I’ve been reflecting and musing on this for a week now. I’ve taken time over it because I want to do justice to my source of inspiration: my dear friend Jenene Crossan. She suffered a devastating miscarriage after undergoing IVF. All miscarriages are devastating – I know, I’ve had two – but surely those following all the bodily trauma, the hormonal manipulation, the emotional rollercoaster of an IVF conception must be worse. The saying goes ‘there is life after death’. For some, there simply and sadly won’t be another new human life after a miscarriage. And I can’t and wouldn’t begin to even try to label and empathise with the hurt that must come with that. What I try to do is look at things with a different perspective, and that’s what I’ve been doing this week. What I’ve seen is this:
The life that can come after death is within those who are left behind. There is life in suffering. It is raw. It is deep. It burns. To survive it one needs strength.
(Bear with me, this musing is not about miscarriages or death, and has a message relevant for us all)
- the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
- mental power, force, or vigor.
- moral power, firmness, or courage.
Through writing my book, I’ve come to love definitions. They help me give context to what I’m trying to articulate (and confirm I’m using the right words; afterall, I’m new to this writing thing). I take this definition to mean that strength can be in body, mind and spirit, which means it can relate to your whole existence, which is perfect to reinforce my perspective:
There is life after death within those left behind suffering. Survival requires strength. And here’s the essence of my perspective: When you display strength you are alive and vital.
When you display strength you are alive and vital.
Jenene displayed it in spades through her blog, written in the darkest depths of grief, which I shared via Facebook. If you missed it, you can read it here.
She showed strength in owning her feelings, in her courage to share them, and in her conviction that “exposing yourself can actually help not hinder”. I admire her and love her and am grateful to women like she who inspire me. But here’s the thing: Strength is within us all. We all have the power, it’s just a matter of unleashing and enabling it. And this is where many women, and mums, can come unstuck. Afterall, strength is not a skill taught at school or university.
Yet it’s one we need. Especially as mums or mums-to-be – because as mums don’t we need to call on strength frequently! Or should I say constantly!? Strength to try again when a pregnancy has been lost, after you become a mum strength to get up in the morning after a disrupted night, to say no (or to take a deep breath and say yes if we must), to mentally be “on” all the time attuned and catering to the rhythm of our little ones, to be firm and put our needs first sometimes, to not compare or care what other people think of our choices, to leave a child (and your heart) at daycare and go off to work, or to leave behind a fulfilling job to stay at home, to nurse a sick child, overcome post natal depression, manage your grief after a lost child… Mummies and mums-to-be need strength.
So how can we unleash it, enable it, build more of it? I have a few suggestions. Here they are…
3 STEPS TO STRENGTH:
- LEAN IN
to the hurt, or the hard times. This means being open to the experience and riding the wave of emotions. Don’t push them away. When you sit with your emotions, acknowledge what you’re feeling, name the feelings, even better share them, you are taking control. That’s strength.
- KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT
and use this as a lever. For example Jenene, (if I may say so J), is good at writing and connecting. She wrote about her pain and shared this very publicly. As she wrote: “I know that it’s my vulnerability and willingness to feel it, and not just run away from it or numb it, that will enable me to get back up from this and carry on to the next part of my journey. Whatever and whenever that might be. It will become a part of my story and it is now knitted into who I am. It will improve me, like all the other dents in my armour.” That’s strength.
- LEAN ON
your tribe. Sometimes, it’s the people around us who will help us endure whatever is troubling us. Leaning on your tribe – your friends, family, colleagues, network, these days even (or especially!?) social media followers – is not a weakness. In a society that celebrates high achievers it can take guts to ask for help. That’s strength.
And one last one for luck: Believe in yourself.
You are stronger than you know. Mummy, you got moxie. We all do. We just need a reminder sometimes; an opportunity to stop and check in with ourselves, to uncover or recover as the case may be, the strength that lies within us. Please share this blog and message with a woman you know who could do with a reminder and a bit of a boost. Help her know she’s got it, it’s in her, and you’re here for her.
Dedicated to you J, always here for you xx
Signing off with this quote, from my book: