The Duchess of Sussex affirms that healing from a miscarriage (and from 2020) can only happen if we ask each other if we are okay.
In a heartbreaking op-ed for The New York Times, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle opened up about her miscarriage. She shared the most painful details, from the moment she knew she had lost her second child to the excruciating loneliness she felt afterward. She discussed the "cycle of solitary mourning" that far too many mothers are subject to and shared how one single question could change all of the isolation one feels after experiencing a miscarriage. The phrase was, of course, "Are you okay?" Her op-ed has since spurred a conversation about the stigma that surrounds miscarriages, silencing mothers across the world.
"After changing Archie's diaper, I felt a sharp cramp," she writes. "I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right. I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second." If this were not painful enough, Markle also describes what it was like to deal with the aftermath of her miscarriage. As she stared at white walls from a hospital bed while holding her husband's hand, she wondered how she would heal from the loss.
She reflects on how a journalist had once asked her if she was doing okay during an especially long and exhausting tour in South Africa. At the time, she was struggling with being a new mother and answered the question honestly, discussing some of her challenges. Recalling the moment while in her hospital bed, she discovered that was the only way she could begin healing. Markle shares, "I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you okay?'" While it seems like a simple and rather meaningless question, this year, in particular, is when we must seriously contemplate the answer.
The Duchess affirms, "Are we? This year has brought so many of us to our breaking points. Loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020, in moments both fraught and debilitating." During this time, not taking out a few seconds to ask each other how we are doing could actually be dangerous. It is, similarly, this "siloed living" that someone who has recently suffered a miscarriage has to handle. "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," Markle states. "In the pain of our loss, my husband and 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."
Therefore, she argues, it is time for us to truly connect with each other, especially about the difficult and not-so-easy things. She urges everyone to commit to asking others if they are okay, no matter how physically distant they may be from each other. "The truth is that we are more connected than ever because of all we have individually and collectively endured this year," she affirms. "For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another. Are we okay? We will be."