Writing about loss is always difficult because no matter what words you use, no matter how you wrap it up, no phrase can give voice to your grief. When I recently lost my baby due to a miscarriage, I was shaken to my core. My heart ached in places I never knew existed. I had initially put up a strong front, but when the reality sank in, I didn’t know how to cope. With each passing day, my grief only seemed to grow stronger and I had a constant lump in my throat. I yo-yoed between strength and despair until I crashed completely and let myself grieve fully.
It was then that I realized how much loss can affect someone. One can fall to either extreme, neither of which have a good ending. You can put up a facade, but only for a while; you’re bound to crash. You can also give in and let yourself wallow in your pain, but that’s also a risk because it often leads to despair, and despair leads to loss of focus and identity; if left unattended, that will further lead to loss of sanity or even life. So how do we find that balance? How do we maintain our sanity and grieve at the same time?Although this matter is very personal and one very close to my heart, I know that just like me, there might be someone out there journeying through a dark period and feeling helpless. Below is a humble attempt at putting a few pointers together that helped me deal with my own pain at a time when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed like a far-off, unreachable thing.
It’s OK to Cry
We tend to think that if we cry, we are seen as weak. But that could not be further from the truth. I believe that when we cry, it’s because we are facing a certain pain, we are addressing an ache deep within us. Crying means we are acknowledging that loss, and acknowledgment is the first step to finding relief. But I personally find that whenever I cry to Allaah, I share my sorrow with someone who understands me like no one else does. Someone who knows my strengths and my weaknesses, someone who has promised that with every pang of pain, there is also relief. Someone who has seen me at my worst and has put up with me regardless. That someone, for me, has always been and always will be Allaah, because with Him I have high expectations and I have never been let down. With people though, that’s certainly different as we are almost always disappointed whenever we attach expectations to them.
So my suggestion would be to get up and pray, even if just two rak’ahs, concentrating on every word you recite, and every bow and prostration, and once you’re done, cry your heart out, but don’t let your tears go to waste. Beg Allaah for Mercy, ask Him to give you strength, ask Him to increase your patience, ask Him to keep you guided and not let you stray, ask Him to make you content with His Decree, ask Him to heal your heart. I promise you, you will feel much, much lighter.
Renew your Focus
When we get married, most of us start thinking about having children, whether it is soon or somewhere down the road. As Muslim women, our role in society is very crucial for the same reason: We are bearers of a future generation whom we hope will carry on our legacy. And so begins our journey of child bearing. Conceiving requires a dedicated topic of its own, but for the sake of maintaining uniformity, to cut the journey short, it is sometimes an excruciatingly painful process both physically and most importantly mentally. I know of some women who have tried to conceive for years, going through the tedious processes of charting their temperatures, extensive treatments, and more, and in the end have been greeted with a Big Fat Negative pregnancy test. An experience like that is traumatic on its own, but when you finally do conceive only to lose the baby, it can really send you on an emotional roller coaster. When that happens, it is vital to remember that even though we may have spent the past few months focusing on this unborn child, preparing for its arrival, making life-altering decisions, etc., we have to shift our focus back to ourselves.
We have been created for one and only one purpose in this world: to worship Allaah.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. [adh-Dhariyat; 56]
Marriage, children and wealth, are only our means to attain Allaah’s Pleasure. They are not to be confused with our goals. Often what happens is we lose focus once we get married, we slack off in our ‘ibadah (worship), and once pregnancy comes into the picture, we tend to put ourselves on the back burner and forget our true goal. If Allaah decreed that for now we are not meant to have children, then that means He is asking us to renew our focus. We need to start thinking of loss not as something or someone we are being deprived of, but rather as an opportunity to secure ourselves a close spot next to the Prophets (may peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them all), their Companions and those closest to Allaah. So although it may be hard right now, push yourself to find something to do that will bring you closer to Allaah. Use your pain to initiate a project or any deed that will benefit your akhirah (afterlife) and the community.
Nothing belongs to Us
If we considered every single thing that we have as a loan from Allaah, it would be a little easier for us to cope when we suffer a loss. It’s part of our nature as humans to form an attachment to what we have. But remind yourself that in reality, nothing really belongs to us, that everything is from Allaah and He can take them away from us whenever He wishes, out of His Knowledge and Perfect Wisdom. Only He knows how having a certain thing or someone might alter our lives and have a negative impact on us. So if you lost your baby, remember that as impossibly hard as it may be, it was for the best. And understand that loss is temporary. He might have taken it from you right now, but He is reserving it for you in a place far, far better than this transient world. It’s being kept for you in a world where death and sorrow have no place.
Build a Strong Fortress
Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) is our sanctuary. When we slip into depression, we fall into shaytan’s trap. He is, as we know, forever our enemy and is always hard at work against us. But when we keep ourselves occupied with dhikr, we build a spiritual fortress which acts as a shield against shaytan. Make it a habit to recite the morning and evening du’as (invocations) as prescribed in the sunnah and in addition to that, remember to include ones that have been recommended to us during times like these:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,
Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” [al-Baqarah:155-156]
Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “There is no person who is afflicted with a calamity and says, ‘Verily to Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allaah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better’ – but Allaah will reward him for his affliction and compensate him with something better.” She said: When Abu Salamah died, I said: Who is better than Abu Salamah, the companion of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)? Then Allaah caused me to say it and I said it. She said: Then I married the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). [Saheeh Muslim]
Remembrance of Allaah also comes in the form of praying and other acts that are done solely for attaining Allaah’s pleasure. One of the stories that has never failed to inspire me during my down moments is that of Ayyub ‘alayhissalaam. Yazid bin Maysarah said: “When Allah tested Ayyub, upon him be peace, with the loss of his family, wealth and children, and he had nothing left, he started to focus upon the remembrance of Allaah, and he said:
‘I praise You, the Lord of lords, Who bestowed His kindness upon me and gave me wealth and children, and there was no corner of my heart that was not filled with attachment to these worldly things, then You took all of that away from me and You emptied my heart, and there is nothing to stand between me and You. If my enemy Iblees knew of this, he would be jealous of me.’”
Ayyub ‘alayhissalaam said:
وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
“And (remember) Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord: ‘Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.’” [al-Anbiya: 83]
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَكَشَفْنَا مَا بِهِ مِن ضُرٍّ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُم مَّعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَابِدِينَ
“So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him, and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.” [al-Anbiya: 84]
How beautiful was his patience. Just like Ayyub ‘alayhissalaam, occupy your day with various acts of ‘ibadah, and that in turn will perfect your patience and bring your heart peace and contentment.
No one can tell you to not grieve, no one has the right to minimize your pain, but how you react to your loss does define you and it is what will shape your future, both temporary and eternal. If there’s anything I have learned from my personal experience with miscarriage, it is that no matter how difficult it was, I had to force my mind out of a web of defeatism and self-pity. It was a battle I fought every day and continue to fight. I will always feel an ache in my heart but it will always be followed by contentment with His Decree and the hope that Allaah will reunite me with it in a place that is far more precious, that is eternal, where all dreams come true, where pain is non-existent and where joy knows no bounds: Paradise.
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