Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Permission to Grieve

I spent a great part of 2009 mentally working through a bunch of emotional junk related to my miscarriage, or more accurately, my miscarriage and my fertility struggles. From time to time, I'd try holding down conversations about it. While others nodded their heads and politely chimed in at the right times, I was left still alone, wondering if anybody ever really got that same feeling I did. This was hardly their fault; I didn't feel like I'd really adequately expressed the whole of my experience to anyone -- so not only was it isolating, but it was also inexpressible.

Many months were spent with murky questions, unable to even express how I was feeling, let alone why. The conclusions I came to are still very preliminary, but it seems we restrict ourselves from experiencing pain when we feel our experience hasn't earned that right.

I deemed myself wimpy and overly emotional when I felt sorrow for the miscarriage, especially the further out we got from it. After all, I hadn't been terribly far along; I already had a child; I hadn't had to work and pray with all my might to achieve the pregnancy like I had with Betsy. It failed to meet an unspoken but very real Criteria of Pain. Earlier on, I'd felt guilt for the depth of my sorrow as I struggled with conceiving Betsy. Some women never had the joy of experiencing marriage at all; some women didn't have a uterus; some married too old to have children, and some even lost children to death. Knowing all of the trials other women had -- trials that were much more painful than my own -- there was a sort of silent obligation to bear up my burden cheerfully. (We all know I didn't really live up to it, but that's another story.)

Whether the emotion be grief, frustration, discouragement, sorrow, or even something the likes of hostility, it must be acknowledged. It must be worked through. We must ask penetrating questions of ourselves, and beyond that, we must mend ourselves, inside and out. There is a difference between trying to control an emotion and trying to ignore it. Healing comes in its own time, and in its own way, but it always comes through the same channel, which is the Savior. When we try to sidestep healing by invalidating, minimizing, or ignoring the emotion, it festers, just as an untreated wound would. It irritates; it itches; it incites pain and is more prone to another injury. Further, when serious internal wounds like broken bones are not properly dressed, it often heals incorrectly and incompletely, leaving the capability of that limb permanently compromised.

This analogy could be taken further, of course, but I think I've been on my soapbox plenty for the month of January, thank you very much. I promise to put it away, at least for a while.


The Nat Nat said...

Okay, I see where you are coming from in paragraph three. HOWEVER (and that is a big however) it sounds to me like you are not acknowledging that this was HUGE in your life! Every person on this planet has their different lot in life. Every person has their own challenges. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO CARRY THEIRS. I think that if you need to grieve, then grieve! I think that if you need to take some time figuring out how you feel -- you take as much time as you can. It does not matter one bit that in the grand scheme of things this may be observed by the casual onlooker as minimal. My point is: THIS WAS BIG FOR YOU. Screw anyone who says "At least you have a daughter" and the like. Screw them for assuming that they have any room to downplay your tragedy.

Take as much time as you need to get over this.

Mickelle said...

@ Natalie -- Yeah, I think that was partially my point, except that I'd also been minimizing it to myself -- no outside assistance needed. :) I almost had to stop and say, "Wait. If I don't acknowledge how big this was TO ME (regardless of my bizarre thoughts about how I was obligated to feel/not feel) I can't really heal." I was literally trying to ignore/downplay my feelings.

I think we often feel guilty for having negative emotions. But the fact is, they're a part of life. Part of why we were sent here. And when we try to skim by without really having them, we're actually shortchanging ourselves. It's how we grow.

The Nat Nat said...

So true. Glad you hear you are letting yourself heal.

Carina said...

I don't really have much to add, except for that I agree with your conclusion. We all have trials to go through, and even though other people and sometimes even our own minds try to convince us that we should be stronger than we feel, that whatever we're going through isn't "as bad as what so-and-so is going through", we need to realize that, sometimes, it's okay to have that negativity in our lives. If we didn't have it, then we would never know the sweetness of the healing power of the Atonement, you know? Opposition in all things. If we didn't have such bitter trials, the high points in our lives would seem so much lower.

I'm so sorry for your loss last year, and I hope you're able to grieve properly. And I'm so grateful that you are now expecting a sweet little "baby sissah" for Betsy (I just love that!). :) You deserve all the happiness in the world!

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I still haven't grieved about mine in October. I had a freak out moment and lots of soul searching, but I never found a grieving place. That can't be right. I wonder when it will hit, and how hard?

You're not alone. In many respects, you are light years ahead of me. -SA

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I have such a sweet husband to remind me every time I start bursting into tears about my current loss, that I should cry every tear I need to cry for our baby, and not worry about what "normal" is for dealing with a miscarriage. I know in my heart that everything will be ok eventually, but I'm not to the point that everything will be ok yet, and that will just have to be ok, because that is how it's going to be! - for how long? I do not know. I do feel though, that though everyone loves me and cares for me, they are going to keep asking me "How are you feeling?", expecting to hear that I'm alright. The physical pain (which was terrible) is gone, but the emotional pain is even more difficult, and more overwhelming than I could have ever thought or prepared for. I'm nervous to face everyone. I think I'd rather stay hidden under the blankets for another month or two...

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the discussion that's taking place here. I haven't experienced miscarriage yet, but I recognize that with my fertility challenges it is most likely inevitable. I feel so much strength from the thoughts that each of you have shared. Thank you.

Mickelle, I agree. It is so important for us to allow ourselves to feel the emotions that come to us in life. In my life, I have found it very therapuetic to tell the Lord why I am sad, angry, confused, or hurt. I just tell him how I feel without even wanting to know how to make it better yet. I just need to let it all out to Him. I think that's one of the first steps in accessing the atonement when we have experienced trying times.

Once a friend pointed out to me that Christ does not ask us to come to him with a healed heart. He wants us to come to Him with a BROKEN heart. So we certainly shouldn't feel ashamed or guilty when we are broken inside.

Finally, I'm not sure this next thought will seem trivial to you or not, but I feel it is worth mentioning. Joseph Fielding Smith taught us that righteous mothers who lose children in this life will have the opportunity to raise them in Millenium. It's just my personal opinion, but I fully believe that this includes children that are not brought to full term. That's pretty amazing to think. What a blessing that such losses are not permanent.


Grace said...

Mickelle, i hadn't realized that you had a miscarriage, how hard that must have been for you. My mother miscarried a lot as well as her Mom and my Mom's sister. My sisters and I never had that occur but my baby sister had 8 miscarriages, including 2 tubel pregnancies and even 2 fertilized eggs that ended back up in her ovary! It was very hard for her. I remember feeling SO guilty when I became pregnant with our youngest one who is now 14...I felt guilty because I got pregnant and I really didn't want to be and yet my sister couldn't keep a baby in her womb to save her life!! What a guilt trip that was.
Thanks for sharing your experiences