Today I want to talk about something that is really hard to talk about, and something that we, as a profession, as Obstetricians, and we as a society, don’t’ talk about enough and one of the reasons for that is that because it’s so damned painful and hard. It’s hard to wrap your head around and hard to raise as an issue, and that’s stillbirth.
Many of you would know that my lovely wife Bec and I lost our beautiful daughter Georgie, just over ten years ago now, to a completely unexpected and heartbreaking event. She was stillborn at 37 weeks.
For those of you that have recently suffered grief or trauma such as this, or who are still trying to navigate your way through this pain after a loss a while ago, I wanted to share some wisdom that my wife has given me.
Recently a really beautiful family that I’ve know for many years now, unexpectedly and inexplicably lost their little girl. It’s just cruel and heartbreaking. But my wife, as she does, helped me understand that there are things that can be done to help and guide people through what is the most arduous and difficult journey. So, my wife reached out to my patient and her husband and sent them an email and I was so touched by it because it articulates things in a way that I’ve never been able to and I wanted to share it for those of you who may need or benefit from hearing it. Here is an excerpt from her message:
”My spirit felt strangled when Brad told me about your beautiful daughter. Losing a much-wanted child is an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve been where you are and what I want you to know is that you have it in you to survive this pain. It doesn’t feel like it now. I remember thinking, I’ll never be happy again, after we lost Georgie. But you will be. Over time your grief becomes less raw and it is somehow possible to live a happy joyful life, even with a fractured heart.
Once we lost Georgie, I always felt that her purpose became to turn the light up in my life, not down. I couldn’t shake this feeling that she was always going to help guide me to my life purpose. Given the choice I would always, always choose to for her to be here with me but that’s not the cards I was dealt. So instead, I decided to let her guide me from wherever she is. I think about Georgie every day, but I want you to know that I’m also happy.
The road ahead of you is a hard one. Not only will you be navigating your own grief but you’re going to find yourself having to help everyone else work through their grief.
It’s such a strange place to be in. Just remember, it’s ok not to reply to people’s messages, emails and cards, including this email from me. It’s ok to cry and scream some days and not cry on others. It’s ok to laugh at something funny. It’s ok to feel bitter and angry at the world, and jealous of other women having babies. However you feel is ok.
Grief is a snakes and ladders game, two steps forward and sometimes three steps back, but you can do this. Your girl will always be your daughter and you will always be her mummy.”
Hopefully there are things in that that will help you find some sort of solace, if you need it. All my love to anyone who has been through what is one of the most extraordinarily difficult experiences.
‘Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day’ takes place in October each year.