By Deacon Stephen Bowling
It has been said that one of the most horrific pains that anyone can ever endure in this life is the loss of a child, and so indeed it is. A life so sacred and precious to us, when taken from us, leaves an empty hole that nothing it seems could ever fill.
No matter the time or the circumstances, we all know that this is not the way things are supposed to be. And yet far too frequently they are. No medicine can truly dull the pain, nor can any words really soothe the hurt, and far too many of us have experienced this heartache.
It has recently been made known to me that, as terrible as this loss is under any circumstances, for those who have lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth the situation is acutely unique. The unanswerable question of “what could have been” looms exceptionally large in our minds like an angry storm that threatens to drown us — not only via noise and fury, but also most especially with desolation.
While we know the marriage bond should give us the connectedness we need to weather storms like these, we still feel so incredibly alone, even in the presence of our spouse or other loved ones.
Nevertheless, Christ is with us. The cross is there to give us hope.
One of the things so often told to me by those who have experienced a painful loss of this kind is that most people just plain talk too much in the face of it. They usually don’t know what to say, and while they are always well-intentioned in their efforts, they far too often end up offering some sort of clichéd platitude that they think will make the griever feel better, but which, quite honestly, usually falls flat or makes things worse.
Words fail us at times like these. I think this is because God knows that no words we could ever offer would be of help. What God wishes, I believe, is for us to simply be present with our loved ones in their time of grief and to stand steadfastly beside them in their silent mourning, just as Christ does.
The church, as the Body of Christ, truly believes that actions speak much louder than words, especially for those grieving the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. To this end, Catholic Cemeteries offers many special services and ways of remembrance for all our little ones who were only briefly able to be here with us — check out their website for further details: www.catholiccemeterieslouisville.org.
And as a special way for us to lay our pain together at the foot of the cross, this fall we are offering a special Mass exclusively for those who have experienced this unique type of loss at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5 at St. Raphael the Archangel Church, 2141 Lancashire Avenue.
Father Shayne Duvall, Deacon Dennis Nash and I will be there, in solidarity, for everyone who has gone through this particular dark night in an attempt to stand beside you against the wind and the rain as we wait together with you for the sun to rise once more.
Deacon Stephen Bowling is the director of Family Ministries for the Archdiocese of Louisville.