Jessalyn Hutto answered some questions for us about her recent book, Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb. We thought her responses would encourage you. Please share this with others who might be strengthened through it.
Can you comment on the process of writing this book, particularly the range of emotions you undoubtedly experienced?
Recounting past losses in intimate detail, as I did in my book, is bound to stir up sorrow. Emotions that had been dormant for years in some cases were brought back to the surface as I sought to recall the specific circumstances and affects of each loss. This was something I fully expected and opened myself up to when I decided to move ahead with the project. However, there were two events during the writing of Inheritance of Tears that greatly shaped the book and me.
The first was my dear sister-in-law experiencing a miscarriage with her first baby. She was not the only woman I knew at the time who was called to walk through this type of loss, but her sorrow in particular had a huge impact on my writing, causing me to connect emotionally with the book in a new way. As I sat at my computer screen, seeking the Lord’s guidance on how to most effectively minister to women in such profound pain, I often imagined that it was she I was writing to, and in many ways it was. Knowing that someone so dear to me was fighting for joy in the midst of such a terrible providence gave me a burden to communicate to all my suffering sisters in Christ in a sensitive and loving manner.
The second event that impacted my emotional journey while I wrote this book was that I was pregnant during much of the process. Writing about miscarriage during a pregnancy is a bit like writing about an airplane crash while flying over the Atlantic. I suspect most pregnant women try to avoid any thoughts of miscarriage, but here I was writing a book about it.
However, rather than being an added source of anxiety, writing Inheritance of Tears became a help to me in my pregnancy. It enabled me to rehearse key theological truths that my soul desperately needed in order to not give in to fear of the unknown.
Since writing the book, have you learned anything new about miscarriage and pregnancy loss from the women you have encountered?
I’m continually astonished by the sheer frequency of miscarriage. It is such a common affliction for women in their childbearing years, yet one that isn’t typically addressed or prepared for.
Another thing I’ve been blessed to observe is the Lord’s goodness to women who are called to walk through the trial of miscarriage. If a woman is willing to seek God in her suffering, he is always faithful to reveal himself to her in an extremely intimate way. Through the grace of God, these women emerge from their suffering with a certain beautifying soberness they previously may have lacked.
This is partly because they’ve been awakened to the eternal reality of sin and death in a new way. But more than anything, these women have been forever altered by an unshakable longing for a world that is yet to come—a world where they will be comforted eternally by the Savior who cared for them so dearly while they suffered here on earth.
What did you think about the attention brought to this issue during last week’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day?
I am very grateful there is a day set aside each year for raising awareness for pregnancy loss and infant loss. One of the most difficult aspects of losing a child in the womb—aside from the actual death of your baby—can be the feelings of isolation and invisibility that accompany your grief. No one else can feel the weight of what you have lost in the same way you can.
For a bereaved mother and father, the loss is real and tangible, but for those further removed it can be hard to understand the depth of grief. Having a day when these parents can speak openly and honestly about their losses provides a great opportunity for the rest of the world to see how painful miscarriage is and how often it occurs.
Because of the gospel, Christians have a special perspective on the tragedy of pregnancy loss and, for the same reason, a special perspective on abortion. It’s undoubtedly challenging for some of us to think about those two issues side-by-side, but how would you talk about the connections between the two?
I believe women who are willing to speak candidly about the trial of miscarriage play an important role in the fight against abortion. With each miscarriage story that is told, the lie that pre-born babies are somehow less than human is shown for the evil it is.
Many of these women have held their babies in their hands after they’ve miscarried and marveled—through tears—at the creative work of God in the formation of their tiny frames. In a society that values personal experience, they can offer important firsthand testimony to the humanity of the unborn.
Now, am I saying that every woman who miscarries should seek to publicize her baby’s death for the sake of the pro-life movement? Not necessarily. What I am saying is that speaking openly about the death of an unborn child is, in itself, powerfully pro-life. To openly acknowledge and grieve a life that has been lost is to champion the humanity of that child.
I would encourage women to share their stories of miscarriage with their friends and family, and on social media. Don’t feel as though you must immediately remove your ultrasound pictures from your Facebook page when you find out you’ve miscarried—unless of course it is too painful for you to see them. Your child existed; he or she was your baby. You don’t have to go on as though nothing ever happened. Allow yourself to grieve, and allow others to know you are grieving. It will help you to heal, and at the same time honor the life of your baby.
Do you feel that the book Grieving, Hope, and Solace: When a Love One Dies in Christ can offer comfort or help to women who have suffered pregnancy loss?
Yes! Every woman who has lost a baby will find tremendous encouragement from gaining a better understanding of the life her child now lives with the Savior!
Jessalyn Hutto lives near Houston, Texas where she serves alongside her husband in his ministry as a church planter. They are blessed to have four young children. She blogs at JessalynHutto.com.