Grief doesn’t get lighter, you just learn to carry the load.
It’s been almost three weeks since my miscarriage surgery (written about here – Snow Bubble…x). Since then I’ve had days of such varied emotion I felt fit to explode. There were dark days of crippling sadness, sharp white-heat anger, and emptiness that weighed so heavy it rendered me bed-bound. But gradually the days grew warmer, peppered with hugs and tender hands on shoulders, gentle sighs of “I’m sorry”s, and nights of filling with red and spilling my heart.
More recently, there have been days of spring where the sun splinters the clouds and I spot my reflection smiling, or my laugh catches me off guard. And it still does – catch me off guard – the smiles and laughs aren’t fluttering by with the mindless frivolity they once used to. Not just yet. But they’re bubbling up and escaping just the same; a little reminder that the Earth doesn’t stop spinning when your world implodes.
As those days melted away I waited for these feelings to fly the nest; for the sadness to dissipate into the horizon; to feel “normal” again. But that didn’t happen. I’ve learnt that’s not how grief works, for me. Like a murmuration of starlings, it never really leaves. Instead I think, over time (that alleged great healer) the weight doesn’t lessen, you just learn to carry it.
You don’t heal; you acclimatise.
I’ve been lucky that this ‘acclimatising’ has been – is being – made easier with the support of family, friends, colleagues, complete strangers even. My previous post (Snow Bubble…x) had more of an impact than I ever imagined and I’m astounded by the support and messages of comfort and consolation I’ve received, often by people I don’t even know. Miscarriage is such a difficult loss to comprehend, especially if you’ve never experienced it, and by opening up about my experience I had unknowingly invited a conversation about it, mostly by those who had been through a similar loss or struggle. In all honesty, I think it’s these conversations, these reaching hands, that have lifted me up from the pit of grief.
We are not alone in this.
And men/partners – they’re grieving too.
But what do you say, how do you help, if you’ve never been through a pregnancy loss? Miscarriage Association ran an excellent campaign called “Simply Say”. What may be a well-intentioned sentiment can sometimes cause more harm than good. Anything starting with “At least…” gets me right in the gut.
Sometimes, “I’m sorry for your loss” is all you need to hear.
For those close to someone who’s suffered a pregnancy loss, I imagine the hardest part is the feeling of helplessness; the guilt and frustration of being unable to make it better. I feel those things too. But that’s okay, I’m not expecting anybody to fix this.
Grief doesn’t get lighter, but you can help me carry the load.
For now, I’m feeling better. But the waves of emotion come and go. I enter this new week with bated breath – we were due to meet with the midwife for the first time. I don’t think these “milestones” will get any easier. For the rest of time my mind will always be running the “what if” alternate reality in the background.
Forgive the dark days that creep up, and be patient, please.
(I don’t know if I’m writing these words for you or for me.)
To everyone who got in touch, who shared, liked, commented, retweeted, or simply read my original post (or this one) – Thank you.
To everyone who started the conversation, who approached me and offered condolences, who text, called, messaged me, or just hugged me when they didn’t know what to say – Thank you.
To everyone who patiently left me when I hid away, or diverted conversation when I fell into myself – Thank you.
And to those who gently told me to be kinder to myself, to give myself time to grieve and to heal, to forgive my body – Thank you. I am trying, every day, and your words of comfort and advice stay with me.
To Willem, who has glued together the pieces of my heart when your own has been shattered – Thank you. “We’ve got this.”
No matter what you say to someone who’s suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, do or say something; start the conversation.
I for one am certainly more than happy to talk about it. This shouldn’t be taboo. If you do want to get in touch…
I am not affiliated with Miscarriage Association but I have found their website to be invaluable for support, information, and community. Of course a quick online search will lead you to many other places of support including Tommy’s and the NHS, amongst others. But here’s some info from Miscarriage Association that might help: