The Latest News: A Tragic Thanksgiving

The Latest News Archive 2012


A Tragic Thanksgiving

It was going to be the surprise of the year. My son Dane and his wife Joanne know how much I love babies. My philosophy is the more the merrier. In the past, when the two granddaughters were born, I jokingly suggested Joanne have babies two at a time so my wife Ellen and I didn’t have to argue over who gets to hold the infant. Now they were relishing the idea of breaking the news when we arrived at their home in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. They had planned on presenting us with ultrasound pictures to announce number three grandchild was on the way.

But God had other plans. During the doctor’s appointment the day before Thanksgiving, the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat. An ultrasound revealed two dramatic realities. First, Joanne was pregnant with identical twins, but tragically, they had died in her womb.

For weeks Ellen and I had been looking forward to our visit with Dane, Joanne and the two granddaughters Carolyn and Hailey. But the much-anticipated, joyous event quickly turned into a tragic, heartbreaking situation. It’s funny how you can deeply mourn for someone you haven’t even met.

When Joanne arrived home after her brief hospital stay, she tearfully told me she had wanted to bring us good news that day. My response to her was that she did. We have two new grandchildren—it’s just that we have to wait until we get to heaven to see them.

I added, we may question why God would allow such an event to unfold, but His plan isn’t our plan. Besides, I added, if I were running the show, I would’ve given you triplets.

As difficult as the following hours and days were, my wife and I marveled at the strong faith of this young couple, and we felt our bond with them grow even stronger. Dane is the principal at a large Lutheran elementary school and shares his faith with his students.

The next day after the miscarriage, we went to church on Thanksgiving morning as is our Lutheran tradition. Have you ever heard a sermon that seemed custom made for your current situation? This was the case for me ten times over.

The pastor (a twin) said we need to live Thanksgiving 365 days a year. He pointed to Philippians 4:4-7 where Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” My immediate thought was I don’t feel much like rejoicing today. Then the pastor said we don’t have to rejoice in the bad situation we’re experiencing, we must rejoice in the Lord. He added that there are no circumstances where rejoicing can be set aside. At this point I was still thinking this was a tall order to fill.

The second part of his message was that when “one of those moments comes where you can just go to pieces, worry and lose it,” we need to follow verse 6 when it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

At those times when life throws its worst at you, pray your most desperate prayers sprinkled with thanksgiving. The pastor then added something I’ll always remember, “When we sprinkle our most desperate prayers with thanks, God reminds us that he wraps his arms the tightest around us in that moment.”

I didn’t mean to preach a sermon, but thought you too could benefit from what I learned last week during one of life’s greatest heartaches—the death of precious human life.

Perhaps you too have lost a child to miscarriage and know firsthand the pain of which I speak. Regardless, I hope my email will encourage you to reach out to these mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents or aunts and uncles. If you don’t know what to say, treat them the same as if they’d experienced the death of an already born child. To them it’s all the same. Let them know you share their sorrow and pain. Tell them you’ll storm the gates of heaven asking our loving God to shower peace and comfort over their aching hearts. Let them know their baby was loved by you also. It will be a great comfort.

I told my son that he and I had something new in common. We were both the fathers of four children. Now, when people ask me how many grandchildren I have, the answer will be, “Four—two of them are already in heaven.”

Please do me a huge personal favor. Please pray for Dane and Joanne as they grieve the loss of their children. And may you always cherish each and every innocent human life while living Thanksgiving 24/7/365.

With a thankful heart,

Bradley Mattes
Executive Director
Life Issues Institute

11/30/12

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. Organizations and individuals around the world depend upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

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Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 31 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

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