The Other Side of Sadness

July 14, 2005

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My friend suffered a tremendous loss last week – she miscarried at 12 weeks.  I understand her pain and sadness because several years ago I, too, miscarried.  The only difference in my case was that I found out I was miscarrying before I even knew I was pregnant.  Some how I had a period that I thought was totally normal, and was several weeks pregnant when I began spotting.   I thought I was having yet another period – but it was too close on the calendar to the previous one to make sense.  A call to the obstetrician and a blood test the next day confirmed I was actually pregnant and my body was miscarrying.

The next several days were spent ingesting progesterone pills and having endless numbers of blood tests to see if we could save the pregnancy.  I can still feel the syringe needles in my left arm.  The pregnancy was surprise enough – but then to have to deal with trying to save something I wasn’t at all prepared for in the first place was something else.

I remember the phone call to the nurse to find out our valiant effort wasn’t going to work.  She was very kind and I was numb.  I was devastated.  It was over before it started and all at once I was very, very sad.  I remember the sense of failure, the crushing emptiness and the guilt.  I thought I’d be “broken” for the rest of my days and mourn this loss forever — wearing it like a badge.  I was petrified to try to conceive again.  But, with a loving and unbelievably patient husband, we both got past it – and have a beautiful, bright and silly 4 year old to show for it.

As I spoke with my friend about the loss she was suffering, I realized something amazing: I am fine.  I don’t feel the loss, the failure, the emptiness or the guilt any more.  And that’s okay.  I can sympathize and empathize with her – but from a different place.  I’m on the other side of grief and it took seeing someone else in that terrible position to recognize it. 

And so now when I say to her “it will be okay”, I’m not placating her with empty, mandatory words.  These words are spoken with truth and intent.  They may not speed her journey through grief, but she can lean on them as the truth.  And, sometimes, that’s all we can ask for.

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