An open letter to those struggling with challenges growing a family
Dear those of you silently hurting,
Years ago there was a campaign in the mental health profession to help the “Silent Grievers”, at the time this referred to children. The campaign led to resources and public knowledge. Now people think about children grieving too and they are no longer silent.
As a mom who is also a therapist I have become acutely aware that there is a new group in need of a campaign for “Silent Grievers”, those experiencing challenges and losses that can occur when growing a family. Society has not caught up with the needs of those experiencing these kinds of losses. Infertility, miscarriage, fetal demise, still birth. We all know the words, we all know someone who has been there, maybe we have, but no one is talking about it. Those that do acknowledge the loss of these life transitions usually focus on the mom or mom-to-be. But we know dads, grandparents, siblings, extended family, and friends grieve too. Well meaning people may try to minimize your loss and say less then helpful things such as: “you can always adopt,” “at least it happened now and not when he was a real person,” “God needed another angel” and “maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” just to name a few. I want you to know your loss is real. It hurts me as a mom and as a professional when your loss is minimized. To heal this loss it must be validated, talked about, and nurtured.
We talk about the loss of loved ones having no time line and being unique to the individual. But why hasn’t society realized this pertains to all grief? Nobody questions someone grieving the loss of a parent for a year or more, or honoring anniversaries of death going forward long after that, in fact we often join them in the ritual.
And what about other pregnancy related grief? Did you grieve not having the perfect pregnancy? Are you grieving your joy because you developed depression during pregnancy or after? Did you grieve the dream of the perfect child when you found out she had special needs? Are you grieving your natural home birth when the baby wouldn’t turn and you had to have a C-section? There are so many losses that no one talks about, no one validates. I’m here to say you deserve to grieve, you deserve to hurt, and you deserve to HEAL. Those of you who have dealt with these types of losses know that you often grieve alone. You do not have to! You deserve the support you need.
I’m angry. I’m angry that our society isn’t more progressive when it comes to loss. I’m angry you feel alone in your grief. Please silent grievers, don’t stay silent. Tell someone, tell everyone, tell me. Ask for help, ask for support. Explain you don’t need them to understand but just to empathize and be there for you. Sometimes it is easier to seek support and talk to someone outside of your “circle of love”, as I call it. Find a counselor you are comfortable with, find a support group. The first step in healing is acceptance. It is normal to grieve. You will get through this, you are not alone. I empathize with you and your loss. I stand with you. I am speaking out as loud and as long as I have to until the silence is broken.