I will never tell you this has been an easy road or that it ever should be. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. There are days I want to crawl into a hole and let life pass me by and just forget I even exist. There are days when I’m okay and then feel guilty that I’m okay. Honestly, most days I AM okay; but the days I’m NOT okay, I’m REALLY not okay.
People outside this circle often don’t understand (and also don’t always accept) that I don’t want to be around babies or pregnant women. I’ve had some try to counsel me that I NEED to be able to deal with these things as if I don’t know this…as if I don’t know I can’t go through life avoiding such things or running out of the room crying because I saw one or the other. I KNOW this! I’m just not THERE yet. People can’t “fix” this, and it isn’t something we ever get over! It’s something we learn to live with, learn from, but NEVER “get over”.
Although society tells us the opposite, it IS okay to be NOT okay! Society makes us feel like we’re crazy, like we need to move on in a clinically-prescribed period of time. People who haven’t dealt with it have no idea the strength it takes to get out of bed each morning after such losses! It seems some have opinions and advice about everything:
- “There was probably something wrong with your child” as if I wouldn’t have loved him or her regardless, as if he or she was worthless because of that, as if I would’ve terminated the pregnancy anyway if I’d gotten the chance. I know it’s meant to be consoling, and I know the people who say it mean it to comfort us, but it doesn’t work that way. It hurts! The translation in our minds is often, “The child was likely defective; you and nobody else for that matter would’ve wanted that child to live.” People have to remember we’re in a very low place when these things happen. We will take everything said to a very deep level.
- “Maybe you’re not meant to be a parent” in all its many forms.—Whether true or not, it’s not appropriate and is more damaging than helpful, especially if it comes from someone who has children. This translates to many loss parents as “You’re not fit to be a parent. There’s something wrong with you.” It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t meant that way. That’s still the way it’ll likely be taken, especially from someone who has kids. And to add to that, we are parents! We just didn’t get to keep our kids!
- “It’s been x amount of time. Shouldn’t you be over this?” I will NEVER “get over” this, and neither would you if it had happened to you!
- And when you move onto infertility treatment, “I don’t think that’s God’s will. If He’d wanted you to have a child, He’d have allowed it without treatment.” I think, “You mean the way He heals diabetes or cancer or depression or high blood pressure or broken bones or heart attacks WITHOUT medical treatment? I guess you shouldn’t seek treatment for any medical conditions because if He wants to heal it, He’ll heal it without treatment.” Of course people don’t think this, but if they really think about what they’re saying, that’s what the message is. You can’t apply that theology to one medical disorder and not the next. Remember…there are still people in the world who think it’s wrong to use doctors for any disorder because it’s looked at as a lack of faith in God’s healing abilities. That’s what a person who makes a judgment against infertility treatment this looks like to me. God uses doctors every single day to heal people…every single day! Why is infertility any different? There’s something that doesn’t work correctly, and we go to the doctor to get help with it just like anyone does when they have any other illness.
Nobody told me how hard this was going to be. Nobody told me anything about the emotions of this journey. Sure, I knew miscarriage and stillbirth happen; but nobody warns us of the pain and emptiness that follows! Nobody says anything! That’s the point! Nobody seems to talk about it! It’s like some dirty, family-kept secret, a skeleton in the closet. Why? It’s not our fault! It’s out of our control on almost every level. Why do loss parents feel the need to be silent? I have a theory:
- It makes others uncomfortable. So what? It makes us a whole lot of things, the least of which is uncomfortable! Uncomfortable would be a welcomed emotion as compared with everything we’ve felt. But wait! WHY are they so uncomfortable?
- Is it because they just don’t know what to say? That’s fine! That’s actually good! All that really needs said is “I’m so sorry! I have no words. I’m here, though.” Then just don’t be afraid of tears and anger and questions. That’s it. You don’t really need to “say” much at all. That means you don’t need to “fix” it with profound words of wisdom. Let me say…there are none! They don’t exist in this situation. End of story.
- Is it because they feel like, if they know what this grief is, if they’re willing to be in the trenches with us, that maybe God will say, “Okay, now that you have some idea of what this is like, it’s your turn to lose your child?”
- Is it because they just think it’s no big deal because we didn’t know our little one’s personality yet or maybe didn’t get to hold our little one or we didn’t get to this or that milestone? “At least you didn’t lose a ‘real’ child.” How about, “Be thankful you still have a living child” as if that makes it as though the one we were carrying never existed, never mattered and shouldn’t. There are many, many, many variations of these phrases. None are appropriate! What we need is to have our pain validated, not minimized or unjustified. That only breeds resentment and stifles recovery. It does NO good whatsoever in any circumstance for any person in the world ever!
We have to allow the healing process to begin, and that’s why talking is so very important! I was never one to shy away from expressing my emotions or talking about my feelings in most situations; but something about grieving pregnancy loss can make me feel isolated at times, mainly when I’m around people who haven’t experienced it in one way or another, either directly or at least indirectly by walking through it with someone very close to them. We’ve probably all had “that look” when we explain we’ve lost babies. I remember when I got it (from a woman no less) when she asked if I had kids. I said something to the effect of, “Ours are in heaven.” She looked at me like I had 2 heads, like I had just told her something totally inappropriate. She said nothing and just changed the subject. In her defense, it’s easy for me to say she didn’t get it, but maybe she had also lost pregnancies and just couldn’t deal with the emotion of it. Maybe she was caught off guard. She was a good many years older than I, so it’s quite possible that she was stifled in expressing her grief back when she’d have been having children and now just doesn’t know how to deal with it. I took offense to it, though, and honestly never even thought until just as I was typing this out that it might’ve been her own loss that triggered her lack of response to mine.
However, we cannot allow ourselves and our fellow grievers to be isolated! Isolation breeds depression, which breeds resentment, which halts recovery. I am so blessed to have found Sweet Grace early on after my second miscarriage. This family of parents allows me to vent my frustrations and pain, and they are the ones to whom I look in order to receive comfort and understanding as well as sound advice! I don’t know where I’d be on this journey if not for this group! I don’t think it’d be a good place, though. The Lord has blessed me, and I am so very thankful!
If you aren’t close to Sweet Grace, seek out support in your area. If there isn’t such a group, find people on this journey and share with them. Don’t allow society to make you feel afraid to express your feelings whatever they may be! Don’t allow yourself to feel isolated! You never know who you might help by speaking and how they will help you! And who knows! Maybe you can start your own group in your area and help those coming after you so they don’t have to suffer alone and in silence too, and you’ll be shattering some of the silence surrounding this terrible pain at the same time!