Monday, April 13, 2009

Isolation

One of the most surprising and upsetting things I experienced with my first miscarriage was the isolation. I felt I was the only woman this had ever happened to. Even though I knew intellectually that this had happened before, the shock was overwhelming. I couldn't get over that people were going on with their lives as if they didn't realize my baby died. People were going to work, shopping at the grocery store, watching movies - didn't they know the world as I knew it was gone forever?! It sounds melodramatic, but it's honestly how I felt.

I recall vividly one night in the hazy days that followed the news when I was sitting on the couch sobbing my heart out. The phone rang. Not knowing who it was (this was in the days prior to having caller id - which I love, by the way), I answered the phone barely even able to speak. I answered it because I was desperate to talk to someone, anyone, about what I was feeling. As angels would have it, it was a friend from college who I hadn't spoken to in years. She had just learned from her husband, a good friend of Matthew's, of our loss. She had experienced a miscarriage several years prior, and she wanted to check in on me. How she knew to call when I desperately needed someone who knew how I felt remains a mystery. I guess she "felt" me way down South. That call, her knowing I needed help, was such a blessing. I felt, for the first time, that I was not alone.

Five miscarriages later, I'd like to say the isolation has lessened. In some ways, it has. In other ways, it's magnified. While I have met or spoken to many women who have had one miscarriage, some who have had two or three, I know one who has had as many as I've had. Until I received an email recently from that woman looking for support through Share who said she had six miscarriages, I honestly thought I was the only woman on the planet who this had happened to so many times. The difference now is that I know where to go to find others who have felt this kind of pain. I want others to have that, as well. I have also gotten much better at asking for help (I started at the very bottom with this skill, so I really have come a long way).

We have all felt grief - we all know someone who died, we've all lost something or someone important to us. Grief is unique, though, and the pain of losing a child who was never born is hard to understand unless you've experienced it. That's why I'm so grateful for organizations like Share - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support. That organization, and the women I've met through it, have been a lifeline. More on this organization in future posts...

To feel any relief from grief, you must move through it. It's the only way. To do that, you have to talk about it, you have to cry, you have to GET IT OUT. For those of you supporting someone who has experienced this kind of loss or any kind of loss for that matter, reach out in whatever ways you can. It's hard when you are actively grieving to ask for help. There have been days when it takes all the energy I have to take a shower, eat, and put on clothes. Picking up the phone to call a friend feels insurmountable. Even if you haven't lost a child, you can listen. You can say "I'm sorry this happened to you. I'm here to listen." That's usually all it takes to melt the isolation away, even just a little bit.

2 comments:

Silly Swedish Skier Says So said...

The isolation has been horrible. I'm doing it to myself but I can't cry in front of most people and I feel these awful waves of it where I just can't stand to be around the guys (I'm a mountain girl and hang out with a lot of dudes.) I know many women this has happened to, but somehow when I'm having these times I can't reach any of them. Ever.
Thanks for writing this blog.

alliemich said...

One of my first blog posts was about how very lonely and isolated I felt. I was angry that so many people even some of my relatives seemed to ignore our losses!!! After the 3rd m/c I was so angry my mother came over and talked to me for hours. She knew how angry I was but said maybe they didnt' know what to say or thought I didn't want to talk about it because it was so hurtful. She is right, but I still felt (and feel) alone...

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