Miscarriage is often a silent suffering. So many women keep it to themselves. Whether this is because they don't want to make others feel uncomfortable, are afraid of what someone might say, or don't want to sound negative, I don't know. Unfortunately, because of the perceived taboo on discussing this subject in our culture, women, and men too, often suffer in silence.
I don't know why, but when I had my first miscarriage it never occurred to me to keep it silent. As a matter of fact, we had not yet told anyone we were expecting so I could have avoided telling anyone anything at all if I had wanted. But I chose not to. And like I said, I really don't know why. So we told our families and then our friends and then co-workers and others. We held a memorial mass and we named the baby.
But what surprised me the most was how many people told me that they too had had a miscarriage! Some of these women I had known for several years. None of them had ever spoken about it before. That is, until they heard about mine, then they opened up to me. It got me thinking about how important having support during tragedy really is. And here were these friends of mine who I was never able to offer support to because I never knew of their suffering.
I also recognize that every individual is different and will handle situations differently than others. Miscarriage is a very sensitive topic and some women prefer to keep it between themselves and their husbands. That is fine. But I do think there is a benefit to having some sort of support, whether through an anonymous online forum, a close friend or group of friends who have also "been there," or through a spiritual advisor or something along those lines. The grief of losing a baby is very like the grief of losing any member of your family. It doesn't matter how long or short that life was.
So I feel for those who suffer in silence and don't seek out support. I hope that my openness through my three losses will help others to see that it's not so scary to talk about it. Or at least, if they know me, would come to me for a listening ear and the empathy that only someone who has suffered the same thing can understand. Although, I don't write about it as often as I thought I would, this topic has also become one of the reasons I continue to maintain this blog.
I was inspired to write this post after someone I know posted a link on Facebook regarding Lisa Ling talking about her recent miscarriage on the TV program "The View." I don't watch this show, not just because I work during the day (and don't own a DVR), but also because I don't normally agree with the points of view of the women on this show and I can't handle the bickering I often see in clips that are shown at other times. Regardless of my personal opinion, I was glad to see this topic come up. Here is a short article about Ling's appearance as well as just a 1 minute clip of the beginning of the discussion. I wish I knew how the rest of the conversation went and if the show's hosts asked appropriate and sensitive questions or not. But Ling's words in this clip are so very true!!
Miscarriage is definitely a shock to anyone. And it's a tragedy. It's too bad that we live in a culture that treats death as a taboo topic, to the point that we can't openly grieve for the lives who were lost before birth. It's a real pain that those of us who have gone through it will always carry with us. It doesn't matter how many living children we have or how long it has been since the loss, the pain will always be with us. We don't get over it, but we do learn to live with it. I wish we could also learn to live with it in such a way that we can share it with others and celebrate those lives that we enjoyed no matter for how short a time.