sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
Over the weekend, Michelle Obama revealed that she had a miscarriage roughly 20 years ago, saying she felt “lost and alone” and as if she had “failed” because of the hushed culture that surrounded miscarriage.
The self-blame is something many women experience, caused in part by most people not knowing how common miscarriages are. The thinking often goes that “if they don’t’ happen often, I must have done something to cause this.” The vast majority of the time, that’s just not true.
Without a public conversation around miscarriage in the past, women and families were left alone to make sense of their tragedy, assigning blame to themselves in the process. But the fact that a former first lady can vulnerably discuss her miscarriage openly and accurately describe what so many women have felt over the years means that we have made progress.
For that I am grateful.
Women and families no longer need to speak in hushed tones to only their closest confidants about their miscarriages unless that’s the way they choose to grieve. The culture of silence has given way to healthy, child-affirming conversations.
Mrs. Obama’s remarks provide important evidence that the conversation has become mainstream, though she certainly isn’t the first public figure to talk about her miscarriage.
In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg disclosed that his wife, Priscilla Chan, suffered three miscarriages before they had their first child. Zuckerberg called the loss of their first three children a “lonely experience” in part because people don’t talk much about miscarriage.
Zuckerberg’s candidness was praised by many as an important step to ending the stigma surrounding miscarriage. The tech giant and his wife gave voice to millions of families who experience the joy of getting pregnant and dreaming of who their child will be and then losing those dreams to child loss.
Many others from the entertainment world have also chimed in. In September, Carrie Underwood revealed that she had three miscarriages in roughly a year’s time. Through tears, she described the anguish of losing multiple children, fighting through the peaks and valleys that pregnancy and pregnancy loss bring.
Underwood also detailed her conversations with God, a reminder that miscarriage is more than just a physical and emotional battle for families; it’s a spiritual one as well.
The openness of a first lady, a tech giant, and an entertainment queen show us that pregnancy loss affects people from all walks of life. But it also indicates a healthy change in the culture. There is no shame in having a miscarriage, and we need influential figures to reinforce that message and to remind families that others understand their painful experience.
I’m grateful for the words of all of those who re-lived their grief to the benefit of others, whether famous or not. These stories are a significant step toward a big goal of ours: that no family suffers miscarriage alone.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University