My Musings


Implicit (adjective): Suggested, though not directly expressed
Explicit (adjective): Stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt

Misunderstood. That’s a good word, isn’t it?

I didn’t like the word miscarriage, thinking it should be spelled misscarriage instead, but misunderstood? That works. I like it.

That’s what my counsellor said a couple of weeks ago: “you feel misunderstood”. It’s true, but don’t we all feel that way though, really? That’s what’s happening here:

Life is a bunch of misunderstandings from a collection of misunderstood people.

That’s where some of my forgiveness has come from recently, the ability to now see that there are fundamentally good people at the heart of all this, but that things have landed indelicately, unintentionally, subjectively – on both sides.

But I am needy. We all are. So we need to figure out what it is that we require (the basic economic problem is to distinguish between wants and needs, remember). I launched a blog because I needed people to act. And to act differently, at that i.e. say something, I’m giving up on you.

I have spent so long – years of my life, probably – hoping for people to do this, or to say that. I’ve felt I shouldn’t have to tell them what I need: my inner monologue told me that it should be obvious, implicit! Yet, here I am doing it in the extreme: writing a baby loss blog, a manual advising people what to say to me or how to be sensitive, yet it’s still falling short of the mark. Or more accurately, it’s not being read by those that I need to read it.

So now it’s time to try something different. To explicitly say what I need.

This isn’t something that comes naturally to me, it feels quite pathetic, actually. Because I’ve always thought that if I’m important to someone, they’d show me, right? Wrong. It doesn’t always work that way. I don’t know why, I’ve just noticed that it doesn’t.

One day, some people will cry at my funeral –  at yours too – but some of those tears would surprise us. That’s not saying that these people are crying false tears, it’s just that we don’t always recognise what we mean to people (yes R, I am totally self-counselling here!). So that’s something for me to bear in mind (I’m also going to remember that this works both ways, MY tears at other people’s funerals may surprise THEM too).

So this is what I learnt from the Wave of Light (an evening at the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week – 15th October at 7pm every year – where people all over the world, light candles in solidarity and to remember), I learnt that I do want people to do nice things in Summer’s name, or with Summer in mind. I will always welcome that.

The evening was unplanned and unexpectedly poignant. I lit my candles and I said, out-loud, the names of all the babies who I knew were born too soon and are no longer here. I paused for each. It was such a long list. Far too long. It was emotional, but it was really touching and there were both happy and sad tears. At the last minute, we even lit our house up pink and blue (because James bought weird colour changing light bulbs years ago). We only ever use those bulbs when children come to stay, so they can fall asleep to a fun colour of their choice. It made me happy to light our house for all the babies who have gone too soon, but it made me sad that the first time I used these lights for my own children, was for the ones who have died. The whole day was a bit like that – flipping from happy to sad. But then something incredible happened, pictures started coming through to my phone. From friends, neighbours and some family. Pictures where people had lit their candles and were thinking of us, of Summer. I felt really loved. I felt that she was really loved.

I have a little drawing on my desk, of my new inner-circle, where I’m now focusing my energy. Not one person in that group forgot to do something for baby loss awareness, the majority of them lit candles and others wore badges and posted on social media, even though the vast majority of them haven’t been touched by baby loss personally. It was then that I understood that I’ve got it right: my new focus is correct.

But I understood something else that night, that it doesn’t mean that those who didn’t light candles, don’t love me, it’s just that I need to be more explicit with some people. So next year, I will explicitly tell both of our families that I would like them to light a candle for Summer. Who cares if it shouldn’t ‘have’ to be said? I know that the joy of them thinking about my daughter and doing something for her, will outweigh the mild disappointment stemming from the need to prod them.

I wonder, what do you care about? I’d encourage you to think about it. I’ve often wondered if people have a limited capacity to care. To be crude: you can only give so many f*cks, right? I don’t mean in terms of sleeping about, I mean in the vein of “I don’t give a f*ck”. Everyone has a cause, often one that directly affects them. So baby loss has become my cause, except that I supported children’s charities before all this. Regardless, what’s your cause? Everyone should have them, right? Something they care about. If you’re lucky and you’ve a cause without being personally affected, perhaps that’s fortunate. Because what it comes down to, is this:

The first step in making society better is caring about things that don’t affect you directly.

So I’m broadening my reach too (I happily eat vegan food when hanging out with vegan friends, I’m taking inspiration from my eco-warrior pal with respect to reducing my use of plastic), and I’d encourage you to widen yours. Could you widen it to addressing grief? Grief is a big deal, everyone will have to face it at some point, so let’s get better at these conversations and doing the simple things that will make people feel like you’re thinking about them: you’ll need to be explicit.

We’re all misunderstood, but if we make a conscious effort to move away from apathetic, closer towards sympathetic or even empathetic, we’ll surely make progress towards a place of greater mutual understanding. Sometimes, we just need to be a bit more explicit – with respect to our needs –  in order to do so.

P.S. In case you were wondering (as if you can’t tell!) –  yep, this was another pantser of a blog.

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(4) Comments

  1. Claudia says:

    We DO travel in similar wave lenghts!

    I was just telling a friend while conversing about many things that I often get disappointed at things people don’t do or say or think about. However, I don’t tell them I need them to.
    Even I don’t fully understand what I need/want. I mean, I do now. But when on the thick of it, no way! I just wanted my baby here and people to understand that and act how I needed.
    But the fact is… I didn’t know how I needed people to be, so how could I express it? All i knew was what I felt was wrong from their side.

    So, slowly making peace with it. And if someone they know goes through the same I did, I hope they remember what I asked of them later down the line. Xx

  2. Claire says:

    Beautifully put Anj (as always). We’ve spoken about this before but lots of these things that become annoying to us is because we misunderstand each other’s love languages. If spouses can get it so wrong all the time, I think it must be so much easier to misunderstand people in other relationships in our lives. But being aware of all of this must help us in all of our relationships, right?

  3. Melanie says:

    Very well put, Anj! And I agree with Claire, when we think about spouses misunderstanding our love languages, and they are the people we have chosen to spend our lives with, it must be the case that even our closest of friends and family can also misunderstand our love language. Sometimes – as disappointing as it must be – we need to just tell people what we need, and life will be kinder on us all.

    Beautiful blue and pink coloured lights, Anj xxx

  4. Karen Palmer says:

    Love the grace in this post. And the photo of the lights in your your house. And your plan to ask for what you need ❤️ xx

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