The grief was sharp and deep. It showed on her face as she attempted to restrain tears already welled up. I pushed my toddler in a swing and quick-counted my other kids across the playground, simultaneously searching for a way to comfort her. She looked at her feet for a few moments—eyes glassy and despondent—seeing only the emptiness of seven months ahead of her, a troubling countdown to a date that would come and go without the promised gift of a child.
We’d been close friends for years, and I’d seen her walk through a long season of infertility before the glorious pink lines had appeared for her, six weeks earlier. The knife-twist for me was that I discovered pink lines myself just a week after her announcement—lines for baby number five in my already-bursting family. With this devastating news, I was looking at a long stretch of pregnancy milestones alongside her miscarriage ones.
I wasn’t sure how to journey with a bereaved mother-friend while awaiting my fifth baby. It hurt to see her wrestle with the all-consuming grief, and I felt powerless. I feared any gestures I made might add to her pain, and wrestled with how to navigate my own pregnancy as it progressed. My baby would arrive near her expected due date, and she’d be there alongside me as my belly grew through the months.
Kicking at the wood chips under my feet, I scanned the ground, hoping I might find some words there. Thrust into an unwelcome tension, I waded through murky water, trying to figure out how to be a good friend through this challenging season of loss.
I committed myself to being there for her, but I didn’t know what that should look like. Should I give her space? Should I be quietly present? Should I continue to say I’m sorry over and over again?
I didn’t know how to shove down the feelings of guilt I felt regarding my house full of children and my anticipated delivery while she grappled with and grieved the loss of her baby. All I wanted was a manual to tell me exactly how to thoughtfully and practically respond to her loss in a way that communicated my deep love for her.
She grieved her miscarriage, and we both grieved the dashed dream of giving birth to babies in the same month. I fumbled through months of feeling like I was unable to provide meaningful support, not because I didn’t try, but because grief is messy for all involved, even for the friend standing by.
This sorrowful day at the park was years ago now, but it remains a defining experience for me. It was the first time I was close to a loss of this kind, and the first time I discovered just how delicate friendship becomes in a grief season.
I recently read the book, Grace Like Scarlett by Adriel Booker, and it is an insightful and poignant book about the author’s experience grieving through three heartbreaking miscarriages. In the book, Adriel shares gut-wrenching personal stories and the journey she took to embrace the unpredictable grieving process that followed each of her losses. She thoughtfully shares how she learned to hold space for her sorrow but also how to draw hope close to her chest in the midst of it.
I have never suffered a miscarriage myself, but I have suffered other pain that has deeply marked me, and I have a profound appreciation for writers who are able to authentically capture both the uncomfortable details of suffering and the quiet but certain hope found in God.
“I remember the days of wanting to crawl into a cave, find a place to curl up there in the quiet, and never wake up. It wasn’t that I actually wanted to die, it’s just that I didn’t know how to live under the weight of my sadness and collapsed expectations. Out of nowhere, sorrow would hit me like a heat wave, pressing on my chest, leaving me desperate to peel off layers so I could find some relief. But even while experiencing intense loneliness, I also remember feeling the sweetness of God’s presence in some of those shadowy hours. Something told me his quietness wasn’t abandonment— it was companionship.” ~ Adriel Booker, Grace Like Scarlett
Under entirely different circumstances, I have experienced this same curling up in quiet spaces to deeply mourn the loss of something dear, and I have similarly felt God’s quiet and comforting presence in the midst of it. This book gives words to intangible aspects of grief.
Adriel writes about sorrow, anger, shame, and many of the nuanced emotions involved in grief. I cried through several sections of the book, and I believe this resource will help moms (and dads) feel less alone specifically in the aftermath of miscarriage.
“It’s said that having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. If that’s true, it’s no wonder miscarriage feels like having part of your heart missing.” ~ Adriel Booker, Grace Like Scarlett
We need to have more open conversations about grief, how to walk through it ourselves, and how to support friends through it. This book is an excellent way to begin those conversations. Grace Like Scarlett would be a wonderful gift to offer a friend who has experienced loss—recently or in the distant past—especially as Mother’s Day approaches.
Thank you, Adriel, for your honest and hope-filled words throughout this book. You have accomplished an exquisite work of love in its pages.