It's been reported that a psychologist based in LA (where else) has launched a range of miscarriage cards. The psychologist suffered from two miscarriages herself and found that several of her patients agreed that interactions afterwards were often awkward and faltering, with many people understandably unsure how to respond, inspiring her to provide a new way for people to offer their support.
After we lost Isabella, we received lots of flowers, messages on social media and a few cards. No one knows what to say; but the words aren't the important bit, the care, compassion and love is what matters. In fact, a wonderful friend of mine brought round a bunch of flowers and a pot of jam - because she thought that when you're feeling down, toast and jam is the best comfort food. That's a gift I remember the most. It made me laugh and also touched me, showing that she had tried to connect and reach out and comfort me in any small, simple way she could. Plus it was delicious - it was Taste the Difference.
We are in a strange world, where speaking to somebody through a keyboard is easier than speaking face-to-face, where we have phenomenons previously fairly unheard of, like 'social anxiety'. Connections are about wifi, not people. This makes everyday small talk while waiting for a bus with a neighbour a minefield, let alone The Big Stuff.
In that respect, I really do admire this woman and her initiative. She knows the psyche and the taboo first hand and she wants to break the ice and make it easier to connect without any coding required. I think that's a great thing. A card is tangible and real; even if delivered by the postman, it has still taken time to write, seal and post. It can prompt words, which might be difficult to say and impossible to say correctly.
It could, however, also take words away. I feel about these miscarriage cards a bit like I feel about divorce cards. There are already sympathy and congratulations cards out there - there are blank cards, vehicles for truly personal and targeted messages thought out by the sender. The whole prospect of sending a card is surely to connect and relate; with these cards, I worry this is already done for you.
An example of the messages is: "I know how hard this must be for you, to be pregnant after your loss. I understand that you're terrified. I'm here for you." These are important words, ones which many people in the circumstances probably want to say and hear. But what if the sender then felt all was said for them, that the message had been conveyed and simply signed their name inside? Personally, I would rather have a blank card with a perhaps faltering, perhaps awkward, perhaps uncertain message - but one that was thought of and meant for me, not for the anonymous group of 'women who've had miscarriages'.
Miscarriage is a personal experience. People share feelings, of course they do, but I don't want an identikit card on my bookcase from my next door neighbour after losing Bella at six months to the next woman from her mum on losing her baby at six weeks. It feels all a bit carbon copy and lazy to me and I worry that it will make it easier for people to try less, not more, knowing they don't need to find those words in their own hearts. Imagine, by comparison, a pre-written letter to Father Christmas that the little ones could simply sign, that reads 'I've been so good this year and really hope you'll visit our house' - ok, it does the job, but it compromises the real, personal touch. In those moments, the last thing you need is more emptiness in your sympathy cards - you already have that in your womb, arms and newly-bought pram.
Having said all this, anything that helps people relate and breaks the taboo is a positive step. Sympathy cards don't really feel right in many of these stillborn and miscarriage circumstances, and congratulations cards may seem gauche in the circumstance of a new pregnancy, so there is a gap in the greetings card aisles. Raising awareness is an honorable task and these cards feature beautiful messages on their covers - I would just hope that people take the time and effort to put their own beautiful messages inside too, because those that are heartfelt and handwritten will always mean the most.