Given the Catholic Church’s teaching that life begins at conception, many can become troubled after experiencing miscarriage. The bottom line is this: Many couples deal with the pain of losing a life before, during or shortly after birth.
After Amanda and Paul Ellerkamp lost their son, John Paul, at 15 weeks to fetal demise, Amanda said she has had many women reach out to her about their own losses.
Amanda suggested that couples should not be afraid to reach out to their church community, whether it’s a priest or friend in their parish “so that you don’t get into despair and you have that support of faith, even in moments when it might be hard for you to pray.”
“We were absolutely carried by the prayers of hundreds of people through those weeks and that month. There’s no greater gift that you can give somebody,” she said.
Many are uncertain how to approach those who have shared that they experienced a miscarriage.
“Don’t be afraid to say something. I think if you don’t say something, it might be more hurtful than being afraid that you’re going to say the wrong thing,” she said, adding that “less is more” when offering condolences.
“Say to someone what you’d say to anybody else who has had a loss: ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘What can I do for you?’ ‘We’re praying for you.’”
Paul said it’s important to resist the “throw-away culture” that doesn’t talk about pain or feelings. “I don’t know if you ever get over it. You have to embrace it. It might be part of your cross, but at the same time it is part of your love.”
“Sometimes we tend to isolate ourselves and we want to be strong for everybody, but sometimes that can make it harder on ourselves,” Amanda suggested. “Don’t rush and feel like you have to get over it. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t be afraid to have that time of grieving.”
Resources for parents:
: Things to say or not to say to a grieving parent or family
: Various information and support for those struggling with infertility—from a Catholic perspective
•Mass for children who died before baptism
•Catechism of the Catholic Church
: paragraphs 1257 and 1261