Today sees the end of the #DiversityInLoss series for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A series of voices and stories, told via blogs, posts, tweets, and chat to help others know that they aren’t alone.
So many people tell me that they just don’t fit in. That they had a living child before their second child died, so they didn’t deserve to grieve. That nobody understands them because they never went on to have a rainbow baby. Or that it was an early loss, or a later one, or people have it much worse so they should be able to cope. Or that their loss is so unique, people forget them. Or that they are young or old, or single or divorced, or their loss was expected or wasn’t, that theirs was a choice, and they went one way, or perhaps another way.
Why do we feel this way? Why do we tell ourselves that we grieve too much or not enough or not in the correct way? Why do we diminish what we have gone through. Why compare one families pain to another’s and decide who is more worthy and rightful to feel that pain? Why aren’t we kinder to ourselves and accept that what we went through was utter shit and therefore we deserve to own how we feel.
So much of our self talk is led, I believe, by the conversations around us. Those conversations become our inner voice. At least it was early, they say. So therefore, I shouldn’t hurt like this, because it was so early. Or, at least they have their elder child turns into I shouldn’t be grieving because I already have a child. And then, you can always try again, but what if you cant? And when there are no conversations happening around us about our loss, it can feel isolating and hard to relate to the other similar, but different experiences that people have.
Loss is so terribly isolating. It can shatter our self esteem, challenge how we act in social situations, lower our threshold to spontaneity and human contact, or make us shy away from the unexpected triggers of life. When we seek solace in the baby loss community, yet still struggle to find our place, how do we find the support and comfort that we, oh so desperately need? Finding your tribe isn’t always easy. Yet stumbling upon someone who sounds eerily similar to you or takes the words right out of your mind, well, the light gets brighter and you feel as though someone sees you.
By sharing our stories we can impact the world is so many ways. We can release ourselves of those inner thoughts and give them to the world to hold, so we don’t have to anymore. We can connect with others who get it, and who have shared similar experiences – making us all feel less alone. It can be read by someone too scared to share, but now feels heard. It can educate and inform those around us to understand what we have gone through. It can cause ripple effects by empowering others to share their stories, or do so, vicariously through yours.
This month I shared a number of different voices. I invited people to share stories that they felt are lesser heard. It was never about what I perceived to be lesser heard – because that’s beside the point. Those who need to hear stories, but can’t find them or don’t hear them – whatever they are – need to decide what isn’t being heard. I discussed why here.
We heard about aunts and cousins experiencing baby loss, explored the importance of language surrounding loss, or what happens when you need to exhume your baby. We’ve heard from adult bereaved siblings, explored the need for compassionate care, and how Loss challenges faith. We’ve explored expressing grief through music or drawing. We’ve read about parents experiencing termination for medical reasons and their struggle to find a place, or non-birth mothers not being acknowledged, or from parents of older babies or toddlers who have died not being able to access support. We’ve heard about the journey through grief. We’ve explored what happens when you miscarry following anniocentesis, or when your child dies and the police investigaton follows. We’ve heard from parents experiencing recurrent loss here and here, or a dad’s points of view of loosing two triplets, and the voice of a bereaved mother whose son would now be in his thirties, or the support lacking for men. We’ve heard from parents who opted to carry their babies to term following antenatal diagnosis of Ancephally or when a baby goes on to thrive for a year with his twin. We’ve also had parents share their cultural experiences over on Instagram, in takeovers (here and here) and the experience of baby loss in Jamaica on twitter, or the father voice of stillbirth, or when your baby dies and you have an emergency hysterectomy.
We’ve also had many people go on and share their own voices in comments back, in twitter chats, and in instalives too – a true example of the ripple effects of sharing, in that conversations have started following others sharing their experiences.
It isn’t everything. There are so many untold stories. Not everyone needs to share. But I passionately believe that there should be space for everyone who wants too – online, or in real life, in whatever format they wish. Because, there is always power in sharing our stories.
Thank you to everyone who has taken part, read, or shared this month.