Friday, April 15, 2011

Grief and grieving.

Since the majority of people who read this blog are friends you will know that in 2009 I was pregnant, sick, got some kind of bug and horribly and suddenly miscarried our daughter Joanna in ED.  The reason is unknown, even the obstetrican was surprised. My daughter was alive, swimming around and my cervix was tightly closed ten minutes before I miscarried.  The randomness and unfairness of it all is still breathtaking.  It remains the worst experience of my life, and I'm sure in many ways defines the person I am now, although I cannot point to a specific example.  Over the next year it took a lot of effort to get my notes, Joanna's postmortem report, deal with two more 'chemical' miscarriages, commence blood tests and appointments for recurrent miscarriage clinic and then end up pregnant the month we were not trying.  That baby is currently asleep upstairs.

The grief was phenomonal.  It is hard to explain how all encompassing it was.  I look back at my writing at that time and I am very lost and very, very angry.  I found it so much easier to explain how I felt in writing than out loud.  I spent a lot of time in an online forum for mums who had experienced pregnancy loss.  I imagine that all kinds of grief have their own special nature, and I think there is a certain kind of guilt that comes with pregnancy loss.  After all, you spend most of pregnancy doing everything you can to protect the baby from harm, and then something goes wrong and your body doesn't do its job anymore.  In my case, I lost a lot of blood, ended up with retained products and so also required antibiotics and an operation to resolve the physical effects of the miscarriage.  So at a time when I was overcome with grief, I was also very physically unwell.

It took a long time to accomodate the grief within me.  It didn't wear off, and I didn't 'get over it.'  Basically, I accomodated the grief in my life, and it no longer felt as acute.  A day or two could go by when I wouldn't think of Joanna.  The grief would just tick along with me, with days like her due date or birth/death date allowing that grief to dominate my thoughts.  This year I found the birth/death date surprisingly difficult to deal with.  I was not looking forward to the day, and it was a day that just had to be endured.  There were a few tears and a bit of anger, and then some of the tension dissipated.  I felt fragile and shaky, but once the day passed I felt better.  The grief retreated back to being a part of me, rather than all of me.

Last week that grief was unleashed, in its full, horrid acuity.  A google search of my name led to Joanna's cremation record posted on an online tribute site that I had not set up.  Enquires to the crematorium determined that this site 'Heaven address' had used a spider bot (computer programme) to take cremation details from the searchable cremation database and create automatic profiles on their website.  During the same conversation I learnt that the hospital had informed the crematorium that we didn't want Joanna's ashes, so they had scattered them somewhere at the cemetary.  This was incorrect, we had desperatly wanted Joanna's ashes, but were informed that due to her gestational age it was unlikely that there would be ashes.

I dealt with the online 'tribute site' - they wont be doing that again.  Dealing with the hospital is a little trickier, but I'll get round to it. But what was just really hard to deal with was the wall of grief that slammed into me.  I stopped.  I couldn't do anything.  I had to withdraw from a course that I'd really been looking forward to:  I just couldn't do the pre-course work.  To have to relive all that grief seemed really unfair. One person told me 'that it has been two years, it is time to move on.'  Well, that is the problem with grief, or maybe miscarriage.  There is always one person missing from our family, no matter how many more children we have.  Would I be told to move on if it had been an adult who had died? Grief isn't finite, I don't think it has an endpoint.  It just hums along in the background, unleashing itself periodically.


  1. Thank-you very much for sharing your feelings about this with me/us.

    Could you perhaps link to the online forum? Just in case someone else in a similar situation finds this post?

    I think that grief is often so difficult for others to deal with as it is so personal, especially in the case of "miscarriages". As an "outsider" one often doesn't know how to react.

    I have found it rather beautiful how those who have suffered grief such as yours, so readily offer support for others in similar situations.

  2. I'm lucky, I received a lot of help - I don't know how those that haven't do it. I had a friend who came over one night and we darkly invented an alternative to the stages of grief, with topics such as 'unusually specific and self-blaming internet searches.' I had a lot of people send messages or cards. Many people just listened, offered childcare or came to take me out. I have received a lot of kindness.

    The online forum is The ladies are all very lovely.