Saturday, October 30, 2010

Remembering the lost

Cross-posted at HaT

Apparently October is the month for remembering those bubs that we lose before they get to grow up, or before they draw breath, or even before they're big enough for us to hold that one time. I don't do Facebook chain statuses, they annoy me, even if it's a sentiment I can relate to.

Instead, I'm just going to say again what I've said lots of times before - we need to construct the rituals and the social rules for talking about and publicly recognising miscarriage, still birth and infant death. I had two miscarriages, both quite early. The second was very early indeed. It's fair to say I grieved more for myself than the "baby", in my mind that embryo had not moved very far along the journey to personhood. However, I did still grieve, there was loss, and it was hard to talk to people about it at the time, because no-one has a framework, or a set of stock responses. They just look awkward and uncomfortable and it doesn't help.

Now I can talk about it with less emotion, and I try to take every opportunity to do so. I've come across a lot of people (especially men, for some reason) who are very relieved to find someone who will talk about it. Someone who they can share the pain, or sometimes the guilt over feeling not so much pain, or whatever was their experience. There's no rules about how you have to feel, but we need some rules about how to discuss it. Number one would be to listen to what the person is telling you, and don't guess how they are feeling. You'll never know whether this is deeply devastating or sad, but ok. Let them tell you. Other than, I don't know - feel free to offer suggestions in the comments.

My experience is only with miscarriage. Still birth and infant death are, in general, much harder. Those little ones have travelled much further down the road to personhood (and in the case of infant death, have legally achieved it) and it hurts more to lose them.

So I'm taking the time to remember the people that nobody got to really meet. To honour the tears that were shed for them, and to encourage everyone to help end the silence. It's getting better, but it could be better still.