Every life matters. As a Catholic and a staunch pro-lifer, I believe this firmly. I always have. It’s why I worked for several years at a non-profit devoted to “saving the babies” and was part of the pro-life group in college. Each child is a gift from God, even if the circumstances of his conception are less than favorable. Every baby deserves to live, to be born, to love and be loved, to be remembered. This isn’t just my opinion. It’s truth.
Why then do we place such a taboo on speaking about miscarriage and infant loss? When a baby is created, it’s a new life. It should be celebrated, and it when all is going well, it usually is. We have baby showers and send gifts. We wait with joyful anticipation for that happy day to arrive. But, when that happy day doesn’t arrive, when baby passes away and there is no bundle of joy to cuddle, quite often the talking stops. Coworkers don’t know what to say and the people at Mass aren’t quite sure of how to approach the issue of your dwindling belly, so they simply don’t. Sometimes, even we as parents hesitate to bring up these babies, named or otherwise, when asked how many children we have. Society tells us that life is about the here and now. YOLO, right? Anything that may diminish our immediate enjoyment should be shunned and eschewed from polite conversation.
As Christians though, we know that, yes, we do only live once. The thing that we understand though that the world may never get is that our real life begins at the end of our earthly one. These children, lost to us in the here and now, are actually more alive than anyone on earth could hope to be. And they deserve to be remembered, and to have their memories honored. If we truly believe that life begins at conception, then we know that death, at any stage, does not negate that life. Just because a child passes away before taking his first breath, or is stillborn, or dies [excruciatingly] young, is no reason to pretend as if he never existed in the first place.
When we believe in something, it should effect how we live. For my husband and I, our belief in life beginning with conception meant naming our miscarried and stillborn children, having burials in actual graves at the local Catholic cemetery, and remembering them every day in prayer with our other children. It means celebrating their anniversaries and talking about them, our hopes, our sadness, and our ultimate joy in knowing where they are. For other it may mean something else. The point is that it should mean something. We would never allow the death of any other family member or friend to go unrecognized. Why then would we, do we allow miscarriages to pass by without so much as a sympathy card? It must end. We must no longer push the memory of these short lives into the shadows, but must make an effort as a community of believers to honor all our dead, and not just those society deems acceptable.
In thanksgiving for my own children, now saints in heaven:
Gianna, November 26, 2011
Tolkien, December 19, 2013
Jude, July 7, 2014
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