Finding Strength in Grief : What I’ve learned after two miscarriages

October is the month I would have been due, before my second miscarriage. July was my due-month before my first miscarriage. Thankfully, I’m pregnant now – well past the point I miscarried my previous pregnancies and due in February. I’m at the halfway mark of pregnancy! Only 20 more weeks to go, more or less.

Some of the harder moments for me are when someone asks me if this is my second pregnancy. And (other than for my personal medical providers) I just say yes. I want to say, “No, this is my fourth pregnancy, I lost two.” But I don’t because the situation usually isn’t appropriate for that.

I don’t feel the grief-pain acutely anymore, time has erased most of the sharpness. But sometimes I ache. Sometimes the memory of the grief makes me tear (pregnancy hormones don’t help). Sometimes I read about another mother’s loss, and I feel that grief again.

I feel that now, as far as losing a pregnancy goes, I can sympathize with other women. It doesn’t make that woman’s pain, or mine, any less. But it gives me a sense of connection to many other’s who have born that grief and then have continued on. The experience has made me more sympathetic and hopeful.

I have also learned more about grief – how I handle grief and how we (culturally) handle grief. It doesn’t seem to me that, as a culture, we do a very good job. We life in a world of instant gratification, happiness, quick fixes, and superficial “feel good” solutions. Grief, any kind of grief, doesn’t go away with a good shopping trip, milkshake, or new iPhone game. And we, as a culture, do a very good job at avoiding difficult or uncomfortable situations.

What does it take to deal with grief? Time, courage, hope for the future, community and familial support, and many other possibilities. It takes some bravery for someone to reach out to another woman who is hurting, to grab grief by the horns and stare it down together.

Two of my favorites scriptures are Hebrews 12:12 “Lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees.” And Mosiah 18: 8-9 ” …And now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things…”

Mourning with someone, lifting the hands that hang down – those are very active things. More than asking someone if they are okay. To me it means being okay with uncomfortableness, with tears, with someone saying, “I’m not OK today.” It doesn’t mean saying the right thing – there is no one right thing, as long as you aren’t minimizing someones pain or experience – whatever you say will be fine. Sometimes a hand hold, or a hug, is better than words. It means being okay when someone doesn’t know how to respond to a “I’m sorry for your loss.” Actively mourning with someone means reminding another person that it’s okay to cry in public, to still have a hard time, it’s okay to grieve.

After my second miscarriage, one of the most helpful things someone told me was “The pain doesn’t ever go away completely.” She told me this after she told me about her losses many many many years ago, and she cried. And I cried. I didn’t feel better necessarily. But I felt understood and validated. And I saw a woman who had walked the same path, felt the same way, and she was fine.

I never want to experience another miscarriage again. But if it is in my future, if I have to walk that path again, I know I can get through it. I may or may not need a therapist or medication or to sit on my couch and cry for days. But I know I can get through hard things, and I know that we all can.

We are all more resilient than we think. We can handle difficulties, tragedies, heartache, grief. I’m not the same as I was before my losses, but I’m still me, and hopefully more able to lift the hands that hang down of others around me. Hopefully I’m better able to stand with someone, through the messy and emotional moments, and help grab the grief-monster by the horns and stare it down together, even if I cry.

 

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Part of my grieving process involved creating this memory-doll. I wanted to mark my experiences with something tangible. This doll is empty of the other nesting dolls. Inside it has dried petals from the roses given to me, a poem I found that I liked, a quote from “Runaway Bunny,” and the dates of my miscarriages written on the inside. I hand painted it, the tree is bearing fruit that never ripened, and the one apple represents my daughter I have. One day I would love to make another memory doll for someone who needs it

The quote from “Runaway Bunny,” by Margaret Wise Brown is “If you become a bird and fly away from me, I will become a tree that you come home to.”

The poem is a Miscarriage Prayer/Affirmation by Stacey Dinner-Levin

A Mother’s Prayer/ Affirmation After Miscarriage
In this time of loss I call upon my spirit within to guide me to my strength so that I may find peace and completion.
I will use this strength to demand of myself and others my need to grieve completely, for this will be my first step to healing.
During my time of grief I will seek guidance not only from my inner spirit but from loving persons who may offer wisdom and comfort.
I need to understand that the soul as well as the physical body needs healing and to pay attention to this. I will learn to accept that the soul may never heal completely.
I will learn to live not in fear and once again see beauty in my world and purpose in my existence.
In spite of my new knowledge that things happen that cannot be controlled, I must call upon the places within me that tell me I do have control over much of my life and use this control to aid my healing.
Let me recognize the gift in my ability to conceive and carry life however briefly.
Let me take joy in my ability to love so deeply and desire to nurture a soul unbeknown  to me.
Let me find healing in the belief that this soul knew my love for it and that that love helped it to pass to another place.
Let me honour this short life not only with my love but in finding meaning in its existence.
Let me recognize this meaning in not only my ability to survive, but in my fullest appreciation of all the moments motherhood will bring me, along with my deeper compassion and sisterhood to other women who’ve experienced loss.
I will listen to and trust the place in my deepest heart that tells me I will once again be reunited with this soul and will fulfill the need to hold it in my arms.
I will help myself to feel comfort in the knowledge that there is a star in heaven that belongs to me.

 

 

 

2 comments to Finding Strength in Grief : What I’ve learned after two miscarriages

  • Devri Saville  says:

    I think I still need to hear that the pain doesn’t ever completely go away. I think sometimes I need to feel like my pain over my 2 lost pregnancies is still valid and normal. I cried a month ago about it, and it’s been 2 and a half years since I lost the second one. I feel it when I see my niece, who is 6 months older than my daughter, but who should have been 2 months older (or a month younger). It’s still there. I find myself needing to be brave when I think about trying for another baby. I wish we talked about it more. Because I don’t have a tombstone to go to and place flowers, I feel sometimes like I’m silly for still mourning these babies. Thank you for your words. And I hurt with you still, and I’m happy that things are going so well with your pregnancy. It was at 20 weeks when I really started to believe that I really would get my daughter! Loves!

    • Fannie  says:

      I feel twinges of the grief when I see my friend’s babies that were the same due-month as my losses. It’s hard sometimes! I have to remind myself of that, that just because the worst is over, so to speak, the underlying grief is still there and may always be there. Along with that anxiety over future pregnancies. I told people fairly early about this pregnancy, I hear all the time “I don’t tell anyone incase something happens.” And I want to shake people and tell them that if “something” happens they are going to need more support and love than they even know. For me, I needed to have a touchpoint for my grief – like the memory doll, or lighting two candles tonight for Pregnancy Loss and Awareness day. It helps me to feel connected to something, to acknowledge the grief and the loss. And it helps me to know that others, like you, have gone through the same journey.

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