An Iowa father’s perspective on miscarriage: I’ll miss carrying you

Published by Nicole Grundmeier on


Fearless readers: This guest column by Eric Rucker frankly discusses miscarriage and mental health. For some of you who have experienced a pregnancy loss, whether that loss was recent or decades ago, this column might be painful to read. – Nicole Grundmeier, Business Record staff writer

Eric Rucker, left, and his partner have experienced three miscarriages over the past four years. Photo courtesy of Eric Rucker.

My partner and I have experienced three miscarriages over the past four years, with the most recent one happening a couple of weeks ago. While we are fortunate to have loving and supportive people in our life, the experience of miscarriages has also caused me to reflect on the challenges of this particular kind of loss.

A few things I’ve learned: First, my experience of miscarriages have been quite emotionally painful, and I’ve been surprised how depressed, fatigued and disoriented I’ve been for a significant time span after each has happened. Second, I’ve become more aware of the way our dominant cultures can fail in terms of honoring grief in general, but particularly around miscarriage. Miscarriage is an ambiguous loss, and most of us lack the language and public rituals that are needed to support people in naming, feeling and integrating the loss.

I’m not so much interested here in speculating about the political dimension of “when a pregnancy becomes a person.” Rather, I want to name that some of my pain has been precisely due to the emotional inability to be clear about what was lost, regardless of my political beliefs. On one hand, I know rationally that this miscarriage was different from a child of mine dying. On the other hand, miscarriages evoke in me a heart-wrenching physical reaction that feels like someone I love has died. And this view is also true, because my partner’s and my dream of this child’s future, and our family’s future, dies.

I share all this for a few reasons. I hope that in doing so, it might reach some of the (many) other people who have experienced or will experience miscarriage or fertility challenges, and I hope you will know that you are not alone. I hope that you find people who can sit with you in grief, honor your process, and not rush you through your feelings.

I’m especially concerned about the mental health of men in our country, and so as a man I want to share my grief process and encourage other men to find the resources they need to grieve. Crying isn’t weak, seeking support isn’t weak, tenderness isn’t weak. I see a therapist monthly, and I could not be a healthy person without his support as well as the grounding I receive from many other loving relationships in my life.

As a Christian pastor, I’m also aware that sharing when we’ve gone through loss might elicit responses from people of faith that are oversimplified, shallow and hurtful, even if these responses are well-intentioned. I do not believe that God has a plan that included our miscarriages. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. And I actually believe that our willingness to articulate our rage, lament and deep confusion into the void is an act of spiritual honesty and faithfulness. I don’t know if God is real, but I do have faith that God is love, that this love is with us in our suffering, that this love is expressed through flesh-and-blood relationships where we show up nonjudgmentally for one another, and that this love is big enough to hold every facet of our human experience.

While supportive comments in response to this reflection are, of course, welcome, I invite you to refrain from the impulse to fix, give advice, or explain anything. We are all working on avoiding that temptation!

To conclude, I want to share a song I wrote about our recent miscarriage. I invite you to sit with it, if it might be revelatory or healing for you.

Eric Rucker lives with his partner in Des Moines, Iowa, where they have welcomed foster children into their home as well as having a 2-year-old biological son. Eric is an ordained pastor in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Iowa. Responses to his writing can be sent to