Loss, especially one that doesn’t make sense, and one that takes away so much potential really leaves you grasping at straws. The danger is grasping onto the wrong straw, the short straw, the straw that tells you that something in your past is the reason why you are experiencing something in the present moment.
For me, every one of our losses has opened the door to guilt that stems from a decision in childhood. When I was in 4th grade, I kicked my teacher. I kicked her hard. It was an extremely violent choice. Consequences stemmed from this incident. I was put into a separate school. I was labeled “aggressive” and “bad.”
I was dealing with an unstable and tough home life. I was still finding the right tools to learn with my Dyslexia, and I was angry, so I acted.
When I returned back to my regular school after a year and a half, I began hearing rumors about myself. In those 18 months, I changed, my life changed. I was hitting my groove of understanding what I needed to do in order to be safe, to have others around me be safe, and to grow as a young person should. So, hearing the rumor that my actions caused someone to lose a baby, really, really, hit me hard. My friends, my family, kept telling me to focus and move on from the rumors and eventually I came to terms with them.
With our first loss, the guilt pushed in. At first, I rationalized it. I said “Ok, 1 for 1 apparently, ok.” Then our second loss happened, and it broke me. I felt punished, I felt like I was the reason this happening to us. By our third loss, I felt like it was squarely my fault. I felt like this is on me, this is karma, this is my atonement, this is my burden.
Recently, I have explored this in counseling and even typing this, it makes me realize how silly it is. Right? I can’t find anywhere in my bible creating such a link. There are other problems in my life that I don’t make such a link…so why does this impact me so?
I think, because this grief sucks. There is no reason for these losses, but as humans, we need to justify it somehow. We need to blame someone, somehow, and well, our past transgressions fit nicely into that. I think for me, not physically experiencing the losses as my wife did, made me search for physical pain. Replaying how it felt to hurt someone, replaying how that contact jolted my body, really created that feeling, that sullen connection.
October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month (PAIL), I feel like the best way to raise awareness is to chip away at the falsehood that a loss is a punishment. There are so many people in this crappy club and we need to be open to the shame that others feel when experiencing pregnancy loss. We need to support each other and to call it out. Especially us guys in this club. We have to be prepared to not “bro out” but to listen. We need to be more vulnerable with each other, especially when it comes to some of the shame we push down.
I share my story today in the hopes to be vulnerable. I share my story with the hopes that you reading this may feel ok to be vulnerable, too. Because when we feel like we deserved this, it creates a wedge between coming to terms with our grief and moving forward in life with this grief. This is not a punishment.