There’s a distinct difference in grieving someone lost, and grieving someone who never has been. Neither one is easier or harder, they are just different. There is no scale. It isn’t black and white, touch and go. Grief in general (of any kind), is like a gigantic void that’s stuffed with the petulant grayness of human emotion. No two people grieve the same, period.
As a mother of two, I often find myself spacing out in thought over what could have been, of them. The ones I lost. The babies that formed a heartbeat, and a couple that even developed their tiny little arms and legs. Before my body rejected them in the womb. Sometimes I stare into my daughter’s face and daydream of my angels. Wondering if they ever visit her. I look at my son’s sharp eyebrows, and wonder if any of them would’ve had the same handsome features. I imagine their laughter and their cries. What would our household be like if they’d lived?
After seven miscarriages, no two are ever the same. Each one can bring a different experience. Emotional pain, hormonal craziness, and physical challenges can be unique with each loss. There are a few things that no matter what the nasty details entailed, always ended up being the same. The grief.
The entire grieving process of miscarriages are often left out of the media. Which quite frankly sucks because miscarriages are extremely common! Odds are, if you or your partner have not suffered such a loss yourself, then someone close to you who has. This subject is usually tip-toed around. People shy away from facing it, because it’s easier to avoid it. The avoidance is validated because it is hard, it is emotional, it is confusing. The entire subject does tap into a devastating place of your heart, and it does leave an extremely bad taste in your mouth.
The emotional harshness of miscarriages needs to be voiced, because how else will sufferers know that they’re not alone? And how else will others be able to grasp, and approach a loved one experiencing it?
If you have a loved one suffering from a miscarriage (one or multiple ones), there are several things you should know.
Excitement for other babies: can definitely still be there. You never forget your first loss. Even if other friends and family are expecting around you, excitement can be there. What could be awkward is the reaction from other birthing mothers. Some maybe stand-off-ish, fully aware that you should have had your own little ball of joy at the same time. They may not know what to say or how exactly to act. Others may come across as completely oblivious, clueless to your feelings. To be honest, both reactions can be equally as hard.
On the other hand, if you or your partner are expecting, and are close to someone who just suffered a miscarriage, it could be suggested that these points can offer support:
• Don’t ask the sufferer to throw a baby shower, or point out every little feature of your child in your 3D ultrasound pictures. The sufferer might possibly understand that you’re excited, and will try to understand where you’re coming from. However, that may not help to make the sufferer’s heart hurt any less.
• Don’t complain about every tiny ache and pain the sufferer will not experience. There’s a possibility the sufferer would die to be in your shoes, to experience the pains that you’re dissing or taking for granted.
• Do let the sufferer feel the baby move (occasionally, don’t overdo it). It’s an amazing thing. Even though it might be hard for the sufferer and she might even cry, she may appreciate being able to feel the love and growth, that she will miss out on. Understanding and appreciating the depths of loss is actually an important step of the grieving process.
• When you have your baby, don’t avoid telling the sufferer about the birth, just to protect her feelings. That may hurt her worse. It may not come across as protective, it could come across as offensive, no matter your intentions. Let her love your child just like she would have, had she not suffered her own loss. There is a chance she is genuinely happy for you.
• Don’t gloat and constantly brag about your children, and the fact that you are able to have babies. I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people may do this!
Being an introvert throughout the process is not uncommon. It could be the hormones. When a woman miscarries, her body goes through so many waves of whacky hormonal madness. She may feel incompetent, broken, or completely uncomfortable in her own skin. She may want to feel loved and invited and welcome, just as much as she may want to be given respect. As well as possibly the necessary space needed to grieve. If that sounds like a double-edged sword, that’s because it is. The sufferer may possibly feel torn and quite frankly doesn’t know exactly how to feel. It could be suggested that there is an internal conflict, the simple fact that she many want to move on may make her feel guilty, and the need to let herself absorb the loss may make her feel weak and even a little bit self-indulgent.
Here are some tips in dealing with the erratic contradicting emotions of your loved one:
• Encourage her to go out, but don’t force or push it because, “you know best”, as you don’t. She knows whether or not she’s ready. Yet the fact that you care enough to take the initiative is huge. It may show her that you love her, and are supportive in helping her cope.
• Kindly and in good conversation remind her that it’s your loss too. At the same time, even though it may have been your child she was carrying, you have to remember that it was her body that lost it.
• Never say the words, “I know how you feel,” because you don’t. Even if you too have miscarried, as mentioned before everyone feels differently and grieves differently. You can imagine and/or you can relate. But, you will never know how she feels. Just don’t say it. Refrain yourself.
• If she opens up on the details and wants to talk freely about the entire experience, be it physical or emotional pain, then listen. She may not want advice, she may just want a listening ear. What may also help is if she feels wanted and needed as a capable mother, rather than a needy child. She may not want to hear that she “just needs rest” or that she “should eat certain foods” or even that she “should wait to have sex”. Don’t give her advice, that’s what doctors are for. Just listen and be a welcome comforting shoulder for her to lean on.
Lastly, if you are the one going through the loss of a baby, I’m so sorry for everything you have to endure. You live with it, and it tests who you really are. Please don’t be self destructive. If nothing else then prove it to yourself that you are a strong capable woman, that is worth the very best this life has to offer. If a baby is in your cards then it will happen when it’s meant to happen. If not, it won’t.