The Elephant in the Room

439_10209010691850627_1486670657709728313_nWhen I was told I needed to have a hysterectomy my very first thought was “of course I do, because naturally I just bought the big box of tampons at Sam’s Club”.  And while that seems absurd now, I think the humor of my first thought was my brain cushioning myself for my second emotion, which was crushing.
I felt overwhelming grief. Heartbreak and sadness. I have two beautiful children, and at my age, never planned on having any more. Not really. But, this was permanent and forever. I was losing the special place I carried my babies. My womb. I was losing a part of myself, something feminine, womanly, and MINE. I told myself this is silly to feel this heartbroken, I’m 46! The having babies part of my life was over! My heart felt such grief. I would never again know that wonderful fluttery feeling of a sweet little kick coming from the life growing inside of me.
I tried to think rationally. I didn’t even particularly love being pregnant. I had severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum (it means lots of complications, but basically you throw up 26 times a day and can’t eat or drink anything-its pretty horrific- no exaggeration) with both my pregnancies and was hospitalized for much of the time. I told myself you are so blessed to already have two beautiful, healthy and wonderful children. It didn’t matter. I was just plain sad.
I tried to find support for my feelings, and found virtually no information or guidance on the web. I realized I didn’t even know anyone who had gone through a hysterectomy, at least I didn’t think I did. No one ever talked about having one. At my age, and after hearing from my OBGYN how common it was for women to go through a hysterectomy, I thought it very odd. It reminded me of another time in my life when I was struggling.
I have had 5 miscarriages when trying to become a mother. It wasn’t something anyone talked about, losing that precious life inside of you. The elephant in the room. No one spoke about it, and I felt very, very alone.
I think no one talks about these things because we just don’t know what to say in these situations. If anyone did say anything to me at all, it was incredibly insensitive and hurtful. I heard, “it was God’s way of sparing you the pain of an imperfect baby”. Or “it was for the best”. This was coming from loved ones and friends who genuinely cared about me, and it was not meant to be vicious in any way. They just didn’t know what to say.
Why is that, do you think? Why don’t we know what to say? We hear someone we care about is going through a terrible time, with a death or a loss, and we are so sad for them, but we somehow can’t figure out how to express ourselves in a sensitive way. So, we either awkwardly say the wrong thing or pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
For me, what brought me comfort, was a friend who simply said, “Stacy, I am just so sorry.” And nothing more. It was just “I am so sorry”. No advice, no “it was for the best”. Etc. It was, just, simply, “I’m so sorry.” It caught me off guard when she said it. I was bracing myself for the follow up advice that always came, insinuating how silly or irrational I was- discounting my emotions and waiting for the “buck up” type of advice I was so used to hearing from everyone. Her statement was simple and kind. She didn’t pretend to know what I was going through, she was just sorry I was going through it. And whatever sadness I was experiencing, it was okay. What she said to me was spoken sensitively, and without judgement. It was lovely and kind.

I’m just so sorry. It helped.

I am curious to know your thoughts, what advice or comfort have you received while going through a difficult time in your life?  I would love to hear your insight,and please comment below.

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