During our struggles with infertility, we have discovered the value of suffering together.
As our story unfolded, one of the things that really shocked us is how many couples have experienced a miscarriage. Even good friends of ours were suddenly revealing their experiences. It was like we were let into a secret room and allowed to see the specific suffering of others because of the specific suffering we were going through.
Everyone is suffering. Not everyone is going through infertility. Not everyone is experiencing cancer or the aftermaths of an accident. Not everyone is trying to get through today with depression or anxiety weighing heavy on them. But we are all struggling with something. The specifics are not universal, but the suffering is.
A Lonely Enterprise
We do our best to isolate and protect ourselves when we are suffering. After all, people can’t truly appreciate how we’re feeling. Our hurt is personal. It belongs to us and we have to own it.
And that sucks.
It makes suffering feel so lonely. We look around and see, not the suffering of others, but the fact they are not suffering from the specific things we are suffering from.
There is a reality to suffering. Some of it we cannot pawn off. We cannot make others responsible for our suffering, for making us feel better. There is a weight to our ordeals that we must carry on our own.
Lonely TogetherOne of my favorite days ever was when I went with another introvert to a coffee shop. We sat two tables away from each other and wrote/read/sipped coffee in our own little world. Afterwards, we talked about our experience. It was a weird sort of exercise – totally alone, but in community.
When the curtain as pulled back and we were allowed into the world of miscarriage sufferers, it was an oddly comforting world. A world of sufferers who were bearing their unique struggles – but together. It somehow helped. Just sitting with people who could kind of understand, who were carrying their own weights.
Because here is the magic in suffering together – it somehow makes the weight a little lighter. Others are not responsible for suffering on your behalf, but when they support and share their own suffering, it lightens the load for everyone involved.
Conventional wisdom says we should not tell people we are pregnant until like twelve weeks or something. The thinking is that if you lose the baby (miscarriage is more likely early on), you don’t have to go back and explain to people what happened. The trouble with this is, that if you have a miscarriage, you don’t have the structures in place to suffer together. You either have to walk people through the roller coaster of “we got pregnant, but we lost it” (which is what we had to do) or you hide it from people. Neither is the very best option.
We should not be so afraid of suffering together. There is power in togetherness. I don’t know how we’d have gotten through a miscarriage (and continued infertility) without an amazing community and family.
The world is heavy. Too heavy for us to bear alone. We cannot shirk holding our weight of the world, but the mass is a little lighter if we can all hold our weight together.