October: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

As we finish up October (can you believe it?!), we are also closing up Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you haven’t done so already, check out Chrissy Teigen’s heart-wrenching letter on Medium.

I especially resonated with this part of the letter:

“I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. How little I care that it’s something you wouldn’t have done. I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me.”\

After reading her letter, I wanted to write one back to her.

Dear Chrissy,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. You are so brave. Both you and Jack are lucky to have had each other for the time you had together. You nurtured his soul for as long as you could, and I genuinely believe he heard every wish and prayer from you, from John and the rest of the world following his departure. He will always be a part of your family. 

Thank you for having the insight (and lucidity, despite the pain!) to ask John to take pictures because you wanted to capture those moments. So often, and unfortunately because of social media, we are told to only capture moments of happiness and a glowing mother holding her healthy newborn. Your images remind us that all of life deserves to be captured and remembered and that our humanity exists not only in the moments of joy but also utter despair. 

And you are absolutely right, the photos will matter to the right people. As Dr. Seuss once famously said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” You have no idea how many people your pictures and words will inspire and comfort.

As a psychologist, I often hear guilt and shame from people who share that they may have “cursed” their happiness because it was put on display for the world. Actually, it is an act of courage and vulnerability to share with the world what brings you joy and what you are excited for without fear of judgment from others if those dreams do not become a reality. It is an act of defiance to the world trying to make us small and make us feel shame. How else would the world know to grieve with you if they also don’t know how to celebrate with you?

I sincerely hope some of your guilt lessens with time. You did not make us feel bad. We grieve because we care and because we are in this human experience together. And the only way we are going to make it out is to be there for each other during moments of jubilation and, more importantly, moments of heartache. 

Chrissy, thank you again for sharing with us even when you did not have to. Sharing is an essential part of the healing process (and also essential for reducing shame and stigma), and writing is also so cathartic. I encourage you to keep writing and keep journaling (even if it’s for your own eyes), give your two children as many hugs as you want, and grieve in exactly the way you need to heal.  

Warmly,

Dr. Huong Diep

**

P.S. I am proud to share that the All the Love website is up and running! Check it out for resources and community.