Tag Archives: grief

The Beginning of a Friendship

I frowned at my dinosaur of a computer, unfocused and lost in thought. I rubbed my aching lower back as i stretched my feet out under the desk. How much longer do I have to deal with this pain, I wondered. It’s been almost a week already. I huffed. My blonde bangs fluttered from my breath. I leaned forward to continue working on the newsletter project for work. It was due by the end of the week, but I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically. As much as I tried to push through and ignore what happened, it kept creeping into the back of my mind like a nightmare. As I forced it from my mind, I pounded the keys on the dirty cream-colored keyboard, chipping a nail in the process. Damn it! I really need to get out of here. I can’t do this today. But this has to get done. I sighed, frustrated. All I needed was a faster computer and things would be better. I was almost done with the newsletter, but had to wait an eternity for the program to do its thing. It was like watching the sand through an hourglass, speck by speck – literally as the hourglass appeared on my computer as it whirred and chugged. I hung my head in my hands, bracing my elbows on the desk. My back and pelvis still ached, although I was glad it was mostly bearable now.

“Hello? Kat?”

“OW! Ouch! Crap!” I shouted as I bashed my knee on the corner of the desk, startled by the voice.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Kat! I didn’t mean to startle you,” apologized Greta. She stood in the doorway, concern clear on her face. I rubbed my knee and smiled half-heartedly.

“It’s okay, Greta. I didn’t’ know you were there. I was in lost in thought, I guess. What’s up?” I spun in my chair to face Greta. We didn’t know each other well beyond being co-workers for the same Christian non-profit agency. I tended to avoid the people in our office as much as possible, which proved difficult since there were only four of us that worked full-time and it was a small office. Not that I didn’t like them, but I kept to myself, unsure and shy when faced with people I didn’t know well. Most days, I met my husband, Alex, for lunch instead of hanging around the office and left for the day as soon as it was time. I didn’t linger, as Alex would question where I was and who I was with. It was easier just to do what I needed to do to avoid the somewhat “polite interrogation” from Alex.

“I just wanted to check on you and make sure you’re okay. How are you feeling?” asked Greta.

“I’m fine,” I curtly replied. “Just tired and have a lot to do. I think I’m going to leave early today.” I avoided looking at Greta and began gathering my things. I didn’t want to face her inquisitive gaze. I couldn’t stand the pity. It was the last thing I wanted now. I already saw myself as a failure and didn’t need someone reminding me of it.

“Kat, do you think we could have dinner together one night? Just you and I? I need to talk to you about something.” Greta cleared her throat and stepped aside as I headed for the door. I paused, unsure of how to reply. Normally, I would say no since Alex didn’t like me to go out much without him, but I figured this probably has something to do with work. We had a stressful fundraising banquet coming up and I knew Greta was responsible for a large part of it. I tucked a curl behind my ear thoughtfully and cocked my head, looking at Greta.

“I suppose we could,” I replied hesitantly. “I would have to check with Alex, but I think it would be okay. When?”

“How about tomorrow night at Applebee’s? We can go right after work.”

“Okay. That sounds good. I’ll let you know tomorrow.” I slowly walked out the door, letting it bang shut behind me, as I headed to the car. I was meeting Alex at my parents’ house for dinner and then home. We often went to my parents’ house for dinner as they lived nearby and enjoyed spending time with them. Plus it saved us money as we didn’t have to pay for the food. I wasn’t sure how Alex would respond to me going to dinner with Greta, but I guessed it would be okay. It depended on what kind of mood he was in at the time. Hoping for a good one, I got in my black Saturn and went on my way.

Dinner was good – melt-in-your-mouth roast beef, creamy mashed potatoes, and tangy homemade applesauce, my favorite. My mouth still waters remembering it. That night, I hopped in the shower to get ready for bed. Normally, Alex showered with me at night, but he was too busy playing his new X-Box game. Sometimes, he was like a big kid. We had only been married for four years, but it felt like I had known him forever. Sure, there were problems, but what marriage didn’t have them? I hummed to myself as I scrubbed, letting the warm water pour over me. Alex had agreed to me have dinner with Greta tomorrow night.

I was pretty pleased that I got to have a “night out,” even if it was only dinner most likely about work. I gently washed my stomach and my hand stilled, remembering what could have been. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the shower wall, cradling my stomach. My forehead creased as a tear meandered down my soft cheek. I tried so hard to hold the sorrow in, willing it to stay buried underneath my fragile façade. Stop it, Kat! There’s no point in dwelling on it. Get over it! Alex did and you can, too – I would often mentally berate myself. I dried off, and crawled into my bed, letting the blankets envelop me like a warm hug.

Miscarriage and Macaroni and Cheese

The front door banged. I startled from my nap and realized Alex was finally home from an exhausting day at work. He was a shipping and receiving manager for an innovative healthcare technology company. The days were long and weary, but I couldn’t complain about his decent wages and health benefits. I gathered my strength and pushed myself from bed, shuffling out to the living room to greet Alex and share the news.

“Hey honey. How was your day?” I asked as I leaned against the oak door jamb in the cozy living room.

“I’m okay,” sighed Alex, “It was a rough day, but otherwise good. What’s for dinner?” I frowned slightly at Alex, but stuffed my emotions down. Alex had a hard day and didn’t deserve my complaining.

“I hadn’t started dinner yet. I just woke up from a nap. Can we order out since I’m not feeling well?”

“Oh, that’s right. You went to the doctor’s today. How’d it go?” Alex plopped on the hot pink couch from Ikea and flipped on the tube. He wanted to catch the score of his beloved Penn State football team.

“Well, it wasn’t that great. Alex…can you mute the TV? I have something serious to tell you.” I sat on the couch next to Alex, hoping to get his attention. He muted the television and turned slightly to face me, a questioning look in his eyes.

“What happened, honey?”

“I went to see Dr. Lee. She said that I’m having a miscarriage. The baby was only a few days old.” I paused, unsure what else to say. Alex gently cradled my soft small hands in his rough ones, smoothing my knuckles with his thumb. He stared at the floor a moment, quiet, our breathing the only sounds. He lifted his head to gaze into my eyes and caressed my cheek with his hand.

“I’m so, so sorry, Kat. I know how much you wanted this baby,” Alex spoke softly. “We can always try again. What else did the doctor say?”

My eyes filled with unshed tears at his tender words. I bit my trembling lip, unable to stop the tears from falling. Alex gathered me in his arms, rubbing her my in slow circles.

“Shhhh…it’s okay, Kat. Don’t worry. We can try again. It’ll be okay.” I sobbed anew as the grief ripped through me.

“I’m so sorry, Alex! I don’t know what happened!” I cried. I blamed myself for losing the baby, blamed my body for betraying them.

“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anything you did. You know that.” Alex rocked me gently as my crying subsided into sniffles.

“I need a tissue,” I mumbled into Alex’s plaid shirt. “I think I got snot all over your shirt.” Alex chuckled and reached over to the end table, grabbed a tissue, and handed it to me. He watched me as I sat up, attempted to smooth my hair and dab at my eyes. Smiling wryly, I reached out and lightly touched a wet spot on the front of his shirt.

“Don’t worry, Kat. It’ll all work out and be okay. We’ll figure it out. Do you want me to make something for dinner so you can rest?” Alex slid a tendril of my curly blonde hair behind my ear.

“That would be nice,” I sniffled. “I don’t think I feel up to doing much yet.” Alex stood, patted me gently on the shoulder, and headed to the kitchen to scrounge up something to eat. Most likely it would be macaroni and cheese since it was Alex’s favorite food. Every time we ate it, I remembered when we were dating how Alex would stock up on the boxes of macaroni and cheese. He ate it for almost every meal, claiming it was cheap and easy for a bachelor. I remembered that at one time, he had almost 100 boxes stashed in cupboards from a sale they had at the grocery store. I shook my head ruefully and smiled. It was nice to have the old Alex back. I hoped this was sign of better things to come in our relationship.

I hated fighting with Alex. It tore at my heart. The last year had been particularly difficult. It seemed all we ever did was argue about everything. It didn’t matter what the topic – money, friends, not enough time together, even what to eat for dinner. Most of the time, I would just go along with whatever Alex had decided or said, but occasionally I would fight back. We ate dinner, relaxed and watched TV on the couch together, and turned in early for the night, both drained from the day’s events.

Healing After Miscarriage

As a side bar into this story, I want to offer some insight and advice about miscarriages and how to deal with the effects – physically, emotionally, and mentally. I remember what I went through and the lack of resources I had regarding the emotional fallout of the miscarriage. I don’t want the same to happen to another woman.

Suffering from a miscarriage or stillbirth can be very traumatic. Not only is it taxing on you physically, but emotionally as well. While a woman’s body can heal and recover relatively quickly from a miscarriage, emotionally, the healing process can take much longer. Although many women do not want to deal with their feelings after a pregnancy loss, facing them can help you pull through and emerge a stronger person.

As with any loss, it is normal for couples to feel grief after a miscarriage. Unfortunately, far too often, outwardly displaying signs of grief is seen as a sign of weakness, causing some to be tempted to bottle up this emotion (I did). Though you may want to appear emotionally strong to those around you, it is important to keep in mind that entering a grieving period after a significant loss is a perfectly normal human emotion.

There is no specific amount of time that a couple is expected to grieve after a pregnancy loss. How long a woman and her partner mourn for will vary from couple to couple and is not dictated by the length of a pregnancy. Whether you had an early miscarriage or stillbirth, the pain can be equally acute. Only you will know how long you need to grieve for.

Moving Past the Grief

Grief is not the only emotion associated with miscarriages. Other typical emotions reported by woman who have lost a pregnancy include depression, loneliness and isolation. Although these feelings are perfectly normal, if you are having troubles coping day to day because of your emotions, you may want to make an appointment with your health care provider. When your emotions begin to interfere with your daily activities, it can be a sign of major depression, a health issue that requires professional attention.

Another common emotional response to a spontaneous abortion is self-blame. Many women often feel that if only they had done something differently, if only they hadn’t had that glass of wine before they found out they were pregnant, they wouldn’t have miscarried. These thoughts can ring in your mind for weeks, making it even harder to get over your loss.

Miscarriage can also cause a woman to feel intense anger and jealousy towards other women, even friends, who are pregnant. While these emotions can be appalling, they will eventually pass and fade.

The Male Side

Miscarriages can make men nervous to talk to their partners. Not only are they upset about the loss, but also they are grieving for their partner. As a result, you may find that your partner is reluctant to broach the topic, fearful that he may upset you. Be honest with your partner; if you are not ready to openly discuss the loss with him, say so. But don’t forget to also let him know when you do want to talk.

After a miscarriage, a couple’s relationship can become noticeably strained. Dealing with such a significant loss can cause individuals to turn inwards and away from each. Yet, this is when you each need each other the most, for support and for a shoulder to cry on. Discussing your feelings after a miscarriage is often difficult for couples, but it is necessary. If you find that there is too much stress on your relationship right now, seeking out couples counseling can help you work through your grief as well as improve the communication between you and your partner.

Finding Support

Coping emotionally after a miscarriage is not easy and your friends and family are one of your best sources to find the support you need during this difficult time. Unfortunately, sometimes those that you want the most support from are the ones that make the situation worse by ignoring it. Though this can lead to feelings of hurt and anger, perhaps even causing you to withdraw from those closest to you, try to keep in mind that perhaps they are avoiding the topic for fear of upsetting you. Like your partner, it is important to be honest with your friends and family, letting them know when you do and when you don’t want to talk about your miscarriage.

Another great place to turn to after a miscarriage is a support group. Talking with other women and couples who are also dealing with the aftermath of a miscarriage can breakdown those feelings of isolation and loneliness. Alternatively, speaking with a professional therapist one-on-one can help you come to terms with your loss.

Coping Tips

Here are some tips that may be useful in helping you deal with your miscarriage:

  • Write it Down: Journal writing is an excellent method for people to air out their emotions. Because a journal is private, you can be honest with yourself and your thoughts, allowing yourself to reflect on just what it is that you are feeling. Furthermore, studies have found that writing in a journal can actually speed up the recovery period during sad times.
  • Set Some Rules: It can be difficult for your friends and family to know whether you feel comfortable hearing about other women’s pregnancies and pregnancy losses. To help yourself and those around you feel better and more at ease, make it clear which topics, if any, are off limits with you.
  • Go Away: If you don’t feel ready to face the world right after your miscarriage, then don’t. Take some time off of work to focus on yourself. If you can, arrange for your partner to also have some free time so you can be together.
  • Remember: Finding a special way to commemorate your child can turn a negative situation into a positive one, helping you to let go of your grief. Some parents choose to hold a memorial service while others decide to plant a tree in a local park or their backyard. Some even choose to write about their experience or create a website in order to help others.

Pregnancy loss can cause severe depression for many women. A support group or professional counseling may be useful if there is depression.

While some people may not understand her grief or expect that a woman should just “get over it”, the reality is that a child has been lost and it may take a long time to recover.  Taking whatever time is necessary to heal is so important.  While the impact remains, hopefully over time and with support, and with the memories of the baby, you can cope with your loss.

A Bump in the Road

According to the test results, I had only been pregnant for a few days. Not even long enough for my body to fully register that it was pregnant. But long enough for me to know that it was the beginning of something. After a few hours sleeping, I knew I needed to call my job to let them know I would be out from work another day. I dreaded making the call, but knew I had no choice. I didn’t want pity from anyone. I just wanted to be left alone, to curl in on myself and lock it away. I reached for the phone and dialed.

“Hello? Greta? It’s Kat.”

“Hey, Kat. How are you feeling? Is everything okay?” asked Greta, the concern clear in her voice. I sighed, wondering how much I should tell her. Greta was my co-worker, but was also a counselor who had her own private practice. I was afraid Greta would see more behind my words than I wanted. I also didn’t know her that well as I kept to myself mostly at my job, leaving the office for lunch with my husband or to eat alone almost every day.

“Yea, I’m okay. I went to the doctor and apparently I’m having a miscarriage. I was only a few days pregnant and didn’t even know I was pregnant. So it’s no big deal.” I tried to reply nonchalantly to Greta’s question, hoping it would deter any further probing.

“Oh, Kat. I’m so sorry to hear that. Is there anything you need? Anything I can do?”

“No, I’m good. I just need another day to rest before coming back to work. I’ll be fine.” I said goodbye and hung up. As much as I wanted to spill my feelings to someone, I felt that I couldn’t and shouldn’t. I needed to be strong – for myself, my family, my husband. I learned a long time ago that problems were kept within the family and even then, you didn’t always talk about them. You learned to bury them, stoically facing the world head-on, smiling and pretending that everything was copacetic.

Not to mention, I felt that I didn’t have any friends close enough that I could turn to even if I wanted to tell someone. I painfully remembered the severed friendships when I married Alex. Alex didn’t like me associating with my old friends, those that were friends with me before him. He didn’t trust them. During college, while we were dating, he always thought I was out drinking irresponsibly with Nikki and Jack, two of my closest friends, doing God-knows-what and with whom. For some reason, he had images of me drunk, having sex with random people, doing drugs, and so forth. He accused me of this more than once despite it not being true. He said that he was worried about me and only wanted me to be safe. Slowly, without me realizing it until it was too late, Alex had pushed away my friends, convincing me it was for the best. Goodness knows I had tried to tell Alex that Nikki and Jack weren’t like that – that they were wonderfully caring people and would never encourage anything like that. I even tried to have Alex hang out with them all, but it was painfully obvious that he wasn’t comfortable with them.

I wished I still had Nikki to turn to, especially now with the miscarriage, but I knew I was alone with my feelings. I could talk to Alex, but I wasn’t sure how that would go. He had argued about even trying to have a baby in the first place. He wasn’t really sure he wanted me to go off the birth control. He was worried about how we would pay for a child and the responsibility that comes with it. Alex seemed to relax about it over the two years that we had been trying to have a child. While we didn’t talk in-depth about it, I thought Alex seemed happy to be trying, or maybe that was just because he got to have sex often. At least that part had been a lot of fun. The more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that Alex would be upset, but would still be game to keep trying. I wanted children so badly it was a persistent longing in my soul. I felt born to be a mother. I always pictured herself married with the traditional story book image of a white picket fence, the nice house, happy family, kids, and enjoying life to a ripe old age. This was just a blip in the grand scheme of things. A bump in the road. I was comforted in the thought of knowing my life was secure and this wasn’t the end of the world.