Rebuttal To MacLeans: We Are NOT Oversharing, We are Grieving and It’s Healthy

This is a post that may be a trigger for those recently suffering from loss or who are feeling vulnerable. Please be warned, and avoid. I totally understand. Take care of you.

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of my miscarriage. I was eight weeks along.

I thought I might write about it. I thought about telling the story of how I started to miscarry at someone else’s baby shower, a shower I had planned. I thought of writing how I plastered a smile on my face and played hostess and pretended I didn’t feel the physical pain. I thought about telling you I pretended that my heart wasn’t breaking into tiny bits. And how no one was the wiser.

According to this MacLeans article: this is exactly what I should do for the rest of my life. I should pretend it never happened. Because I might make other people uncomfortable.

F%$& THAT S$^&*!

My dad the journalist tells me I need to fight fire with fire. Fight this steady stream of media stories denigrating or marginalizing the Adoption/Loss/Infertility community by writing my own series, “Faces of ALI”. I am working on another profile.

But, I am so offended by this article that I feel I cannot let it stand.

From MacLeans:

“Slate’s ‘Dear Prudence’ columnist Emily Yoffe fielded a question from a woman whose sister delivered a full-term stillborn child and wanted to send out a ‘birth’ announcement with a photo of her and her husband holding their dead child. Yoffe advised against it: though the couple had ‘suffered a crushing loss,’ she wrote, it would be wiser to circulate the image among intimates only; a ‘birth’ notice would be ‘confusing and disturbing’ since an actual birth hadn’t occurred.”

A birth hadn’t occurred? Are you fucking kidding me?

For too long, women have suffered in silence and often shame because it was not culturally acceptable to talk about “such things.” Finally, with Jay-Z’s song, the Duggars’ memorial service and the Facebookization (yes, that’s a word) of milestones like pregnancy, there has been an intersection of the public with the private. Celebrities like Kelly Brook and Lily Allen have grieved babies born too early in a media glare.

And an incredible blogging community has sprung up to help women support each other through these terrible, terrible things when no one else will.

MacLeans has some choice words about that blogging community, BTW.

But, as blogs attest, mobilizing around loss can amplify it, and extend the mourning process. ‘Mother of an Angel,’ a regular poster on Ling’s website, reports she’s so mired in grief three years after losing her child she’s neglecting her other children. David Morrison, president of the Strathmor Group, a health consultancy in Charlottetown specializing in grief and palliative-care counselling, has seen the focus on perinatal death stall the healthy grieving process. Putting a lifelike photograph of a stillborn child in an office, for instance, could create awkwardness with co-workers, he says: ‘Such a public parade of grief risks alienating people who could provided important support.’

Yeah. Because we have all found so much support amongst the general public. We could be comforted by people saying, “It was for the best.” And “You can try again.” “The good news is you can get pregnant!”

Also, I love that a MAN is telling women how to mourn perinatal death.

Without the support of this blogging community, I would be a shell of who I am today. You have bucked me up and helped me understand I am not alone, you have abided with me on bad days and you have shown me by example how to get through the pain.

And MacLeans: I suggest you read this before you write a story and patronize us all.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Rebuttal To MacLeans: We Are NOT Oversharing, We are Grieving and It’s Healthy

  1. Offensive indeed! You are so right. I don’t always come forward with my story, even now, because I worry about becoming that crazy woman, the one who breaks down on the playground to total strangers. But, the truth is that, almost without exception, when I come forward somebody else does.

    Being still fairly new to this community, I didn’t know the details of your story. I’m so sorry. I can imagine it, the suffering in silence, and at a BABY SHOWER! I wish that you didn’t have to travel the road that you did to get here but you are doing fantastic things in this place. Way to go for telling MacLeans just where they can put it!

  2. The writer of that article comes off very ignorant and pompous to me. Obviously they have never dealt with infertility or miscarriage because if they had they would never have this attitude. Bottom line is those are still people’s children that are being lost. How can you ever tell someone not to mourn their child? Especially a child that was desperately wanted? The whole thing is absurd.

  3. I can’t read it because my blood will boil.. but good on you for writing this post- I hope you send him a copy.. what an idiot he is…

  4. I hope the author of that stupid, ridiculous article reads this post, as well as E’s post you linked to. Thank you for writing it. I am so, so sorry about your miscarriage, and that you had to suffer through that baby shower.

  5. The whole reason most of us are here is because we didn’t get the support and understanding we needed from the general public. Obviously this guy doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and it’s that kind of ignorance that leaves those of us who are grieving feeling so stigmatized! Thank you for this response!

  6. Amen, sister. I am so sorry that February sucks for you, too. My last miscarriage (at 13 weeks, 3 years ago) started in earnest at a mom’s group meeting that I organized, at an all-women’s campus of our university. You’d think that would be the most supportive possible environment, but I didn’t say word. I too, had to make cheery small talk through it. What the hell is a “public parade of grief,” I wonder? And how can we add our voices to this outrage?

  7. Thank you for posting this. I just read it, and commented.

    My aunt suffered a very late pregnancy loss over 40 years ago while living in Colombia. I think she was 36 weeks along. She knew immediately that her baby had passed away, but the doctors kept telling her to wait it out because one thought he heard a fetal heartbeat (unreal!). After TWO weeks, she finally was able to deliver her stillborn daughter who had very obviously been passed for 2 weeks. I cannot even imagine. She was told not to see her baby, not to hold her, and not to name her. Her tombstone simply read “N.N. LastName” (for “no name LastName”). She named her daughter herself with the initials NN. To this day, she has no idea what her daughter looked like, felt like, etc. She struggles with it regularly – more than 40 years later. She has told her daughters that had she seen her baby and been able to grieve her appropriately, that she would have been able to move forward better than she was able to.

    Is this what the writer of that article would like us to return to? Seems rather barbaric to me. Here I am, a cousin who came 8 years after my aunt’s baby, and I know her name, her birthday, and the story of her birth. She is as much a member of our family as any of the other cousins.

    This just makes me physically ill.

  8. Esperanza

    Oh that article made me LIVID. What an asshat. I don’t understand how people who have never been in a situation can judge the way others deal with that situation. I really do not understand. It’s unfathomable to me.

    I’m glad that most of the comments (at least the ones that I read on the first page) expressed outrage and did not support what that asshat had to say. Thank goodness for that.

    This community is already so marginalized and easily ignored, the last thing we need is people writing bullshit like that, characterizing what little we can do to recognize our losses as “inappropriate” or “over sharing.” And while I understand that acknowledging the losses of others can be uncomfortable, it still needs to be done. As a society we deny death too much, we ignore it, we look past it, we pretend it’s not there – but sooner or later everyone has to face it. And sadly, those of us who have lost little ones have to face it in a very cruel way. Society should be ready to embrace us, not ostracize us for what we’ve lost. I’m glad it’s finally happening though I hate the back last against it.

    Thanks for speaking out against this. Our community needs people like you who are ready to fight fire with fire.

  9. I started to read, but just couldn’t. It made me so mad!

  10. THIS. IS. RIDICULOUS. I can’t believe such an article exists. Look for my own discussion ASAP. I am ashamed that Mclean’s is of my country right now.

    • Yep. Canada’s national newsmagazine, indeed. :p

      If we are talking more about these issues & bringing them out in the open, I can only believe that is a good thing.

      Right now, there is a movement to have grief recognized as a mental disorder by psychiatrists,. A mental disorder!! I am willing to recognize that there may be *occasional* cases where people are grieving in an unhealthy manner… but you have to give them more than TWO WEEKS, which is the suggested guideline (after which, bring on the prozac, I guess….). :p

  11. Erica

    Thanks so much for this post, for your sane and smart response to such a thoughtlessly written article.

  12. St. Elsewhere

    Jjiraffe, you say it well. I hope the point went across.

  13. Here’s a poem written by a woman who shares the sentiments of those of us who had a late term miscarriage and who consider it a birth (and the loss that goes with that). (Oddly, the author died on the date (not the year) that my own little boy was born and died.)

    MATERNITY by Alice Maynell

    One wept whose only child was dead,
    New-born, ten years ago.
    “Weep not; he is in bliss,” they said.
    She answered, “Even so,

    “Ten years ago was born in pain
    A child, not now forlorn.
    But oh, ten years ago, in vain,
    A mother, a mother was born.”

  14. Pingback: Is Miscarriage Finally Becoming Less Taboo? | Too Many Fish to Fry

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