Published by Zondervan on June 8, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Parenting
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Tens of thousands of women and families every year lose a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The statistics are sobering--between 10% and 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1% in stillbirth, and nearly 23,000 babies die before their first birthday--but statistics alone miss the depth of the hurt. Each loss is personal and devastating.
No woman is prepared to lose a baby, and caregivers are often unaware of how best to help. In Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle therapist Hallie Scott first shares her own story, as a mother whose only child, Abigail, was stillborn, and then leads readers through a healing process that makes space for heartbreak, despair, guilt, questions, and anger. Life is never the same in the wake of the loss, but a new normal is possible.
The book will be a welcome resource for families who have lost a child, as well as for those seeking to care for them in their traumatic grief.
I begin this review with a content warning, but also with the realization that those who need that warning are also those who need this book. Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle deals with child loss and contains the author’s personal stories of experiencing stillbirth and miscarriage. If you’ve come to this webpage because you’ve experienced the loss of a child, I am so sorry. There is no blog post, book, or review that can take away that pain. However, I do think that Hallie Scott’s wise words as a professional therapist who has herself experienced child loss will be a reminder that you’re not alone and that there is still hope.
Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle is not an easy book to read, but it touches on a subject that affects almost everyone to some extent. 10-15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. 24,000 babies each year are stillborn, with 60% having no discernable cause. If your life hasn’t been touched by child loss, it is very likely that it has affected your friends, your family, or others you know.
Hallie Scott writes out of her own personal experience, having had her first pregnancy end in stillbirth and a second with miscarriage. She also writes out of her professional experience as a marriage and family therapist. The result is a book that not only knows what to say from an intellectual standpoint, but knows how to say it from an emotional one. Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle at times a memoir, at times a therapy session. Sometimes you are invited into Hallie’s home. Sometimes you are invited into her office. It’s a well-structured blend that truly models an incarnational concept of therapy. Scott understands what you’re going through because she’s been there too—not just in textbook or theory, but in reality.
Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle provides more than just empathy, it provides solidarity. As Scott works through her own losses in memoir fashion then turns to therapeutic evaluation, you’re drawn into this compelling narrative. I can’t speak from the experience of a mom who has suffered child loss, but I can imagine that this book will help you feel seen—and that’s an experience that goes a long way toward beginning the healing process.
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the book was Scott’s reassurance that the pain and grief are okay. Too often, healing is seen as the pain and grief ending. Scott writes that the pain and grief are memories of a life valuable enough to not forget. It’s okay to hold on to grief at some level. Hope Beyond an Empty Cradle is the kind of book that I think churches should have a supply of to give out in times of need. No, don’t go substitute a book for an actual relationship with a hurting person. But, recognize what can you can give and what you can’t. Hallie Scott gives a perspective that most of us can’t give—or if we can, it’s not with her professional experience or writing talent. There is hope. There is healing. Hallie Scott will help you navigate the journey as someone who has been there. Hope Beyond the Cradle is a truly important work.