Meghan Markle wrote an incredible open letter, The Losses We Share, that astutely connected the dots of grief from her miscarriage to the omnipresent grief of our day-to-day existence in 2020. It’s a must read; especially, I would argue, for the men in our lives. I say that ‘cause there seems to be a LOAD of issues that women regularly face and are expected to get over, that are not given their due weight in this mans’ world.
The letter is indeed open, moving and incredibly on point in its relatability. It certainly spoke to me on a personal level, as I too had a miscarriage this 2020; my fourth miscarriage in 3 1/2 years.
My first miscarriage came on while I was teaching a yoga class, something I cherish doing and always enjoy, so it felt like the ultimate betrayal for it to be happening at that time. I returned to teaching the very next day, after being in emerg for most of the night before, because that’s what you do when “something is very common and happens to so many women". Plow through. The second loss happened over the Christmas holidays. I didn’t feel I could get out of all the seasonal obligations I had made, for fear of how I or my husband would be perceived. So I plowed through. The third miscarriage happened when I was shadowing a TV director on a big Netflix show so of course I couldn’t dare take time out for myself from such an unbelievable opportunity. I wanted to be taken seriously so I plowed through. And the fourth miscarriage happened at the start of this crazy year, when I felt those all-too-familiar symptoms come on and the trauma set in. I was already on eggshells from the previous three miscarriages, so I never even allowed myself to feel happy or fortunate about the pregnancy. I even did the awful thing of saying, out loud, that I was a poster child for miscarriages, which of course is mad insanity and F’d up and then I plowed through.
As I write this, I get fired up because four miscarriages is not nothing; and yet I know I’ve never, ever, ever fully processed the heartbreak and grief of it all and like so many others, we just pile on and plow through.
The truth is, advice like “keep on keeping on” and “pull up your boot straps to get ‘er done” is never helpful. And it’s definitely not enough in this collective year of pain.
Many of us have faced uncertainty; some are out of jobs, some are losing their businesses and we’ve all been taken away from family and friends and isolated from amazing communities and places of wellbeing that have kept us sane (like yoga studios). And still we’re being asked to gather stamina to continue forward and plow through. Those very things - our places of wellbeing, our jobs, friends and family - are not just things, they’re our lifelines and heartbeats. They may even be points of identity and pride. So we have good reason to stamp our feet and have a good cry for as long as need be.
And “pivot”? Ah, pivot… It may be an all-too-familiar word and sentiment in this bananas of a year, but what if you’re not done grieving yet? Some people are exhausted and have nothing left to give, let alone pivoting! What are we going to do about that? How are we gonna pick each other up?
I had already started to work on this piece when the dutchess’s open letter came out, so I was relieved and hopeful to see the pendulum of perspective on 2020 taking a different and much needed position; one rooted in empathy and sensitivity. We are fully loaded this year on top of all our individual personal challenges. We are collectively experiencing a perpetual state of grief. We’ve seen and experienced so much this year and it hasn’t been easy so much of the time. Yes, some of it has unearthed some good work and progress. Some of it has lit a fire in us, inspiring life-long commitments to change. Some of it has begun to right some of the many wrongs. But it hasn’t been without its weight, which needs to be acknowledged and processed within each of us.
I bring it back to the mat and our yoga, where I know so much pause, revelation, good work and connection are possible. Are you meeting yourself? Are you getting enough of yourself for yourself?
I recently had a bit of a reprieve from my idle, monotonous Corona state of things. Just a bit of a crack in it all - enough to let some light in. I’ve just returned from Nova Scotia where there are still way less Covid cases. It was being touted as one of the safest places on earth this summer! I wasn’t there for that, although I did enjoy knowing that to be the case. I was on the province’s South Shore, an incredibly beautiful, relatively untouched spot, to shadow a female showrunner and director friend of mine on her new show. The set was oceanside, overlooking epic views and surrounded by the sweet smells of clean, natural air.
No doubt, I was lucky to be there, living a relatively normal existence in a province and town where Covid cases were so low. On my off time, I could go to dinner, shop in stores and enjoy the company of others within my bubble. We even made it to a concert! First one in over a year for me. I felt myself getting verklempt as I took in the performance, knowing that I once took such an experience for granted.
But here’s the thing with Nova Scotia and their approach… They acted as though they had hundreds of thousands of cases; invoking diligent and preventative practices that kept us free to enjoy everyday life as much as possible. After a government imposed two-week quarantine, I could live life in a Corona time without it feeling like Corona all the time.
I signed in with my name and phone number whenever I went to a restaurant and sometimes even at stores, so that I or others could be notified if we had been exposed to the virus. I wore a mask indoors even though cases were low, as a precaution and a gesture of care. I got to shadow a TV director WHILE IN A PANDEMIC and enjoy the company of other likeminded creative types. And the TV show got through shooting eight episodes without a hitch! No cases. Magical!
And that concert I got to attend was also kinda magical because of the necessary precautions they had to take. Instead of selling tickets they sold tables of 8 for groups that had an established bubble, and while at that table you could be mask free unless on the move in the venue. And the venue came up with the coolest idea for seating these tables; after temperature checks, hand sanitizing and answering a very familiar questionnaire, they would seat just ONE table at a time while other tables remained seated. And to make that time-consuming protocol a little less tedious and a lot more fun, management cued the people already seated to explode into a round of applause for every new table being escorted into the venue. Basically a standing ovation, minus the standing. If you’ve never gotten a standing ovation simply for walking into a space, I highly recommend it. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to greet anyone in this 2020 year. It just makes you feel good to receive applause AND to give applause; and it’s actually appropriate given the shit-show we’ve all been through.
As I reflect on my personal losses and their significance in a year with so much loss and paralleled pain, I acknowledge this 2020 to be an unrelenting year of perpetual grief. Yes it is. But it’s been perpetual in its grief with some amazing moments that I might not have recognized in any other year.
The frontline workers that were once just people who worked for minimum wage are now heroes who keep the world running. The beauty of the great outdoors on the heels of being sequestered inside is literally a breath of fresh air. The binge-worthy TV shows that told simple, do-good stories reminded us all that kindness does win (even some Emmys!). The marches, the protests, the discussions, the action, the reading - there has been so much born out of our grief, and no grief gets to out grief the other. It’s all significant, and important to nurture into a healing space. It’s all worthy of a pause but most importantly it warrants a huge round of applause for all of us.