Why Hopeful Connections?
April 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM
When I was wondering how to begin my first post, one of my very close friends told me to start with the WHY. I thought this was pretty good advice. So why? Why hopeful connections? The answer that comes to mind at first is easy. Because I lost a son during pregnancy that I loved; because I needed support to help me grieve; because I wanted to find ways to remember; because I am inspired by his short life and want others to feel that they can honor and remember their children too. But why spend my time these past three months researching perinatal supports, spending nights updating a website and wanting to create something more from my experience? There has to be a deeper Why.......I can remember back in December ranting to my husband about how I hated how I was feeling like I could not talk about my child without fear of how others were going to react to my openness. I was angry because I felt society was encouraging me to move passed the loss, forget the loss, and to not speak about my loss in order to protect how other people may feel. Here I was feeling silenced. Nobody actually said the words “don’t talk about it” instead it was the reaction of “you will have another baby” or “don’t dwell on this loss” that made me feel I was being encouraged to move passed this experience in my life. Those words made it feel like we shouldn’t be grieving; as if we hadn't lost a child. I refused to let this inhibit me. I made the decision to start telling the truth when people asked how I was doing or what had been going on in my life. I realized that it was all up to my husband and I, together, to let people in so they would know how to handle and support us. We could then educate them on why it was important for us to name our child, to want to remember him, to find ways to honor his life so that this experience becomes a healthy memory. In order to change the way society viewed pregnancy loss, I needed to help the people in my life understand how important this child was to us. This helped me to be less angry. This is Why......Once I opened up about my loss, I began to hear other women’s stories and I was reminded of how many women experience a loss in pregnancy. It was comforting to me to discuss this with other women but it also ignited in me a real passion for allowing women to find their voice through pregnancy loss. How many women don't share their experience so never feel fully supported through it? Although our losses were different, the commonality we shared was how good it felt when someone encouraged us to talk about our experience. Many women I spoke to had never been encouraged to talk about their children or given information about supports to help them grieve. Often, they don’t have a healthy memory of a way they remember their child, it is just something that happened in the past. This is Why......I work as an educator where we support and challenge young women to fight for social justice. When they experience or learn about an issue of injustice we encourage and teach them to give it a voice, to advocate for change, to take action, to make a difference. Here I was after losing a child and yes, I was angry that I had to experience this loss. I questioned why this was happening to my family. But what really fueled my anger was that I received no information from any of my health care providers about support services to help me grieve. That simple act of passing information to me through a handout, a web address, anything would have validated the life that we had lost and the feelings we were overwhelmed with. It would have lessened the pressure society places on us that we should just move on. It would have given me permission to speak about this loss and feel less alone. This was an injustice - one I would encourage my own students to stand up against. This is Why...... I was fortunate that I had a doctor who had a conversation with me where she encouraged me to grieve my loss and told me to allow myself to cry. For some reason, this conversation happened and even more importantly, I was listening. These simple words, in some ways gave me permission to recognize this child, to confront my reality right away instead of pushing it away. But many women aren’t as fortunate. When I listened to women in my life and I saw their tears, still so raw after so many years, this is when a fire in my belly began to ignite. It was inspired by these women, who experienced loss in different ways and from different generations, but were all silenced in their grief. Here was a clear women’s issue that was being underserved, swept away by society’s fear of loss and death, and that was an injustice. An injustice that I knew I needed to take action to make better for future women, for the young women I work with daily who unfortunately will experience pregnancy loss themselves or will know someone who does. I thought about them and how when this happens, I want them to feel encouraged to speak about it. My hope is they will be able to grieve comfortably in this society and they will not fear how people react to their decisions to remember. This is Why........ Through the time I have spent researching this issue, I have found great support groups and services available for families. I have learned that some hospitals, doctors, and counselors work with pregnancy loss and do it well. The information is given to these families effectively through their obstetricians/hospitals and I praise them for their work. But what if you are one of the women, like me, who don’t have that experience? We need to make this connection to every family who is grieving the loss of a child. This is for all the women who have experienced loss before me and for those young women who will experience it after me. May they never have to feel alone. This is the Why.