In recent popular memory, one of the images that hit our social media feed was an anguished and grieving Chrissy Teigen in a hospital gown. The host, model, businesswoman and wife to Grammy-winning artist John Legend lost her last pregnancy and decided to share her feelings of loss and grief with millions of her and Legend’s followers.
What followed was a flurry of divided reactions: a mix of kind messages of sympathy for the couple and their family, and quite a lot of comments expressing disapproval of the celebrities’ public display of loss and “despair”.
While it is not lost on me that somehow celebrities are dehumanised by a lot of those who “observe” and watch them and their documented lives, whether personal or professional, I also can say, as someone who works in pregnancy-loss trauma and healing, that miscarriage and stillbirth are still very sensitive topics for many people, and still quite stigmatised. Furthermore, in this case, it reveals the continuing squeamishness and negative attitudes of a huge part of society when it comes to the real and unromantic aspects of reproduction.
While no one is particularly crucifying the Legends for their grief per se, attacking the public nature of their story is also attacking their right to grieve. For better or for worse celebrity-status-wise, these bereaved parents whom we often see ARE also… parents. Parents who lost a child they were looking forward to welcoming into their family and life.
Moreover, this particular social media happening sort of exposed how society can generally react to news of miscarriage or grief. And for many women around the world who have suffered through miscarriage, seeing how people receive stories of miscarriage can be revelatory of our fears and anxieties when it comes to sharing our own stories of loss and grief, whether or not we have celebrity status and a six-figure social-media following.
But, as a therapist and advocate, I would like to offer my personal and professional opinion.
You ARE allowed to grieve and to process your pregnancy loss, in the best and the most cathartic way that you can find. You ARE allowed to share your story. You ARE allowed to express your anguish, your fears and your confusion. You ARE allowed to take it back. You ARE allowed to press “Post”.
And, just as you are allowed to do all that, you are also allowed to have quieter feelings and thoughts about your miscarriage. A lot of women go through a rollercoaster of emotions, grief, loss and damage after pregnancy loss. And there are some women, too, who have either not developed an attachment to the pregnancy before it was lost or were quick to recover through their own healthy coping mechanisms and make sense of the miscarriage without any need for more time in processing trauma.
And sometimes, the latter group of women develop guilt that stems from NOT feeling as bereaved as they expected to be. And that is okay. My services are for people who have suffered through pregnancy loss during fertility treatment. Whether women or their partners who are struggling to process their trauma and need affirmation that they are on the right path of coming to terms with their experience.
and let’s begin our dialogue on YOUR experience.