How Meghan Markle’s Miscarriage Can Help You Focus On The Positive
Meghan Markle is trending again on Twitter. She suffered a miscarriage earlier this year and decided to write about it in The New York Times. It’s a beautiful and heart-wrenching article titled ‘The Losses We Share’.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”
It’s brave of her to share such a vulnerable and painful time in her life. And she adds to the opening conversation around miscarriage, which strangely not many people talk about. It’s strange because miscarriage is common.
“Among women who know they’re pregnant, it’s estimated about 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Many more miscarriages happen before a woman is even aware she has become pregnant.”
So, why as humans do we shy away from the more powerful and challenging to discuss topics?
Why do we avoid talking about serious times, when so many of us have been through similar moments? We have so much to win by sharing. By getting serious with each other, we skip the boring small talk and go deeper into our real emotions. By off-loading the painful emotions, we can begin to make our lives feel easier.
As Meghan says, “We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us.”
People can quickly become awkward in the face of tragedy. What should you say to someone who has cancer? How should you cope with a friend who has just lost their mom? What should you say to your sister after her second miscarriage? It’s challenging for sure, to grasp the right words and correctly judge the situation.
But, often the solution is simple.
When I experienced an ectopic pregnancy (this is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes, meaning it won’t develop into a baby), the most powerful question I was asked was:
“Are you OK?”
It was the day before Thanksgiving and I had been bleeding for 12 days. Going to the doctor's was at the end of my to do list after buying the turkey and vegetables. At the time it simply didn’t feel important.
I remember the sea of plastic chairs, and the echoing hospital corridor as I walked down it. I was reeling with shock at the doctor’s discovery. I could see my family waiting for me. As I approached, my sister in law said, “Are you OK?”
She reached out to hug me.
At the time we had only known each other for a few months, but she had no hesitation in immediately expressing her love and showing her support.
As Meghan Markle explains, “I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?’…In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”
A step towards healing means we can laugh this holiday season. We can talk honestly about our losses, about our emotions and our fears after such an unpredictable haze of a year. Because the only way around all of this heartbreak and confusion is to laugh, to make each other’s minds feel lighter with clarity of true conversation and the fun of a light joke.
Losing someone whether through a miscarriage, illness, accident or old age, doesn’t mean your life has to be devoid of laughter.
Marilyn A. Mendoza Ph.D. who worked in a hospice for a period of her life, agrees, explaining, “The truth is that hospices can also be a place for humor. A study done at Kent State and reported in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care revealed that humor was present in 85 percent of 132 observed nurse based visits. Amazingly, they found that 70 percent of the humor was initiated by the patient. If humor is a part of living, than why should it not be a part of dying?”
I remember my grandad’s funeral. The memory of the stark, clinical hospital was still with me where I had visited him with my Mom. I had showed him shells I had collected from the beach, making him smile in his small hospital room.
A few weeks later at his funeral, sitting in the crushing silence of the car, part of a convoy of shiny black, intimidating cars, five year old me drew a smiley face on the steamed-up car window next to me.
Quickly, my horrified mom scrabbled in her bag to find a tissue. I bit down on my lip hard. I had done something seriously wrong, the crushing silence of the car was too much. But, suddenly, a high pitched noise escaped my grandma. I turned to look. She was laughing. She let out a snort and suddenly all three of us were laughing uncontrollably together.
Thinking of this moment years later makes me well up.
I recall the relief of not being in trouble, the sweet emotion from my grandma — a mixture of deep sadness and happiness for the life she had shared with her husband, and the release of our moment of laughter together in the serious convoy, like students at the back of class.
So, while we can never predict the emotions we will face in times of great tragedy, we can do our best to share, to reach out to others, to laugh if it feels right and to surround ourselves with people who care enough to ask if we’re ok.
Moments of great loss like miscarriage, the death of a loved one and times of struggle like this year, will hopefully teach us to be choosy with our company, treasure the people who support us and remember to ask others how they are doing. Because, everything is fragile. And all we truly have in life are the connections with our loved ones and our mindset to carry on.
Read more of my stories in Fearless She Wrote: