The loss of an infant
A letter from Bob Koch, Covenant staff chaplain, in response to a mother's inquiry about how to tell her young son about the loss of her pregnancy.
Your desire to tell your son about what happened is correct. Your grief will cause you to retreat, if you are not openly expressive of your sadness. And, your son is likely to take your emotional withdrawal personally if he does not understand it.
With your husband, tell your son that the baby died. He will naturally have questions. Be ready to answer these as truthfully as possible. While there is no need to tell him more detail than what he asks, be willing to address his questions about what went wrong honestly. If the placenta stopped working, or there was a problem with the baby's health, let him know that. If you don't know, tell him you are not sure. Explain that sometimes we don't know.
Theologically, I believe this child is with God and we shall know him/her in eternity. Psalm 139 expresses how God knows us and we know one another.
Don't hesitate to cry with your son as a sign of health and honoring the life of 15 weeks that you have shared together. Talk about the loss as much as your son wants. He will likely work himself through the sadness speaking to you about it over the next month. Telling the story of what happened provides a means of recovery for adults as well as children.
You and your husband may also want to have a ritual for saying "goodbye", which should involve your son too. Perhaps saving in a special way some of the items your son was putting-aside for his younger sibling.
There are five elements that enable all of us to come to terms with loss: information, emotional expression, tenderness, reminiscing and hope.
Accordingly, Covenant offers a burial and memorial service that you family may want to participate in. Also, at Covenant we have a monthly support group for parents called, Tender Tears. Come once or as many times as you find helpful. (Learning from other parents is a great resource.)
With continued prayer for you and your family ...
Grace and Peace,