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Stop the stigma around child loss

Meghan Markle speaks up about her miscarriage (Source via: stock images)

By Sian Hopkins | Comment Editor

(This article contains themes that readers may find upsetting. If any of the following has affected you please don’t hesitate to contact Student Support at +44 (0)29 2251 8888 or email [email protected])

At the beginning of this week the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, shared an opinion piece in the New York Times, bringing to light a recent tragedy she had suffered with the miscarriage of her second child. Within the article, Meghan talks openly about her experience of losing her baby and how she wishes more women felt they could talk about it, ‘Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.’  She notes, ‘I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.’

The idea that almost ¼ of 100 women will have suffered a miscarriage and yet feel like they cannot process this grief openly is baffling. How as a society do we suppress our own and others emotions to form a ‘stiff upper lip’ over events that are so traumatic? Statistically, if we include all the women who also make the decision to have an abortion, 1 in 3 will have experienced an abortion by the age of 45. The loss of a child through choice, accident or the unexpected is painful and a difficult reality that many women have to face in their lifetime and yet there still exists a massive stigma around being able to speak freely about it. 

Despite her bravery to speak out about her experience, Meghan Markle received a lot of hate, as trolls attacked her for sharing an ‘intimate moment’ so publicly. The Evening Standard commented on some of the backlash Megan received, and also Chrissy Tiegan for her similar posts last month, both being ‘labelled attention-seekers, criticised for over-sharing and in Meghan’s case even dismissed by some as lying.’ This kind of hate and criticism not only has an effect on Meghan and Chrissy who have already experienced enough pain and suffering from the event itself, but trolls criticising those in the public for supposedly sharing something ‘too personal’ is enabling a culture that silences women and keeps them paralysed in a state of loneliness and misinformation.

The experience of a miscarriage, according to Tommy’s reseachers, can turn the grief into more severe pyschological difficulties, whether it is problems with mental health like depression or PTSD. From their studies nearly ⅓ of women who had suffered a miscarriage a month or three months before, showed signs of PTSD. By criticising Meghan Markle and celebrities like Chrissy Tiegan for sharing their stories of loss, you are telling every woman who has ever had a similar experience, from abortion to miscarriage, that their feelings are invalid and unrecognised. It demonstrates another failure within our society to prioritise help and support for those struggling with mental health difficulties and trauma. Instead of offering an unkind or critical opinion over someone else’s honesty, take a step back and give support. 

Thanks to women like Meghan Markle, who shared her own experience so honestly and candidly, grieving women and couples who have also suffered can relate and some take their first steps into seeking help and speaking openly about their own experience. Her speaking out is a massive leap in breaking down the taboo surrounding baby loss and emphasises to all who have also suffered: you are not alone.  

 

If anything you have read has affected you or you need further advice:

https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/help-and-support

https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/baby-loss/miscarriage/support-after-miscarriage

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/afterwards/

https://www.bpas.org/abortion-care/supporting-someone-having-an-abortion/

 

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