In Conversation with Linda

Firstly, I’d like to extend my best wishes to everyone during what has been a most challenging year for all of us.  If you have been bereaved during this time in any way, my sincere heartfelt condolences are sent to you. 

I am delighted to share a recent Podcast interview with the wonderful, dynamic Linda Hayden who invited me to join her for her PACwoman podcast.  Linda is not only a wonderful activist who supports and advocates for victims, she is also an extremely talented comedian, so this interview was unlike any I’ve ever done before!  It is full of empathy, a touch of death and grief, but primarily focussed on positivity and life, sprinkled with a few laughs out loud.  A link to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify are at the bottom of this blogpost.   

As Linda mentioned, my book can be found anywhere online and in some bookshops and it is called Grief Demystified: An Introduction.  Additionally, for anyone interested in learning more about grief online in the comfort of their own home, the wonderful Rosalie Kuyvenhoven and myself have recorded a lovely one hour introduction to contemporary grief theory and supporting the bereaved here: Grief Training for Professionals. 

While I have your attention, you might like to head on over to the Irish Hospice Foundation to check out their Think Ahead document if you’re in Ireland or Compassion in Dying in the UK for an advance directive.  For online resources, information and support for palliative care Marie Curie are amazing. 

For those of you interested, here are the links to everything else that I mentioned during my interview with Linda (and if you are unable to open paywall protected research use the sci hub website): 

  1. My PhD Research  
  1. EKR: On Death & Dying Book 
  1. 2020 Becker et al research  
  1. 2020 Birrell et al research  
  1. Bonanno resilience research 
  1. Tedeschi & Calhoun Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) research 
  1. Death and the Irish Book 
  1. Death Café Website 
  1. Louise Winter at Poetic Endings 
  1. My post on “Battle” language referring to death, dying & bereavement 

The PACwoman podcast can be accessed on iTunes and Spotify

I would be delighted to hear any comments or feedback that you have on the interview and if you wish to get in touch my website is  I wish you all a safe and peaceful week.  

Miscarriage: Claiming the Narrative

It is with kind permission that I’m able to recreate the following:

Back in 1983, I found myself in an office toilet cubicle miscarrying a 14 week old foetus.  I had no idea I was pregnant because I was using birth control.  I had visited the doctor four times in the preceding two months, and each examination and consultation had resulted in a prescription for increasingly powerful pain killers.  I was given no ‘diagnosis’ or ‘treatment’ for whatever was ailing me.  Just a piece of paper for pills and sent away to just ‘get on with it’.  Despite the painkillers, towards the end, the pain was unbearable and the blood was uncontainable.

I walked to my workplace from the bus stop with blood running down my legs, thankfully it was winter, so I was wearing a long, heavy, dark coloured skirt.  I went straight to the ladies’ room.  The fact that I was in work, doubled over in pain, in shock, and possibly denial, meant that I just flushed my baby away and went to my desk to work.  This was pre-internet, so I returned to the doctor’s surgery several days later, was examined, and it was confirmed that I’d had a miscarriage.  I was sent on my way with a different prescription for contraceptive pills.

I was dazed and confused and wasn’t sure what to think or feel; it was an unplanned and unkown pregnancy.  When I finally confided in a friend a few months later, I was told it was a “blessing in disguise” because I didn’t have to choose between “ruining my life by having a baby at 18″ or having an abortion.  At that time, within my cultural environment, this was the narrative.  I was also told it was just a bunch of cells.”

I’m observing bereaved narratives on the internet over thirty years later as a PhD researcher, and whilst there are similar stories to the above that can be found, there has been a noticeable change.  Advances in technology have contributed to changing the landscape; home pregnancy tests allow women to find out they are pregnant almost immediately after an absent period.  With ultrasound scans available to prospective mothers as early as 6 weeks’ gestation, it is now common to see the growing foetus in utero.  These tangible factors allow prospective parents to see their baby; to formulate future dreams of what they will look like, what they will be like and what their lives may encompass, from a very early gestational age.  These medical advances, along with the internet (particularly social media), has changed the narrative in Western cultures almost entirely.

From an occurrence that was historically perceived to be the loss of a ‘bunch of cells’ and the common platitude of “you can always try again”, it is now common to post ultrasound scans on social media pages with the ensuing proclamations and public announcements of parenthood. Following a miscarriage, some of these women are now posting photos of their miscarried foetus’ as evidence of their loss, and as such, there is a growing movement to allow miscarriages to be registered as a birth.  The internet has opened up a dialogue where these women can claim their identities as bereaved mothers.  Within their bodies and their imaginations, these children were real, they existed, and their death is impactful.  Social media has enabled them to form support groups online, particularly within Facebook, and there is impactful peer support on Twitter such as #BabyLossHour.

Clearly not all women are online, not all women grieve a miscarriage, not all women welcome the news of an unplanned pregnancy.  But there is something empowering about claiming your own narrative and having peer support available, whatever that narrative may be.

As always, this content is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without my permission.