Thanks, Karen Edmisten, for being so open and willing to answer all my rambling questions. You can read my review of After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing & Hope in this weekend's print Catholic Post or here on the blog.
Q. First, can you tell Catholic Post readers a little more about yourself, your family and your writing?
I'm a former atheist (I was baptized at the age of 30 and came into the Catholic Church at age 35), a wife (my husband came into the Church five years after I did), and a homeschooling mom of three girls. Our oldest daughter will graduate this year and my other daughters are 15 and 9. I've always written in one form or another, but I began writing for publication about five years after I became a Catholic. I started blogging (at Karen Edmisten) in late 2005, and my first book (The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary) was published in 2009. My second book (Through the Year With Mary) came out in 2010.
Q. Why a book about miscarriage?
I've had five miscarriages myself, so it's something I've lived, something I've thought a lot about. I wanted to share the things that were helpful and healing to me over the years, and I wanted to offer a specifically Catholic resource to address some of the questions and misunderstandings that I hear about the Church and miscarriage.
And, the grief I experienced through my miscarriages, while devastating at the time, ultimately helped me to grow closer to God, so I also wanted to share some of that hope and encouragement.
I also wanted to reassure others that they are not alone if they feel the grief of miscarriage deeply and for a long time. We're often expected to “get over it” fairly quickly, and while it's important to heal and keep moving forward, I think we are often surprised by how shaken we are by the loss.
Q. You are very candid in the book about your own struggles through multiple miscarriages, and even share journal entries. What gave you the courage to share this, and were you at all concerned about sharing “too much”?
I don't really think of myself as courageous – maybe I should be concerned about sharing too much, but that doesn't usually occur to me! It's more a matter of thinking, “If this is helpful to someone else, then it's worth saying.” Maybe because I was, at one time in my own life, such a questioner of all things religious, and I deeply appreciated people who were willing to share their spiritual journeys with me, that I want to do the same for others if I can.
Q. Having lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth is kind of a “sisterhood” in a way. Do you find women more willing in the age of the Internet/blogs, to share about membership in “the sisterhood” and talk about these kinds of details about their lives? Is that a good thing or not?
I think we've always been willing to share and to support each other in that “sisterhood” – it just seems a natural reaction among women. But I think the age of the internet makes it much easier to find help, support, understanding – and I think that's a great thing.
Q. I’m not sure if this is a question or an invitation to discussion about this. When I interviewed Amy Welborn about her book Wish You Were Here, I was thinking of, but never got to a post about, good books for kids who might be going through grieving. So many of the books “specifically for or about grieving” left us cold when my own kids were going through the loss of both sets of grandparents in just a few short years.
Amy had a great response that it isn’t necessarily a book about grieving that helps when you experience a loss, but everyone finds different types of books (perhaps something completely different-mysteries, for instance) /coping mechanisms that are helpful. It may not be the right time or healing balm to read about death and dying.
And yet the experience of miscarriage/stillbirth is so intimate and unique, I think reading After Miscarriage is helpful for most women who have experienced it, whether recently or long ago. The resources you provide to places like Elizabeth Ministry and the like are also very helpful and pertinent. Your thoughts?
Thanks, and yes, I do hope that After Miscarriage is helpful to women (and men) at any stage of that journey. But I agree with Amy that there are a lot of things that can be helpful that aren't specifically about grief. Sometimes the tiniest thing was a healing gesture for me – bringing fresh cut irises from the garden into the house.
One of my miscarriages occurred when my oldest daughter was six years old. She was devastated. I didn't find that books about grief were all that helpful to her – what helped her the most was just my presence. She simply needed to know that I was there, that we could play Candyland, or go out for ice cream.
When I did read books about grief, they weren't about the specific kind I was experiencing, but they were what I needed. For example, in After Miscarriage, I quote A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, and Two-Part Invention, by Madeleine L'Engle. Both of those books deal with the loss of a spouse, and yet both were extremely helpful and meaningful to me after miscarriages, simply because they so accurately captured the state of grief itself.
Karen and I corresponded about some of the resources that are available to families undergoing a pregnancy loss.
Karen Edmisten and the owner of one resource, Heaven's Gain, will be on an "After Miscarriage" show on the Catholic Answers Live radio show on May 28th.
In addition, Elizabeth Ministry International has a very helpful FAQ page for families undergoing miscarriage or stillbirth.