Realisation (noun): An act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact
I’ve recently met up with a few different people from the baby loss community; mums who have lost babies at similar or different stages, mums who have gone on to have full-term children, mums who are currently pregnant and mums who are still hoping to get pregnant.
One thing is clear: we are all still going through it, none of us will ever be ok with what’s happened. It’s not something that you forget and it’s not something we would want to either.
Other people: “Oh that must be tough, you must need to space those meetings out”
I’ve actually needed to space out the non-baby loss aware people. I find those interactions more draining, somehow. I think it’s because I’ve spent over a year discussing the ‘real stuff’, but in real life, ‘normal’ conversations can feel so hollow. It’s an unexpected realisation, but I can see why that’s been the case, for when I meet up with people from the baby loss community:
- We have permission to cry
- We will always mention our babies
- We can and will talk about the important stuff
- We don’t want a ‘distraction’ from what’s happened
- We feel we’re normal
- We don’t have to be the best version of ourselves (the sad one is welcome to show up too)
- We know we’re not bad people
- We know that it’s a safe and honest space
- We know that the person sitting opposite “gets” it
- We know we’re not alone
I have always said that friendship comes from trust. If you can trust people with your honest opinion (or “top 5 controversial ones” – as my friend did, the other night, ha!), then a friendship is born.
In the baby loss community, though you lose so much, you gain a lot too. Conversations quickly go from nought to one-hundred on the bruth-o-meter. Any and every topic is on the table. It is cathartic. It is authentic. It is vital. Like-minded people are important.
Other people: “That can’t be healthy, going over what happened all the time”
That’s where they’re wrong, it’s not ALL the time. We hardly get to talk about it. Safe spaces are few and far between. Think about it. Surely it’s not a surprise to hear, that most real-world situations are not conducive to baby loss conversations (e.g. at work, at your niece’s birthday, on catch-up dates with friends and their partners/families, at family gatherings, heck, at any gathering) – we have to create time and space for these conversations.
That’s not to say that only people in the baby loss community can do this. Other people can too, but perhaps give the bereaved person a heads up, so they don’t get blindsided by it and also, because not everyone does want to talk about it.
Often (in real life situations where others haven’t gone through baby loss, but they know that we have) I’ve geared myself up to talk about baby loss, and then it’s not raised. Other times, I’ve flinched or worried that it will come up, but then it doesn’t. Hmm, upon reflection, it seems it doesn’t come up much at all, actually. It’s just that it’s always at the forefront of my mind. I’ve been reminded of this recently, particularly because my real world grief, has been delayed by the pandemic. I have not been living in the real world, I have been sheltered in my bubble. I am only now seeing lots of people, in real life, for the first time since Summer died. It is yet another “first” of grief, although it’s many months later.
It reminds me of an early blog I wrote about judgement (rereading it, it’s one of my faves): if you want to hear how your friend is coping with miscarriage or baby loss, you have to ask them, you have to have the explicit conversation. You cannot judge it on their appearance, the strength of their opinions or how much they smiled that day. That’s why the baby loss community helps, you just know that you will discuss what’s happened and you welcome it.
A colleague at work, instant messaged me yesterday. We haven’t spoken in a while, but whenever we do, we go straight to the real stuff. When he asks me “how are you?”, I know he’s asking from a mutual baby loss perspective. And when he says he and his wife were thinking about me recently, I know that they’ve been thinking about their own loss too. I couldn’t help but think “finally, a real conversation!” and though my fertility update was pretty doom and gloom, I’m grateful that I was able to have a meaningful, honest conversation. So many of my close colleagues don’t have a clue and yet this peripheral one, is now fully in the loop. Friends are, so frequently, made of strangers.
Seeing as I’ve recently been dipping my toe back into the real world, I wanted to finish up on some of the recurrent reflections and recent realisations:
- It feels like old news. It’s been over a year since my last pregnancy loss, since Summer died. I assume people just want to hear some good news now. They’re waiting on the replacement baby.
- Good news or happy Facebook posts facilitate more interaction, than bad news. I guess this is the way we’re trained, as humans. Real life people are happy to hear that I have a 5 year plan or a Plan B, when I think it’s ludicrous that I have (to have) one. To encourage is to support? I don’t think so, anymore. I’m the girl who finally realised, you don’t need champagne when you’re celebrating, you need it when you’re not. I now drink champagne on Wednesdays, random days, that should taste better. I try now to remember the seasons of friendship, to recognise the winter days of people’s lives, not just the summer ones. You don’t need champagne or people when it’s sunny, you need them when it’s not.
- When it hits midnight on the 31st December 2021, I won’t be able to say “I had a daughter, she died last year” anymore. Distance from the event, dictate the assumptions around it. The greater the distance, the greater the assumption that you no longer want to talk about it, or that you’re now ‘at peace’ with it. Although conversely, when it’s too close to the event, people assume you don’t want to talk about it. In fact, people rarely mention it, do they? So perhaps I just feel that there’s less sympathy around the grief, when more time has passed. Yeah, I think that’s it. Revert to the first bullet point.
- There is the initial acknowledgment and then we’re done. After people have either ignored your loss or acknowledged it with a “I’m sorry for your loss”, then you’re done. Even with the amazing people who remember her, I’ve realised: There will be many conversations, many, in the years ahead, where no one mentions Summer. You know, I think I wrote this whole blog, to get to that last line. For that’s what’s at the heart of it today, that’s the sentence that has made me cry. It is unrealistic to keep talking about this and to hope others (outside of the baby loss community) will too. The conversations without her, have already started. It makes sense, the real world is not what I’ve become used to, these past 15 months. I will have to carry the losses alone, again. And that will take a new bout of strength. It’s just another thing to get comfortable with. I’ll let you know how it goes.
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