By: Jaclyn Pieris
“In my grief, I find myself crying and updating my status on Facebook as tears fall on the keys of my laptop. ‘I will be closing my Facebook account tomorrow. If you’d like to keep in touch, you can email me at the following personal email account…”
What I really want to write on this social media site, where the details of our lives play out publicly day by day, is that my heart has been torn in little pieces one post at a time. I want to say, ‘How dare all of you post pictures of your pregnancy scans and the numerous images of you posing with your hands holding your dress tightly under your bump for everyone to see the exact outline of your protruding belly. Do we all need to be a part of every change your body is making over the next nine months?! Why can’t you be humble and let your joy be your joy?” Ugh.
I drop my head, exhausted by my anger and the acuteness of my loss. My emptiness. My envy.
I stop myself from posting what’s really on my mind. At least I have just enough self-awareness to know that I am being irrational, that I too would be posting the same pictures and status updates if I were pregnant or had a beautiful newborn baby to show off.
My husband walks into the room and asks me if I’m okay. My fury reignites, and I start shouting at him. I am blaming him for my misery. As I spit out a string of words that barely make sense, I know that I am misplacing my anger. But in this moment, I feel desperate to rid myself of this pulsing negative energy that is raging inside of me.
I need to pick a fight with someone who can yell back, and until my ovaries learn to speak, I continue to hurt my husband.
…I can’t stand him looking at me anymore, so I storm into the bathroom and slam the door shut behind me. I look into the mirror at my tear stained face and swollen eyes. I look ugly on the outside, and I feel even uglier on the inside.
I hate what I see.
The tears begin to flow again, and I cover my face with my hands.
Ugh. Ugly crier.
How much more can I take? How many other people will announce their pregnancies and deliver their first and second babies before I fall pregnant again? How many times will I have to listen to people tell me, ‘It’ll be okay. It will happen for you. One day you’ll look back on this and laugh.’ I sure as hell can’t wait for that day, and unless you can tell me when ‘it’ will happen, those words of encouragement mean nothing to me.
And so my grief begins.
Excerpt from A Loss Misunderstood: Healing Your Heart After Miscarriage, Chapter 1
After several miscarriages, I felt my grief deepening as even my journey to work was filled with billboards advertising baby food, interactions with pregnant women needing a seat on the bus, and colleagues holding baby showers during business hours.
Social networking sites exacerbated my extreme emotions as they were yet another environment where I felt as though I was inundated with pregnancy and baby information.
I tried to tell myself that I didn’t know every woman’s story. Perhaps that pregnant woman who triggered my feelings of envy, actually had a hard time conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy. Why did I assume that everyone else had an easy time of starting their family? But those what-if scenarios that I played out in my head did not bring me any comfort.
I felt that if I could just isolate myself for a few months, I might be able to get my head on straight and maybe even feel contentment for other women’s happiness. So in this vein I deleted my social media accounts.
Years later, I now know that there are many individuals and groups on Facebook and Instagram that provide a supportive network made up of both moms and dads who understand what many others cannot during such difficult times. But I did not think to search for these groups when I most needed them, and no one mentioned their existence either.
I am now at a point where I am able to support others who are in need and I spend a lot of time on social media reaching out to moms, dads, and charities. I am working to make it known to all of my contacts, not just those who have lost a baby, that there are multiple forms of support including those on social media sites. With one in four women miscarrying, we are all bound to either experience this loss ourselves or to know someone else who has. I don’t want women and their partners to wait as long as I did to find the help that could get them through the day.
So before you decide to delete your social media apps, consider linking with those that may be a help rather than a hindrance to your healing.
Jaclyn Pieris is a Student Affairs professional in higher education and a certified therapeutic counselor in the UK. She is originally from Pennsylvania and she and her British born husband have recently left London, England to start a new adventure in San Diego, California. She is author of the self-help/memoir book called, A Loss Misunderstood: Healing Your Grieving Heart After Miscarriage.