Photo by @Artsy_Solomon_Films
Can we all do each other a favor? Can we all take a break from trying to maintain this super-person status where we don’t feel things deeply, don’t get overwhelmed, don’t struggle, don’t feel like everything is just too damn much? Can we have a moment of honesty and transparency where we speak the truth about what happens to many of us in those quiet moments when you don’t have to (or simply cannot) hold together? I’d like to do that.
Perinatal loss is one of the only types of loss where people feel like they get to decide how long you should be upset about your experience. People who have neonatal losses or stillbirths are allowed more time to grieve than those who had early pregnancy loss or miscarriage. In the minds of some, the more time you’ve had with the child, the more time you’re allotted to deal with their loss. It’s a flawed way of thinking about perinatal loss in my opinion because no one outside of yourself can tell you how & when to grieve. Even in later-term losses, people seem to expect folx to move through their grieving process rather quickly and return to life as usual ASAP. This is evidenced by the TINY amount of time people get for bereavement, the push to go back out into the world of friends, work, and family responsibilities, and the check-in’s that stop after a few weeks.
The expectation is that you get over it. The expectation is that the first few weeks are the worst and everything is uphill from there. LIES!! People are out here BREAKING DOWN y’all! Out here having grief bursts, panic attacks, crying spells, racing thoughts, passing out! I would argue that this is largely due to the idea that they should be ok by now (whenever now is). This is externally imposed but it’s also pressure we put on ourselves. In this day and age, we got shit to do! Nobody has time to be taking off work for healing and grieving. These bills are due, this family needs a spouse, parent, adult child, etc. All these things are true AND sometimes your body just isn’t prepared to handle whatever it is you’re putting it through at the time. Sometimes it catches you off guard (like a couple of weeks ago when on a Girls’ Day a questionnaire/consent form sent me out of the room in tears) and sometimes you know the task is going to be problematic before you even engage. But you try to push yourself… you try to breathe through it… ground yourself… then it happens anyway. You…break…down…
I want to encourage you to let go of some of your super-person complexes and ideas that you “should” be anywhere other than exactly where you are on your healing journey. I want to #normalizebreakdowns because they’re just that, NORMAL. Guess what? They also can lead to breakthroughs, which is something nice to look forward to. You may find that people understand you better so you have to explain yourself less (e.g. people keep asking you to go out & don’t understand why you keep passing), your support network shows up and shows OUT in taking care of you, you realize you need to up your level of investment in healing (support groups and therapy), or you are better able to identify your triggers so you’re more prepared moving forward.
Though breakdowns are normal, I don’t know if I’d say they are necessary. My thoughts are that they are a response to too much pressure. What’s that saying? If it doesn’t bend, it’ll break. That applies here. Too often we aren’t allowed to bend into our grief and ebb & flow as it needs to. We are told what grief looks like, about how long we should go through it, and consistently reminded of the fine line we are to walk the whole time. This, my friends, leads to breakdowns. I understand this pressure is sort of an occupational hazzard to today’s times so if we’re going to accept that as something we can’t change, then let’s focus on something we can. #Normalizebreakdowns #Leadstobreakthroughs.