Does grief trump discomfort?

It’s a question that gets asked a lot when people talk about their dead babies–does a parent’s need to share their grief over a child that never was trump the uncomfortable collar tugging it incites from the general public?

That’s the question asked in this article from Maclean’s magazine that I’m sure many of you have seen already. I can’t express how disappointed I am that a publication I once respected has come up with such drivel.

When it comes to the loss of a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent etc. the people who loved them are allowed to grieve openly and with the consent of everyone else (to a point). But when it comes to grieving miscarriages and stillbirths, there is an unspoken pact that we shall not talk about such unseemly things, lest it make someone uncomfortable.

What I want to know is at what point did a person’s need to feel comfortable become more important than someone who’s heart has been broken into a thousand pieces?

I’m not sure if the writer of this article has ever experienced a loss (but it does read as though she has no clue).

I’m sure if she had, she would understand that it’s not really about the physical body. Yes, people who lose late term babies will take photos and share them and yes, they can be hard to look at, but ultimately it’s not about the flesh and bone in the photo, it’s about the promise that was lost. It was about the memories and moments that will never happen–those first steps, that first word, the first day of school, a wedding, grandchildren etc.

It’s about the circle of life being broken and sometimes never repaired.

And this is precisely why there is no blurring of lines when it comes to deciding what is life and what isn’t in the abortion debate. I can be as pro-choice as I want, that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel a physical sense of loss when I had my miscarriage. I had no baby–the manifestation of my pregnancy was unceremoniously flushed down a toilet (something I was acutely aware of during and after it happened), but it was the promise that was lost and that’s what I grieved for.

This is about is judging how someone handles their grief and that’s just not fair. There are numerous comments on the article that state the writer has no idea what she’s talking about and just as many rebuttals asking “how do we know she’s never experienced a loss? Everyone grieves differently.”

And there’s the rub–everyone grieves differently.

If the writer and commenters who say they have experienced loss can stand up and say, “this is how I grieved, I got over, so should you, and the writer is entitled to her opinion because everyone grieves differently,” how can they marginalize anyone else for choosing to grieve the way they do?

The reason there are groups of people on the internet talking so much about miscarriage and stillbirth is precisely because the people in our real lives don’t want to hear it. It’s precisely because they don’t want to see pictures of dead babies that our blogs exist. Why was it so wrong for Jay-Z to talk about Beyonce’s miscarriage? She probably felt as alone when it happened as the rest of us do.

Ultimately, I think we just want to be heard. We just want people to look at us and acknowledge that we have lost something–and sometimes that’s why we can’t stop talking about it. I know when I had my miscarriage, the most hurtful thing someone could do was pretend like nothing had happened.

There is no “fetus fetishization” as the article claims and to suggest that is pretty insulting. It makes all of us seem like crazy people worshiping dead babies at the altar and we all know that’s not what it’s about. The final sentence in the article reads, “the evolving focus on perinatal death potentially affects far more than bereaved families,” as though this were some surprise revelation and a negative consequence of bringing pregnancy loss into the open.

I say it just states what we already all knew. When a couple loses a baby, it is about so much more than just those two people. Of course it bloody effects everyone around them–that’s what death does.

And it’s about time people started realizing that.


<p><a href="">Alice in Diaperland</a></p>

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