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28.7.13

The Disqualified Grief



There is something that's been weighing on my heart lately... and to be honest I've been hesitant to write about it because I haven't been sure if many of my readers would understand, or would want to read about it. But the reality is that I always told myself I would be honest on this blog about what I'm thinking and feeling. I've always said this blog was more for the writing than it is for the reading.

So here goes.

It has been 8 months since my miscarriage. I should be over it, right? At least that's what so many people tell me (or at least suggest to me in not so many words.) I never understood the pain of miscarriage until I went through one myself. And the biggest surprise of them all, when I went through my miscarriage, was the lack of empathy.

Hear me out. Yes, there were many, many people who were there for me. There were listening ears and flowers and cards and homemade meals brought to my door. There were people who loved, cared and understood. But there were so many people who disqualified my grief. Let me explain. I had many conversations about my miscarriage that went something like this:
"Sorry about your loss." 
"Thank you.
"How far along were you?"
"10 weeks."
"Oh so still very early. The baby must have been very small. You didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl, right?" 
And whether they meant it this way or not, there it was. Instant disqualification. As if the life of my baby was truly nothing to grieve over. I mean, my goodness, how could I grieve? I didn't even know the sex.

Here's the biggest thing that disturbs me about this attitude that I have seen so much of since losing my child: If we consider ourselves "pro-lifers" than we've got to take a second look at this issue. If we stand on the sidewalks with posters, or re-post that Facebook meme about a life being a life no matter how small, than we've got to take a drastic second look at our own hearts on the matter of miscarriage. If the life of an aborted baby is "atrocious" and "murder" and "grievous", then why is the baby who is miscarried not worthy of so much more grief and attention and HONOR? We expect women to sweep it under the carpet. Don't announce your pregnancy until after your first trimester, because well goodness, what if you lose it? Much better to sweep the loss under the carpet where it won't upset anyone. Right? 

I have FOUR children. Not three. I have FOUR. But I say three because it gets real uncomfortable when I bring my loss to the table. I say three because I don't want to hear the disqualification of my fourth child. I don't want to hear people dishonor her by saying "she doesn't really count" whether they use that plain of English to say it or not. 

I have seen people get offended by the picture that commemorates my fourth child on my mother in law's wall. She has a drawing that hangs there next to photographs of my three living children--a drawing that depicts a child in the arms of Jesus. A drawing that honors the life that was. A drawing that honors my child, who I loved fiercely. A drawing that honors LIFE. A drawing that says, This life mattered. This life didn't simply disappear unnoticed. This life, existed and is remembered. This life counted. This life is counted equal among the lives of my living grandchildren. Some people would call that drawing awkward. Uncomfortable. Unnecessary. 

I was recently watching the movie, "The Help". There is a scene in that movie where a young woman buries her fourth miscarried child in a shoe box in the backyard. She buried that child alone. Absolutely alone with her box, her dead child and her grief and some dirt. 

There is no funeral procession for the miscarried child. There is no final epitaph, no final eulogy, no flowers, no coffin, no cross. There is only that woman and her grief. But in an age where we Christians fight SO hard for the rights of the unborn, how can we look the other way when our sister loses her unborn child? We grieve the aborted babies, but we disqualify the grief of the miscarrying mother. Am I the only one who sees this massive disconnect as a tragedy? 

The reality is, I'm not "over it". Not even close. I remember my child every single day. I dream of her, I cry for her, I miss her. Little things will send me off in a heap of tears and leave me grieving, aching, hurting... empty womb and empty arms. I long for the day when I'll meet her in paradise. I long for the day when I'll dance with the angels with her in my arms. 

My grief is more than qualified. Mother, if you have lost a child before he or she even breathed their first breath.... your grief is qualified. That life counts. Those who disqualify it surely have not know what it's like to feel the birth pangs alone in your home waiting for a baby to come that's already dead. They do not know that to lose a child is to give birth to a life that's already ended. They can not know the pain and hurt and the loneliness of that grief. But what we can do, mothers, is to honor our children. To count them among our quiver. To honor them with a burial, a commemoration. To hang a picture on our wall or wear a necklace around our neck. To give them a name, perhaps. To write them a letter, or a song. To grieve them for the life that they were. A grief that is qualified. 




14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Claire,
Thank you for writing this post and sharing such personal, tender thoughts! No, you don't have to be "over it." I'm not over our little ones. I have 6 children, not just one. I appreciate your thoughts and I completely agree. My children, all of my children, will always be a part of me, in my thoughts, in my heart, and I too long for the day when I can hold them.
Angie W

Breanna Hudy said...

Absolutely beautiful, Claire. I am so so proud of you!

Krystle said...

No, you will never be "over it" and sometimes the grief will strike you in the oddest places.

And just when you think it should be time to feel better, something will strike you just the right way.

You are normal to feel this way and those feelings are VALID and real.

NO ONE can understand this grief and pain unless they have walked through an actual miscarriage. NO ONE. It is unlike any other loss.

BIG HUGE HUGS TO YOU!!!

Melvain said...

Well said. We grieve with you...

Emily Kissell said...

I love this! The first quote had me crying and I have yet to stop! I am constantly thinking and praying for you, because grief is a healthy process and I pray that God gives you grace and comforts you in these times when the grief comes like waves. No need to "be strong for those around you", just continue to be real! :)
.
.
.
I have not lost or had a child, all I have right now is grief from my sister's miscarried baby. Thank you for being truthful and telling the mothers out there that their grief IS qualified!

You are not alone in seeing the massive disconnect! I have been thinking and saying this for almost ten months now since the death of my niece or nephew! The day I found out about the pregnancy, I bought a little journal and wrote letters to him/her...I buried it in my backyard. No one was with me, but some of my friends actually did offer to help me. It was freeing to finally let it go on the baby's due date.
I know I'm not a mom, but I lost a dear little relative and I want to be one who will stand up for any unborn.. miscarried or aborted. Death is death and a life is life! Grieving is normal and healthy! I'm so proud of you for being vulnerable and sharing this with the world!
Ps I would love to see a picture of that drawing! Your description of it had me bawling!! :)

Jessica Elyse @ Memoirs of a Mommy said...

What a beautiful post. There is not a day that goes by where I don't think about my baby that is now in heaven, not one day. People think its weird that we still have the ultrasound picture on our fridge 6 months later, but to me, that is my family member, my precious child. That picture is all I have left as a physical representation of that child. I never got to see his face. I never got to know her name, but she is real. Thank you for reminding others of this fact. Our children are real. They are in heaven now, safe with the Father and one day, we will be united. How beautiful it will be to finally meet them face to face.

Andrea Rasmussen said...

Claire,

Thank you for sharing your heart. I am literately weeping as I read this post because like many others I know exactly what you are going through and every feeling you are feeling because we have gone through the same thing. We lost our first child two years ago. I don't think you ever forget them I still think about our child on a daily basis even after having Liam our second child whom is an absolute joy. I still break down and cry to this day for our first child and things still set me off even after two years. To this day it still feels like it just happened. Thank you for celebrating your FOUR child in this way and their life is as beautiful as every other child. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I wrote a post very similar to this a while back because I desire the same thing that you do... that every life matters and that we should not disqualify miscarried children and their mothers grief. https://cjalrasmussen.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/a-personal-story-of-pain-and-faithfulness/

Emily grapes said...

Oh goodness girl, I can't imagine the grief you have to face every single day.

I've heard others discount it before at 6 weeks miscarried, and truly its heartbreaking for someone to be so cavalier. They've never been through a miscarriage so they wouldn't know how insensitive the words really are to the mother.

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. :(
Big hugs your way!

The Fair Melissa said...

This gave me a beautiful look inside the heart of not only you, but of many women I know. I feel like it will help me to understand and love them better. Your words are so true. Much love to you.

Callie Nicole said...

I'm glad you wrote this post, Claire. You are absolutely right, that baby does matter, and should be remembered. This made me cry, because someone very close to me recently miscarried, and I've seen her pain first hand. I don't know, but I can imagine how painful it would be.

Joy said...

This was very well said. I have been there too many times. My heavenly born handful of children out number the ones who were born to me here on earth. Grief is personal, and telling someone to move on is simply not helpful. In my experience I don't think I will ever be 'over' them. How can a mother stop longing for her missing children? The pain part of the longing however, it fades. It is replaced with a heavenly longing, the calm conviction that meeting those babes is but delayed. Until that day, I will cry with joy every time I sing in worship. Those moments are the closest to my babes I can get here on earth. All of us, praising our Father for His grace and sustaining love.

Meghan said...

*HUGE HUGS*

Maggie Guthrie said...

This is so beautiful. I have seen what you wrote about over and over. Women who have suffered this loss must keep quiet. This is so wrong. Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic. Prayers to you as you mourn your precious baby. <3 Maggie

Anonymous said...

Not everyone understands. But, some Catholic cemeteries provide free burial with graveside prayer service for miscarried babies. The church is trying. Also, like you, I don't want to explain about the miscarriage so instead of saying I have three kids, I say we have two kids at home with us. Most people never question the add on phrase & I feel better that I haven't completely discounted the one I never got to hold. God bless you in your recovery - hopefully you can find some peace.