Words always had a special power over me. From an early age, I read any book I could get my hands on. I even remember getting up early so I could read my books before having to go to school! Yes, I had been a bookworm since I can remember and with it came a love and passion for writing. I have written short stories for friends, countless essays and always knew that writing will be part of my life.
I had no idea though it would eventually save me as well.
As my life went on, writing stayed with me. It became even my career for 10 years when I worked as a print journalist, both here and overseas. In my private life, writing was more present in the form of writing lists of wishes and dreams and things my husband and I hoped to achieve. One of them was to become parents.
We had talked about it many times and knew we would love to be parents one day but didn’t plan anything.
Then, one day, I felt a bit off. Just not quite how I normally felt. Before I drove to the pharmacy, I knew I was pregnant. The test confirmed what I already suspected – there was a teeny tiny baby on its way!
I was in shock. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly and I didn’t know what to feel. Hubby was over the moon from the moment I told him. I, on the other hand, kept fretting. I was in a terrible, stressful job and was worried how I could fulfill my duties while being pregnant. I could not relax.
Before I could make up my mind, a decision was made for me. I started bleeding one cold Friday and soon cramps started and I ended up in emergency. At first, no one could tell me if the baby was dead or still living. Countless tests followed and ten days of sheer terror and hell before we knew for sure: Our baby had died.
I kept thinking about my loss all the time and caught myself wondering what I had wished would have been said to me straight after.
I felt numb at first, as if I was caught in a terrible nightmare that didn’t belong to me and I had to get out of asap. But this incredibly deep sadness, loneliness and emptiness I felt wouldn’t go away. This was real life – my life. My baby had died. I went to emergency pregnant and left the next morning with an empty womb and a broken soul.
The first few days after my loss were spent in a haze and then everything went dark and stayed dark. I couldn’t make sense of the world and the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. I remember not having any energy for anything and thought that life was pointless. This wouldn’t change for some time but one day I realized, I needed to claw my way back to life. I couldn’t stay paralysed with grief and sadness; I knew this was not healthy. So I turned to the one thing I knew would help me make sense of things – writing.
To start with, I wrote whatever came to my mind and most of it was just gibberish, random snippets of my pain, and raw accusations to the world that was so messed up. Obviously, it was nothing that was worth sharing with anyone. But that wasn’t the point. This rambling on paper was about tackling some of this darkness that was hanging over me. I needed to get rid of this heavy feeling in my chest that made breathing hard.
As time went on, my writing became more coherent. I wrote some poems, which was surprising, as I never thought that to be my thing. I wrote every day – first and foremost, because it helped me with my sanity. I kept thinking about my loss all the time and caught myself wondering what I had wished would have been said to me straight after. For me, no one other than my hubby was there. We were all alone with our pain and grief and it was hell. The next time I sat down to write, I ended up with a guide on what NOT to say to a miscarriage survivor. I wrote that because we had heard some insensitive things and I felt and still feel very strongly about appropriate language after pregnancy loss.
The words just flowed out of me and a mini guide was born. First, I thought nothing of it as I thought no one would ever want to read this or be interested in using kind language after a baby had died. At the same time I had become involved with pregnancy loss support groups and met other women who also lost their babies, at various stages of their pregnancies. It was an unusual topic to bond over but I had made some meaningful connections. They motivated me to keep writing, to conduct more research, talk to more women and bit by bit, a whole book came together – ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’.
In my book, I talk about those first few dark weeks and months after the loss, how to develop coping strategies and how to practice mindful self care after loss. It was very important to me to include a whole chapter with advice for others such as family members and friends to ensure they know what NOT to say and do after a loved one suffered a miscarriage.
I never thought that writing could help me one day to survive the worst and darkest time of my life. I am forever grateful for this coping strategy of mine that is so much more – a passion, a never ending love and for the future, a useful tool to help others through their pain.
About the author:
Karin Holmes is a Canberra based writer and grief counselor. After her own miscarriage 5 years ago, Karin wrote the ebook ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’. The book is available on www.amazon.com or www.karinholmes.com