There have been some topics in this hashtag project where I simply have not had anything to say. There are others where I have more than enough to say, but not the guts to say it. It’s called #iwanttotalkaboutit, but truth be told, some days I don’t. And that’s the tricky thing; on the one hand I feel like there is far too much silence regarding miscarriage and pregnancy loss and it needs to become more ok to talk about it. On the other hand, it is still such a private thing… a grief that shouldn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops for it to matter.
I was challenged by one particular topic because if I wrote truthfully, I’d probably offend some people. So do I write realistically about that aspect of miscarriage? Or do I not and not hurt feelings?
It really is an underlying question when it comes to miscarriage. Whether it should be significant or not is another — how will my actions or speech affect those around me? There are varying stages of importance when asking this question.
To begin with, you aren’t considering anyone else when experiencing your grief. Those well-meaning people who tried to be kind, but said the wrong thing which meant I was rude or blunt. That was grief not me, and it was so early after our loss I didn’t even remember them to later apologise. (Here’s a list of appropriate support/what to say)
Then after a little while, you are still feeling the myriad of emotions grief brings, but you have a filter. A filter that’s probably 80% tinted from society’s perception of loss and miscarriage. Then 20% human instinct, people are getting awkward. So you don’t always talk about it, because the appropriate time has passed, but in some circles it’s still ok.
Then so much time passes (apparently for others), it’s like grief shouldn’t matter any more. The few days of Facebook comment support has long gone, you should have definitely “moved on” by now. Anything you say now is awkward and definitely not appropriate. People didn’t know how to support when it just happened, now months on they really don’t know what right thing to say.
So not wanting to hurt feelings, or to make people awkward. But because this is what I want to say, but I don’t want to say it.
When strangers ask me at the playground how many children I have, I say two.
When I fill out a sibling form, I only have two names to write.
When we had family photos recently, I just had to match my three boys and figure out my one girl outfit later.
When a six-year-old girl I teach asks me how I know her mum in front of the class, I say we are just good friends. When the silent answer is I have a baby in heaven too, and that’s how my relationship exists with the family.
When big brother talks, he says he has just one brother, because when his sister went to heaven, he was too little to understand and to explain it now would just be too many questions. (Though we have talked about her before, he has forgotten).
See the problem with all the vulnerability and talking about it — miscarriage, grief, loss, what ifs — is the one thing you really want to say, you don’t say because of that filter I was talking about above.
My two angel babies are grandchildren no one sees… Children that I don’t have to pack for on family holidays…. Big brother never gets to play with them… And I have no smiling photos of us all for people to see when they visit our home.
What do we have to say about their lives; nothing because they only exist in death.
So what’s the one thing I want to say but never do?
“Can’t you remember them? Can’t you remember Emmanuelle as much as I do without me saying anything? Or having to remind you?
No, because in most cases, she’s just death to you. That or, not enough life.”
See… awkward now, isn’t it? Because anything you say will be because I’ve made you.
PS. This would be up there as one of the most honest things I’ve written and publicly shared. My intention is not to hurt feelings or cry for attention; rather I want people to understand that I can talk about how miscarriage affects different facets of my life until the cows come home, but there is one simple underlying truth; no matter how long it has been, and I’m not saying every day, but if you remember Emmanuelle without me saying something…. you would help my heart more than you could ever imagine.
PPS. But if it’s only after I remind you that’s ok too.