It’s estimated that as many as one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and yet the topic of pregnancy loss is still largely kept underground in our culture. We’re advised to keep our early pregnancy secret in case we miscarry; right there we’ve been sent a message that were a miscarriage occur, we shouldn’t talk about it.
I can understand “not telling” from the point of view that most of us really don’t want to have to talk about loss and grief with the new IT guy in the lunch room at work. Deciding when and whom to tell is a very personal decision. And I don’t think we all can or should be in agreement about this. But there is consensus that talking about miscarriage is an enormously important part of working through the grief.
Yesterday I came across a post over at My Life… Unplugged, where a blogger who goes by Mckenna talks about this very issue:
“More and more women seem to be announcing their pregnancies a little earlier, or at least talking about their miscarriages. Which I personally think it such an important thing! TALKING about what you’re going through, whether with close friends, a support group, or even anyone who will listen, is SO healing. In general, there isn’t much anyone can say to make it easier.” She goes on to say that it took her months to reach some level of “normal” after her miscarriage. And that starting to try again brought up lots of sadness once more.
McKenna links to the website “Or so she says..” for advice about HOW TO COPE with miscarriage. The tips come from a doctor who miscarried at eight weeks and found that she had absolutely no idea how to cope. Her advice includes talking about it, finding help, crying, taking a break and giving your partner room to mourn the loss, too. But what I found perhaps most illuminating about her post, is what she has to say to friends or loved ones of those who have miscarried. Particularly her section on what not to say:
(These are things couples in her support group were told!)
“-Are you going to try again?
-It was just a miscarriage.
-Well, at least you weren’t that far along
-You can have another one.
-You lost it early so it’s not that big of deal.
-Now you have angel looking after you.
-Its for the best
-You’re young, you’ll get over it.
-It was God’s will.
-Or sharing any story about your friend’s cousin who had 9 miscarriages and ended up having a healthy pregnancy.”
Friends, loved ones, and perhaps that IT guy in the lunch room, doubtlessly mean well when they tell you it was meant to be, or God’s will. It’s amazing how incapable most of us are at talking about death and loss. Often people feel they have to explain it or fix it, rather than acknowledge the despair. My husband, who lost his mother fifteen years ago to a drawn-out battle with cancer, always reminds me: You don’t have to say anything except that you are sorry for their loss. Then you just listen.
photo: Carla Nicora/Flickr