The year 2020 has been gruelling. The full extent of it is only vividly clear now that the pandemic year draws to a close, compelling us to look back upon those long days that have ravaged the hopes and happiness of the world, leaving behind loss and despair in its wake. There is so much exhaustion, that people have even been stripped of the strength, the energy to talk about their pain. While they take time off to heal, there are women who have taken it upon themselves to fill the void of silence by opening up about their own confrontation with loss. Loss, that is perhaps of the most heartbreaking kind: the loss of their babies.
In an already difficult year, celebrity moms - Chrissy Teigen, Meghan Markle, and Christina Perri - all went through the experience of losing a child at different stages of pregnancy and birth. Despite what must have undeniably been a cause for colossal personal grief, these women chose to go public with their personal stories; binding together fellow mothers, parents, and everyone else in a shared experience of pain. Even though I say shared, I can only go the mile of sensing the pain, not really feeling what these women must have felt. Or are feeling still, and perhaps always will. The true extent of this loss can best be understood by women who have had a brush with motherhood. I haven't. And yet these women's stories affected me, for I am a woman.
last night we lost our baby girl. she was born silent after fighting so hard to make it to our world. she is at peace now & will live forever in our hearts🤍 pic.twitter.com/z6BcEE0uQS— christina perri (@christinaperri) November 25, 2020
Is There One Perfect Way To Grieve?
Teigen lost her third child, Jack, suffering a miscarriage after pregnancy complications. Markle wrote about her "unbearable grief" upon the miscarriage of her second child. And Perri shared that she lost her baby girl in the third trimester after she was "born still." These experiences are exclusive to these women, and yet, otherwise universal for hundreds of other women across the world. Despite its universality, there is no one way of dealing with such an ordeal. Many women choose to come out with their stories - perhaps not on a scale to an audience as large as these three celebrities - and many choose to cope with their loss privately.
But society, always assuming a righteous moral centre, feels compelled to interfere. These three women all opted to share their stories on global platforms. Expectedly, the readership was wide. And some reactions, vile.
Why share your personal tragedies with the world? Is it a publicity gimmick? How do you have the strength to write about your miscarriage? Surely that means you're faking your grief to put on a show for the world? Even when these three women, and many others like them, are at their most vulnerable, such questions are being hurled at them - double-crossing their pain, doubting their authenticity, questioning their parenting ability.
How Stories Of Pain Are Bringing Us Closer
Can there even be space for the "correctness" of a woman in an experience as life-altering and tragic as a miscarriage? How emotionally corrupt does one have to be to dictate to a woman how she must feel, be, act, and behave after suffering a personal loss of this magnitude? That grief lessens considerably after unbottling emotions isn't a novel concept by any measure. Why then must these women not use the platforms within their reach to communicate their loss with the world?
I am in my 20s and as a single woman, have no aspirations towards marriage or motherhood as far as my eyes can see right now. And yet, Teigen, Markle, and Perri's loss induced sobriety in me. Why did these women's stories tug at my heartstrings even though I am eternal miles away from responsibility as big as motherhood? How was it that I could partake in their personal mournings? That I could begin to understand their experiences?
Because they helped me to. Penning their ordeal must have served them a moment of reflection, of release, of catharsis; but at the same time, they imparted a more educated outlook to those reading on the outside. When I say their loss is unimaginable to me, it isn't just a figure of expression. It's literal. But I am thankful to these women for inviting me to mourn with them. Because as a woman, I look at their experiences as a conversation changer. A friendly hug to all those mothers privately fostering a similar sadness within. As empowerment to future mothers fearing such a reality. And above all, an assurance to women everywhere, that we're in this together.
Views expressed are the author's own.