15th October, 2015, was the world pregnancy and infancy loss day. It had not been ‘celebrated’ in Kenya before, but this year, Wanjiru Kihusa organized and hosted it. She had Pinky Ghelani as one of the guest speakers, as well as Dr. Wakahe and Martin. Pinky has had four miscarriages, and now has two children. Dr. Wakahe is a gynecologist and helps women with many issues. Martin is a dad who lost his first baby at almost full term. Pinky shared from a mother’s loss perspective, and Martin shared from a father’s perspective. Dr. Wakahe gave us the medical perspective, and this was all very helpful.
Needless to say, the pain was evident, the pain does not go away – we cried, we did. The loss is still a loss, whether the child was 6 weeks old or 1 year old. Regardless of the length of time spent with the baby, whether in the womb or in our arms, we are still mothers, and we hurt and long for our babies.
When I think about this journey of grief, I remember some cliché phrases that find their way to mothers who’ve lost their children, and I’ll give some of them here, so that you (who’s reading this) can avoid saying the same to parents who’ve lost their children.
- You’re still young, you’ll get another one – well, we miss the ONE we lost, and no one can ever replace that ONE.
- Now you can continue with your studies, career, etc – no, that baby was NOT a distraction, so don’t even say that!!!
- Don’t cry – sorry, what?! It’s not okay right now in my heart, and my tears and grief are currently my only connection to my baby.
- Tell me what happened – we don’t have the pleasure of retelling the story, we don’t. Understand us if we don’t want to share right at that moment. Or if we don’t want to give you all the gory details. That’s a part of our heart, so close, so intimate, so sharply cutting if wrongly handled. Please.
- Move on already! – well, no. It just doesn’t happen like clockwork. Grief has no formula/curriculum/schedule. It’s warped and comes in circles like a doodle. One time I’m laughing, and the next moment something reminds me of what happened and I’m all in pieces. It’s my life, it’s part of me now. Maybe later, but now when it’s so fresh, excuse me, excuse us.
- It’s God’s will – I’m a Christian, I’m spiritual, I’m all in, but right here right now, that sounds pretty insensitive. I want to view God as more loving than One who takes away my beloved. Hold on to that thought till later….maybe till we ask you.
- Talk talk talk talk talk talk – it’s okay to keep quiet sometimes, you don’t have to fill the silence. The silence is part of our lives now, experience it with us. We know it’s real, and your talking won’t take it away, at best, it’ll only postpone what we have to learn to live with. And at the worst, you just might say something, well hurtful, even without knowing it. It’s okay to be quiet.
- Don’t ignore us – we know it happened, you can acknowledge that too. And it’s okay to say you don’t know what to say. That’s better than side-stepping the elephant in the room.
- Don’t expect us to come for your baby shower. I’d talked about this here (LINK), it’s just hard for now. Please understand. We love and congratulate you from afar, but we can’t handle it just yet.
I met a friend after that, and what he said really threw me off-balance. He said I shouldn’t have gone for that meeting, because then the likes of me got together, and we were in an environment which made us all agree together, “We’re special, treat us tenderly…”. That it would bring back the hurt. I was ticked off…I wasn’t amused. It’s my baby, my loss, like my dress my choice. I fumed inside for a few days, and had the perfect phrases forming in my head, like “It’s not you, it’s me” – the famous break-up phrase. And I thought, yeah, it’s not that your prayers/support/encouragement/books/website links didn’t work; they did, at the time. But when grief kicks in, what’s on my mind is NOT the book/link/prayer/etc, it’s the image of my baby, the baby I lost, that’s on my mind; and that’s who I’m mourning for. So I’m sad about my baby. Period. I’m not mourning that your help was not good enough. So please, for a while, take your eyes off you, you didn’t fail, you haven’t failed. It’s just that at that moment, it worked, and now, I need a fresh dose, perhaps from somewhere else, or maybe still from you, please be patient with me. Maybe eventually I won’t have the grief so present at the top of my head and heart, and I’ll be able to handle daily chores and long-term goals like a superwoman, but right now, please be patient with me. Thank you very much.
But I also agreed with him later…that it may not be prudent to visit ‘sad’ forums for a while, yes, it does have a ‘draw-back’ sense in a way, not like ‘moving on’ is success and ‘grieving’ is failure, but in the sense that one may not want to rekindle the grief…or may not be able to handle the fresh gush of grief that overwhelms someone all over again. And so I agree, I may refrain from some sad events for a while…I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it very well.