by Kim Akass
Over the course of this week’s discussion on an aspect of motherhood that is rarely discussed, the question of secrecy inevitably came into the mix. Is it because we rarely announce pregnancy until the ‘magic’ 16 weeks that miscarriage is so often swept under the carpet? And how on earth could you go through such a trauma without telling anyone that you were pregnant but, and more importantly, that you are no longer. That it is an intensely personal and private subject is ensured when you are never allowed to either celebrate or grieve for your baby.
The last section of the programme particularly resonated with me. How much grief is the ‘correct’ amount and when is a woman ‘allowed’ to mourn for her lost child? Should this be measured in weeks or days, when society deems the foetus to have been viable? Could it be that a woman undergoing cycle after cycle of fertility treatment, who is told of a successful implant after only two weeks, feels the loss of an early miscarriage more than others who may not have even known they were pregnant? How can grief be measured by how many days or weeks pregnant you are, how many children you already have and how difficult it was to great pregnant in the first place? And who is to judge this?
We all react differently to death. Some mourn immediately, for others the grief comes later, some keep it to themselves, while others share their feelings. It seems to be that all the time miscarriage remains shrouded in mystery, an otherwise overlooked aspect of motherhood, women will never be able to talk about it and move on in their lives. This is a discussion that Group Therapy has thankfully started.
Kim Akass is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire. She is currently writing a book on the representation of motherhood in the media.