January 4, 2014
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” –Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I am so sorry for your loss. And I do appreciate that you recognize that your loss is different than mine, that your grief is different than mine. But you know what? My loss is different than yours, too. My grief is different than yours. And my grief is different than Paula’s. And your grief is different than my mom’s. (She had a miscarriage between my brother and me.)
But you know what else? I’m really glad that you told me. I’m glad that you’ve decided to share your pain. Because even though our grief is different, we understand each other. We each know what it is to lose a dream. We have each lost an imagined future.
Yes, losing a pregnancy before viability is different than losing a baby after viability. But the dreams are the same. We all looked forward to the same happiness. And since that happiness has shattered, we are unhappy in our own ways. And we need to support each other in our grieving. But the only way we can do that is if we are each willing to share. Unless we’re each willing to say to the world “I’ve been hurt”, those who have suffered similarly will never know to step forward and say “I’ve been hurt that way, too.”
This is going to sound wrong, but I’m glad to hear about your loss. It’s not schadenfreude. It doesn’t make me happy. But there must be some big German word for this feeling of comfort in knowing that other people hurt, too. I’m not glad that your heart aches. I’m not glad that you, too, are grieving. But I am glad to know that I’m not alone in my heart ache, in my grief.
And I know that you don’t may not want to make your pain public. Especially when so many other friends are posting about how they’re pregnant. (BTW, my “sponsor” emailed me today to say the jealousy I wrote about the other day doesn’t really go away.) But unless we are all willing to share our sorrow along with our happiness, none of us can know when we need to reach out to each other. Maybe this can be Sofia’s legacy. Maybe her brief existence can help us all share so that we all can see just how not alone we are.
P.S. I hated Anna Karenina. I mean I really hated it. I spent most of the book rooting for the train. If you want to read a classic about adultery, I recommend Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. But the first sentence of Anna Karenina? One of Tolstoy’s finest observations.