For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until parted by death. A husband and wife can’t possibly imagine all that those words will entail when spoken during their marriage. Couples dream of having children, but they don’t dream of miscarriage. When it arrives, it can feel like a death that separates them.
Husbands and wives each bring unique approaches and unspoken expectations to grief and mourning. Because pregnancy loss is often silent and unseen, it can leave bereaved fathers and mothers not knowing what to do. That silence left unaddressed becomes separation. So we wonder (and worry), “How can I connect with my spouse in our grief?” We answer that question by recalling how God connected with us in our grief.
First, we remember the incarnate Lord. When sin entered the world, it thrust humanity into a world of grief. We grieve sin and its consequences––suffering, death, separation from God. In God’s mercy, he sought connection with his people. We marvel that in Israel’s history, the Lord dwelt with them in a tent and a temple, speaking to them through prophets. But now, God has connected with us in an even better way. “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2 CSB). This Son is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3).
Even though “no one has ever seen God,” Jesus—God in the flesh—“has revealed him” (John 1:18). In Christ, God demonstrated how to love and connect with our neighbors in their grief. He did not give us a blog post, a podcast, or a platitude. God gave us himself in the flesh—“since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these” (Hebrews 2:14). He did not love us from a distance. Jesus loved us up close and personally. He did not address our grief in the abstract. The Son of God became “a man of suffering who knew what sickness was” (Isaiah 53:3). In short, Jesus became “like his brothers and sisters in every way” (Hebrews 2:17).
Second, we rely on the incarnate Lord. It would be wrong to remember the incarnation and conclude that we must merely imitate God to connect with our spouse in grief. Giving ourselves to our spouse—in the flesh, entering their grief—is part of connecting with them. But our imitation of Christ is never sufficient and is never the first step. Imitating Christ is impossible on our own.
The eternal Son of God became human because we failed at being human. God put us on earth to display his glory in how we love him and each other. Yet we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). A spouse is the nearest neighbor on earth, the only neighbor we are bound to through a “one flesh” covenant union. Sadly, we don’t have to travel far down memory lane to find ways we’ve failed to love them the way God does. If our hope of connecting with our spouse is in our ability to do it, then we might as well give up. We will fail–but Christ has not.
Jesus shared our nature so that “he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). Being made in God’s image, everything we do is a public statement about what God is like. We must admit that we’ve told some very nasty lies about God. That slander deserves death––our death. Jesus, though a sinless, faithful representative of God, died the death we deserve to atone for our sin. Through this atonement, our sins are forgiven, and we have peace with God.
Jesus’ ministry to us did not end in his death for our sins. He died and rose from the dead to become a sympathetic helper. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). When Jesus sees your calling to connect with your spouse (and how you’re tempted to avoid it), he says, “I know what that’s like. I’ve been there.” Sympathy is nice. But compassion accompanied by the ability to help is even better. Jesus is more than able. “For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). By sharing our nature and experiences, Jesus became capable of helping us.
So what do we do with this good news? We ask for help in faith. “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus is King, and he sits on a throne of grace. The material of this throne is unmerited favor that he is happy to give us. So when we find ourselves in need, we go to Jesus for mercy. We kneel before him in prayer, asking him to do what he promised.
Finally, we represent the incarnate Lord. We represent the King as his ambassadors. We give our spouse our presence, as Jesus gave us himself. We offer to share our lives, this painful experience especially.
A miscarriage is shared, but each parent experiences it differently. So, we connect in grief by understanding each other’s experience, as Jesus understands our own. That means asking good questions and carefully listening without assuming their answers will be like ours. What do you each fear, miss, or regret? What makes you sad, angry, or ashamed? It also means sharing your grief, letting him know that he is not alone.
We connect with our spouse in our shared hope. A miscarriage is a death. Neither spouse can undo it. Nothing can relieve death except a resurrection. So, we share the hope of the gospel. We remind each other that Jesus tasted death for us; he conquered death so that it could not conquer us. We pray. We read Scripture. We point to our risen Lord and say to each other, “since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
Holding fast to our confession means we do not try to connect with our spouse in our own strength. We connect in faith. We move toward our spouse confidently, trusting that Jesus has moved ahead of us to prepare our hearts. We go, believing that he moves in, with, and through us as we give our spouse our presence. We trust the Lord will move after us, drawing the straight line of mercy with the crooked stick of our offerings. If Christ has united us to himself through his sufferings, he is able and willing to connect us in our own.
Eric Schumacher is the author of Ours: Biblical Comfort for Men Grieving Miscarriage, as well as the novella My Last Name, and co-author of Worthy and Jesus & Gender with Elyse Fitzpatrick. Eric received his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Iowa with his wife and five children. Find him online at emschumacher.com.