faith, miscarriage

The courage to seek joy (on learning to be happy after my miscarriage)

March 7, 2013
"Happiness is a form of Courage" // On finding joy again after a miscarriage. Fiona Lynne Koefoed-Jespersen

Back in January, seven months after my miscarriage, two of my best friends from uni visited me. We took a few short walks through the city so that they could legitimately have claimed to have been in Luxembourg, and then spent the rest of the time in coffee shops and restaurants and on my sofa, talking talking talking.

My one friend is pregnant with her second child. We talked about motherhood and home births and the challenge of children on aeroplanes. And at some point, while the conversation was still full-flow I had this moment where I very suddenly realised “it does not hurt to talk about this”.

And instead of feeling free, I felt guilty.

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On the first day of our holiday a week later, when I was stranded in our chalet with a horrid cough while the others went skiing, I picked up a book called How to Talk to a Widower. It’s an irreverent, messy and honest look at the life of a young widower, a year after his wife is killed in a plane crash. I read and read and read, only pausing to pick up my pen to copy out this passage:

“But as bad as the house is, I rarely leave it. Because the pain is my last link to her, so as much as it hurts, I wrap it around myself like a blanket… I’m not ready for time to heal this wound, but I also know I’m powerless to stop it. And knowing that makes me fight harder than ever to hold on to the pain and anchor myself in this tragedy while it’s still freshly tragic. So every so often I pull at my scabs like a dog, desperately trying to draw some blood from my open wound, but even as I do so, I know the day will come when I pull off that scab and there’s no blood underneath, just the soft pink expanse of virgin skin. And when that finally happens, when time has inevitably had its way with me, then I’ll know she’s gone for good.”

There’s a part of me that wants to cling to the pain of losing our baby, because it feels like the only tangible connection I have to him. There’s no grave to visit, no marks on my body from where he was, only one small blurred photo, tucked away in the wooden box on my desk.

I’m wrestling daily with what it looks like to move on while still remembering well.

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In my year of being brave I found a quote that said, “Happiness is a form of courage”. I didn’t think of it much last year. I felt too busy just being brave in all the other areas.

But now that I’ve chosen, or been given, this new word for the year – JOY – this quote comes back to me again. After loss or hurt, there’s a tendency to hold on to the pain, because at least it’s known, it’s connecting you to what was there before. But life cannot be lived backwards. And it was not meant to be lived in continuous sorrow.

January was a hard month for me. It was the month I would have been giving birth to our first child if the pregnancy has lasted. And I felt the loss close to me. And so it was confusing to realise I was healing, to realise I was moving on.

I’m healing. The tears still come some days, and I will never ever stop missing him in our lives. But I’m healing. It’s a hard realisation but a good one. We’re planning and hoping for the future. I’m stealing away my friend’s babies from their laps to cuddle and make silly faces and enjoying it with only a faint ache for what might have been. I’m recognising that I’ve come through and it’s alright. Everything is somehow, strangely, miraculously, alright.

 

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My other posts on our miscarriage:

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Imperfect Prose on thursdays

I’m linking up with Emily Wierenga for her Imperfect Prose on Thursday. She gathers writers together each week to tell stories of brokenness and redemption. This is my contribution, and you can click through to read the many other wise and beautiful offerings. 

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  • Fiona – what a beautiful post, you have a way with words that makes me understand on a deeper level and my soul connects. yes, I get it that happiness can require being brave. And brave you are !

    • fionalynne

      Thank you Fenny, I’m grateful for your encouragement.

  • Dear Fiona,
    Although I have never lost a baby and thus have no idea what it feels like, I want you to know that having my two kids is enough to make me cry over just about anything – good or bad (this includes your post above).
    Kids, wherever and whoever they are or were, create a bond. And that bond never leaves, no matter what.
    Heal you will, forget you won’t, feel him you always will. And that’s part of you now.
    Don’t feel guilty of any joy or sadness. It’s just part of it all. And that’s that.
    M

    • fionalynne

      “it’s just part of it all”. This. This is what I’m figuring out at the moment. It just is. And not in a fatalistic way, but in an accepting way, an empowering way.

  • Healing from the experience of a miscarriage and moving on is so hard in such unexpected ways. And it’s so hard to articulate the grief and complexity of emotion sometimes over someone so new that he or she wasn’t as present to the rest of the world.

    Thank you for talking about this.

    • fionalynne

      “someone so new he wasn’t present to the rest of the world”. Yes. I think this is why for so many couples, the grief of miscarriage is kept private. But I’ve found such healing in being able to be open about it. I know it will be different for every woman, but I hope more and more women will feel like they can choose to grieve in the right way for them. Thanks for being here.

  • Fiona, this was stunning. I think this is my new favorite of yours. Written with such vulnerability, openness, and beauty. Lots of love heading your way.

    • fionalynne

      Love you and love your spirit of encouragement, Brenna. x

  • Powerfully and beautifully written, Fiona. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you, Leigh x

  • this: There’s a part of me that wants to cling to the pain of losing our baby, because it feels like the only tangible connection I have to him. There’s no grave to visit, no marks on my body from where he was, only one small blurred photo, tucked away in the wooden box on my desk.

    I’m wrestling daily with what it looks like to move on while still remembering well.

    wow. i want to hug you friend. thank you, for this. as someone who’s lost a baby, thank you. i shared this on FB.

    • fionalynne

      Emily, thanks so much for being here and for sharing. This is a shared experience for so many women, and I want us so much to be able to stand together in the mourning.

  • Beautiful, honest, raw and redemptive. Thankful you noticed a place of healing in you and embraced it. So glad you linked up to IP.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you, Shelly.

  • Oh Fiona, know that I think about you a lot, send you love and energy and hope.
    If you ever need to talk / vent/ rant or need anything, please, just let me know, I mean it.
    You are so right about how talking about other people’s pregnancies / babies can be hard, but also, how I am finding myself able to share their joy.
    Your baby will always be part of you. Even if he only (materially) existed for a few weeks, he is part of you and Remus, and he was here on Earth and will always be. I know I had an older brother that did not make it, and sometimes I wonder how it could have been.
    Hugs.

    • fionalynne

      Amanda, I appreciate your friendship so much. Thank you for understanding and for standing with us. We need to meet in person again soon… x

  • Hauntingly beautiful, Fiona. When I was struggling with infertility and thought I’d never be able to conceive, I also knew the pain of missing someone for whom there was no evidence of existence. It’s different, of course, than having lost a real child; but I could still relate.

    You are strong and brave.

    • fionalynne

      So thankful to know you, Kathleen. Thanks for being here and for your encouragement x

  • Oh, Dear Friend. First of all, thank you for sharing with the Imperfect Prose community. This post blessed me; I had a miscarriage just over a year ago. I hadn’t read your post when I wrote mine about the return to joy (#60 at IP). I blogged through my miscarriage (it’s labeled out) and invite you to my space if you’re looking for someone w/ whom to relate. I do have a healthy baby, now, and I pray the same for you, Beautiful Girl. Thank you for your bravery and willingness to be vulnerable and real. You’re amazing.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you Brandee, I read your post and can identify with a lot of it. I love that we’re both in that same process of welcoming back joy. x

  • Pingback: life cannot be lived backwards | Pour Cette Temps()

  • so, so lovely. this honest write about facing healing. I work as a facilitator of a family grief group, and hear of this guilt often. keep walking through it, finding yourself in the moments that encompass all kinds of emotions. i feel you here. the tiny seeds of joy poking through the raw soil of winter.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you, Tara. I’ve actually taken a lot of comfort from the changing seasons now, seeing the flowers coming. They are like that newly blooming joy after the winter.

  • Amanda at Poppies and Ice Cream directed me to your blog. This is a beautiful post Fionalynne, and one I can well relate to. The grief of miscarriage is so deep and so confusing, largely because others don’t understand that it is not unlike the grief of any other loss, but also special in that there are no tangible reminders or happy memories to hold onto. Are you aware of Christian’s Beach? It’s a service run by a babylost mom who writes beautiful names in the sand for lost babies; http://namesinthesand.blogspot.co.uk/ Ours is a cherished momento where we have so few of our son who died at 17 weeks gestation.
    I love that quote about happiness being a kind of courage. So true. Wishing you continued healing.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you for your wishes, Sadie. It’s a comfort to know that others understand this loss to…