Several years ago, People magazine named James Van Der Beek one of the â€ś50 Most Beautiful People in the World.â€ť Just this year he competed on the 28th season of â€śDancing with the Stars,â€ť paired with professional dancer Emma Slater. Many considered them the couple to beat entering the semi-finals, where they were eliminated, finishing in fifth place.
Afterward, before the cameras, in tears, Van Der Beek blamed his poor performance on a devastating miscarriage he and wife Kimberley suffered over the weekend. â€śYou never know why these things happen, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been telling my kids. All you know is that it brings you closer together, it breaks you open, it opens up your heart and it deepens your appreciation.â€ť
His spontaneous, from-the-heart confession can help school the rest of us in the nature of grief.
This â€śmanâ€™s manâ€ť has a tender heart and is not embarrassed to say â€śit opens up your heartâ€ť or to display his opened-up heart to the world.
This loss wasnâ€™t for them â€śjust a miscarriage.â€ť Even though he and his wife have five children, this was the death of a much-desired child. Our society discounts the significance of a miscarriage for the parents with a well-intended interpretation like, â€śOh, you can have other babiesâ€ť or â€śMaybe itâ€™s for the best,â€ť discounting the loss of this baby. For many parents, like Van Der Beek, â€śIt breaks you openâ€ť and is nothing less than a personal shattering, something like a walnut being violently cracked open with a club.
Long term, we know that this familyâ€™s well-being will depend less on finding the definitive scientific explanation to their â€śwhyâ€ť questions and more on being sensitive to each otherâ€™s ongoing woundedness, to each otherâ€™s need to be listened to, to be understood and to be held.