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Gospel Q&A: What Happens to Children Lost to Miscarriage or Stillbirth?

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Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we’ll be answering the question, “What does the Church teach about children lost to miscarriage or stillbirth?” Do you have a question you’d like to see answered? Send us an email at calledtoshare@ldsdaily.com or leave it in the comments below.

What Do Latter-day Saints Believe About Children Lost to Miscarriage or Stillbirth?

Losing a child at any age is devastating. Losing a child to miscarriage or stillbirth is heartbreaking—even if you haven’t met your child yet. If the miscarriage in question is yours, I’m so sorry. Having had three miscarriages myself, I know something of the grief you may be experiencing. You need time to heal—physically, emotionally, and perhaps spiritually.

What the Handbook and Church Leaders Have Said

The Church handbook states, “Temple ordinances are not necessary for children who die before birth. This does not deny the possibility that these children may be part of the family in the eternities. Parents are encouraged to trust the Lord and seek His comfort.”

Each family’s circumstance is unique and there isn’t a catch-all answer except insofar as children who have not breathed life do not need temple ordinances done for them. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith once quoted Brigham Young, who said that ‘they are all right,’ … and nothing in the way of sealings or ordinances need be done for them.’”

Val D. Greenwood, manager of special services for the Temple Department said in an article discussing the topic, “The question of whether stillborn children will be resurrected and belong to their parents in the hereafter is really the crux of the matter. This question is, as yet, impossible to answer with certainty. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that “there is no information given by revelation in regard to the status of stillborn children. However, I will express my personal opinion that we should have hope that these little ones will receive a resurrection and then belong to us.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:280.) He said nothing about miscarried children.”

So, while we don’t know exactly how it will work out with the children we have lost, I think President Eyring’s words about eternal family relationships are appropriate here. Quoting a senior apostle in the quorum during his younger years President Henry B. Eyring said, “You are worrying about the wrong problem. You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom, and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine.”

The Responsibility of the Church Body

If you are close to someone who has recently experienced a stillbirth or miscarriage, you have a big responsibility here. Your covenant to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” (Mosiah 18:9) is in full effect. Your loved one may want to talk about it—or she may not. Consider what she might find comforting. At times like these, it is critical that you meet her needs and not just your own need to be helpful. You might want to take her out to dinner or a night on the town because that sounds fun to you. But most importantly, you need to meet her needs. It’s critical to be sensitive to her unique trial during this time. Don’t let fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from speaking. If all you say is, “I’m sorry for your loss,” you’ve done more than someone who failed to acknowledge her loss at all.

Your loved one might be the father—and they need support, too. He may have had plans, hopes, and dreams for his son or daughter-to-be. And he has watched the mother of his child suffer in a way he couldn’t prevent or protect her from. Be mindful that the father may need help through this tender time as well.

The Law of Compensation

I have often found comfort in these words from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way.”

The loss we experience in miscarriage and stillbirth will be compensated—whether in this life or the next. Your pain will begin to lessen as you can seek the sunshine for the clouds and recognize how you’ve been blessed and refined through this challenging time. The Lord is on your side, even if He calls you to wade through deep waters. Turn toward Him instead of away from Him, and things will get better.

Sending love, from my heart to yours.

Additional Resources

Easing the Pain of Miscarriage

Coping with the Heartache of Miscarriage

Waiting at the Stoplights of Life

Disclaimer: While all of my answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t believe any of my answers are comprehensive. I’m just one person using the gospel I have been blessed with to bring hope, peace, and answers to other seekers of truth.

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Rebecca Wright
Rebecca Wright
Becca loves audiobooks, dark chocolate, singing, hiking, walking,  going out with her husband, and raising their chickens and children. She still wants to meet her hero Sheri Dew, see flowing lava and a blue whale in person, and uplift others with her words.

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