Friends of ours buried their miscarried daughter today.
They had a funeral Mass and a small reception at their house. It was a funeral Mass and not a memorial since they actually did have the baby's remains. I think this was a very courageous and healing experience for them in a couple of ways.
It was courageous because our culture no longer values life for its own sake; having a funeral for a miscarried baby makes the unequivocal statement that "this is a person" for whom we mourn. It was healing because it acknowledges the loss and brings a certain closure to the situation. Having a Mass brings our shared Faith to bear - "for both in life and death we belong to God" (Rom 14:8).
Miscarriages don't get talked about much in our society, whether out of respect for the pain of the family, the ambiguity involved in a baby you didn't get to see, or a desire to pretend that it didn't happen, or the embarrassment of not knowing what to say. I heard a statistic that as many as 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That's a lot of people walking around wounded with an unacknowledged pain in their hearts.
My wife and I suffered the loss of #3 and even thinking about it brings a lump to my throat today. I am amazed at the power of the memory from eight years ago, its power to grip me even today, even after having grieved fully. We were too shell-shocked at the time to even think or consider having a memorial Mass or healing service or funeral - at least I was.
I have to say it hit me particularly hard. Nothing is worse than the loss of a child. The only thing that I had at that time was my Faith which kept me anchored. I never blamed God, never doubted my Faith, I only wanted Someone to hold me and to understand the searing pain in my soul that I couldn't even express. God did that for me. I have no idea how people without faith or a relationship with God can deal with it on their own.
I wish I had a clever way of wrapping up my thoughts here, but I don't. I'm just sad today.