Anchored: A Bible Study for Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss, by Erin Cushman (WestBow Press, rev. 2015). 182pp. $13.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Brenda Hoekstra, member of Hudsonville PRC.]
This is a book review of a new and ‘better’ book on parental bereavement than one I did before.
As the title informs, the book is a Bible study. It is a very Reformed Bible study.
The statistic states that one in four pregnancies ends in devastating loss. This means that there are many more mothers, fathers, and whole families experiencing grief than most of us realize. A Bible study designed to help in such an event is fitting.
This book is not full of trite platitudes or a list of steps to take in order to handle grief. It is not generic, watered down, or designed for all religions. I think it could be given to a new Christian and would cause their faith and understanding to grow. Even the introduction states that it is fitting for someone who has never picked up a Bible before as well as someone well versed in it. Although it is fitting for the newest or weakest believer, it is not so simplistic as to be too shallow or ‘light’ for the more mature believer. It is clear and probing. The book works through the questions that one suffering these losses asks, and gives encouragement, hope, and wisdom. As the back cover states, Anchored invites you to grieve in an honest and faith-filled way. The book includes personal stories, which will definitely help you realize that you are not alone in your grief. These stories get you outside of yourself and are encouraging as each testifies of God’s work, goodness, and help, telling of one’s own spiritual growth.
Seasoned insight and gentle questions help the reader apply scriptural truths to their own personal situation. The book provides space for readers to write down their reflections and journal what they learn. Each chapter presents truth, includes the fully quoted text it considers, and has simple yet guiding questions to help the reader understand that truth especially in regards to the matter of grief. The book begins with our understanding of God and His Word, heaven and hope, and then moves into further, more personal ideas like trust, envy, and relationships that are impacted by the grief. The Scripture quoted was not our beloved KJV but I was comfortable with the ESV version that was used; there were a few marked as NIV as well. I appreciated the appendix that explained the difference between babies who have gone from this earth to life eternal. The endnotes included the titles of additional books that would be helpful. I did not find any doctrinal errors or practical application errors.
Unlike the books both titled Empty Arms, this book sticks closely to Scripture. It was not a personal journey through grief and was not the author’s personal application of Scripture to her own grief or the grief of the reader.
Although this book is written for those who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant loss, I think that it would benefit those who have experienced the loss of a child at any age. Some have even found it helpful in their struggle with the loss of a child to a life of sin or abandonment of faith.