Dear friends, family, colleagues and new aquaintances,
As you may have heard, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Yes, as a bereaved mother this date of course matters to me, and I am a little biased about it’s importance. But let me tell you why I sincerely believe this campaign also relates to you, to any and all of you, those who are a step removed and those who are miles and miles away from the issue.
Because there is nothing particularly special or unique about suffering. We all experience heartbreak, sorrow, loss and despair. After my daughter Nora passed away, I could not help but ask the question “Why me?” To my surprise an answer came back immediately- “Why not you?” Hmm. Good question. It sounds strange but I actually found comfort by watching Hollywood movies of real life disasters, scouring the evidence. Awful things happen all the time, to everyone, everywhere. Turn on any radio, television or laptop for today’s daily dose of misery. This is the shadow side of life. We all hurt. We all experience loss. And most importantly, and most definitely, we will all experience death. Even the bravest, wisest, strongest among us will eventually move on to the great unknown.
But we don’t want to talk about grief, loss and death. It’s uncomfortable mostly because it is frightening. And even I don’t want to sit in a room full of women talking about horrific things like emergency room procedures and tiny little coffins. But I do. I do in meagre effort to help counter a cultural silence where “I don’t know what to say” becomes the only thing said as an entire culture takes a collective step back from the horror, from the pain, from the grieving. From the acute reminder of our own mortality.
But we are all missing an incredible opportunity here. As Candy Chang points out “thinking about death clarifies our life.” While loss itself is excruciating, thinking about death is actually a very powerful and potent act. It nudges us to act more consciously in our own lives. What are you here for? What do you want to experience with your time? How would you spend today if you knew it would be your last?
And so when you feel the urge to pull or click away from the topic of infant and pregnancy loss, instead see if you can pause, even just for a second and allow yourself to just notice that universal instinct to jump away and to disconnect. And then notice your breath. Notice the vitality of Life pumping through your body. There is so much power and potential in that tiny pause when we allow the presence of loss and life to co-exist. And I am asking you to stay in that moment because by not jumping back you help to reduce the large, unintentional, but very real divide between those of us who have lost little loved ones and the rest of the world that keeps spinning past us. It gets very lonely over here.
Thank you for your time. And for staying with me in this moment.