The Isolation in Grief
I always thought I was an introvert, but dealing with this pandemic has shown me how much I really need and desire the friendship and support of others. As a “high risk” person, I have only left my house for doctors’ appointments and to take walks in my neighborhood.
I used to not have a problem with isolation. I realize now that this was my choice, not something forced on me. I remember coming home after my open-heart surgery exactly five years ago. While I was elated to be home after my seven-week ordeal in the hospital and rehab, I was not expecting the sense of loneliness and aloneness that eventually crept in. Once my husband went back to work, the days seemed to drag on forever. I was blessed to have visitors, but they were few and far between.
Now, as we must socially distance, I again feel this sense of loneliness. While some places have opened up, I am very hesitant to go out. I would love to go out to eat or even go to a store, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. And I anticipate it will be this way for a long time. At a recent appointment with my cardiologist, I asked if he thought I could plan a trip to Walt Disney World in February to participate in a 5K. He just looked at me and shook his head no.
Grief also brings these same feelings of aloneness and isolation. I remember feeling so alone when we lost our grandson Liam. It was like my heart had been ripped out of me. I felt unmoored, unsure what to do and how to help my son and his wife.
Tentatively, I reached out to people and shared my loss. I was floored by the number of women who said that they too had suffered a miscarriage. They understood the pain and suffering I was going through. I didn’t feel so alone.
Miscarriage had always seemed like the elephant in the room. Seen, but not talked about. In recent years Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Carrie Underwood, and Meghan McCain have all spoken publicly about their miscarriages, in hopes of breaking the culture of silence.1 This openness and sharing can only help us deal with the pain of loss and with the devastating psychological effects. A recent study published earlier this year found that 29% of women suffer from PTSD after a miscarriage, 24% have anxiety, and 11% experience moderate to severe depression.2
Know that you are not alone in your grief. Reach out to others so they too can not feel alone.