Neologism (noun): A relatively recent word or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language
The Germans are on to something, firstly they are king of the compound word. This is where they take existing words and combine them to form new ones. Take this insane 63-letter word:
Meaning “the law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling” – obviously. Previously Germany’s longest word, I was sad to google this morning that the word ceased to exist in 2013 – Scheiße! – I still think it’s a beauty. This reminds me of the time I went out of my way to see a napkin in a Washington DC museum (yes, you read that correctly, it was a famous napkin in economist circles though!), only for it to have been discredited as a fake, the very day before my visit! I digress.
Back to the German language; some words are more useful than others and some have already, helpfully, been adopted into the English language:
- Wanderlust: A strong desire to travel
- Schadenfreude: Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune – you know, like reading my blogs (!)
I’ve recently been introduced to another German word, via a blog on the Miscarriage Association website (I’d encourage you to read it, click here) and it’s this:
The author got in touch, I read her fantastic article and we started chatting. I think she’s stumbled onto something important here, so I asked if I could add my thoughts on this word and she kindly agreed. So here we are.
Gluckschmerz is a compound of two German words: gluck, meaning luck, and schmerz, meaning pain. It represents feeling pain at the good fortune of others i.e. sadness derived from another person’s happiness. The opposite of schadenfreude.
I’ve discussed this before via my pregnancy announcements and rain on the parade blogs, but gluckschmerz (yes, I am intentionally overusing the word in the hope that it takes off) is the one word which sums up the “happy for you, sad for me” concept I’ve been struggling with.
Finding this word, has been like a revelation: it is a real thing! It is a real word! Some clever German has named this horrible state of affairs and put it in the dictionary, because others feel it too! This legitimises what’s been happening and I am not a complete sh1tb4g for feeling it. I am not alone. It’s just gluckschmerz!
I have this bloody knack for being in the right place, at the wrong time, EVERY time there’s a public pregnancy announcement.
One time, a family friend announced a pregnancy via video, and I happened to be sat right next to the flipping woman. I said my congrats and left the party. Another time, and another public pregnancy video announcement (oh the naïve 12 week joy, what’s THAT like, hey?), and I happened to be stood next to the mother of the preggo friend. So I of course, was literally first in line to offer my congratulations.
So here’s my brutal truth and extremely bold statement: unless you’re from the loss community on Instagram, I do not want to hear any other pregnancy announcements this year. I genuinely would like you to NOT tell me. This includes all family and friends in real life, plus any friend’s siblings or anyone’s neighbours or friends of friends. I really do not want to casually hear THAT ANYONE ELSE is pregnant. It is not a kindness to tell me first, or early either. I’ll just see it at some point on social media probably and get in touch, in my own time.
Woah, callous? Not really. You are not in need of this particular cheerleader, there are so many others. I’m on a time-out.
Shall I tell you what happens when I get a pregnancy announcement now? I lose two days. Two whole days, on average, to the shock.
Not the shock of YOU being pregnant, but the shock of what’s happened to ME.
It makes no rational sense, I know. I know what’s happened, I’ve been confronting it for months. But every time I get a pregnancy announcement, I get catapulted right back into the shock of it: three consecutive losses. Three.
Except, my counsellor said that it was something else. That it’s not shock, that I get catapulted back into, but the trauma.
I want to describe to you what it’s like, but I can’t fully articulate what happens. It’s a sharp inhale, a freezing of time and then the collision: the huge wave of emotion which just hits. The back of my throat goes dry and actually aches, so does my chest. The tears are not even the half of it.
- I suffer from gluckschmerz
- Your pregnancy announcement causes me pain
- Deep down I’m happy for you, but I’m so sad for me
The best result, is that I will feel indifferent. That is the best result. So that’s my decision: no more pregnancy news (your own or peripheral) this year, please. My birthday and Christmas are coming up, so that’s my ask for 2020.
Perhaps I’ve taken to this German word, because Germans often tell it like it is, they have a reputation for no nonsense, so that’s where I am now. Still awaiting a date for surgery and still stuck in shock/trauma/anger (I’m really not sure there are any other stages of grief for me).
When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.
I’ve always been fascinated by words with no direct English translation, so if you have any of your own to add to the pile, feel free. But for now, in an attempt to end this blog in the upbeat manner in which it started, I’ll leave you with some comical German compound words which also haven’t found their place in the mainstream just yet, perhaps we should try to introduce them… after we adopt gluckschmerz first, of course!
- Kummerspeck: Excess weight gained from emotional overeating – literally translates to “sorrow bacon”
- Ohrwurm: What happens when you get a song stuck in your head, and you (have to) keep singing it over and over again – literal translation “ear worm”
- Backpfeifengesicht: A face that begs to be slapped – mine perhaps, after this blog!
P.S. In case you do want to slap my face, I quite liked the ending of the blog on the Miscarriage Association website, so perhaps we should all try to focus on this instead:
“If you are experiencing this pain, this gluckschmerz, be kind to yourself. You are not a bad person, you are a person to whom bad things have happened. And you are not alone”.
Thank you Amy for your blog and my new favourite word.
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