Conversations about pregnancy and child loss are shifting, allowing for more transparency around the emotional, physical, and mental suffering that follows miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death. Over the past year, celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Meghan Markle have helped unmask the grief associated with pregnancy and child loss by publicly sharing their personal experiences. Now, three books from religion publishers are looking at the loss of a baby through a faith lens with the aim of helping bereaved parents as well as friends and family who are unsure of how to show their support.
“About a million women and families in the United States lose a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death every year. If someone hasn’t personally experienced child loss, they are likely close to someone who has—whether they know it or not,” Kyle Rohane, acquisition editor for Zondervan Reflective, tells PW. “Even now, when more and more people are helping to lift the stigmas associated with miscarriage, many women suffer through these traumas silently and grieve without support. Parents feel pressure to ‘get over it,’ even if those words are never actually spoken to them.”
Zondervan Reflective recently published Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle: The Journey Toward Healing After Stillbirth, Miscarriage and Child Loss by Hallie Scott, who became a therapist after losing her only child to stillbirth in 2009. She describes feelings of heartbreak, anger, and guilt along a healing process that caused her to seek a new perspective of grief—one more accepting of grief as a lifelong condition, rather than something to overcome. “Can we consider that a lifelong journey of bereavement does not mean someone is stuck in their grief,” Scott queries.
Though the statistics suggest that pregnancy and infant loss are common, it is never common or expected when it happens to an expectant mother, writes Rachel Lewis, author of Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss (Bethany, Aug.). In addition to her experience with loss, Lewis draws on her work as founder of the Brave Mamas Facebook group supporting bereaved mothers in order to help readers validate their grief, cope with postpartum life without a child, and keep their faith in God.
“People going through loss don’t need easy answers; they need safe places to help them navigate everything they are going through,” Jennifer Dukes Lee, nonfiction acquisitions editor of Bethany, tells PW of Unexpecting. “Having endured considerable loss herself, Rachel’s book is deeply empathetic and down-in-the-weeds practical. She helps parents navigate everything from social isolation, grief invalidation, funerals, coping with a postpartum body, the overwhelming process of making everyday decisions, and much more.”
Specifically addressing the challenges that arise for women who are pregnant again after having experienced pregnancy loss, Courageously Expecting: 30 Days of Encouragement for Pregnancy After Loss by Jenny Albers (Thomas Nelson, Jan. 2022) features personal narratives and passages from the Bible on hope, faith, and empowerment. The book also includes advice ranging from how to ask for and accept help from others, and what to do with what-if, worst-case-scenario narratives.
“She captures the conflicting emotions women feel after they’ve lost a baby and yet are courageously trying to have a baby again—it’s joy alongside grief, excitement marred by fear,” says Jenny Baumgartner, senior acquisitions editor at Nelson Books. “Slowly, thanks to brave women speaking out, the public is coming to understand this unique journey so many mothers experience in life.”