The Progress of Grief

Yesterday was the four month anniversary of my miscarriage. Mark and I spent some time talking about having another baby as well as talking about how our experience with Noah still has a profound impact on our lives. I’ve had some challenging interactions with a couple of people lately that have made me wonder if I’m supposed to be “over it” already. When you see me in person I am very normal and act okay…that is because I AM okay. However, I am startled at the degree to which this experience still impacts my life and occupies my thoughts. I am okay with not ever being “over it” completely—I was reflecting on how the births of my other two children were intensely significant moments in my life and I will never forget those experiences or the meaning they held for me. This is no different for me, thus, no “over it” possible! What struck me this month though, is that I feel like the miscarriage experience has been incorporated into my life—instead of being a painful memory or a fresh wound. I guess that stage would be the grief stage of “acceptance.” In the first few weeks after Noah died, I was indescribably sad. I also thought about the miscarriage constantly—about every third thought would be about it (kind of a flashback in a sense). I also intensely felt the loss of being pregnant—every day I thought about how many weeks pregnant I “should” be. After a month or so passed, I missed the baby more than the pregnancy—the thought that he would have been big enough to feel from the outside, the wondering if he was a “normal” baby that died for some unknown reason or if he was a baby with some kind of not-physically-visible abnormality that meant his lifespan ran its natural course more briefly than other babies, that sort of thing. I now no longer feel as if I “should” be pregnant and I no longer count how many weeks pregnant I would have been. I am still very much aware that his due date is approaching and that I would have been very pregnant right now.

Here is where I am in my head: I still think about the miscarriage/birth experience every day, probably at least once an hour—not in a flashback sense, it just comes to mind (actually just about every time I am at rest/mind is still/not busy doing something else, it comes to mind). Every day when I say my morning prayer/blessing after yoga, I offer thanks for Noah. At least once a day and sometimes closer to three times, I go out to the tree where we placed his memorial plaque and put my hand on it. I always feel very still and peaceful when I do this and it is a sort of touchpoint for me. I wear my “baby in my heart” necklace every day and never take it off—periodically during the day I touch it and remember. Perhaps these things make me seem preoccupied or not “over it.” That is okay. They all feel normal and healthy to me. I do not feel like I am still “sad” really or that these thought patterns are an expression of unresolved grief, but are instead part of the process of acceptance and incorporation. I also noticed that I can talk about my experiences with a (genuine) smile on my face and without crying/feeling like I’m going to “lose control” and cry in front of people—I want to keep talking about it/sharing about it, just like I wanted to talk/share about my other children’s births. They were all milestones/rites of passage in my life as well as intensely embodied experiences. It makes sense to me that I wish to talk about them.

So, that’s where I am right now. Not sure what the next couple of months will bring!

I read a post on a miscarriage blog I enjoy that addressed a similar question (posed by a semi-hypothetical reader in a Q & A format)—“How much longer am I allowed to openly grieve for my dead baby among friends, family members, and other people in my life? I’m updating my Outlook calendar right now, and want to make sure I mark that grieving cut-off date with a red flag.” The post was part of a column of posts, so if you want to read it you have to scroll past two other topics to get to this one. Her blog is written in a pretty intense, matter-of-fact, and kind of “in your face” style—no hearts and flowers there, so be prepared for that. Anyway, her response to the question was to categorize the “levels” of connection to calculate  your “public-grieving-cut-off date” (did I also mention that she has a great sense of humor and that is one reason I enjoy her blog?).  Pretty much that with Facebook friends (level 4) you’re “allowed” a week. With not-emotionally-close friends and family you get three weeks. With level two–close friends people—she says you get two months with this additional note: “longer is possible, with risk being given a pep talk, a loving plea to move on with your life, a subtle push to find out if you’re suicidal, a gentle prod to find out if/when you’re planning to try again, because it might be a good idea” (this is where I feel like I am with some people right now—kind of “yeah we get it, it was a big deal, but life goes on!). With level 1 people—i.e. your husband—you get 1-2 years. With level 0 people—i.e. people who have “been there” in more or less your exact situation or “that one best, best, best friend who still lets you vent about it and asks how you are; your mother; your dog; maybe even your spouse): Eternity.” (emphasis mine)

So, bottom line is that I’m doing good, I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m happy, I’m not depressed, I’m normal, I have a great life…AND…I’m not “over it” and never will be.

“Over the passage of time, we do more than survive the journey. We go through a labor of self-discovery and give birth to the being deep within…we emerge more enriched, empowered, and evolved women, connect with the instinctual wisdom that lies deep within us, and experience the more whole life we deserve…grieving…opens a door into our souls that might otherwise not have been opened.” –Marie Allen & Shelly Marks

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5 responses to “The Progress of Grief

  1. I’ve been conscious of marking the 7th (with remembrance, sorrow and a myriad of other emotions) every month, and for whatever reason I missed it yesterday. I wasn’t even aware of the date until I read this post. Apparently the grieving time for a grandmother runs on a different track. I feel guilty over this, but at the same time a tiny bit healed.

  2. It was helpful to me to read this tonight. Tomorrow will be two months for me, and I definitely feel like I have long passed my “grieving-cut-off date.” To be honest, lately I’ve been quite hurt to realize I have some friends I considered close, and see regularly, who have not said ONE WORD to me about the miscarriage. I realize they mean nothing nasty by it, and probably don’t want to “remind” me. But I still want to talk about it. It’s so hard to NOT talk about.

    • I think because you start acting normal people think you’re “over it” and don’t want to dredge up “bad memories” by talking about it 😦

      I feel like I want to break that code of silence.

  3. Molly,

    I just discovered this blog and I am so glad I did. Thank you so much for sharing your tender heart and your deep, deep love for Noah. Your words are a blessing. I am so glad you are both “okay” and all the while still *feeling* and incorporating Noah’s birth into your life. You are an incredible woman and a brave, amazing mother.

    Many Blessings on your Journey,

    Halley

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