To my sister after her miscarriage

Dear Sister,

I love you. Life is hard for you right now.

Even when you know it’s coming, loss is hard. If someone is sick, you wish for the best; when someone is old, or suffering from a long-term illness, you want the best outcome possible. Sometimes, hoping for an end to their suffering means saying goodbye. We have all experienced loss of a loved one in some way, and there are groups and resources to help with that loss. Most of us can understand grieving for someone who has lived a full life, letting go, and moving on. But what do you say about experiencing a loss of someone you have never known?

Stillborns, miscarriages, and neonatal loss are some of the most difficult situations to deal with. When an adult dies, we say they are in a better place; they lived a full life; they are no  longer suffering. We have answers to our questions, we have grieving times and shared experience. No one has to suffer alone. When someone loses their child before they even get to know them, this is where we fall short in support. This is where we suffer alone.

Parents, and especially mothers who experience this, have a harder time sharing what they are feeling. Words of support and encouragement are empty. If you have suffered a miscarriage, most often what you hear is, “Oh, you can try again. Oh, you can always adopt.” We don’t say things like that to someone who has lost a parent, a sibling, or a friend.

When you lose a baby, there is a disconnect between understanding and sympathy. A miscarriage means they weren’t “a real baby.” There must have been something wrong with it. The mother must have done something wrong. A death after birth means it was never meant to live.

That doesn’t matter.

A pregnancy is a pregnancy. A loss is a loss. You are allowed and entitled to grieve in your own way. There is no replacement for a life that was growing inside you. We just don’t have the words to properly express the grief for a child you have never known.

Naming your baby, having a memorial, telling people what you are feeling are ways to overcome the barriers that are still standing around dealing with this. You are allowed to feel angry, sad, frustrated. I encourage you to express these emotions just as you would any other loss. Don’t allow yourself to feel shame or guilt over something you could not control, even if you think that is what is expected of you; because it is not your fault.

It is not your fault.

This is a loss, like any other, but even more so because you don’t even get the privilege of knowing this life before it’s gone. And for that, I am sorry. And you have my respect and sympathy.

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