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.