Parents who lose a child before birth often mourn the ability to physically embrace that child. If you have experienced such a loss, know that you are not alone.
The Catholic family of western Kentucky embraces you as a supportive community during this time of grief, whether you experienced your loss many years ago or very recently.
We encourage families to find ways to remember the children they have lost through miscarriage or stillbirth. Embrace Ministry is a community of parents who have gone through the process already and are here to help. It is our hope and prayer that this brochure brings you the comfort of knowing you are not alone.
Whether you experienced a miscarriage early in your pregnancy or full term; whether it was just recently or years ago; whether it was you or someone in your family; we are here for you.
To speak to someone who knows the pain you are going through contact the Office of Marriage & Family Life at 270-683-1545 or email [email protected].
How common are miscarriages?
- Losing a child through miscarriage, though an unspoken pain, is quite a common pain. Approximately 20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
What does the Catholic Church say about miscarriage?
The Catholic Church believes every person’s life is sacred, and that life starts at conception.
“Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2319)
“From the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way … his whole being bears the image of the Creator.” (Donum Vitae, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Introduction no. 5)
For those concerned about a baby’s salvation without baptism, we can take comfort in these words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1261:
“As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.”
Can I name my baby, even if I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl?
- Yes. Naming your baby allows you to acknowledge his or her unique identity, as well as your own grief. If you are concerned that you might name the baby the wrong gender, consider a gender neutral name or look to the day your baby died and choose from a list of saints for that day.
Can I have a memorial service or burial?
- Yes. If you intended to baptize your baby you may have a funeral, memorial service, or burial. Contact your local priest or the Office of Family Life for more information on how to coordinate this. Many families, for various reasons, do not have any remains. You may still have a Memorial Mass or prayer service, and we have a booklet to help you. Please note: If you have guilt over this, please try to pray about it and let go of the guilt. Being unable to bury your baby does not lessen his or her impact on your life or change the fact that he or she is an immortal soul who is loved very much.
How can I help a friend or family member who is miscarrying or who has miscarried?
The first thing that you can do is just be present with them and pray for them. Let them grieve at their own pace. Let them share or simply be silent. Pray with them and for them.
Local resources to consider:
Many local funeral homes offer counseling, support, and other special services upon request for parents who experience a loss through miscarriage or stillbirth. Check with your local funeral home to see what support they can offer.
You can also check your local cemetery to see if they have a special section designated for baby memorials.
Most hospitals have a pastoral care staff or hospital chaplain office. Sometimes they’ll even have a Catholic priest or deacon on call for encouragement and prayer.
For further information about logistics of D&C and delivery procedures after your loss, click here to read CatholicMiscarriageSupport.com’s page devoted to “How to Navigate the Hospital.”
Note: this brochure is in an Adobe PDF. You will need a reader to view it. If you do not have the capability to view PDF documents, please visit https://get.adobe.com/reader/. This is a free software to download.