By Lori Rogers
Editors’ note: Of the 4.4 million pregnancies confirmed each year in the United States, almost 1 million of them end in pregnancy loss. Contributor Lori Rogers has chosen to share a very personal and emotional tale of loss following a miscarriage in the hopes of reaching out to those who might be going through a similar journey. Please be advised that the details of her story may be considered graphic to some readers.
Today was a special day for me. It wasn’t a birthday or a wedding. It was a burial of the remains of my unborn child. My Bub. I recently found out that his remains were not buried after my miscarriage and D-and-C. However, because of the hospital’s policy on keeping the tissues removed after a miscarriage for 10 years, they were able to add what was left of him to the burial today.
Because he was one of my children, I felt a need to go to the burial of his remains. However, it felt strange going to a ceremony for someone who passed away almost two years ago.
With the time that has passed, I thought I would be fine. I told my husband not to come. He offered to come with me to support me. But he had grieved the loss of our child two years ago; he had his closure. He believed it was only a body; the person there is no more. However, when I arrived at the sight, I started to cry.
Maybe I’m not supposed to be fine. Even though this child was in my life for such a short time, the loss remains for a lifetime. We planned a life around this baby. We told our oldest about this baby. He named this baby. It was not only a body but a dream of a life not given a chance to live.
So I cried. I cried thinking about that first day in September 2009. I will never forget the moment I saw our Bub was dead. But I also cried for the women who were there, knowing very well their grief was newer than mine. I knew their pain, but I was on the other side of the grief. I wasn’t angry or heartbroken anymore. Now, I just feel sadness from time to time.
I am thankful for the opportunity to say goodbye the way I did. A lot of women out there do not have the kind of closure I had. The baby passes like a regular period, giving no ceremonial resolution to the passing of the child. But this is a baby for the women who lose them.
If you have been given the opportunity to get pregnant, you know what it is like finding out there is a baby growing inside you. You imagine what the child will look like, you shop for maternity clothes, you think of names and what the baby room is going to look like. Sometimes you even imagine years later — high school and college. There is already a lot of energy put into this child even before it born. That is why it is so important to acknowledge that this child was created and was lost.
There are ways for the families can say goodbye. Some communities have organizations that plan memorial services and monthly support groups.
A lot of women suffer silently. You may be surprised how many of your friends, family and acquaintances have suffered a miscarriage.
Friends and family: Here are some things to consider when talking to people who have miscarried. Since every woman is different, it is only some guidelines.
- Don’t assume getting pregnant is easy for everyone.
- Don’t ask if the person is pregnant yet or not. I know this seems like a given, but there are plenty of women out there who have experienced that moment.
- Allow the person to have space. Maybe seeing pregnant women and babies is not easy for her right now.
- Don’t forget that the partner has lost the baby, too. While his/her body is not going through the physical loss, he or she has lost the child as well.
- This is a significant loss. Just because it was not a person who had a chance to grow outside of the womb doesn’t make his or her life any less significant.
- Understand that if the person is trying to controlling things, it is because of the fact that she has lost control over something important to her.
- Allow the person to grieve how they need to. Some women may keep pictures of the baby. Some may have nicknames for him or her. Some may just blurt out the loss at an awkward time. Some may not cry and seem detached. Some may cry a lot.
Dates will be important to her. Women will know the day they lost the baby, the due date, and different milestones.
- Hearing comments like, “It’s meant to be,” “It God’s will,” “The baby was genetically flawed,” may not soothe the woman.
- If you feel like you don’t know what to say, you can say you are sorry for her loss and you are willing to listen; ask if there is anything she needs from you.
- It’s OK if you feel uncomfortable because it is not a comfortable situation. What matters is you care.
- Remember that no matter what, you cannot fix it.
- Be willing to talk about other things. Hopefully you will be able to read the cues from the woman who is grieving. You will have an idea if she wants to be distracted or talk things out.
Women who have had miscarriages, you are not alone. There are women around you who have gone through the same thing. But we have to reach out to one another. The more we talk about it, the more we can help one another through these times. I am thankful for my friend, Heather, who was there for me after mine. Talking to her, someone who had gone through the loss, made me feel less alone with my pain. She never thought anything I said or did was “crazy,” for lack of a better word, with the way I handled the grief. That is exactly what I needed.
Lori Rogers is a stay-at-home mom of two children: Jack, 5 and Eleanor, 1. She has lived in the Champaign-Urbana area since 2001 with her husband, Nick. Prior to staying at home, Lori worked for A Woman’s Fund, which was, at the time, the local domestic violence shelter and rape crisis services.