On Losing an Unborn Child: Rick and Karen Santorum

1 Oct

I am still thinking about the public mockery that was been aimed at the Santorum family, earlier in this presidential campaign, when it was learned that they had taken their dead baby home from the hospital, a number of years ago, to hold him before he was buried.  

I am going to come out as a person who totally understands what they did.  

Every family grieves in its own way.  Unless we want to be totally rigid and claim that God provided the story of King David grieving his dead child to give us the one and only way to properly grieve a baby’s death, there is no pattern by which to go.  There is no right nor wrong way to cope with the loss of a child.  

I never lost a baby (that I am aware of) but I have a friend who lost a child who was almost full term.  He was the seventh of eight children.  You never get used to this, no matter how many living children you already have (that is another weird thing people say when a child dies.  They mention the other children as though that should protect you from mourning the unique child who has died).  

I was not with my friend when her son died.  She caught a virus while pregnant and he caught it from her.  He did not have birth defects.  If he had not gotten sick, in utero, he would have been 100% healthy at birth, without limitations.

We later visited my friend and she showed me the photo album they had made after the baby was delivered, already dead.  They had dressed him, and held him, and loved on him as a family.  Then they had scheduled a funeral for him. 

I wept with my friend as we looked at the pictures.  Children are God’s greatest treasure.  How dare we try to proscribe the proper way a family should or shouldn’t mourn the death of their little one.

P.S.  I must say I also totally admire the Santorums’ affirming, inclusive attitude toward their daughter with mental and physical challenges.  They are an example to every family who has a child with disabilities on how to handle the situation with graciousness.  They understand, as we have learned to understand, that the child with disabilities gives more to the family than he or she ever takes!  It is a privilege to raise a disabled child (as it is a privilege to raise all children).  

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