08 March, 2012

Don't dwell

The article referred to in my previous post made a second point I want to address.  After lambasting grieving parents for sharing their grief and talking about their loss (instead of pretending that nothing ever happened and that they never lost anything), the article author went on to further accuse parents of prolonging their grief by talking about it.  

First, this comment assumes that people who don’t talk about their grief don’t in fact feel it.  That they don’t find, ten years later, something triggers their grief and they have a melt-down, or even break-down, because they were never able to grieve in the first place.  That they don't live in sadness every day because they have no-one in their lives who understands.  It assumes that a brave face means everything is okay.  And again, it blames the individual for feeling grief in the first place.

Secondly, when I was going through my grief – both for my two ectopic pregnancies, and then for the loss of my fertility/chance of becoming a parent – I found tremendous support on-line.  I was able to share my feelings, and know I was heard.  The support I received, the warmth, understanding and love was healing in itself.  Yes, we talked about our losses, but we also talked about recovery, about what we found helped us, and together we emerged out of our grief, helping each other as we inevitably slipped from time to time.  We shared our wisdoms, debunked myths, and gradually also became beacons of hope for those mired in those early dark days of their loss.  This was a good thing.  It meant I could get on with my IRL life, because I knew there were people who cared, who I could talk about things with, on-line.  It meant that when my friends or family or husband were uncomfortable with my grief, there was someone on-line who could help me.  It gave me protection in the semi-anonymous internet from feelings of shame and pity that I didn’t want following me in my real life.  It was nothing less than a life-saver.  And I think I am a lot healthier and happier today because of that. 

The other point of being able to share (not over-share) on-line is that I didn’t have to share every aspect of my grief with my husband.  He was going through his own loss.  But at the same time, he felt my grief – grief so out of character, grief that changed me and turned me into someone neither of us knew – acutely.  He took it on himself.  I could see that.  It wasn’t fair for him to have to deal with this, with me, on his own.  The fact that I could open up and off-load to others helped him to grieve himself.  I noticed that it was only when my mood lifted that he felt he could open up to me about his sadness.  He needed to be able to do that.  And he didn’t have anyone to help him.  Consequently, I think he has – in some ways – adjusted to our life without kids less easily than I have.  I grieved, and I healed.  It was harder for him.

My final comment is that I have seen people get stuck grieving, women (usually) who aren’t able to move on, to heal, to look to the future.  They fight the prospect of letting go, of living life, and their grief seems inconsolable.  Their thoughts and emotions don’t change year in year out.  Outlets like infertility blogs or internet forums perhaps help them stay this way, almost wallowing in their grief.  So I will concede that very small point to the article.  But over a period of ten years, I have seen women like this so rarely that I think they're the exception.  I think they’d find an outlet somewhere anyway, and I strongly disagree that getting stuck emotionally is one result of too much openness about loss. 

In my opinion, being able to be open normalises our grief, prevents us from feeling ashamed and isolated, and helps us get back into the wider community more quickly.  Being open about my pregnancy losses helped me heal.  It helped me deal with other grief and loss in my life, and I know it will help me deal with grief in the future.  And for that, I’m thankful.


  1. I've read the article now. Not sure what I have to say about the article, though.

    But anyway, I agree with you that being able to share my IF grief with other people also alleviates the pain that my hubby went through. I can imagine his feeling helpless when he, in his grief, held me tightly in his arms when I cried my eyes out due to my own grief. I needed others to listen to me and understand me and support me during my tough IF moments and in a way, I also didn't want to burden hubby too much, 'coz he also had to go through his own grief process.

    All in all, though, I agree with you that being able to be open normalises our grief. In the beginning of our IF journey, I felt alienated and even when I shared my darkest feelings to my closest friends, they were confused 'coz they had never felt that way before. I had to read dozens and hundreds of IF blogs to convince myself that what I felt was valid and I wasn't "overfeeling" or something like that. However, I'm thankful that nowadays there are so many IF blogs out there that "overshare" 'coz they make me feel normal. :-)))

    Feeling normal helped me in accepting what I felt and then learning how to deal with them instead of denying their existence or repressing them or something like that.

  2. Yes. Yes to everything. Yes.