There is another, more serious way to approach the ambiguity of my response during this time, and it has to do with labeling miscarriages for what we believe them to be—deaths.
If we take as true the popular Christian belief that a child is formed at conception, then the church has done a terrible job of addressing miscarriage. The consistent message used in pro-life protests, literature, and countless pictures shared on Facebook is associated with death. Horrible images of aborted fetuses are used to shock people into action. (Whether or not they succeed is another issue.) It's curious that as much as we talk about the sanctity of life, there is very little said about miscarriage.
Of course, there are clear reasons for this. Both sides of the abortion debate tend to draw a line between themselves and others, often casting themselves as "the good guys."
Miscarriage has no champions, only victims, and so understanding its ramifications becomes more complicated. There is no one at whom to be angry, no earthly scapegoat. This is something beyond our control. If we're honest with ourselves, we're angry with God—but we're hardly going to be the ones to voice that particular gripe.
More broadly, however, we're just too afraid to talk about anything.
How can we? The environment many churches cultivate (often without malicious intent) is one of encouragement and positivity. We're passively trained not to upset that balance. This is why men and women who are convinced that life is formed at conception shut their mouths when it comes to miscarriage. They can deal with what they believe to be oppression, but they can't deal with a confusing, complex sort of pain. C. S. Lewis's words still ring true: It's easier to say "My tooth is aching" than "My heart is broken."
Mallory declined to go to church for a few weeks after the miscarriage. It was too painful for her. But I went. And as the service happened around me, I suffered in silence.
Sometimes that approach is appropriate. We needn't feel pressured to speak. But surely the option should be there for us to talk about this very specific hurt and receive comfort. It requires courage on behalf of the suffering to speak up about their pain, and grace on behalf of the comforters to understand that this is a very different type of death. How that looks in each congregation will be different. I've often seen members who are available at the end of a service to listen and pray with others. Sometimes it's just that simple.
As with all things, perhaps awareness is part of the answer—an acknowledgement from the top of the church structure on down that miscarriage exists, it is real, and we should be free to talk about it more and support others in their pain.
But, God help us, men can be passive when it comes to emotional assistance. We need to give them a space to be real. So many men's retreats and gatherings don't go deep enough into the type of suffering and exhaustion men can experience—especially those who believe it their burden to carry the emotional weight of their family. It's not often considered that they don't need to carry that weight alone, so they heap more and more stress on themselves, sometimes with disastrous results.