Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grief is Messy

On the day following our ultrasound appointment, I decided to do some research to learn more about what was going on in my body.  My doctor had referred to what I was experiencing as a "pending miscarriage", but I was struggling to find information online so I decide to consult my What to expect when you're expecting book, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel.

After searching through the index and table of contents, I came across a chapter entitled:  "The Complicated Pregnancy".  One that I never intended to read, and one I hoped I would never have to.  A portion of the chapter was dedicated to miscarriages and I began by reading about the different types of miscarriages.  As I was reading, I discovered multiple types of miscarriages: Chemical pregnancy, blighted ovum, missed miscarriage, incomplete miscarriage, and threatened miscarriage.  I had no idea there were so many different types.  Prior to this, the only way I had ever heard the experience described was simply "miscarriage".

As I read through the different types, I soon discovered that what we were experiencing had an official name, a "missed miscarriage", which was described as when the baby remains in the uterus even though he or she has died.  Reading the official name and description of my experience brought some understanding and in a bizarre way, some peace.  In general, I tend to experience more peace when I feel like I understand something better.  However, that did not change the fact that I cried my way through the entire portion of the chapter addressing miscarriages.  I had heard of the term miscarriage before and even had family and friends who had experienced one, but only in my worst nightmare had I dreamed of utilizing the word in reference to my own personal life experience.

During my reading, I also learned that a missed miscarriage was "very rare" so I could not help but wonder, "Why us?"  But that was not a question for me to answer.  However, it was of course, a very natural response in the midst of my grief.  Grief can bring up many questions, doubts, uncertainties, and a myriad of emotions...sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, and often many "What if's".Some researchers describe grief as stages:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  The stages appear so organized and structured, almost so lovely that you could tie a bow around them.  But for anyone who has ever experienced grief, we know that grief is messy.  It does not follow any structure or plan.  It surprises us and catches us off guard.  One moment we feel like we're okay while the next moment we feel like our world is falling apart all over again, and sometimes this all happens even within the very same day.

Early in my grief journey a friend of mine shared an illustration with me that resonated with me.  She talked about how sometimes we feel like we're taking several steps forward then several steps back.  She described grief or any difficult time in our life for that matter as climbing up a mountain.  On the really tough, painful days, we often feel like we are back at the bottom of the mountain.  However, she said that when we fall, we do not fall all the way back down to the bottom of the mountain, but we fall exactly where we are - whether we're halfway up the mountain or almost to the top, we land right where we were on our journey.  It does not change the fact that it hurts, and is painful, discouraging, and challenging, but it does mean that we're not starting all over again.

On those difficult days, it's important to remember that truth.  "I am not starting all over again.  I have already experienced some healing and nothing or no one can take that away.  It's just a rough day and tomorrow is a new day."  Remembering this has helped me so much on my journey.  Because when those rough days come, they are so difficult, painful, and discouraging, that it's tempting to give up hope.  But it's only temporary and when we do fall, we're not starting all over again, and we will get back up.  So if today is one of those days, may these words bring hope.  You are healing, this is temporary, and tomorrow is another day.

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