This week has been a week of validation. It's been a week where I've felt again and again that I'm not writing this blog in vain. I'm not reliving these painful memories for nothing. The stories I hear are from moms and dads, from friends who don't know how to help, from families watching their loved ones suffer, but are too afraid to say the wrong things. I feel like there are some words I need to share with you today.
To the ones who have miscarried:
Please don't invalidate your loss, or the life of your baby. Just because you didn't carry your baby to term, have the chance to hold or bury your child, doesn't make your loss any less upsetting. You have every right to grieve, and you need to allow yourself to do so. It doesn't matter if you lost your baby at 4 weeks or 40 weeks, you still lost your child. Don't let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn't feel.
To the ones who have carried the burden alone:
Please don't feel like you're alone. Even if your family doesn't understand what you're going through, seek out members of the sucky sisterhood to walk and talk with you. Find a counselor to speak to. Carrying this pain alone is too much. Yes, you're strong, obviously. You've survived the loss of your child, but that doesn't mean you have to stay strong all the time. Allow yourself to grieve, and on your time table, not anyone else's. Talk about your child. Talk about your loss. By keeping them to yourself, you're only bringing shame and sadness into your soul, which will drag you low. Believe me, I know.
To the ones who are trying to conceive after loss:
I know how devastating it is to watch friend after friend become pregnant while your arms are longing for the child that was taken from you. It's okay to have those uncomfortable conversations with your friends, and if they are truly friends, they will understand. If they've never been where you are, it may be hard for them to understand, but they will in time. Forcing yourself to throw them baby showers and shop tirelessly in Babies R Us through baby registries is cruel to yourself.
To the one who is a pregnant friend of someone with a recent loss:
Please be sensitive. There is no need to talk endlessly about your pregnancy, your doctor's visits, your baby name books and for the love of God, don't complain about your aches and pains. There are a million other women who would give anything to be in your shoes at any given time. Approach the subject delicately, but don't keep it from your friend either. Don't try to be secretive and tell everyone but her. That will only make things more awkward between you two. Tell her in a sensitive manner, but don't continue to discuss it at length afterwards. Most importantly, don't take it personally if she's having a hard time being excited for you at the moment. It's not about you, it's about her loss, no matter how long ago she may have experienced it. There is no time limit on grief.
To the mom who wants to talk about the baby she lost:
Talk. We worry about talking about our babies because we don't want to upset anyone. We don't want to be a Debbie Downer or have others view us dwelling on our sadness. Screw that. If you need to talk, find a safe person to talk to. If you truly don't feel you have anyone, try journaling. Write your feelings. Write a letter to your baby. Don't keep those thoughts, that sadness, your grief inside. Talk about his little chin cleft. Talk about her tiny fingernails. Allow yourself to remember these things or you will risk forgetting them forever. As Brené Brown says, "choose discomfort over resentment." You'd rather risk the discomfort of starting that conversation than resenting the fact that you were never able to talk about them. They deserve the dignity of being remembered as the person they were, no matter how tiny they were, or if you ever saw their face.
To the ones who tell us to move on:
Sorry, not sorry, but you can take your opinion elsewhere. There is no right or wrong time table to grief. To you, it may seem like we are grieving too long, or dwelling on things we can't change, but that's not your concern and you urging us to move on is not helpful nor is it kind. We lost our child, a part of ourselves, and we will never recover. The pain becomes less raw, but it will always be with us. We will always have that curiosity in our mind of what would happen if our child had lived. How old would they be? What would they look like? What would they be like? We are not only grieving the loss of a child, but the loss of a dream we had for a different future and no amount of telling us to move on will change that. Great idea, though.
To the ones who just want to help:
The best thing you can do is to be present. Let us talk. Don't be afraid of the pain, don't run when things get uncomfortable and let the tears fall. You don't have to hand us a Kleenex the moment you see them. Let them fall, and let us know we are in a safe place with you. Listen to our stories and let us know that you remember our baby. Nothing is more special to me, than when people tell me stories they remember about the time that Matthew was born. Whether it was about him personally, or about something that happened behind the scenes that I never saw, I cherish these people's memories, because I have so few of my own. I cling to anything I can hear about my boy because those memories are what keeps him alive. When the memories are gone, he will be gone as well. Letting us talk about our feelings and our loss is the sweetest gift you can give us. You have the ability to be so valuable to us, so don't feel like you have to stay away to avoid weird conversations or not mention their names in order to avoid upsetting us. It's more upsetting for our pain and loss to be forgotten.