Grief is OK

The world can be an amazing place but it can also be mighty brutal. It is inevitable that at some point in our lives we will experience grief. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, an act of violence, a breakup, a natural disaster, a freak accident, an illness or disease.

Maybe the grief isn’t the result of one big devastating event, but rather a multitude of little things piling up until it feels suffocating and debilitating and you simply can’t dig yourself out. Maybe you fear that your reasons for feeling grief are inadequate. Maybe you will keep it to yourself because it seems a little silly to ask for help.

The reasons for grief may be vast and complicated but there is no doubt about it, grief will catch up with you one day, you cannot shut it out or run from it forever. When that grief finally catches you it may stop you in your tracks. It may make it hard for you to even breathe. It may make life feel unbearable. It might make you feel broken and alone. Maybe you will feel like you will never ever be, the person you once were.

Eventually though the grief will ease and by the time you have put all the broken pieces of yourself back together, you will find that yes, in fact you were right, it did change you. You may be stronger, or wiser or more empathetic.

So why if we’ve all been there, there are still so many people who know diddly squat when faced with someone who is dealing with grief?

Instead, people march around this world sticking bandaids over people’s gaping wounds. These bandaid warriors say things like “it wasn’t meant to be” “this wasn’t your time”. They start a lot of their sentences with “Oh well, at least…” as they desperately try to pick positives out of the rubble.

I can only assume that they think they are helping the wound heal by sticking these measly bandaids over the grief stricken person. Maybe they walk away thinking that their naive attempts to erase the grief actually worked.

Of course I know that they don’t mean any harm by their actions. The statements they use to patch over the grief are pretty ‘harmless’ after all…or are they?

I just want to tell them all to please stop trying to sweep it under the carpet, because grief is in fact OK. And if they don’t know the right thing to say there are two words that are a pretty safe bet “I’m sorry”. Sometimes no words are needed at all, maybe a good long hug will suffice. But please, please stop with the bloody bandaid statements because all they are doing is tearing that wound a little wider.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the women who commented on my previous post. And for the women who shared their heartbreaking experience with either a natural miscarriage or D&C procedure. It not only took guts to open up and share your experience with me, but it also took a mountain of kindness. I feel completely overwhelmed just thinking about all your compassion that carried me through that awful day. After reading your comments Scott and I decided to proceed with the D&C. And since the procedure I can say with certainty that your guidance helped us to make the right decision.

It all went very smoothly and physically I feel quite alright. Apart from a bit of lower back pain that was quite uncomfortable last night and a small amount of bleeding on the day of the surgery, it almost felt like nothing had happened. As one fellow blogger summarised perfectly “it was such a minor procedure I was almost disappointed that it didn’t match with my emotions”.

For me the hardest part of the process is the fact that my husband and I deal with these things very differently. It is no fault of his that he doesn’t know how to deal with grief. But he made that day harder for me and possibly even for him because grief made him uncomfortable. And it was this discomfort that led him to repetitively say things like “chin up”, “just relax”, “it’s not all bad”.

Yep he busted out the bandaid statements in full force because I guess he panicked and didn’t know what else to do. I was mourning the loss of the one thing we wanted more than anything, whereas he was thinking – Let’s just get ‘it’ out and move on so that we can start again. The more casual the words he used, the more pain I felt.

That morning when I woke, I felt so shockingly numb, like I would never be able to get out of bed again. I finally convinced myself to get up and I went and showered. When I got out of the shower I looked at my naked body in the mirror. I looked at my swollen breasts and the rivers of veins across my chest that I had marvelled at in wonder each day as they grew more and more prominent and all I could think was “Fuck you body”.  Why all the pregnancy symptoms this week, WHY? I hated how cruel this was, that I had finally begun to believe this pregnancy was real just before it was taken away. I cried and cried. I went outside and sat in the sunshine and read through all the comments on the blog. My mind was made up. I needed a D&C. I needed it as soon as possible.

So I rang my specialist’s office. When the receptionist answered I didn’t really know what to say. So I kind of stuttered out a bunch of half sentences. “I’m miscarrying…um I mean…I’m going to miscarry…my baby stopped…I only found out yesterday…I need to book in for…um…the procedure…he said he could do it today…but that was yesterday…so I’m not sure”. The receptionist spoke gently, “Oh honey, that’s awful. I’m so, so sorry” then she let me sob into the phone for what felt like an eternity. She didn’t attempt to wrap up the call she just let me cry. She told me that she would call me back as soon as he had finished his appointment. And she did. A few minutes later the phone rang “He can do it today, don’t eat anything or drink anything, he will call you soon to confirm the time”. Ok so it was happening.

The surgery wasn’t until 3pm. I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, or breakfast so I felt starving and quite weak and spent most of the day in bed crying on and off until it was time to go to the hospital. Scott drove me up there and the closer we got, the more I cried.

The hospital staff showed so much compassion towards me that it shocked me. The admissions nurse, told me “Let it all out sweetie” as she went to get me more tissues. My specialist came into the waiting room, he sat down beside me and held my hand and spoke softly “Oh darling, I’m so very sorry. We will look after you today, ok.” When I went to meet the anaesthetist I said “Nice to meet you Patrick” to which he responded by giving my hand a gentle squeeze as he said “I really wish we were meeting under better circumstances”. The nurse who took me through to theatre rubbed my back as we walked and told me she was sorry.  I couldn’t have asked for better treatment. In fact it wasn’t until the very end in recovery that Scott and I encountered another bandaid wielder. One of the nurses exclaiming how lucky I was. And then proceeding to fill my head with all kinds of hopeful ridiculous thoughts like “oh you’ll probably go on to conceive naturally now” to which we responded that we will always need to do ICSI due to sperm quality. “Oh but you can improve sperm you know” yes we know because we spent $6000 at a naturopath and Endocrinologist.

She was one of those verbal diarrhoea bandaid folk. “Oh so this is your first pregnancy…You’ve been trying for 3.5 years?! Gee what took you so long to try IVF…So how many are in the freezer then…Oh none well that’s no good at all…So the eggs mustn’t have been any good then…so next time you’ll have to start from scratch…and it costs so much money to do that doesn’t it…amazing you got pregnant though…so lucky…enjoy your rest now…cause once you have kids hahahaha…”

I wanted to tell her, “Please stop whatever you are trying to do and remove my drip so that I can go home and grieve. I want to grieve. It is normal to grieve. It is ok to grieve.” Once we left, Scott said she was an absolute dickhead and I agreed. And I wondered how he could see fault in what she was doing and yet not recognise his own bandaid statements.

I look around this blogging community and there is something very significant about it. No one here is making bandaid statements and I guess in a way that’s what we are all here for.  The people here know that these statements cause more harm than good. They know that grief does not represent weakness, but a strength to come. Without it you cannot heal nor grow.

We are united by our common goal. We all want to be parents in one way or another and for whatever reason, it is a very difficult goal for us to reach. So from all corners of the earth we walk together, certain in the knowledge that while grief is probably going to totally kick our ass, whenever it does we will have this space. A place to grieve, a place to bare our darkest thoughts, a place to heal.

 

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Grief is OK

  1. Nara says:

    Those statements still get me even now. I choose to believe it’s because they haven’t experienced it so can’t understand how it feels. And in a way I’m happy that there aren’t more people who feel that way as it means there are more who have been through it. It seems like such a brutal world to think so many people have been through this, and yet it’s still not a widely acknowledged grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ash says:

    Yes, I think you are right. Maybe they just have no idea what it feels like. I always knew that it would be awful but it still shocked me how much it hurt. When I heard the statistics for miscarriage, I couldn’t believe how common it is and how little it’s talked about and how ill equipped we are to deal with it. Hopefully that changes in the future.

    Like

  3. AKL says:

    So pleased to here you went ahead with the procedure. It’s horrible regardless and I think you can now focus more on your own grief management. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror for a while after mine (totally relate to your comment) and also I went and dyed my blondish hair dark (back to blonde now) two days after. My hairdresser knew the situ and did not argue with me for one second. I also spent an entire day just building Lego as part of my recovery!! There’s no right or wrong way to feel so my only tip for you now is feel all the feelings. You won’t stop feeling the grief but you’ll find a way – at some point – to keep going. But it takes time! 😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ash says:

      That’s interesting because I had a sudden urge to dye my hair. I wanted a drastic makeover and figured it was to completely separate myself from the person who was going to become a mum. I feel very panicky at the moment at the prospect of starting again from scratch but I know that your advice is right and eventually the grief will ease and I’ll be able to keep going. Thank you xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • AKL says:

        Well I did the hair dye and can tell you first hand it didn’t change anything but I felt like I was “doing something”. I then didn’t like it later though! Hahaha! Just don’t cut your hair as that’s harder to “recover” from. I also highly recommend wine. 😘😘

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sbach1222 says:

    DH and I had this issue too, and it didn’t seem to matter how many times I told him “Let me be sad! It’s okay that I’m sad, stop trying to make me feel better right now!” and he just wouldn’t get it. He hated seeing me sad. It wasn’t until we saw a family counselor that he seemed to really change how he reacted to my sadness. I’m not trying to push anything, I just do want to say that the appointment really helped us, if for nothing else than to have a second person validate my feelings to DH.

    And I can’t believe that nurse would say those things! I would definitely report that behavior, it is completely unacceptable! You are a stronger person than I because I would not have been able to listen to it without screaming at her.

    I am so sorry for your loss and grieving is the first part of the healing process. Take as long as you need to do it. It is okay to grieve.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ash says:

      We went to counselling a couple of years ago and I 100% agree with you – it really did help us to both understand how we both cope differently. Last night, Scott came into the study as I was writing this post and asked me what it was about. I told him, and he said “You are right I don’t deal with grief, I’m sorry”. And I think I really needed to hear that because for days he has just carried on as though nothing happened at all. It does make it harder and I’m glad you got validation in the end. Trust me I totally wanted to scream at that nurse, but I was too exhausted to put up a fight by that stage and I honestly think she actually thought she was being helpful. Thank you, xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. wheresourstork says:

    So sorry you had to deal with that while grieving. I would of lost my shit on that nurse!! 😡 I think you and Scott made the right decesion, and hope you two can move forward after taking all the time you need to deal with this. Sending you prayers! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. unplannedinfertility says:

    You have me crying at work. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all this. With the one glaring exception, it sounds like you were treated amazingly at the hospital. It’s so wonderful to receive that level of care. I admire your restraint in dealing with the last one.
    When feelings aren’t so raw, try talking to your DH about how sometimes you just need a hug, not words. You’re absolutely right that it’s ok to feel whatever you need to feel. I’ve had this talk with my DH in other situations. He knows now that if he tries to ‘change’ how I’m feeling, I end up just getting frustrated at him that he won’t let me just feel it and get it out of my system. His instinct is still to try and make it better, but he’s getting better at understanding I just need support sometimes. Take as long as you need. When you’re ready, you’ll look to starting again. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ash says:

      Yes I was treated amazingly indeed, I had heard some horror stories about insensitive hospital staff so I was incredibly lucky. This is very good advice, we know that we deal with things differently but wrapping our heads around it all takes practice. Men are fixers and they just want to fix everything unfortunately. When the reality is much more simple…just a hug. Thank you xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. wonkygenes says:

    Ah honey. I know the feeling. I just had a friend this morning reply with one of those bandaids/stories which included a friend’s friend getting pregnant naturally in between IVF (it’s amazing how many accidental in between pregnancies there are….or maybe its just that they all happen to my friend’s friends). There aren’t really any words that I can say which can help you right now. Just focus on getting through each day at a time and it will get easier, I promise. I’ve actually started seeing an infertility counsellor recently and it’s been helping me process my emotions (particularly after our chemical pregnancy on IVF 3). It might be something to consider? Sending hugs. XXX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ash says:

      Yep those bandaid stories are only disheartening not uplifting! That is so good that you are seeing a counsellor after the Chem pregnancy, that would have been awful to go through especially after doing multiple IVFs…it’s such a bumpy road to travel, and often we don’t ask for help (emotionally). I’ve done counselling in the past (non fertility related) and found it very helpful, I think I got a lot more than I expected out of it, so I will definitely consider going down that route. Thank you! xxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. KLA says:

    First, I’m am so, so sorry. No one should have to go through this, ever. This is one of the most difficult journeys that life can throw at us. Your post was so beautifully written and there is so much truth to it. Not everyone knows how to respond to grief, especially if they haven’t walked that path. It’s great that (almost) everyone was so supportive. There will always be insensitive people who like hearing the sound of their own voice. I hope her words can roll off of you. I wish you a time of healing and we’re sending lots of love and hugs your way.

    Liked by 1 person

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