Last year, while working on a book about pregnancy loss, I had the privilege of interviewing over thirty, fellow, grieving mothers.
A few of the questions I asked revolved around marriage and how relationships with a spouse or partner had been affected by loss. Almost all of the mothers commented on the differences in grieving style — how men and women process and release their grief in such unique and sometimes confusing ways. We don’t always understand the other’s grief, but I was equally encouraged by the many women who shared how their marriage was strengthened and encouraged throughout this time. We found this to be true in our experience too — these differences can ultimately be our strength.
So this letter was written for the marriages in the midst of grief: those still struggling to understand each other and yet, fiercely fighting for something that is so-very-worth-fighting-for.
To The One Who Held Me Close As My Heart Broke,
It hasn’t been easy lately. My heart has been cracked and splintered, and my body aches from loss. I feel bruised and beaten down, weary with grief and exhausted by the act of living without the child we created together.
I know that this hasn’t been easy for you either. You too feel the weight of this pain. From the moment I first showed you that pink-lined pregnancy test, your world changed too. You wondered if you would be a good father, if you were ready for the responsibility of a little life held in your arms. You dreamed of the things you’d teach this little one, and of the ways you’d protect and defend them. You built a crib and bantered about baby names. You drove me to ultrasounds and doctors appointments, proudly showing off those blurry black and white photos. You took on extra work to help cover new-baby costs. And then, when it all ended, you sat with me in the hospital. You held my hand as we cried together, clinging to one another.
Our voyage to parenthood ended quickly but right now, these tears of mine seem endless. I cry over the vegetables at dinner, and break down as we pass the baby aisle at the grocery store. I know it’s confusing at times. You don’t always know what’s wrong, or what triggers my sorrow; but for the time being, this is just how I need to grieve. Let me bury my head in your shoulder and sob for what could have been, even when it garners odd looks from fellow shoppers. Even when you don’t understand.