It’s been an extraordinary week at Mamamia. Words that women have kept buried deep inside them have been pouring out into stories we don’t often tell.
It’s been Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week.
The words have been desperately sad and enormously uplifting. The community of women who understand how it feels to lose a baby – at any stage – have been holding each other close, swapping stories about their pregnancies and their babies and their tangle of conflicting emotions about the children they never got to take home.
But, what about the men?
Listen to Rebecca Sparrow talking about men grieving pregnancy loss, here:
This week on This Glorious Mess, I spoke to Rebecca Sparrow about how to talk to – and help – anyone in your life who is going through this loss. Her incredible tips are below.
But also, we spoke about blokes.
“I think often the dads get forgotten and I can understand why the focus is on the mother, and the dads can be left out sometimes,” says Bec.
“The biggest thing is to recognise the fact that men and women so often grief completely differently. If you are going through this in your relationship and are feeling frustrated that your partner doesn’t seem sad enough, you need to recognise that he’s going to grieve very differently to you.”
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, told the world they had suffered three miscarriages when they made their public pregnancy announcement.
But there are some things about grief that are universal. who has ever wondered what to say to a friend or family member - male or female - who has suffered a pregnancy loss, Bec has some very reassuring advice:
"Before I lost my daughter I would have been like the majority of other people and had no clue what to do... so I'm pretty forgiving about what people say," she says. But mostly, Bec's words of wisdom centre around the idea that you should SAY SOMETHING.
Bec speaks about losing Georgie:
Here are the four pieces of advice Bec has for helping someone through this loss.
- Don't be afraid to say the baby's name. "Nothing is sweeter for the parent to hear."
- Give out lots and lots of love, but expect nothing in return. "The best people in my life were sending me lots of text messages of support, but weren't at all upset if I didn't reply."
- Go to your calendar and circle six weeks from now. "People are around you at the beginning, but the truth is, at about the six-week mark people have to go back to their own lives, and it feels very, very lonely."
- Don't try to fix the situation. "Life is hard... it can bring you to your knees. You can't fix that for people.... Trust me, there is no cheering up when someone has lost a child. What you've got to do is say things like 'my heart is broken for you'. Don't tell them not to be sad.""gives people permission to tell their stories. Too often, we worry about our stories upsetting other people and being depressing,""There's somethng about losing a child that is just so horrendously raw and painful... no wonder people don't want to talk about it."
Listen to the whole episode of This Glorious Mess, including whether vaping is something parents of teens should worry about, and what to do if your toddler is swearing in public, here.