A Time to Speak — Stop suffering in silence

Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes

Mistianna: Having a miscarriage is one of the toughest heartbreaks a couple can endure. It creates feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness. Unfortunately, one in four pregnancies ends with a miscarriage. This tears couples apart and often leaves both spouses suffering silently.

Deacon Derrick: Growing up, all I knew about miscarriages were that babies died prior to being born. I knew this caused suffering for the mother; what I never understood was how the loss impacted the father. Like many events in my life, it took real-world experiences for me to understand the pain that both parents go through.

Mistianna: The first time I miscarried, I was working at the state Capitol and fell down a flight of concrete steps. It was only after I was rushed to the emergency room that I learned I was pregnant and miscarrying all at the same time. Even though we hadn’t known about the pregnancy, we still grieved the loss. We grew closer as a couple as Derrick helped me physically heal from the fall and emotionally heal from losing our baby.

Deacon Derrick: Dealing with a miscarriage puts a husband and a father in a tough position. Not only did I have my own feelings of loss, but I also wanted to support Mistianna in her grief. It was during this time that I learned how to live out my wedding vows. We vowed to be there for each other in good times and in bad. … And this was definitely a bad time for us. Instead of pushing each other away, we cleaved to one another and healed together.

Mistianna: My second miscarriage happened when I was in my mid-30s. My doctor encouraged me not to celebrate the pregnancy until the end of the first trimester. I didn’t wait. We had always wanted a big family and I grew excited about adding a new member. When I miscarried, I was devastated; I grieved in silence, pushing Derrick away and shutting him out of my heartbreak. I also got extremely angry at God. I blamed him for everything. I didn’t understand why he had let the miscarriage happen. I stopped going to church, dropped all church activities, and spent hours yelling at God … just asking, “Why?”

Deacon Derrick: The days following our second miscarriage were dark. I struggled with how to process my emotional loss while trying to help Mistianna with hers. I dealt with my grief by staying busy; unlike Mistianna, who completely shut down. I wanted to help but she refused to talk to me. She suffered in silence; blaming herself for things that were out of her control. The emotional scars Mistianna was bearing were tearing her and our marriage apart. During this darkness, my happy, joy-filled and spiritual wife cried constantly, grew severely depressed and lost her faith in God. It was tough and I felt completely helpless. Mistianna spent over a year and a half going through all the stages of grief. I realized her anger towards God was part of this process and I remained faithful for both of us. I never doubted God’s healing power and grace.

Mistianna: My third miscarriage happened when we were in diaconate formation and we both had active and strong faith lives. Again, my doctor suggested not sharing the news; my chance for miscarrying was now extremely high. Derrick and I never talked about the pregnancy and both approached the entire 10 weeks as if we weren’t even pregnant. We thought if we never acknowledged the pregnancy, then if I did miscarry there would be no heartbreak and no loss. We were wrong; this time the heartache was 10 times worse. Instead of suffering silently, we each shared our anger, and feelings of loss and brokenness with the other. This time, Derrick and I grieved together and turned to God to help us heal, seeking his comfort and peace.

Deacon Derrick: Couples who experience a miscarriage don’t need to shut each other out and suffer in silence. Grief in marriage is meant to be shared. Spouses need to talk openly about their sadness, anger and feelings of loss and brokenness. Getting some professional couple’s counseling is helpful in navigating the grieving process. The scars of miscarrying can have a lasting impact on both partners and on their marriage if the loss is not grieved completely. Mistianna and I discovered that even though losing a baby is devastating, couples can live out their wedding vows by cleaving to each other and to God when tragedy, heartache and loss rock their marriage.

Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes regularly write about marriage in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s “Love Being Married” newsletter and are assigned to St. Margaret Mary Church.

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