I guess you could say my relationship with death, dying and grief is an odd one. I work for a company who talks about the subjects daily and it has become almost normal to me. I no longer fear the words or avoid them. However, death has only been a small part of my life.
A little about me: I like to apply logic and fact to things. It helps me makes decisions, put things into perspective and keeps me comfortable. I also like to help people solve their own problems, suggesting ideas and ways to progress and hope for the same in return.
It is only this year that I realise logic and problem solving, for me, are griefs worst enemy.
2020 has been the most difficult year of my life so far and that is without COVID19.
There have been a lot of difficult moments and changes but the biggest one is my journey to become a mother. (which I am still on).
This year I found out that I can try to have my own child, having previously been told I couldn't. This was fantastic news! Something that my husband and I really wanted and so we started trying straight away. To our delight we got pregnant first time. I felt so elated, those first couple of weeks were like a movie, we enjoyed keeping our little secret, we made little videos to document the journey and we had the best time. Then the bleeding started.
I have never felt so alone, the doctors and hospital wouldn't see me, I was too early. In total I had to wait 12 days before I was allowed to see anyone. The doctors on the phone acted like it was totally natural, normal even but to someone who has never been pregnant before this was the least ‘normal’ experience for me. I needed reassurance or someone to listen but they couldn't give that to me.
Fast forward 12 days and I had my scan, they said it looked like miscarriage and handed me a pile of leaflets to take home and read. Okay, well I thought that might be the case so I know what I need to do, they are helping me. Within 5 minutes, and a second conversation with the sonographer, they took the leaflets back and said they weren’t sure and I would need to come in for tests over the next week followed up by a second scan. Sorry, what? So am I miscarrying or not?
Now with COVID19, my husband wasn't allowed in with me to these appointments. I get it, it makes sense but my goodness it was so incredibly hard. I was so confused, my emotions were all over the place and I didn't know what questions to ask to get the answers I needed. There was no logic to support me here, no level of comfort. No certainties and that was difficult. Not to mention the fact I now had to go out to the car park and break the very confusing, not sure what’s going on news to my husband.
At 9 weeks they confirmed miscarriage which, to me, was not a surprise. I had cried so much during those last 3 weeks that I had come to terms with it before they broke the news. I
knew the chances of miscarriage were high with the amount of bleeding, the fact they had given and taken away those leaflets.
Now some people might wonder why I didn't hope for something better, why I had resigned to the fact I was miscarrying. The honest answer is I couldn't deal with the feeling of limbo, the lack of certainty, the grey area which is what it felt like. It was easier for me to expect the worst case news and then if it was good news that would be fantastic.
This wasn't the same for my husband. He had spent the last three weeks supporting me and letting me cry. He hadn’t had those weeks to live in his emotions. He also hadn’t seen any of the scans or heard any of the news from a doctor, he had only heard it through me.
And so, his grief came after mine.
Throughout the whole experience logic kept rearing its head and it was so unwelcome. “Although this is hard now, this has happened for a reason obviously something wasn't right”. I mean it's a true enough statement, it wasn't meant to be, but it did not help. I was so confused I didn't feel like I had the right to be to upset. Logic was telling me I would be okay, this would be okay, it’s all happening for a reason but that just made me feel guilty for being sad.
As we were only 9 weeks, we hadn’t told anyone we were pregnant (aside from 3 people) and so the next toughest job was to break the news. Family and close friends knew we were trying and so the phrase became ‘we have news, it’s not good news’ before they shouted you’re pregnant!
Now, don't misunderstand me here, we have fantastic friends and family and they were supporting, loving and kind and did everything they could, and said everything they could say. Let’s not forget responding to sad news and someone’s grief is always incredibly hard. I was grateful for any response and any level of support.
But I have to admit I grew to really hate the phrase ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’. It started off by making me incredibly sad and ended with me being infuriated. Yes its true, that's really great news in fact what I had wanted for years and I am so grateful that at least I can get pregnant. But ‘at leasts’ added to the guilt of being sad. It felt like I shouldn't be this sad.
But they were doing what I do, trying to problem solve, trying to make me feel better, to see the brighter side.And even though the phrase made me sad I thank them for trying.
This whole journey has taught me a number of lessons but the biggest one is … Grief is an incredibly lonely place. It is felt at your core and you don't want to see any brighter side until you are ready.
After only 9 weeks I felt such a loss that I didn't know how to control my tears. None of my many coping mechanisms for anxiety, or feeling unwell helped in this situation, nothing could distract me. It was a part of my body on the inside and the miscarriage symptoms kept reminding me of that.
It started off as the most incredible happy moments, followed by intense sadness. Something that truly helped me was to make sure this was a time in my life that was marked and always remembered by something beautiful. I purchased a heart filled with dried flowers and now every time I look at it I feel a mix of joy and sadness.
I can see now that my grief was mainly a loss of hope, a loss of those specific dates, those specific memories and of course I still feel sad about it now. I let myself feel and that is why I have hope for the next time because, at least I can get pregnant.
For me: grief is a journey that has to be taken, without logic, in order to move forward.