October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. During last month’s #MoonshineMeetup, a conference call for the Broken Brown Egg’s Shellshocked Support Group, one participant said something so profound that it really made me stop. She said, “If someone’s child passes away, they are expected to mourn, and they are allowed to think about it. Because my child was never “born”, does that mean I should act as though it never happened? Why don’t I get to think about them?”.
It was a heartbreaking thought, because it made me really stop and think about how lonely grief really is. I started to really think about how many women and men we encounter every day who we never suspect to be in mourning. They are right in the middle of their pain, and we look right through it.
Infertility in and of itself, is an ongoing bereavement. With every month gone by, you are constantly grieving over your vision for your life, your hope, or your plan for your future. Every single day is a readjustment period. Every reset and restart is like signing yourself up for the same pain all over again.
And the hardest thing about grieving, the absolute worst thing, is that it feels as though everyone wants you to forget. They will say that it’s because they want you to feel better, but you feel as though what they really want, is for you to not bring them down. They don’t want to look at your sadness anymore because it is an uncomfortable inconvenience.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ― Vicki Harrison
To our credit, most of us do a pretty good job of keeping our sadness to ourselves. But it crushes you. Your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, and your body does what feels like a double-step. You think to call or message someone, or just scream “Help Me!!”, but then that overwhelming feeling of loneliness sets in.
You’re not actually alone, but it feels that way.
Because everyone else is over it. And you just know that when you start laying out your issues, their facial expressions will say, “are you still talking about this?”, or “umm,…isn’t there someone else more qualified to listen to you about this?”. Everyone else seems to have moved on. Everyone else can act as though nothing ever happened.
But something did happen.
And it is happening.
And it hurts.
It feels as if everyone wants you to “just” let it go.
And you’re left thinking, “But why do I have to forget?
And, “Why don’t THEY remember?”
You get furious at their impatience. At their painful indifference. At the way they treat you as though you want to stay there. That you want to feel this way. That you want to be unhappy.
We spend a million hours every week with all types of people. Laughing, talking, hanging out, working our jobs. Mundane things. And most of the time, nobody realizes who is actually broken inside. I mean, if you can do your job adequately, and you provide enough of a “you” for it not to be so obvious that you aren’t firing on all cylinders, not one person is going to touch your shoulder like in the movies and say, “Really, are you okay?”.
“Grief never ends… But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”
Wherever you are in your process, it was on my heart to share this simple truth: Grief is lonely, and it often outlasts sympathy, but it is necessary. Allow yourself to grieve. No matter how you come out of this, or when you reach the ever-elusive “other side” of it, know that it is your right, to remember and reflect and regroup.
Whether it is a child who never took a breath, or one who took far too few. If it were a dream that never came to light, or a loved one who is no longer with you,…you have the absolute right to remember that it/they mattered. The condition of your heart, is important. What it feels like to YOU, is valid. And what you’re going through, is real.
Take all the time, and love, that you need. You have my empathy.
Regina Townsend is the primary author and founder of TheBrokenBrownEgg. A librarian and writer, Regina’s mission is to make people aware and active about the unique concerns of reproductive health in the minority community.