Helping Her Grieve: How to Have a Funeral for Miscarried or Aborted Babies
RU-486 has once again burst upon the American moral consciousness. The FDA has relaxed its rules and given women more opportunities to abort their babies by simply swallowing a small little pill.
Once upon a time it took the approval of two doctors to prescribe the pill and allow the mother seven weeks to slough off the unborn child. Now the process requires only one doctor and the mother has up to ten weeks to do the deed. For those who believe in the sanctity of human life, we see the murdering process heading in the wrong direction.
LET’S LOOK BEYOND THE ISSUE TO THE PAIN.
Thousands of articles are written about why abortions are wrong and what we ought to do about it. We have dumped plenty of shame and guilt on mothers who aborted their children and on the husbands and/or the men who encouraged them to do so. There’s no need for me to repeat what’s been hashed over thousands of times.
I want to help hurting women grieve. Here’s how to have a funeral service for the sake of the moms who are grieving their miscarried or aborted babies.
Suggest To Your Pastor That Your Church Have A Funeral Service For The Parents Of Aborted And/Or Miscarried Children.
You may want to tailor the service to one or the other, or combine if you focus on grieving the loss.
I know a mother who has three healthy children; unfortunately, somehow that’s not enough. She’s still grieving the one child she aborted when she was so young. What a relationship they might’ve had! But it will never be.
Many women are grieving alone. It’s time to help them bring closure to a dark part of their lives. That’s what funerals are for.
As long as it’s only a fetus it’s easy to dismiss the deed and get on with living. But when it’s a baby it’s much harder to pass it on by. Think about the guilt that will, one day, if not already, intrude the soul.
Let’s not focus only on the aborted. I’ve seen many mothers grieve deeply over a miscarried child.
I met a woman who gave birth to a stillborn child. One thing led to another and before long she was sharing how much she was hurting because her priest refused to baptize the baby. She was never going back to that church again.
I comforted her about what the priest did, the child she’d never know, the dreams that would go unfulfilled, and not to fear, Jesus said little children will be in heaven with God the Father. She could see her child again.
Then she stunned me, “I guess the reason it hurt so bad is because I’ve had four miscarriages.”
“Oh my goodness, I am so sorry.” So, I decided to comfort her four miscarriages worth of hurt.
“Did you name them?” Yes, she had a name for each of them. Then I asked, “And I bet your husband didn’t get it, did he?
She looked up at me, “How did you know?”
“It’s not hard; you have a child growing inside and in too short a time, your child isn’t there anymore. And your husband says something like, “It’ll be okay; we’ll just have another one!” It’s just a bump in the road for him; but probably a giant wreck for you.
We decided for our church to help heal the pain and suffering in our midst by having a funeral service for the parents of miscarried and aborted children.
1. We publicized the upcoming funeral event.
2. We bought 200 white roses and placed them carefully on a table at the front of our church.
3. We arranged for a number of counselors and compassionate people to comfort, encourage and provide counsel to those who wanted it when the service was over.
4. We designed the service much like the ones we usually used for a funeral.
5. Below is an outline of the service we used with several annotations. You can use your normal funeral service. It will work just fine!
By 7:00 p.m. it was standing room only.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR MISCARRIED AND ABORTED BABIES
PRE-SERVICE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC:
Soft, acoustic or recorded music that would reflect a peaceful mood. MercyMe’s classic song and video “I Can Only Imagine” is an example of a comforting message.
PRAYER (Focus on the hearts of the women and the compassion Jesus feels for them).
SCRIPTURE READING (Isaiah 40:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5)
(Talk about how God brings us personal comfort and about our opportunity to comfort those around us. Encourage the people that the purpose of this funeral is not to bring guilt or shame for women who have aborted a child, but instead to find comfort for our hurts from both God and the people around us).
SOLO (appropriate for the tastes of your audience) A female soloist would be preferable.
(Invite beforehand two women, one who’s had an abortion, and/or one who’s had a miscarriage, to tell of their experience and how Jesus met them in their pain. Emphasize that others can find healing and hope as well.)
(For mothers who have ended a pregnancy, use this time to talk about the healing and restoration that comes in Christ. Give hope by sharing John 8: 1-12 by emphasizing that Jesus is in the business of helping us pick up the pieces and start over again. This is a good time to explain and share how you personally grieve for the women who experienced those difficult times.)
For mothers who have lost a baby by miscarriage, talk about how lonely it feels to lose a child, no matter how far along the pregnancy is. Solicit understanding and prayer.
Those who aborted their children usually don’t want to let anyone know.
Those who lost a child may not want to show sadness, but comfort should be offered.
Have counselors available after the service for the grieving moms.
Unfortunately, most mothers don’t have a physical place to go to grieve, (like a cemetery). Most mothers will deal with the feelings of guilt, anger, loneliness, abandonment, depression, grief, and, “second guessing” how it would be if they could turn back the clock and make a different choice, or what would have happened if their baby had reached full term. Talk about the resurrection power that makes all things new.
CONFESSION FOR MOTHERS WHO HAVE ABORTED A BABY (Psalm 51:1-2; 7-12; 15-17 and 1 John 1:9)
(Explain the meaning of repentance, godly sorrow, confession and forgiveness. Talk about the cleansing joy and freedom that comes as we experience forgiveness and enter into the reality of Christ as he restores our relationship with him.)
(Now give the women enough time to work through the process of finding forgiveness.)
IF THE SERVICE IS FOR MISCARRIED BABIES, it would be appropriate for the spouse or family members to come and pray over the grieving mother. If they have named a child, it might be appropriate to use one of the mementos mentioned below.
MEMORIALIZE THE MOMENT WITH WHITE ROSES (Joshua 4:1-9)
(Share some examples of what the women might do to memorialize their aborted or miscarried child.)
(“PASS Support Site” has a number of great contemporary ideas: to a memorial for your child on a website; buy a special piece of jewelry in remembrance; write a poem or letter to your child, then go to a special place and bury it or burn it as a memorial; consider a birthstone ring to wear in honor; commission a small headstone and place it in your garden; donate a memorial tree in a park or special place.)
(Now it is time to invite the women to come to the table with white roses and select a rose for each child they aborted or miscarried. In our services, the Holy Spirit poured out as women flooded forward. Some women selected one rose, others more. But I watched in disbelief and sorrowful grief as one woman picked up five roses one by one.)
(I began to worry that we were going to run out of roses. Thank God we just had enough. When the women finished only four were left.)
SONG: For example, Hillsong “Heart Like Heaven.”
SCRIPTURE (Luke 4:18-19)
DISMISSAL AND INVITATION TO STAY FOR COMFORT AND COUNSELING FOR THOSE WHO DESIRED it.