What Is It About Grief Left By Perinatal Loss That Makes Society So Uncomfortable?Devan McGuinness
I read an article about a week and a half ago — I wanted to write about it then, but I wanted to sit with it a first because it confused me. Over the past few days, I learned I am having another miscarriage and as I sit here in cramps and sadness, I thought back to that article and realize I can’t sit with it any longer.
The article appeared online at MacLeans.ca and was titled, “Are we over-sharing lost pregnancies?” with an equally furious tag-line, “Devastated by perinatal deaths, parents reach out in sometimes disturbingly public ways.” The article goes on to list celebrities who have spoken about loss, miscarriage in the news, blames miscarriage blogs on the internet and even mentions that “one woman in the U.K. even used a photograph of her stillborn child as her Facebook avatar.” The author referred to all of these examples as, “yet another marker of the evolving openness, even militancy, surrounding perinatal loss.”
Any article that even hints that it would be ‘healthier’ for us to keep our grief inside needs to be addressed. Any advice that tells us to keep our pain inside for fear of alienating others is total bunk — and I will tell you why:
Our grief isn’t about other people — grief is a natural occurrence — a reaction to significant loss. Grief is healthy, it’s normal and it is individual. Grief is a state — not a disease, not something to be ashamed of. As someone who works closely with people touched by perinatal grief I can see first hand just how individual and important taking the time to grieve a loss is. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
If one person wishes to release a song discussing the pain of miscarriage — that’s their choice. If another family wishes to take their still child home to say goodbye — what’s that to you? If a mother wants to send out birth announcement cards for the birth of their silent child — that is their choice. If I want to write about it here on a public forum like Babble — that’s my choice.
Our grief is about us — not about your comfort. Get over yourself and let us grieve in our own way.
There is no etiquette when it comes to mending a broken heart left by the death of our children, our dreams and our should-have-been future. There should only be a rally of support. Talking about grief and loss does not “amplify it, and extend the mourning process” as the article would suggest, that is done by society telling us to get over it — in less then a week, if that, and move on. By insisting we stay quiet and not find support through speaking about our loss — that leaves room for grief to evolve into something serious like clinical depression or post-traumatic stress — that will extend and complicate the pain that already exists.
People are able to share photos of their once living family members and talk about how they feel once they are gone — grieving in general doesn’t seem to be a taboo thing. Society doesn’t blink an eye at grief left because of the loss of a dog or spouse or friend — ridiculous news articles don’t get published telling them that they are being “disturbingly public” by speaking about their pain.
Why is there so much fear and insensitivity when it comes to talking about the loss of a child at any gestation or shortly after birth?
So, MacLeans — no, we are not over-sharing — we are finally sharing.
:: Have you been touched directly or indirectly by perinatal loss? Visit UnspokenGrief.com for resources and support ::
photo credit: modified from Flickr