The Stories of Grief

In 1989, when I began working with parents who’d had a stillbirth or a miscarriage, the most surprising thing for me was the fact that such losses were still happening. I was shocked to hear that words like, “We’re so sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat” still passed between physicians and devastated parents.

It had been a year since my son Zachary was stillborn, and without realizing it, I had assumed that these tragic deaths were a thing of the past. That assumption was my brain’s way of helping me to feel safe in the world again: such heartbreaks were no longer happening. I’d seen the worst and now I had little else to fear from life. Order had been restored to the world.

My assumption, unconscious as it was, is an example of how the mind attempts to process a trauma like miscarriage or stillbirth. Of course I knew that stillbirth and miscarriage still occurred. But logical thought is just one of the mind’s languages. In an effort to help me absorb the loss and feel safe in the world, my deeper mind comforted me with a story. And though I eventually outgrew the story, for a while it had helped me along in my recovery.