So, it’s a challenge to talk about loss of any kind, but when it’s the loss of our child, that challenge is even greater.
So many feelings, so many expectations, so much pain floods through, it makes it difficult to know where to even start, so we don’t.
We post memes of “I’m one in four” and pictures with phrases that say to encourage one another, yet, when asked, we won’t talk about our own pain.
We tend to think it’s okay for everyone else to talk about it, we’re glad they do… but we won’t talk about it, ourselves.
Each of us has our reasons; “early miscarriage isn’t as bad as late-term miscarriage, so I don’t have a right to be upset” is one thing I know I have heard and even said to myself. I’ve also heard “late-term miscarriage isn’t as bad as infant death, so out of respect, I don’t compare my pain to those who have been through worse”. I’ve even heard, “at least I got to hold my baby, I have no right to complain or voice my pain in front of mothers whose babies died before birth”.
Out of respect for everyone else but ourselves, we put these degrees of grief on various types of child death and then we decide what level we have hit and whether or not we are ALLOWED to grieve as a result!
How ridiculous is that!?
The thing about grief that we all know (yet rarely want to admit when we’re inside it), is that there is no “right way” to do it. We cannot compare grief any more than we can compare love.
This is why I try to spend a little time each year in October on this topic. The more we allow ourselves to talk about it, the more we can process it in our own minds, but also show others that it’s okay to voice their own experiences.
I had an early-term miscarriage 9 years ago in October. Then another, the following year, also in October. Then another, then another… Four losses in total, before the doctors were able to figure out why. On my fifth attempt, my son was born.
I often wonder if I’d made a bigger deal of it, if I’d not allowed everyone to make me believe I was supposed to just pick up and move on like it was “just one of those things”, if I hadn’t swallowed how upset I really was, maybe I wouldn’t have had to go through all that loss over and over again. I would have pushed harder to find answers sooner.
I do believe others have had it worse. Much worse. All my losses were before 15 weeks. The degree of my losses pales compared to those who have lost their babies in late-term or during birth, to SIDS or infant drowning.
For a long while, I felt like that meant my loss wasn’t important or valid or even worthy of sadness. I tried to push on, go back to work, see the “bright side” people tried to show me with comments like “you can always try again” or, “well at least you’re still young” or, “well, at least you can drink alcohol again!”. They all made me feel like grief was unnecessary, foolish, wasting time, wallowing.
I allowed people to say things like this and worse, I allowed myself to believe that.
But it’s not true at all, is it? Just because almost all the losses I experienced were in the first trimester, does that mean my loss is meaningless or that I should have swallowed it, moved on and not looked back? I mean, sure, see the bright side of things is a good thing, but when you are using “bright side” thoughts to cover up your pain or devalue your experience, it’s not okay anymore.
The reality is, grief is not rated on a curve. My grief does not alter or augment the intensity or validity of your grief. My circumstance does not affect the value or power of yours any more than your situation could in any way change what happened in mine.
We are both allowed to feel what we feel regardless of the details.
Your loss, no matter at what age your baby was; pre or post-birth, your loss and your baby matters.
Let me say that again;
Your loss was a baby. Your baby matters. Whether your baby left this Earth at 7 weeks gestation or 14 months postpartum.
No matter when your precious baby’s heart stopped beating, your heart, the heart of a woman transformed into Mother, still beats. Your hands, perhaps now empty, are forever mother’s hands. Your heart will forever be a mother’s heart.
You are forever transformed. That doesn’t stop or reverse like the pumpkin coach at Midnight. That magic is eternal. You are forever Mother and your baby is forever yours whether here on Earth or beyond.