You might’ve seen posts lately about Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness. I have mixed feelings about them. Until I remember that such a day or month of awareness isn’t for those who’ve lost babies. It’s for the people around those of us who’ve lost babies.
As a childless mother, I don’t need a reminder to be aware of the heartbreak of pregnancy loss. There isn’t a day when I’m able to forget it and that’s been true for over a decade. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m “stuck” in my grief or that I need to “get over it.” If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s ok to ask me about it.
Many people think that to bring up such loss only contributes to the grief. I have found the opposite to be true. It’s how I imagine a person who is never able to speak their native language must feel. Sure, they can still communicate but not on a level that reflects the intensity of their heart’s reality.
But I get it. Because when you hear about someone having a miscarriage? You wonder what to say. And not wanting to say the “wrong” thing, maybe you say nothing. You might decide that it’s kinder not to bring it up. Or to change the subject if babies come into the conversation. Or into the room.
I understand. Pregnancy loss is messy and uncomfortable and deeply personal. It’s one of those things we just don’t talk about. We give people “space” to deal with the unspeakable grief on their own and eventually, they get on with their life and move on.
My friend, that is quite simply a crock. The “space” given to those who mourn is almost always for the onlooker, not the one who experienced the loss(es).
And yes, we do get on with our life. Because what is the alternative? We move on, because as unnatural as it seems, the world refuses to stop spinning. Each of us takes a different path but most of us do find ways to live this new will-never-be-normal-again life. We learn to carry the grief – hopefully well – but we never set it down. Because it’s no longer a separate entity, a thing that happened to us. It’s part of us, saturating every thought, feeling, and cell.
Part of learning to carry the grief well often means that we are able to experience true joy again, and find purpose and meaning in life. Speaking for myself, I am happy. Grateful for the joy and peace God has brought to my life. But it doesn’t mean that the grief is ever gone. It just doesn’t work that way.
If all this sounds like something that happens to “other” people—if you think that you couldn’t possibly know someone who’s had this experience, you may be mistaken.
After all, who are these women?
They are one in four who will experience miscarriage. Think about that. Count out just the women you have a personal relationship with. One, two, three, LOSS. One, two, three, LOSS.
Me? I’m among the one in a hundred women who will experience recurrent miscarriage. Some of us may end up with a child(ren) who survives. Others, like me, may not. Regardless, nothing negates the specific pain and grief of each loss.
But what can provide more healing than you could imagine is simply acknowledging a woman’s loss. It’s ok if you don’t know what to say. There is no right thing, after all. Sometimes that’s the easiest way to begin.
I don’t know what to say.
I know this awful thing has happened, and I’m sorry.
I’m here for you.
I still don’t know what to say, or what to do, but I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.
Since there is no one right way, I can simply say that this has been helpful for me, and for others I’ve known. The most important thing may be to remember that rather than waiting until you know what to say—instead of waiting until you know how to respond to a pregnancy loss, you simply honor the loss with an awareness and willingness to be near another person as they navigate their own grief journey.
No matter where you are on this spectrum—one in four, one in a hundred, or one of the three—I pray that peace fills your life.