My wife and I lost our first child. We had a “missed miscarriage”. Our baby died at 6 weeks, which we found out on our 12 week ultrasound. As we awaited the miscarriage and mourned the loss of our baby, we didn’t know what to do with the remains. But a funeral seemed appropriate.
That’s not necessarily easy. When a woman undergoes a dilation and curettage procedure, which removes tissue from the uterus, in a hospital, she must insist that staff give her the remains – “products of conception” in medical jargon. If the remains are not returned to the parents, they are often treated as medical waste and could be incinerated. Some women who miscarry at home rinse out the remains.
We had planned for it to happen at home, but we wanted more advice. So we went to church. We went to the confessional and asked the priest what we should do. He said we could have a funeral if we wanted, but it wasn’t necessary. What surprised us most about this experience was that while our large church had many different ministries, held pro-life events, and had a funeral coordinator, we had no one to call to explain what we were doing with a miscarriage should handle.
We turned to a friend who passed our questions on to her midwife. The midwife’s answers helped us to prepare. When my wife miscarried, we put the tiny body in a bag in the freezer and asked our friend and her husband, who have many children themselves because we lived in an apartment, if we could bury ours in their garden.
When we arrived at her home for the funeral, our friend had received a miscarriage kit from the Early Pregnancy Loss Association, a nonprofit organization based in Hillsdale, Michigan. The set included a small wooden coffin and fabric to wrap the body, as well as an imprint liturgy that we spoke about the baby. We gave him a name before the funeral.
I poured boiling water on the frozen ground near a small pine tree and dug the grave. We stood in the cold and said last prayers before putting the coffin in the ground. We later learned that our friends’ children marked the grave with a tombstone.
Being open to life also means being open to death. More than 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and while pro-life advocates have focused on the principle that human life begins at conception, and with good reason, they should also focus on emphasizing human death at birth to honor miscarriage.
Mr. Naida is Associate Editor of Editorials at the Journal.
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Appeared in the July 7, 2022 print edition as We Owe the Unborn Their Burials.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/we-owe-the-unborn-their-burials-pro-life-babies-miscarriage-abortion-dobbs-roe-v-wade-11657130783 We Owe Unborn Babies Their Burials