In looking for a quote applicable to this post, I found this amazing poem. There is not a quote that can capture this pain better than this poem. It is absolutely perfect!
Don’t tell me that you understand,
Don’t tell me that you know.
Don’t tell me I will survive,
How I will surely grow.
Don’t tell me this is just a test,
That I am truly blest,
That I am chosen for this task,
Apart from all the rest.
Don’t come at me with answers
That can only come from me,
Don’t tell me that my grief will pass…
That I shall soon be free.
Don’t stand in pious judgment
Of the bonds I must untie.
Don’t tell me how to suffer,
And don’t tell me how to cry.
My life is filled with selfishness,
My pain is all I see,
But I need you, and I need your love…
Accept me in my ups and downs,
I need someone to share,
Just hold my hand and let me cry,
And say, “My friend, I care.”
Grieving the loss of fertility is unique. It is not something you ever held with your hands or saw with your eyes. It is a loss of your dreams and for some, identity. After having my hysterectomy, I sometimes wondered if it would be easier to be an amputee – to have something people could see on the outside and understand that I was grieving and adapting to a new life, one that I did not want. But, as it was, I stood there looking whole and healthy, silently crying within. People would sit and complain about their pregnancies or their children in front of me, sometimes knowing, sometimes not about my situation. I would wonder if they saw someone with an amputated leg, if they would complain about their legs hurting after a good run.
Grieving the loss of an invisible thing, requires a strong support system. I was on the wrong end of so many ignorant comments, that it was vital for me to have people to vent to. I have had people tell me that I was lucky that I never had to go through labor, that I don’t have any stretch marks. To which I have wanted to reply that I went through much labor for my children, in fact over six years of labor before we brought our first child home and I have many stretch marks, however they are only visible in my soul. Having a handful of people who you can run into the arms of when tears threaten to spill over is crucial.
I have also realized that grieving a hidden loss requires grace, lots and lots of grace. Being on the wrong end of so many comments has helped me to learn to step back and realize most people want to help. So few of us exist in the real world that understand the loss that we experience, that a lot of naïve, ignorant comments get directed our way in an attempt to make us feel better. In turn, it makes the other person feel like they are helping ease our pain. I have learned that it is sometimes best to extend mercy and allow them to feel like they are helping, especially if it is someone who I realize no words will ever help them understand. On occasion, I educate when I can do it from a place of love and not anger.
I will not tell you how best to grieve, for all of us hold a slightly different version of the lost dreams. For all of us, it is a loss of a child never conceived, but for some it is the loss of the dreams of being a stay at home mom; the biological attributes that will never get passed down; or just the day-to-day activities of playing catch and riding bikes. I will not give you’re the illusion that you will get over it. It is not something that goes away. It is something that you will always carry with you, and will impact your life in various ways as the years go by. It will not always feel like your life has ended, but sometimes the smallest thing will trigger it all over again.
What I can tell you though is to search out those in your life that either understand or don’t understand, but are willing to sit with you in your grief. Hold on when hope feels lost. And remember, you are not alone in this. Whether it is online or in real life, there is a whole community of us who are walking the same path – ready, willing and able to encourage you as need be.