LifeLetter Cafe LifeWriter Pam Vredevelt
is married to her best friend, John, and has four children –
two reside in the United States, two are in heaven.
During the last 25 years Pam has served thousands of individuals
as a professional counselor in private practice.
Coming along side those in the depths of pain,
she has walked with them on the path of healing.
Her grace-filled wisdom, refreshing hope, and practical counsel
have guided many towards complete recovery.
The Cafe is excited to announce that Pam’s best-selling book
is now available in an updated new release published by Penguin Random House.
“Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy” is the essential guidebook to help women through the anguish of losing a baby.
Find an overview here of this tremendous resource In her own words,
“I’m not picking up a heartbeat.”
These are the most dreaded words an expectant mother can hear.
As joy and anticipation dissolve into confusion and grief, painful questions refuse to go away:
Why me? Did I do something wrong? How will this affect my ability to have a family?
What do I say to my children without scaring them?
With the warmth and compassion of a mother
who has suffered the loss of a baby and a sixteen-year-old son,
Empty Arms offers sound answers and advice.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor with expertise in love and loss,
I offer reassuring comfort to any woman fighting to maintain stability and faith
in the midst of devastating heartbreak.
The surprising, heartbreaking statistics of women who have lost children
is a tragedy that society avoids discussing,
However, Hope and healing can emerge from sadness and despair.
So LifeLetter Cafe is excited to share this recent interview with Pam
to learn more about the story behind Empty Arms.
Enjoy her answers below in the latest 7 Questions Sunday!
Today’s 7 Questions
LifeLetter Cafe: You mention “surprising, heartbreaking statistics” – what are some of the numbers and stats surrounding the tragic loss of a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth and tubal pregnancy?
Pam Vredevelt: After we lost our baby half way to term, I learned that miscarriages are a very common occurrence. Sources vary, but many estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include the losses that occur before women take a pregnancy test, some experts estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
Although statistics can vary slightly from one source to the next, here is a general account for the United States:
- There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year.
- 900,000 to 1 million of those end in a pregnancy loss EVERY year
- More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks).
- Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth (considered stillbirth after 20 weeks)
- Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first month
- Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first year.
- Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
- An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages – women suffering one miscarriage can expect to have a normal pregnancy next time
- An estimated 19% of the adult population has experienced the death of a child (this includes miscarriages through adult-aged children).
LifeLetterCafe: This is your second release of Empty Arms – what changes have you incorporated into the manuscript?
Pam Vredevelt: I revised the beginning and the end of the book in order to bring the reader into the present season of my life.
LifeLetter Cafe: How do you help moms through the “How can a good God ..?” question?
Pam Vredevelt: I think it’s important that women have the freedom to openly share questions like this, and that those supporting them welcome and embrace their emotional honesty. When we are talking about a life and death subject, why wouldn’t we ask questions about where God fits into our picture?
We’ve got to create a safe place that normalizes questions about God, faith, and real life issues. Grief is confusing. It leaves us wondering, “Where was God when my baby died? Why did He allow it? Where is the goodness in any of this pain?
Sad and angry questions are all part of the sorting and wrestling we must do to move forward in the grief process. God isn’t daunted or offended by these questions. He welcomes them. Glossing over these things or pretending like the questions don’t exist, can arrest our healing. Vocalizing these questions with God, ourselves, and others is a natural part of our faith journey and an important step of growth. Questions and doubts drive us closer to God when we ask Him to reveal His perspective and then watch and listen for His answers.
When people question God’s goodness I often think of the phrase coined by Phillip Yancey: “There is a big difference between God and life.” With every significant loss that I’ve experienced, I’ve learned vital life-changing lessons about myself, others, God, and life. Sometimes God allows in His wisdom what He can prevent with His power. I cannot answer the question, “Why?” and there are many things I don’t know. I’d rather choose to focus on what I do know: God promises to take the worst life throws at us and use it for His highest honor and our highest good.
“Creating an agenda or time table for a friend’s grief
is an exercise in futility.”
– Pam Vredevelt –
LifeLetter Cafe: Recovery from loss is a process – how do you help concerned family members and friends not create an agenda and timetable of healing and wholeness for a mom going the loss of a child?
Pam Vredevelt: That’s a great question David. Offer a heads up: grief takes much more time and energy than most of us expect. It is not an easy or quick process. The greater the bond the greater the pain.
There is not one right way to grieve. Each individual’s grief experience is unique to them. We don’t grieve exactly the same way or on the same time line. Creating an agenda or time table for a friend’s grief is an exercise in futility. But more important, it can be hurtful.
People can sense when we are subtly “pushing” them to feel better. If I could have picked a grief timeline after we lost our baby, I would have chosen the high speed fast forward approach because I don’t like deep heartache, puffy blood shot eyes, or crying in public. My voice cracks silly, and my nose runs wild. Vanity aside, grieving a loss is a reflection of our love for the one who is gone. The deeper you love, the deeper you grieve. Whether we like it or not, grief has a life of its own. Giving people permission to be real, and accepting them right where they are, assists them towards healing.
LifeLeter Cafe: What is perhaps the most critically important portion of the book?
Pam Vredevelt: Over the years I’ve received hundreds of letters from women around the world who have read Empty Arms. They’re often grateful that the process of suffering is openly exposed through the stories shared by moms and dads in the book. They also say thank you for the guidance and practical insights passed on by other parents who are ahead of them on the journey through the shadows.
LifeLetter Cafe: What positive takeaways can grieving moms (and dads) expect from reading “Empty Arms’?
Pam Vredevelt: Those who have suffered a loss will know without a doubt that they are not alone, their pain is valid, there are answers to their questions, and others who have walked their path genuinely care. They’ll be reassured that roller coaster emotions are normal and find ideas on how to steady their ups and down. They’ll receive insight as to how to protect themselves from getting stuck in grief, and guidance on how to cooperate with God in healing their broken heart.
LifeLetter Cafe: What is next for your pen?
Pam Vredevelt: I am working on a new book about treasures hidden in the darkness. Based on Isaiah 45:3 – “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Just now in the conceptual formation. Embryonic.
Wish to refresh-forward this post?