An Atheist Speaks About Her Miscarriage

Shanon Nebo became pregnant with her second child at about the same time her brother’s wife got pregnant with their first. Simultaneous joy in the family, right? Well, everyone was thrilled… for a few weeks. That’s when Shanon got some heartbreaking news:

I was out of town on business when my brother called me to let me know that they had lost the baby. He was crushed, and I was crushed for him. I felt guilty because I had just announced my own pregnancy, and I felt so much sorrow for him. I realized how common it was, that about twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that it could just as easily have been me. I remember hoping the best for him and his wife, and feeling impotent to do much else.

And then, just weeks later, it was her:

The ultrasound confirmed my worry. There was no heartbeat. I tried not to cry and I held out for two and a half seconds before the wave of despair crashed on me as I sit there in my paper gown. The doctor was very comforting, as was the nurse. They let me slip out of the office quietly, and I did. That is how it goes, I guess…

I can only imagine how disappointing that time must have been and Shanon does a very brave thing in being so open about it. As an atheist, she adds, dealing with any loss means having to put up with well-intentioned friends and acquaintances whose words may end up doing more harm than good:

For an atheist, it is enraging to read of so many other mothers giving condolences in the form of celestial images of tiny angels and the will of a supposedly loving deity. I can’t even begin to describe the anger I felt at reading all of the misbegotten “meant to be”. It felt hollow and bitter, like my seemingly blighted uterus. I turned away from the boards online and read sympathy messages on facebook. They were all very well-meaning, and I know that, but I think I learned more about what not to say to a grieving person in those moments than I ever have before.

It’s not God. It’s biology. It’s nature. It happens. And it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your body. Sometimes, it just works out that way. If you don’t believe in God, then it’s likely that you understand just how lucky we are to be alive — and how there are countless things that had to go right in order for that to happen. Miscarriages are far more common than we think, occurring nearly 20% of the time. That number won’t make anyone’s personal loss any more bearable, but hearing stories like this one may help put the tragedy in perspective.

Shannon also offers some excellent advice on what not to say to women who may be in her situation. Please read it.

(Image via Shutterstock — Thanks to @BeSecular for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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