I’m going to start out here by stating the obvious: Losing a baby is more than just a disappointment. However, I think the ways we deal with mere disappointment are also helpful in dealing with complete and total heartbreak. The timing and intensity just changes.
The first thing I do when I’m disappointed is mope. If I lose a game of Phase 10, I might mope for about a minute. If I teach a lesson that flops, I might mope for 5 minutes. If I were to lose something very valuable, I would mope a little longer. When we lost our baby, I sat around in my PJs for a month. It’s all relative.
I think moping is your brain’s way of shutting everything else down so you can focus on coping with your loss. You think about it a lot so you can come to terms with it, so you can get used to it. We do it when we go through good changes too. When Will and I got engaged, we called everyone we knew to tell them about it, we posted it on all social media, I looked at my ring constantly, I blogged about it, we said to each other, “Can you believe we’re getting married?!” To this day, we still look at each other now and then and say, “How did this happen? We got MARRIED. Can you believe it?”
Of course when you wallow in your good fortune, we don’t call it moping – we call it relishing – but it’s the same thing. You spend a lot of time thinking about it to wrap your brain around the idea. It’s kind of like breaking in a new pair of shoes. You have to wear them a lot so your feet can feel at home in them.
This is why I don’t think moping is a bad thing, even if you’re just doing it because you lost at Phase 10. The only thing you have to watch is how long you’re moping. It’s all relative. If you mope for three days after losing a stupid card game, that’s too long. If you only mope for three days after losing a human being, I am concerned that you are suppressing your grief. I think a psychologist or counselor could probably tell you how long is too long to mope after a miscarriage, but since I am neither, all I have to say is, “Do you need chocolate cake? And if so, what is your address?”
You get to a point in the moping when you think, “Ok this has gone on long enough,” but you still aren’t quite ready to go back to completely normal. The in-between period, at least for me, is characterized by just lying about it. It’s not a bad thing. You’re not trying to deceive other people. It’s just that transitions are hard, and sometimes you have to pretend you’re ok in order to convince yourself that you’re really ok. You’ve probably been ok for a while but just didn’t believe it. It’s like when you lose a bunch of weight and look AWESOME in smaller clothes, but you’re stuck in the mindset that you shouldn’t be wearing those clothes because you’re too big. You just have to wear the clothes for a while before you feel comfortable in them and confident that they’re really “you.”
Did you know that if you hold a pencil in your teeth (thus forcing yourself to make a very awkward smiling face), you’ll eventually start to feel happy? Or that if you stand in a victorious pose for a minute, you will actually feel more powerful? It’s true. Watch this video if you don’t believe me. “Fake it ’til you make it” is a real, scientifically proven thing.
Sometimes we just need to hold our own hand for a little while.
Again, the faking-it period after losing a game of Parcheesi is about 30 seconds. I think I’m in the faking-it phase after my miscarriage now, and I don’t know how long it will last, but it feels a lot better than moping, so I’m going to try and keep it up until I get to the actually-ok phase.
I don’t know, practically, how one moves from faking it to actually being ok again because I’m not there yet. I’m told, however, that ever-so-slowly, you just get there. One day at a time, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and eventually, you arrive at a different place. For me, I think the process is going to be long and involve a lot of movies and carbohydrates. My friend Derrick told me once that any bad situation can be improved with mint chocolate chip ice cream and The Three Amigos. I also find that cuddling helps. As with all things grief related, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, so whatever works for you, let it work, take your time, and we’ll all meet up when we get there.