Dedicated to B.C.

 

Hey sweetie,

 

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell has been one of my favourite songs for many years. Especially the chorus.

 

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,

 

From up and down, and still, somehow,

 

It’s cloud’s illusions I recall,

 

I really don’t know clouds at all...

 

I don’t know if you’re into folk music, but I think you’ll love this song. Remember Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually? When she cries in her bedroom after opening her Christmas present and finds a Joni Mitchell CD instead of a necklace? Remember the song she listens to? That’s the song.

 

Why am I telling you about this song? Because I, like you, have miscarried. At this moment, you may feel lost amongst the clouds. I have seen both sides. I don’t know exactly what you are going through because your grief and trauma are unique and you should not be compared to anyone else. But, I truly empathise and would like to share some thoughts with you.

 

Choose the ones that help. Disregard those that do not apply. Shut down the screen in temper if you don’t want to think about it at this present moment. All your emotions at this time are valid and deserve acknowledgement.

 

Nature is cruel. I bet people have said that to you already. When I lost my first baby, I hated hearing that. I knew people meant well but the phrase felt dismissive, as if, my loss was part of the ebb and flow of my organic existence. There are many cruelties associated with a miscarriage that are unnatural: the physical pain of losing a pregnancy, the emotional trauma in the months that follow as you try to slot back into daily life - putting on a brave face but feeling utterly devastated.

 

It’s okay not to be okay. When you are with those who love you and who truly know you, you can take off the mask. Allow yourself the space to grieve. No-one will love you any less just because life is tough today. If the shoe were on the other foot and your friend or sister was where you are now, you would show them compassion, I am sure of that. So please, realise that you deserve compassion from those that love you.

 

It’s okay to feel okay. Grief gives us respite every so often. Don’t feel guilty when you laugh for the first time in a while. The grieving process is not linear.

 

It’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong. There is nothing you could have done differently. You are not broken. It’s not your fault.

 

Whichever way you process your loss is perfectly fine. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It took me over a year to feel ‘normal’. For you, it may take less time, it may take longer. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.

 

This letter won’t take away your pain or sorrow but I hope it brings you a little comfort at a time when you may feel lost in the fog, or in the clouds. Like Joni’s song.

 

What did I mean by seeing it from Both Sides? Before I lost my baby to miscarriage, I didn’t truly understand the depth of loss felt by a woman who loses a pregnancy. And then, I experienced it. I haven’t changed dramatically as a person, but my outlook on dealing with trauma and grief has changed. What I thought I knew, I didn’t. I really didn’t know clouds at all.

 

You will come through this cloud, like I did. Because you are strong. Be gentle with yourself and let your strength build from what you perceive to be broken.

 

With love,

 

Her voice from the kitchen window

 

xxx

Irene Halpin Long lives in Blarney, County Cork with her beautiful daughter and, rather tall, husband. She is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. Her blog “Her voice from the kitchen window” chronicles her voice since returning to Ireland in 2015, along with the voices of those she meets and interviews who impact the society in which we all live.
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