As I sit and reflect on all that 2020 brought Eli and myself, I found myself wanting to leave 2020 in 2020.
There were joys, of course, many of them as we have 365 days worth of chances for laughs, dance parties and the simple joys of life with Jesus. But, there were hardships too. For us at least. Stressful ones. Devastating ones. And although they're learning moments and chances for growth, as I reflect I think I've taken the good of this year, and am ready to leave the hurt. So, welcome.
No one tells you what it will be like.
No one really talks about it, period, unless you've experienced it or are seeking information on it because you know of someone going through it.
I’m not sure taboo is the right term though. More like a hidden hurt.
No one tells you what it’ll be like to experience the joy of having two pink lines on a stick you just peed on, and the fear that comes when you feel even just a little bit of blood you know shouldn’t be there. Is that too graphic? Oops.
No one explains to you the emotional roller coaster you’ll go on.
No one warns you of what it’s like to sit in an ER waiting room, alone (have to love Covid regulations during this), hearing the registrar ask you what you came in for and not being able to speak the word itself.
No one tells you the physical pain you’ll experience when you have to pass all that’s in the place your sweet baby should be.
No one tells you there’s no “right” path to grief. That you’ll be completely fine and moving forward one day, only to be set off in an emotional swirl of envy, happiness and sadness all at once when a friend announces their pregnancy another day.
No one can explain why it happened to you and not someone else. Why it’s easy for some and hard for others.
All we know is, you’re not alone. It could be part of your story, it's part of my story. An unwelcomed part of my story, as I’m sure yours as well, but a chapter nonetheless.
We're part of a faction. An association no one willingly signs up for, no one begs to join, no one wishes they could have such an experience so they can be a part of it- a group where membership is unexpected and unwanted for the countless number of women who have joined and we may know many included, but never realize they were in it with you.
One I hope no one else joins.
If you have found yourself in this particular valley, whether already or in the future, I hope you know you're not alone. I, as many before me, have begun to walk this road and can walk with you, too.
Everyone has their own path to walk - their own way of seeking answers, of grieving - but it is safe to say there are others who understand. It's okay to feel what you're feeling, whatever that may be.
The truth I've learned in this is my God is still good, even when it hurts. I'm allowed to ask questions, to try to understand something I may never get answers to. I'm allowed to cry, I'm allowed to be frustrated and sad and angry and hurt. Amidst that, He is still on His throne, holding my hand and walking with me in this valley, no matter how slow I may go. (And believe me, Eli and I are no speed walkers).
Amidst all of this, He is here. He is here when everything in me wants to think He's left. He is here in the dearest of friends coming alongside us. He is here in the quiet moments of sadness and in the sweetest husband holding me close.
He is here when we don't physically see Him or can't feel Him, whispering gently that it will all be okay.
This may not be your story. I sincerely hope it's not your story. The same truth holds dear to whatever your story may be, though. 2020 is proving itself to be a whirlwind of a year, full of the lowest of lows for some while others sit at the mountaintops. That's life though, isn't it? We need others at the top, able to look behind them and lend a hand or a shoulder to lean on.
Speak truth, speak kindness, show compassion. We all need it after this year, for we have no idea the battles some of those around us are facing in the confines of their home. Love others well and know that God is still here, still good, still true.
I've had many ask what to do or say when a friend is going through this, as they themselves don't have the experience. If you find yourself in that place, feel free to read on.
A friend or family member having a miscarriage doesn't mean you can't share good news with those who have gone through this. It doesn't mean you can't be excited about your own pregnancy with them in the room. Be excited, for you really do have AMAZING news!! But, if you're reading this and you haven't experienced this I'm SO happy for you. Most likely, you know someone who has and would have no idea how to help.
I'm not even sure I know the answer to what's the best way to help. There's not a one size fits all to how to help someone through this. But, I do know there's a couple things that might be helpful to know:
Be mindful of the words you use toward women.
This is the case for all women, anytime. There isn't a time table for when someone "should" have kids. Our world is changing, people are getting married as they're older, many are enjoying married life without kids before trying. Just because someone is married, it doesn't mean they want kids, or are ready for them. On the flip side, some may start trying from the very beginning of their marriage. Some may have a really hard time getting pregnant. Some may have their first child and have a heck of a hard time getting pregnant again. In any case, it's not something to joke about.
In my personal opinion, some thing that might be triggering is "when are you and (insert name here) going to finally have kids?" or, "come on, you've been married for a while now! It's time for you to start having them", "when's your second one coming?! He/she needs a brother/sister!", "it's ___ and ___'s turn to pop one out!" or my favorite, "your eggs are getting old".
Be kind and be mindful. You have no idea what path they're on or what their journey has been like thus far.
Prayer is always a great option
You may know someone who is going through this - (or any hurt for that matter) - if you do, and you're not sure how to help, pray. Chances are they could use them. Intentional, bring the hurt before God, prayer. Prayers for healing (both physical and emotional), for comfort, for leaning into the Lord rather than away in anger or frustration, for feeling the hurt rather than running from it or hiding it, for strength.
In the midst, don't offer a way out
Positivity is always a great thing in my opinion, unless you're in the very thick of something extremely sad. Being in the middle of a hurt, statements like, "at least you were only x amount of time along" doesn't help. It doesn't matter how far along someone was - it's still a loss and it's still a hurt whether 7 weeks or 20 weeks. If you've never experienced it, just tell them you can't imagine what they're going through, that you're sorry and leave it at that. You don't have to compare to another hurt or put a positive "at least" to it - tell them you love them, care for them, and accept the hurt with them.
Men feel the hurt, too
It's so easy for us to think because the women are the ones who physically go through a miscarriage, that men aren't really in the picture. But, they're hurting too. The emotional excitement of knowing you're about to be a dad to the crushing brick that squashes that hurts for the men too. Pray for them, ask how they're doing, check in on them too.
Don't forget to check in
With any hurt it's easy for us to forget if we're not the ones going through it. (this is not a guilt thing, I promise). When we first hear of something sad or traumatic that happens to someone we know, our initial reaction is to jump in and help, to make sure they're okay. But, weeks after, if we're not in the thick of it with them it's easy to sort of forget what's happening. A simple check in of, "how are you actually doing" can go a long way, days or weeks after the initial shock has worn off. Ask intentionally, and listen. Sometimes a simple reminder that you haven't forgotten about them is all it takes to make their world a whole lot brighter.