I'm linking to this short (17 minutes) New Yorker documentary titled "The Pause: A Brief Contemplation of Scott's Infertility."
It follows a couple over the course of a year after they find out that the husband, Scott, is infertile. He grapples with his grief and his questions. What makes a family? What happens when your family doesn't look like the way you dreamed it would? How do you navigate this as a couple?
This is a very candid and raw book about going through and surviving a miscarriage. While weaving her own story throughout, Dr. Sunita Osborn covers the physical, emotional, and relational experiences of a miscarriage and the aftermath. At the end of each chapter, she suggests an exercise related to the topic covered in the chapter.
I'm thinking that Dr. Osborn wrote this shortly following her two miscarriages which is why her observations are spot-on and real. That said, there is an undertone of bitterness and anger, and that is completely understandable. If you're looking for a book with a happy ending and tidy end, this is not that book.
This is my go-to book whenever I'm asked for a book recommendation about miscarriage. Recommended if you or your spouse has experienced (or is experiencing) a miscarriage. Also recommended to any friend or family member who wants to know how to best support someone who is grieving.
When Long Litt Woon’s husband suddenly dies at age 54, she signs up for a class that her and her husband had intended to take together but never got around to. She takes a beginner’s class on mushrooming. She eventually becomes a certified mushroom expert.
In this book, Long Litt Woon tells the story of, “…two parallel journeys: an outer one, into the realm of mushrooms, and an inner one, through the landscape of mourning” (p. 282).
There is a lot about mushrooms in this book. We also get a glimpse into the culture of mushroom experts. Throughout the book, Long Litt Woon weaves in her thoughts and observations about her grief: “One thing I’m sure of: the grieving process does not follow a linear step-by-step pattern. It is complex and full of moveable parts. There is no straight, predictable arrow pointing upward from a grief-stricken existence to a grief-free state, the road twists and turns, and so-called progress occurs when it suits the grief, not you” (p. 87).
The main theme that I was left with after reading this book was how after such a significant loss, the question of identity comes up. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? Long Litt Woon shows that there is still room to grow, to learn, to live even after loss and while grieving.
It's not talked about much, and is actually more common than you might think.
Take a listen as the two OB/GYNs from The V Word podcast discuss miscarriage: https://vwordpod.com/episode/miscarriage/
This memoir is a very intimate look at Scully’s experience with infertility. She writes honestly about her jealousy, disappointment, and anger throughout the process. She also writes about how the process of trying to conceive affected her relationship with her husband. Scully includes things that helped along the way, like adopting a dog and working with a mental health professional in order to sort out her feelings.
Just a heads up: this memoir does not have a happy ending. Scully and her husband go through two rounds of IVF with no success. (Trigger warning: early pregnancy loss.)
This book provides normalization of the infertility journey, and the mental and physical toll that it can take on both partners. This book is very short and concise, and I would recommend it for friends and family of folks going through infertility treatments so that they can understand the struggle and know how they might offer appropriate support and care.
The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir About Death, Grief, & Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer
Kate Spencer was 27 years old when her mother died from cancer. Spencer writes about her grief in a straight-forward and candid way. She doesn't try to sugar coat any of her experiences.
Her engaging and chatty style of writing makes her seem like a good friend who is really telling you the truth so you don't feel so alone in your sadness, despair, and anger.
It’s the end of May, the sun is shining here in California, and summer is not so far off.
In this Monthly Round-Up, I’ve listed a few items that have caught my attention this month:
In Terrible, Thanks for Asking Episode #11, end-of-life care and decisions are discussed. It’s not a light conversation for sure, but it gives us lots to think about. (Warning: this episode contains discussion about death, brain cancer, hospice, and the right-to-die law.)
This short and sweet article on gratitude is a great reminder to take stock of what we are thankful for today, in this moment.
In Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say, Kelly Corrigan writes essays about the words that nurture relationships. This is a memoir that is bittersweet, tender, funny, and warm.
If you'd like to learn more about grief and the grieving process, here's a book to check out.
Grief Demystified by Carolyn Lloyd
“…grief is the cost of loving someone: the greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the impact” (p. 26).
What It’s About:
This is a short (111 pages) and concise handbook of sorts on what grief is and how it works. The title is really accurate – Lloyd takes the subject of grief, one that we tend to avoid talking about in our culture, and distills it down to the basics in a very readable and accessible format. A great grief primer, one that could be read in one sitting.
Lloyd gives a brief history of academic grief theories, offers suggestions about how to talk with people who are bereaved, describes various grieving styles, and talks about how to offer support.
Grief will be different for each person. That said, having a general understanding of how grief works would benefit anyone who will ever experience grief or meet anyone who is grieving.
Anger is an indicator that something doesn't feel right. It isn't fun to feel angry, but sometimes it's easier to feel anger than to acknowledge (and actually feel) all of the vulnerable feelings that sit underneath the anger. Vulnerable feelings like grief, shame, and disappointment can feel uncomfortable and painful. We can sometimes use anger to protect ourselves from feeling this vulnerability and pain.
Are you willing to take a look at what feelings sit underneath your Anger Iceberg?
Here's a podcast episode for you to check out:
Sorta Awesome Episode 80: Offering Gentle Comfort in Times of Grief (During the Holidays and Beyond)
What It’s About:
The ladies over at Sorta Awesome tackle the topic of grief. This episode aired during the holiday season, so they talk about what it’s like to be grieving during a time when everyone around us seems to be celebrating. However, this episode offers wisdom and practical advice that is applicable year-round.
What to say (and what NOT to say)
Practical ways to support someone who is grieving
Ideas about how to take care of yourself
Gift ideas and tips on how to be helpful
Benefits of Listening:
For the grieving, this podcast normalizes grief and the difficulty of grieving during a holiday season. If you’re a friend of someone grieving a loss, you might feel helpless and not know how to support someone. This podcast will give you concrete ways to help out.
I’m Elaine Gee-Wong and I'm a therapist with a private practice in Santa Clara, CA.
Any information or advice on this website is for informational purposes only, and should not take the place of information or care provided to you by your physicians, medical, or mental health care professionals.