample opportunity to grieve. Recognizing their grief, and having a memorial service for the staff, for patients, for the community is a way to do that.

They talked to several funeral homes about what they wanted to do and found them very eager to help out with the minimal expenses, and those funeral homes then contacted florists they worked with, and got them to donate flowers.

Then they contacted churches and told them that they would love for them to let their people know about the event.

As many as 25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it’s important for pastors to recognize that as many as a fourth of their congregations may have suffered or be suffering from pregnancy loss, in order to be prepared to minister to them. Often pastors don’t know how to talk about miscarriage and see it as a female issue, so providing a service like this and resources to minister to the women in their flock can be a great way to build relationships between the PMCs and local churches.

The service included praise and worship music that centered around praise and loss. The roses provided by the florists were available for people to take—as many as they wanted—one for each baby lost that they wanted to remember, and then during the service they had the opportunity to lay the roses on the altar as a visual reminder of how many babies had been lost.

Three women spoke, including Kim, representing three different types of loss: One was a lady who had gone through embryo adoption. She saw each embryo she adopted as her baby. As the doctors described “it” as “not taking,” the loss and grief were intense. She lost the twelfth at nine weeks, when she was told they wouldn’t let her do any more.

Another lady was a friend who had recently gone through Forgiven and Set Free, and shared her post-abortion story. Kim said this service was better than just a “post-abortion memorial service,” because the women didn’t have to admit they’d had an abortion. In fact, as Kim put it, “We hoped that maybe the memorial service might be the first step for some of these women—that it might lead to counseling—that they’d reflect that ‘maybe the reason I’m so sad is because of what I did so long ago.’”

Kim added that they had a post-abortion counselor at the memorial service so that if grief was triggered, they would have someone there to talk to.

They also made memorial bookmark-certificates with the date of the memorial service that had a place where they could put their babies’ names and had candles, reminding everyone, “as we see with the light we have light in Christ, and these babies have gone to be with Him.”

In another memorial service, they made wooden hearts and hands, and they had sharpies where they could write the name of the child and the date of the loss on one side and on the back, they could write the date of the memorial service.

Kim said that her husband, who is a pastor, preached about loss, and that one of the things he said that someone commented to her that was particularly helpful is that “God had used them as parents to bring these children into existence just so they could spend eternity with Him.”

That statement led her to the hope they have that they’ve passed on to their sons, about how they look forward to meeting their five other children in heaven. As Kim said, “They’re not going to be babies in heaven. They’re not angels. They don’t have wings. We’ll know them. By name. That’s the hope we have. They are fully in tact. Just like Jesus is.”

Kim has graciously made herself available as a resource for PMCs who would like more information about birthing a memorial service like this in their communities. She and her husband are also available to speak and provide music. She can be contacted at knkgriggs@gmail.com or 770-365-7596.

An effective infant and fetal loss program can enhance the work of a PMC. As Kim put it, “It brings awareness to the issue of life in the womb. It gets minds thinking. It recognizes life. It brings awareness to the suffering of loss of men and women.” She added, “Businesses aren’t going to give to anti-abortion, but they’ll give to life,” and “Sometimes people get so focused on anti-abortion, they get tunnel vision and forget to be pro-life.”

Reni Bumpas
Sparrow Solutions Consultant

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