Yes. We experienced an early miscarriage this past summer.
It was difficult. It was challenging. And it's now a part of our parenting journey.
I'm sharing this personal experience with you because I believe that it's important for us to reflect upon the many different experiences that can occur with pregnancy and parenting. I'm sharing this because I'm adding another perspective, voice, and story for all of the women, and men, who haven't had their stories of loss shared (for a variety of different reasons). And I'm sharing this because I was able to distill a variety of universal lessons that I hope will be helpful for you.
So, here goes. (And thank you in advance for being gentle with me).
The story of that pregnancy and miscarriage is ours and ours alone. There are though, some common elements when women and men navigate pregnancy-related loss that we can all learn from.
When someone experiences a loss the best thing we can say is really nothing. We can offer a simple "I'm very sorry" and a connecting "I can't even imagine". And that's it. FULL STOP.
All of the other things that we might be tempted to say...like
"Well everything happens for a reason."
"It's better that this baby didn't keep growing because..." or in other experiences of loss "At least they're no longer in pain anymore"
"At least you can have another kid..."
"Well I experienced a miscarriage too and..."
"You seem better now..."
...are NOT helpful. These sentences can translate to the person who's experiencing the loss as you saying, "I'm actually really uncomfortable with your feelings so please stop talking about your loss and go deal with your grief by yourself or with someone else."
This wisdom of not saying anything or saying very little applies to all grief. It applies to all situations where we don't know what to say. A simple "I don't know what to say right now", said gently and then remaining with the person is enough.
Again, I repeat, this is ENOUGH. This conveys the heart-breaking reality of loss. This conveys the nonsensical nature of loss. This conveys that you care because you're staying with the person. This conveys that you're comfortable with silence. That you'll wait patiently, in case the grieving individual has more to offer and needs time to put their thoughts/feelings into words.
Next, we really don't know what's going on for people.
So let's be gentle. And kind. And always remind ourselves that we don't know their whole story.
So many folks still don't know that my husband and I experienced this loss and might not understand why I said "no" to opportunities this summer and needed quiet time by myself. They might not understand that when they ask me "how are you doing and what's up with your business?" it's a loaded question that sometimes I'm not able to face. And that's okay. What I needed at times was space and quiet and for not everyone to know.
So I ask you to remember that you really don't know what people are experiencing in their private lives. And the more we can bring our big compassionate hearts and challenge our own personal judgments and expectations, usually the better.
This image below is super helpful. If you're having a difficult time keeping your compassionate lens in focus, then perhaps you print out this image and hang it around your home and workplace.
A women or man's journey into parenthood and experience of their fertility is their own.
So let's leave it be.
If someone is an acquaintance, it is not helpful or kind to ask about their family planning experience.
If someone is a stranger, it's REALLY not helpful to ask.
If someone is a friend, then let's ask respectfully and gently. Try something like, "I was wondering what your thoughts and feelings are today about your journey in becoming a parent (either for the first, second, third, etc. time) AND if you do not want to discuss this today, that's a-okay!"
Finally, let's support women and men in the very personal journey of becoming a parent and then parenting our little people. Let's do away with thinking that pregnancy and/or parenting needs to look a certain way.
If you want to be pregnant and parent a certain way (as long as it's causing no harm), then that's your right!
For example, if you choose to share your news of pregnancy at a certain time (any week or month along the way) that's your business. If you choose to share about your loss that's also your business. And if you choose to keep things private that's your business.
We decided to share the news of our pregnancy with our immediate family and friends earlier than most because we were excited. We wanted to share our joy. And we were also aware that if a loss occurred we wanted support. We wanted people to know so they could show up for us. So if you're feeling called to share your news at a certain time, I say go for it. Let's support each other in making decisions that are uniquely right for us and us alone.
I hope that you see the applicable truths contained in these lessons and examples. I hope that you are able to show up for yourself and others with greater compassion and understanding during times of loss.
Remember, loss is a unique experience that requires different things from us at different moments. Sometimes it requires a cry. Sometimes it's a laugh with a friend. Sometimes it's a quiet hug. Sometimes it's a therapy session. Sometimes it's nature. Every day and every moment, our grief might require different and new things from us. This is okay. This is normal.
I recommend that you stay with your grief. You simply notice what it's asking for each moment and you do your best, in an appropriate way, to honour what it needs.
One final note: I've done a lot of work navigating my grief this summer. I've had a lot of support from my own therapist, trusted friends, and family. I'm able to share this vulnerable experience now because I'm in a different place than when it originally happened. And my experience is my own. If you're moving through loss right now, or have in the past, I ask you to remember that everyone's unique process looks and feels different. Remember that image up above? I've only shared a small portion of what this experience was and is like for me, you don't know the rest of my story. So please read gently and provide yourself and others with as much grace as you can!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for opening up to new ideas. And thank you for being a part of this community!