Shattered Hopes

I have close friends who grieve the recent loss of a child through miscarriage. Other family members also have lost a child this way. At first, I resisted writing this post due to the sadness of the topic, but this is a blog about writing and life. Grief is one of the harder parts of life.

Interestingly enough, I’ve come to the part in my novel revision where a baby has died. Life imitates art sometimes and vice versa.

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I’ve never had a child. I can’t, due to having been born with a malformed uterus. I won’t go into the ins and outs of that (and you might be squirming and hoping I won’t), but suffice it to say, I can’t have children. Though I can’t, that doesn’t mean I can’t understand the pain of hopes shattered and plans made that are now unmade. Just when you get used to the idea of welcoming a little one into your family, you have to say good-bye.

I can’t help thinking of King Théoden in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Two Towers (J. R. R. Tolkien). His son Théodred was much older, and in fact had been killed in a battle. But Théoden’s words ring true: “No parent should have to bury their child.”

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Sorrow wears many faces. There’s the sorrow of rejection when a manuscript you’ve worked on gets a no from an agent or editor. In some ways this feels like a miscarriage, and you have to deal with the shattered hopes and the unmaking of plans. (I said in “some ways,” so please don’t send me a how-dare-you-equate-human-life-to-a-manuscript message. Some of us can’t have children and can’t afford to adopt, so book “children” may be all the children we’ll get in this life.) You also have to deal with well-meaning people who tell you to “Snap out of it” or “Move on, you can write others,” just as grieving parents are told, “You can have other children” or “Be thankful for the one you already have.” As if they aren’t.

Another sorrow includes the disappointed expectations that come with broken relationships. I don’t have to tell you about those. I’m sure you’ve experienced them. You can’t live on this earth for long and escape that experience at least once or twice.

The sorrows of those close to you take a bite out of you. We were made to live in community. But sometimes, being in community hurts.

Cradle photo from lizcurtishiggs.com. Théoden (played by Bernard Hill) grieving photo from pinterest.com.

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38 thoughts on “Shattered Hopes

  1. What a heart-tearing and life-honest post, Linda. I’m so sorry for your close friends–and for you too. Louise Hawes said to me last November, hard times call for open hearts. Your heart is always so generously open and there are many who love you for that.

    Also, please know, I think ‘book child’ is beautifully and aptly put.

  2. You’ve tackled a sensitive topic here. It’s so hard to know what to say to friends or family when this happens, and I’ve had many who have. There’s literally no way to make things better, and I tend to make things awkward when I talk. So I stick to “Can I help with anything” and “I’m here if you need me,” and wishing pain could be shared to lighten the burden.

  3. That quote from Theoden really does ring true. I know a few people who have uttered it under the worst situations. It’s definitely odd that humans were made to be in a group, but most of us take pain from social interactions at some point. The risk of letting someone in, I guess.

  4. My heart goes out to your friends, Linda. This is a beautiful post that strikes a chord with all of us. Like yourself, I don’t have children of my own, but I’m a God mother to several. I’ve never thought of the children in my stories as my “book children”…I like that!

    • Thanks, Jill. I have nieces and nephews and adopted several other nieces and nephews so I’m glad to have some children in my life just as you have godchildren in yours. Yes, we take our kids where we can get them. Our characters are like children. We give birth to them and suffer when they suffer.

  5. Oh Linda, this is so sad! I’ve been there in terms of miscarriages and it hurts. So sorry your friends are going through this. You did them and yourself a favor by writing this. It is real and raw. I am also sorry for your circumstances. Keep on writing. 🙂

  6. This one really hits close to home due to recent events (fingers crossed that we’ll have good news from the doctor today). As you say, sorrow wears many faces and there is no life without pain. It’s tempting to become unfeeling and just not care anymore and that’s when it’s time to remember the things in life that you’ve cared for and have brought you immeasurable joy.

  7. Already having two daughters from a previous relationship, and having the ‘snip’, when I got with my wife Jen I had the reversal, with no guarantees it would work. Jen didn’t have any children, and their was the risk that she would never have any due to my vasectomy.
    Then twice she got pregnant, and twice she suffered miscarriages. It was a difficult time, but she never doubted that her time would come. Being pregnant twice, the silver lining was that at least it demonstrated the surgery had worked. Now we have two children.
    Me? As usual, at the time of the miscarriages I channeled it into a poem as usual.
    Oh yes-I’ve had the snip again since 🙂

    • Wow! You’ve had to go through that twice? Eee.
      I’m sorry for your losses though, Andy. Miscarriages affect the dads too.
      I feel like looking at the photos of your kids at your blog again. Knowing what happened makes me doubly glad to see those photos.

      • I am a bit wary about putting photographs on my blog with it being more public than my Facebook, so I tend to just use side shots and from the back etc. Still, you get a sense of all that young energy 🙂

  8. Lovely post, Linda, and a very important topic.
    My mother had four miscarriages before my brother and I were born.
    After my daughter was born, I had three miscarriages and then a hysterectomy when the bleeding continued after the third one. I still know the “due dates” for each baby and though I don’t spend the day mourning, I do awake to an early-morning quiet and the question of what if? Women have many losses they struggle with and that change them in ways others might not understand. Your loss of never being able to have a baby is a different loss than my having three miscarriages, but they are still painful losses hanging from a similar thread of the unanswered question– what if?–that we each carry.

    • Thanks, Marylin. I’m sorry for your losses. So many women I know have miscarried. And yes, they have asked themselves, “What if?” just as I’ve asked the question of myself. Like you, I don’t dwell on it daily, but it comes up whenever a friend gets pregnant and delivers.

  9. I’ll never forget the day my mother miscarried. I can still see her, walking down the sidewalk. Crying. I can still hear my dad telling me not to say anything to her when she got in the car. I can see the sunlight and shadow. I’ve never forgotten the hurt of that day. I am so sorry for your friends.

    • Thanks, Andra. I’m sorry for your mom’s loss. My mom had a stillborn daughter the year before I was born. I remember deeply regretting the fact that my sister didn’t live. I wanted her to be an ally in fights with my brothers. I didn’t understand then how common mishaps with babies were.

  10. “Shattered hopes and the unmaking of plans.” How true this is. Life often gets in the way of our plans, our dreams. I’m so sad for your friends and pray they find the strength as they deal with their grief. I’m sure they are thankful for you.

  11. You have no idea how this rang true to me “But sometimes, being in community hurts.”
    I don’t even know what else to say without rambling on and on about everything you just said.
    So, I’m leaving you with a {Hug}.

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