I walked, this past Saturday afternoon, across a meadow filled with the autumn colors and textures of prairie plants. Where there had been vibrant swaths of yellows and purples and velvety green was now a sea of dried petals, leaves, seed pods, and rustling stalks.
I found this little nest hidden among the tall grasses and low-lying bushes. While this tiny nest likely harbored several babies this past spring, the emptiness of it now, brought forth for me the image of an empty womb, empty crib, and empty arms.
Once a loss enters into our existence, it is forever part of our hearts. The grief may break our hearts for a period of time – no doubt about that – and healing begins when we are able to fully grieve.
Three vitally important elements allow for healing:
- We need to fully feel all of our emotions surrounding our loss: the sadness, the anger, the numbness, the fear.
- We need to fully honor the lives – however brief – that lived within us.
- We need to fully acknowledge the hopes and dreams that sprung forth as a result of the smallest sign of life: the positive pregnancy test… the ultrasound of the first heart beats.
One way to feel, honor, and acknowledge our losses is to give ourselves permission to do so. It is especially easy with miscarriages to suffer the pain and sadness in a more solitary and subdued way, since society as a whole seems more nonchalant about them. However, once you’ve stepped out on the path of the infertility journey, reality shifts in a profound way – what may be “a blessing” or “a chance to try again” for those attempting to comfort you – is a profound loss for you and your partner.
To participate in a meaningful way in a day of remembrance, like October 15th – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, is a way to recognize and honor what is the truth for each of us. There are many expressions of grief and rituals for bringing closure, and here are some possibilities:
- Light a candle for each of your angel-babies at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15th, knowing you are joining with others around the world in remembering the ones who brought joy and hope, however briefly.
- Set aside some time to journal about the emotions and memories that come up for you.
- Play a song, sing a song, read a poem, or write a poem, or create a piece of art in memory of your baby.
- Simply sit quietly with your spouse on the couch and hold hands, feeling the warmth and touch of a loved one, and give yourself permission to cry, to honor, to acknowledge.
- Soothe yourself in nature with a meditative walk.
- Lay on a blanket looking up at the vastness of the stars and pick out the ones who might be your angel(s). (A client introduced me to this amazing song by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals called Stars. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml7TmC__eDc; it is a song that spoke for her loss and put the sadness and longing to words and music in a particularly powerful way. )
I encourage you and your partner to do what will be the most meaningful and powerful and cathartic for the two of you.