“Be glad you have (fill in the blank.)”
It’s comments like this that reinforce the need to continue talking about pregnancy loss.
I fear that too often grief from the loss of a baby is brushed aside. That it’s glossed over in the name of gratitude. That we leave grieving mothers to fend for themselves in a world that becomes unrecognizable after loss.
In case you were wondering, such comments aren’t just made on the internet. Too often they are made in person, face-to-face, to a mother who’s shellshocked, tears not yet dry in response to her unexpectedly ravaged womb, left empty along with her arms.
I think most of us, in the midst of tragedy, can look at our lives honestly and find SOMETHING beautiful amongst the carnage. Something good. Something to be grateful for.
But the beauty, the good—these don’t automatically negate the pain and devastation of loss.
Grief from pregnancy loss can be consuming. Chest-crushing, gut-squeezing, mind-splitting, heart-slashing, whole-being-suffering consuming. Even if you have living children.
There’s an emptiness that truly cannot be described with words.
Pregnancy loss might be a cruel act of nature, but really, there’s nothing natural about it. A mother saying goodbye to her baby, that is.
This doesn’t change just because a loss mom’s circumstances might not seem AS bad as someone else’s.
Those of us with living children who also know the grief of losing one shouldn’t have to explain ourselves. We shouldn’t have to prove that we are grateful for the child by our side, nor should we have to hide our grief over the loss of life that was created within us.
Pregnancy loss looks at least a little different for everyone who experiences it, but a common theme is that of guilt—the feeling that as mothers we should have been able to assure the safety of our baby, but we couldn’t. There’s a feeling of failure. Even when circumstances are completely beyond our control.
If you’re someone who hasn’t experienced it, please don’t underestimate the power of your words. Telling a loss mom to be grateful for what she has or that she should be happy for this reason or that, produces more unnecessary guilt on top of the grief.
Trust me, she knows what she has to be grateful for. But she also knows deep grief. And there should be no guilt in that.
A simple “I’m so sorry for your loss,” can go a long way in serving her, in slowly helping to stitch her heart back together one kind comment at a time.