Dear Rachel,

My heart is breaking. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wonderful child so I don’t mean to complain, but I’ve had two miscarriages this past year, and I’m in despair of having more children. The doctors haven’t found anything wrong—one was a blighted ovum and the other, they’re not really sure why it happened. But they are encouraging me to try again.

Still, the unknown feels so scary. I’m trying to trust G‑d and tap into my faith, but every time I see a pregnant woman, I feel happy for her and yet sad for me. What should I do? How can I recover, and not stay stuck in my disappointment and grief?


Dear Awesome Woman,

I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand how painful that can be; I suffered four miscarriages. Like you, I was grateful to have what I had, and I also found the pain, grief and disappointment very intense.

Now that time has passed, I am older, hopefully a bit wiser, and have developed tools for processing emotions. Here are some suggestions that would have given comfort to my grieving self back then. I hope they will help you as well.

1) Give yourself compassion. Although we know that everything comes from a loving G‑d and happens for a reason, Judaism has a healthy foundation of compassion as well.

I want to share with you a beautiful, telling story that illustrates this:

When Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, the fifth Chabad Rebbe, was 5 years old, he played a game with his older brother, Zalman Aharon. The game was called “Rebbe and Chassid.” Zalman Aharon sat in a chair with a hat, pretending to be a Rebbe, and Sholom DovBer sat opposite him, playing the chassid. Sholom DovBer brought up the subject of a mistake he had made and asked for a rectification (a tikkun). Zalman Aharon swiftly responded with advice: “Begin praying with a siddur (a prayer book), not by heart. This is your tikkun.”

“You are not acting like a real Rebbe,” Sholom DovBer retorted.

Puzzled, Zalman Aharon asked, “Why? I gave you good advice.”

Already very wise at the tender age of 5, Sholom DovBer answered: “A Rebbe first lets out a sigh of commiseration and only then he gives advice. You didn’t show me any compassion—and therefore, you are not a Rebbe, and your advice is useless.”

What can we learn from this story? Compassion is key to any advice you may receive, including the advice you may try to give yourself—to move on, and not feel sad or disappointed. It’s perfectly OK to make space for the emotions of grief, disappointment and sadness from your losses. And it’s OK to comfort yourself as someone else would comfort you.

Just like you would nurse a bruised or broken leg, you can nurse a hurting heart. Take a few moments when your sadness feels intense and your mind wanders to your disappointment and validating that you’re hurting. Even saying the words “I’m hurting” (in the compassionate tone a friend may use to say, “I’m sorry that you’re hurting”) will help that physical sensation of sadness move on. This tiny act of self-compassion will help you move on and become a vessel for new life instead of remaining stuck ruminating in the pain of loss.

2) Review the laws of Family Purity, whether in a class or a one-on-one setting. The Rebbe emphasized the importance of this review, particularly when a couple needs blessings in the area of fertility. Many miracles occur through Divine channels, and you definitely want to be on the receiving end, welcoming those with open arms.

3) Speak to a compassionate rebbetzin or mentor so your mind can be in a state of kindness to yourself. Our minds can run afoul and ruminate with so many thoughts that are hurtful to us. The Rebbe taught us that a Jew is never stuck, so we don’t want to feel stuck in a grieving cycle of despair or depression, G‑d forbid. When you open up to a wise mentor, your mind will be more at ease. She can help you have more nourishing thoughts, making way for the possibility of more births.

4) Understand that there was a purpose to these miscarriages, though the “why” remains a mystery. It’s helpful knowing, even while there is pain, that our faith encourages us to know that there is a purpose to everything. To help settle this knowledge into your being, say these words to yourself in a soothing tone: “I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. I know how much you would have loved to have carried these pregnancies to completion and be holding healthy babies in your arms. You’re such a nurturing and compassionate being, and you love to love and give. I don’t know why the opposite has happened or what G‑d’s reasons are. What I do know is that it is important for you to give yourself love and care during this time.”

5) Practice gratitude whenever possible, by never taking anything for granted. Jot down your blessings, and G‑d willing, He will grant you many more.

All these proactive yet compassionate steps will be helpful. You are opening up Divine spiritual channels, as well physical, emotional and mental ones. You are shining rays of light upon the brokenness of your spirit.