Monday Mourning: Miscarriage

Today I have Mike McMullen on the blog.  Mike lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his four children and is the author of "I, Superhero." I saw a post from Mike on Facebook a few weeks ago about his experience with miscarriage. Not only do many women suffer in silence when they experience a miscarriage, so do their partners. It was enlightening to hear a man's perspective.

October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

DW: Who was the person that died?
MM: My wife at the time suffered a miscarriage while pregnant with our second child. We had a one year old son at the time and were excited about not only having a new baby, but providing a future playmate for him. 

DW: How old were you at the time? 
MM: I was 34, which seems incredibly young looking back. I’d never really experienced a miscarriage before. My mom had a couple, but I was either too young to know what was going on or they happened before I was born.  

DW: How old was the person? 
MM: We were just a few months into her pregnancy when we lost the baby. I  can’t say exactly how old she was, or even if the baby was really a “she,” but we both had the feeling it was a girl.  

DW: Was it a sudden death or did you know it was going to happen?
MM: It was sudden. There were no indicators that she was particularly susceptible to this happening. It was just one of those things that blindsides you sometimes in life. Even believing as I did that it was, even at just a few months, a real, living human being, the loss hit me a lot harder than I ever could have thought. I tried to keep it together at home to support my wife, which in retrospect may have been a mistake. I should have let her see me grieve more. It may have helped her know she wasn’t alone. I couldn’t hold it in forever, though, and one day at work I completely broke down. Mercifully, all my coworkers were on a lunch break, but I ended up literally curled up on the floor in front of  my cubicle sobbing uncontrollably.  

DW: Were people supportive of your grief or did they shy away when you were grieving? 
MM: My family was supportive, and the few friends and co-workers I told about it were to a lesser extent. Not that they didn’t want to be supportive, but I think miscarrying in some ways makes consoling someone – already a difficult and sometimes awkward task – even harder. No one’s ever seen the child, to some it may not even count as a person yet, so they may not understand your grief or know what to say. However, I always knew there were people I could talk to if I needed to. 

DW: Buried or cremated? 
MM: That was one of the more difficult aspects of the loss for me: not only was there nothing to bury or cremate, but what was there of our baby was, to be blunt, either flushed away or removed by doctors and, I would assume, incinerated. I never looked into exactly what the doctors do with whatever they recover in those situations because I really didn’t want to know. I think it would have just depressed me further. The idea of being buried or cremated might be odd when viewed objectively, but we’ve grown accustomed to the fact that our loved ones are, generally speaking, put in the ground or formally cremated. Finding out they’re basically discarded like rubbish would be adding insult to injury. 

DW: Did you learn anything about the grieving process that you'd like to share? 
MM: The main thing I learned is, if you’re in a relationship with someone and you both suffer a loss, “being strong for them” is, to a certain extent, bullshit. Be weak for them. Let them know the loss hurts you as well. That you’re not just sad or blue, but that you feel the loss all the way down to the bone. I don’t mean lose it to the point that  neither of you can function any longer, but let them see. Your grief can be like a gift to them.