To know that someone else knows what it is like is a gift of incomprehensible value.
[Editor's note: This article discusses pregnancy loss.]
For women who have had a miscarriage or infant loss, loneliness is one of the most universally felt and profoundly devastating parts of the experience.
Miscarriage is incredibly common, occurring in more than 20% of pregnancies. This means that many, many women have been impacted by them. Yet despite their commonality, our cultural silence surrounding pregnancy loss has erroneously led women to believe that they are alone–and it makes the loss that much more tragic.
Recently, though, powerful women have started sharing their stories publicly—and the culture is starting to change because of it.
Today, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, shared that in July, she had a miscarriage. We are so deeply sad for her and are holding her and her family in our thoughts. And, we are so grateful to her for sharing her story.
Miscarriages are deeply personal and intimate, and sharing about them is in no way required. Women must grieve and heal from their trauma in whatever way feels right to them—for some, it's speaking about it. For others, it's staying quiet. Changing the cultural stigma surrounding pregnancy loss is not the job of the women who have pregnancy losses.
But, when women do choose to share their experiences, their vulnerability and bravery help women everywhere to feel less alone. And the power of that is immense.
To know that someone else knows what it is like to first suspect that you might be losing the pregnancy.
To know that someone else knows what it is like to have that fear confirmed.
To know that someone else knows what it is like to go through the treatment plan—to have to make choices that you never imagined in your worst nightmares.
To know that someone else knows what it is like to go home wrapped in sorrow and anger that you don't think will ever resolve.
And to see, through stories like Markle's, that one day, healing will actually begin—forgetting never; but healing, yes.
In her piece in the New York Times, Markle wrote, "Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same. 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. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."
Thank you, Meghan, for joining the women who have bravely shared their stories. Thank you to the New York Times for publishing a story like this. And thank you to all the women who are not in the spotlight, but who do what they can to help the women in their lives feel less alone.
We will never be without tragedy—especially right now. But to feel less alone in that tragedy is a gift of incomprehensible value.
Lastly, to the women who have experienced loss and are feeling so incredibly alone right now: You're not. You are so deeply held. We're with you.