Why do people say such mean things about miscarriage and pregnancy loss?
Chrissy Teigen, who has normalized issues such as postpartum depression and infertility, revealed in an Instagram post on Wednesday that she experienced a devastating pregnancy loss.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before,” Teigen wrote alongside a series of black-and-white photos of herself and her husband, John Legend, mourning at the hospital.
After sharing the news, Teigen was inundated with messages of support, but some found it necessary to call out Teigen for seeking attention.
“It’s kind of sick that when you loose (sic) a child you focus on snapping a good staged photo… Insane world,” one person commented.
This might be nothing new for a celebrity who’s used to the glare of a spotlight; but regular women who have suffered through pregnancy loss say that cruel comments are far too common.
Sports writer Jason Whitlock attempted to shame Teigen for sharing the news the way she did.
“I don’t understand this or social media. Who takes a picture of their deepest pain and then shares it with strangers?” he wrote on Twitter. “Do other women/parents want a reminder of their deepest pain, the loss of a child? Is everything just social media content?”
Others wondered if Teigen having breast implant removal surgery could be to blame for the death of her son. (The answer is no.)
Why people are judgmental
“When someone is mourning a pregnancy loss, it spurs judgement. Someone might say, ‘Why are you upset? You never even played with the baby,” Dr. Jessica Zucker, a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health and maternal mental health, told TODAY Parents. “But what they’re missing is that most people, as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, begin imagining that baby as part of the family. They begin to bond, they develop an attachment.”
Erica McAfee, who hosts the “Sisters in Loss” podcast, told TODAY Parents that as a society we are used to hiding painful experiences.
“When somebody is brave enough to share openly, it makes some people uncomfortable and that can bring out a nastiness,” McAfee explained. “Anyone who thinks she’s screaming for attention has never known the pain of losing a baby.”
Both Zucker and McAfee applaud Teigen for breaking the silence surrounding pregnancy loss.
“For too long women have been silenced and afraid to share,” Zucker said. “What Chrissy is doing is precisely what we need. It’s really time that we integrate this kind of grief into our daily conversation.”
When photos are all you have
As people criticized Teigen for sharing her grief on Instagram, Georgina Brackstone came to her defense. She understands why Teigen took pictures. When Brackstone lost her daughter, Scarlett, at 33 weeks of pregnancy in 2011, she did the same thing.
“I think of her every day,” Brackstone wrote on Instagram to Teigen. “And even though the feeling of love is accompanied by the sharp pain of the memories of tragedy as loss, it is HER. It is all wrapped up together. I wish you love in surviving your loss. One day you will no longer cry in the shower so no one hears you, you will wake up without pain of the memory of the loss and you will remember Jack with warmth and a sigh.”
“I was frightened that I would forget details about Scarlett and that would be like losing her all over again,” Brackstone, who lives in London, told TODAY Parents. “In the beginning, the photos were painful to look at and I had to put them away for a time. Now, they are a comfort.”