Moving Through Loss With the Healing Power of Stories
by Stacia Kelly
We were close to 10 weeks, I think. It’s actually blurry now. When do you stop the counting of the weeks?
The ultrasound tech kept the screen pointed away from us. And she was quiet.
I looked at my husband, I knew. And his look said he knew too. We pushed our fingers a little harder in between the other’s fingers and held on. And then things around us began to move very fast. I was getting dressed and getting blood drawn and ushered away from the waiting room full of full bellies.
I’m so sorry, the midwife said. And we nodded, slowly.
We were sent to a desk to schedule surgery and the receptionist asked which doctor I saw. I just stared. My mind went dark.
What’s your name, she asked.
The pain after a miscarriage is so strange. It’s both physical & emotional. And there’s incredible loneliness, which is strange because the person lying next to you in bed is living the pain too. But really there’s not a lot to say in those first days.
I’m so sorry, he’d say. Me too, I’m so sorry too, I’d say back. And we’d reach for each other’s hand and find comfort in that gesture.
Sweet friends & family sent cards and flowers and food. We ate the food and I had an overwhelming fear of killing the flowers.
Please note: Flowers and plants are good to have in times like these, despite any irrational fears.
Why don’t we talk about miscarriage? It’s this secret club that no one wants to belong to. But once you’re in it, well, there you are. It’s loss and grief and guilt and anger. Except it’s something men & women are expected to do quietly.
There’s no funeral. And people with nothing but good intentions say odd things like, Oh you’re young. You can try again in a month or so.
I still felt pregnant. My hormone levels stayed high for a couple of weeks.
I had morning sickness and cravings. I could smell peanut butter from a mile away. My belly had started to grow (your third baby will do that to you) and I had heartburn every night. Every cell in my body was telling me I was pregnant, except that I wasn’t anymore.
I would fall asleep and wake up and forget for a moment. And then the dark would come rushing back like a gust of bitter wind. I would fall asleep and wake up; my face was wet and my eyes blood shot. You dreamed you lost the baby, I’d say. And then the dark would come again.
I eventually had to go back to work (I work in infant nutrition) and spend my days sitting in more waiting rooms full of full bellies and hospitals buzzing with sounds of life, bundles with pink and blue hats.
I’d tell myself, Self, you are not alone. You are not the first to feel this darkness. Chin up. But the thing about grief is that it doesn’t care much for pep talks.
On my second or third day back to work, I walked face first into a set of newly born twins being weighed and measured. I turned around and walked right back to my car. I let the darkness come and took deep breaths and allowed myself the grace to feel what I was feeling. Then, I went back inside. And when I did, a woman whom I had only spoken to a handful of times met me at the door.
She looked in my eyes and gently reached for my elbow and steered me off to a quiet room.
Are you okay, she asked. I shook my head and let the tears fall. She nodded and waited, her hand still on my arm.
I had a miscarriage, I said. She nodded again, took a breath and then told me about the three babies she lost. So I put my hand on her arm. We stood there like that for a while—telling our stories, talking about the darkness, our hands gently placed on the crook of one another’s elbow.
Sometime during those days, a friend sent me an article by one of my favorite writers. This is what it said—
May my suffering be of service. At the very least. May some good come of this. If not for me, for someone else. Some good. At the very least. May my suffering be of service.
I prayed those words out loud and silently when the darkness would come. I thought of the woman and the elbows and the clubs that exist that no one wants to belong to—miscarriages and cancer and stillbirths and infertility. The loss of a child. I thought of how our suffering is of service, every single time, maybe not for us and maybe not for a while but if you’re courageous enough to share your story (sometimes with a stranger), you’ll begin to see it.
I believe that this is the silver lining in the darkness.
Let the light in.
Stacia is a writer, photographer and mother. She writes about life lessons and the beauty and chaos of raising two boys. Her photography captures the love between families and the childhood of her children. She spends her days in the sunshine and close to the water because both are good for the soul. Find more of her on her website. Silhouette photo included with story: Stacia Kelly Photo. Bio portrait photo: Yan Photo.