Tuesday 20 October 2015

A journey through infertility-over terrors edge

Camille Preston's video says it all.

 I had no idea what pressures couples who were undergoing in vitro fertilization went through until I started counselling couples and women in this situation. I take my hat off to all the couples out there who go through this, as they are tested beyond belief. It is a long, challenging journey filled with anxiety, pressure, and loss with no guarantee that you may have a positive outcome. It has a huge impact on relationships, and is very stressful. There are not many people who can handle this, and pull out because of the stress.

Monday 19 October 2015

What to say when a baby dies

What Do You Say

What do you say when a baby dies and someone says ......
"At least you didn't bring it  home."

What do you say when a baby is stillborn and someone says .....
"At least it never lived".

What do you say when a mother of three says....
"Think of all the time you'll have."

What do you say when so many say .....
"You can always have another...."
"At least you never knew it...."
"You have your whole life ahead of you..."
"You have an angel in heaven..."

What do you say when someone says .... nothing?

What do you say when someone says "I'm sorry".

You say, with grateful tears and warm embrace.
"Thank you!"

 by Kathie Mayo

Some women  who have lost a baby through stillbirth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, neonatal death, or a fetal abnormality, find it difficult to hear  the statements expressed above. This is because it gives the bereaved mother the message that she is  not allowed to grieve in the way that she wants to. The bottom line is, that she wants the baby she has lost, and by saying some of these things to a woman who has lost a baby, is not helpful, Nothing you can do will make it better. It is what it is.

I think it is important to show some sensitivity and that you care. It could be that you are just there, and don't say anything. A touch. Sometimes saying I am sorry gives the bereaved mother the message that it is okay to grieve.Saying sorry doesn't work for everyone as many people tell me during bereavement counselling that they hate hearing that, and don't want to be pitied, or see the sympathy face from people. There are others who find it difficult when close friends or colleagues never said sorry for your loss.

Related article: How to help your friend through baby loss by Aimee Foster

Monday 12 October 2015

Talking about grief

We all have our different ways of dealing with grief. Some of us want to talk  when we have experienced a loss, and some of us want to withdraw from family and friends. There is no right or wrong way to deal with this. You do what feels best for you at the time. I am often asked how long it will take to feel better after a significant loss. There is no timeline. I think your life is changed after a significant loss, but what may happen is that the intensity of the feelings may alter after some time.  What can be difficult is the pressure that some of us can feel from society, family and friends to move on. Sometimes people will mention Elizabeth Kubler Ross's stages of grief to me,  and raise concern that they are stuck in one stage, and have not moved to the next. This was a model, that she used to explain experiences, so if you do not experience these stages there is nothing wrong with you.

I read Kiran Aldrige's article at the weekend, on how grief is a dirty secret.  People say to me often, that it was only when they had a bereavement that friends and colleagues opened up about their own losses, whether it was a death of a partner, parent, sibling, a miscarriage or stillbirth, they did not avoid the subject. As Kiran mentions in her article, life goes on as normal for those who are not grieving.This can be difficult for you, if you are bereaved, as your world has come to a standstill. You may experience friends or colleagues, avoiding you, crossing the road when they see you coming. Some people don't know what to say or do, and find it uncomfortable to deal with. I have seen relationships change or end during these difficult times, because friends or family have gone missing in action.

I think it is important that you realise that what you are experiencing is normal, and that you do not have to pretend to feel okay after a significant loss. Sharing your feelings with friends or family that you feel comfortable with, can be helpful. It is sometimes difficult to express that you don't  want to talk to anyone, when you recognise friends and family want to help you. Or you may want to express yourself to family and friends, but are concerned about them worrying about you. This is where support groups can be useful, as you will be sharing your experiences with people in a similar situation. Seeing a bereavement counsellor if you feel ready, can also be helpful, as you will have your own space to talk about your loss, as and when you wish.