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Approximately 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s a startlingly high figure, and I count myself as guiltily fortunate to be excluded from it.
But so many of my friends have experienced miscarriage in a variety of ways, at a variety of stages, that despite being daily driven up the wall by my four munchkins, it’s rare that I get to bed without having felt extremely grateful for, and blessed by, their presence in my life.
I could tell you stories of early and late miscarriages, babies who died within hours of entering the world, and situations where miscarriages recur, like a horrendous record stuck on a groove of loss. There is variety in how, and when, it happens – but there is little variety in the grief experienced. Whether early or late, young or old, losing a baby can be a traumatic, life-altering event.
Mothers’ Day provides a particularly stark reminder of what has been lost, particularly if motherhood is still proving elusive. So I thought this would be an apposite time to share with you a book which might be a comfort and a blessing.
Too Soon is a 30-day devotional for those who have lost a baby. It is, I think, unique in what it seeks to do: comfort, empathise, allow space to think and grieve and pray – while drawing the reader further into God’s presence, using appropriate Bible passages to accompany mourning, rather than to move you out of it.
Author Jane Clamp lost four babies in the process of trying to grow her family. Now, a couple of decades on, and with a couple of healthy grown-up sons, she is able to reflect on her experiences as if they were yesterday, yet offer the wise comfort which comes with time and space to grieve.
Each day’s reflection starts anecdotally, ponderously, with a reflection that is relevant to the experience of going through the loss of a child – perhaps the difficulty of the question ‘How are you?’, the sense of isolation, or the triggers which come out of nowhere to remind you of how low you’re feeling.
Most days include a Bible passage, but this comes towards the end of each day’s reflection, together with a suggested prayer. I don’t mean to sound uncomfortable when mentioning the Bible – personally, I see the Bible as of utmost importance. But in times of difficulty, I’ve found – and maybe you have too – that it’s just hard to open the Bible and let it speak to you. It can be hard to pray too. The fact that Jane does not force the Bible upon you, but carefully selects passages which will gently comfort and draw you towards God, is vitally important.
Towards the end of Too Soon, there is a helpful suggested liturgy which you could use in a thanksgiving or memorial service for your baby.
I’m not a Christian – will I appreciate this?
There is plenty of wisdom in the Bible, so I’m not about to say who will and won’t get something from this book. But if you’re sympathetic to the author’s position of faith, then yes, I think you would appreciate this book.
I’m a Dad who lost a baby – is this book for me?
The subtitle is ‘A Mother’s Journey Through Miscarriage’, it’s been written by a mother, and the cover is designed in pastels. Nice pastels, but you know – not every man’s cup of tea.
If you’re cool with all this then yes, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t gain from many of Jane’s reflections. Some are specific to being a woman, having housed a baby and so on, but many speak more generally to those who are mourning a child, and I think men could get a lot from this book too. Perhaps it is something you could read as a couple.
This is a superb book which I hope I’ll never have to buy. Sadly, statistics suggest that I’ll be supporting yet more friends with baby loss in the future. When I do, this book will be my gift to them.
>>The Un-Birthday: Celebrating the Birthday of the Child you Haven’t Met
Clare Weiner says
First – website – it’s under reconstruction right now – so why not await the new version? Second, it was a long time ago, but I remember the awful emptiness of miscarriage, and how desolate one feels. It is amazing that even now, this topic hasn’t seemed to become respectable to talk about – and that people keep it secret, whether they are Christians or non-church people, it’s kept as ‘taboo’. So, I welcome this book and wish it success. I already had one child when I miscarried, and I desperately did not want him to be an ‘only’. Thankfully, I went on to be blessed with twin. Our three are now adults and each twin has a son – the mummies have been spared the loss thing but I suspect (thoughI don’t know) that maybe just maybe, this generation is becoming more open about these things … I have just finished Alice Jolly’s Dead Babies & Seaside Towns – a memoir … it’s a sad book, as she has substituted a surrogate child for the one she lost, which underlines that this is only an option for the well off – and that poses a lot of questions, doesn’t it – especially to Christians – like, does grief give us a chance to grow, even if it gives us pain? If we can buy what we wanted, have we lost the plot? I’m just flagging these up. They’re interesting – if only as ‘are we Christians different or not?’ (Alice Jolly lost her faith though I’m not sure how strong it was before). Anyhow, I am thinking of pointing readers towards Jane’s book at the endof my review of the Alice J one. Though really I should’ve read it to make sure it is okay – however your piece above sounds pretty much a recommendation to a book safe for Christians and sympathisers though not for atheists!
I’m SO sorry Clare…it turns out my spam filter has been overly effective, and literally no comments were getting through these last few months – and I’ve only just realised! I thought it was a bit quiet on the blog!! Thanks, as always, for your wise comments – I do appreciate your insight. Yes, I agree – the book is good for those who are Christians but also agnostics/wavering. Probably not Atheists, but you never know – sometimes a time of suffering can make us reconsider our faith, or lack of, in a God – like it did in the reverse way for Alice Jolly, I guess. I recently recommended it for a friend’s daughter – not sure where she is faith wise, but certainly not an Atheist as far as I know, and I think the book is very gentle and good for people who aren’t sure what they believe. x
Loss is so hard… as you say, whether you lose early or late, once or multiple times, a first child or a fourth. Each little one is precious. Thanks for raising awareness on this. I lost two early on in pregnancies and I think its something that isn’t talked about enough.
I’m SO sorry Claire…it turns out my spam filter has been overly effective, and literally no comments were getting through these last few months – and I’ve only just realised! I thought it was a bit quiet on the blog!! Thank you for your comments. Yes, raising awareness is always good – the more the better eh? xx