When my oldest son was a baby, he had a love-hate relationship with bananas. Sitting in his high chair, his little body would wiggle and giggle at the prospect of holding that sweet golden treat with his chubby fingers. Teasing a bit, I would slowly peel the banana and encourage his anticipatory delight. Feet kicking, arms waving, my little cherub reached out to grab the prize only to realize a great disappointment. Banana’s break. Although his hands were tiny, a humble banana could not withstand the pressure of my son’s greedy grip. The banana broke. This was a trial he could not endure. His once joyful countenance, only seconds before, turned to wailing. The disappointment is complete. This fit was an emotional explosion of a human who hasn’t yet learned how to cope with the world not being as he imagines it should be. The irony is, that his imagination is only that: imagination. Life includes trials.
This life lesson stayed within our family as we raised our children. Through the years, when trials came to our household, ultimately, someone would say, “Well, bananas break!” There is sound wisdom in recognizing this principle as truth. We live in a broken world where things break: relationships, health, hearts, worldviews, roles, hope…they all break at some point. Jesus told us to expect it (Jn. 16:33). Peter teaches us “not to be surprised” by it (1 Peter 4:12). James instructs us to “count it all joy” when we face them (James 1:2-8). And David declares that the Lord will comfort our broken hearts and crushed spirits as we endure them (Ps. 34:17-18).
I can only guess as to why, as a young woman, I began reading stories of missionaries and those who have suffered mightily for the kingdom. Early on, I knew I wanted to prepare for the inevitability of life’s inconsistent, unpredictable, and seemingly unjust trials. But sometimes, sometimes…a trial comes out of the blue and gives you a good sucker punch. Sometimes, the hit is so hard it takes, at least initially, the prayers out of your lungs. We are bruised and bloody.
We had one such family gut-punch this week, and today, I am sore. I am weary and wounded and a little cross, if I’m honest. Maybe you are here this week, too. Perhaps you, as a helper needing to be strong for others, are also struggling personally, unable to pray but only offer, as Lilias Trotter suggests, a “dumb crying up to the skies of brass.” CS Lewis then recommends we should not “weep inwardly and get a sore throat. If [we] must weep, weep a good honest howl. I suspect we…don’t cry enough nowadays.” In this, the Lord reminds me that bananas do, in fact, break, and I do not yet live in Heaven. As a child, we learn this, and as an adult, we know it, but some trials do come to pass that utterly surprise us. In this season, Spurgeon speaks by encouraging us as a dear friend, “When grief presses you to the dust, worship there.” And my soul is restored.
My colleague, Tanya, and I travel quite a bit for work as we speak at seminars, attend conferences, and provide training. On any given flight, we are asked where and what we do, and I can tell you, it’s not always sexy for others to learn that we are reproductive grief and loss educators. Some people will tell us their precious and sacred stories, and others will not look us in the eye for the rest of the journey. On one such flight, Tanya sat beside a beautiful young woman who asked what the purpose of our trip was. Tanya quietly mentioned our travel plans, then sat back to see where the conversation would lead. Soon, the woman looked up at the air vent, hoping to find the meaning of these words there. She hesitatingly asked, “Miscarriage?” Tanya breathed out, “Yes.” After a long pause, the woman asked, “Abortion?” Again, Tanya answered, “Yes.” Finally, the woman looked up, searching for words in the sky beyond the plane, and asked, “Hysterectomy?”
The woman went on to share with Tanya how she had to have a complete hysterectomy at a young age and was now grieving the children she would never bear.
Reproductive loss is any experience of grief in a person’s life related to their reproductive health, decisions, fertility, the outcomes of a pregnancy, or the creation or care of their family. It can involve the pain of miscarriage, the agony of stillbirth, perinatal and infant loss, and the complex emotions tied to infertility, assisted reproduction, and abortion. It also extends to adoption, children born with congenital disabilities, and any loss affecting a person’s reproductive well-being.
Reproductive loss is a widespread and often unspoken part of life. Miscarriage alone accounts for a quarter of all pregnancies, resulting in about two million losses yearly in the United States. Yet, it differs from other forms of grief in that parents who have experienced reproductive loss may have limited tangible memories of their baby. Their loss is silent, and they often grieve without the support or recognition they need to heal. Additionally, when individuals form deep connections with their unborn or newborn children and experience any loss, grief inevitably follows.
Knowing that many people struggle with reproductive loss is half the battle of becoming a source of understanding and empathy for them. Because it is a private (or scary) topic, we seldom delve into these particular and painfully common tragedies. Thus, distressed women and men are not receiving the biblical guidance they desperately need. Instead, struggling with their pain in isolation, they often seek comfort and answers online, where much of the content they stumble upon focuses on the emotional dimensions of losing a child rather than applying the truths of God’s Word to their grief. While they find empathy in the articles they read, the profound hope embedded in the gospel of Jesus Christ is missing.
With just a little bit of information on this topic, we can listen to these stories with empathy and offer the hope and comfort afforded us in Christ Jesus.
Tricia Lewis, Co-Founder Reproductive Loss Network
 Flores and Lewis, 2023; Earle et al., 2008; Price, 2008; Roth, 2018