Even today, in the modern world, miscarriage is considered a taboo in the society and women having experienced it are hushed down. They’re stopped by their families and the society and are not allowed to express their feelings and emotions as it is considered ‘bad luck’.
After having gone through a miscarriage, women suffer from all sorts of physical and emotional pain like having the feeling of failure, guilt and having let everyone down.
What the society doesn’t understand is that the greatest loss is that of a mother’s who had the child inside her for so many weeks.
Mothers are asked to stay silent because apparently, it is something to be ashamed of. The sorrow of a woman going through a miscarriage is termed as ‘silent sorrow’ as she is not allowed to be vocal about it. Staying silent about the matter also makes it seem like it is something to be guilty about.
The pain of the mother is underestimated and she is asked to suck it up and ‘get over it’ as the baby was just a fetus and not even a real being.
Why this culture of silence and shame exists around an issue that affects nearly a quarter of the child-bearing population?
In response to this, Dr. Jessica Zucker, a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health and the creator of the #IHadAMiscarriage campaign said, “Well, we live in a culture that struggles with addressing grief head on, especially when it comes to out-of-order loss, such as miscarriage. As a result, silence pervades. The silence translates into stigma, which spawns shame.”
Research has found that a majority of women report feeling a sense of shame, self-blame and guilt following pregnancy loss. And this hush-hush cultural ethos is not only antiquated, it is outright painful.
Miscarriage is not a disease. It is not something that can be cured. Therefore, the sooner we institute new ways of discussing these hardships, the sooner women will feel more connected and receive the support they deserve. She added.
Though we would prefer bad news not exist, it does, and therefore it is time to become conversant in talking about this difficult and often murky topic.
It is truly heartening to see women coming out of the woodworks to openly discuss these important and often life-changing experiences. Connecting with women around the world has affected my healing process exponentially, Dr. Zuckerberg said about her campaign
Firstly, grief knows no timeline. Grief is circuituous, and though it may not make sense to other people, the griever may feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster for a while, Dr. Zucker says.
Empathy is key. There is no place for judgement in grief. Secondly, platitudes are painful. It can be tempting to say things like, “At least you know you can get pregnant,” “everything happens for a reason,” and/or “you’re young, you’ll be fine.”
The problem with these statements is that they actually don’t address what the mourner is going through, and worse yet, these things might not even prove true. It’s best to stick with loving compassion, consistent care, and being an available shoulder for your friend should she need it.
Third, it’s wise to shy away from comparing and contrasting losses, as this can potentially minimize people’s experiences. No need to get caught up in, “Well, at least you have another child,” or “At least your loss happened early. You can just try again.”
Making assumptions about how our loved ones are feeling following loss doesn’t help. A simple “How are you feeling? I’m here for you if you want to talk” can go a long way.
Lastly, it is vital to remember that bypassing loss doesn’t make it go away. In other words, avoiding asking a friend how she’s doing for fear of entering into an uncomfortable conversation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dare yourself to ask. If she doesn’t want to talk about it, she will let you know.
Instead, embracing the pain and allowing the grief to take its own time will actually move things along in a more fluid way. Rest, writing, meditation, yoga, exercise, being in nature, and spending time with loved ones are a few activities that allow space for contemplation and being present. There are several support groups on and offline that offer constructive forums for exploring grief.