In an opinion piece on the New York Times, Meghan Markle revealed that she suffered a miscarriage in July. Though she and Prince Harry kept their loss private at the time, she has taken this opportunity to share it while tying it into a broader message. Given the trauma that the whole world is experiencing this year, she encourages everyone to ask each other if they’re OK.
The Duchess of Sussex begins her piece with a jarringly normal description of her morning in their Santa Barbara, Calif., home: “It was a July morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib.”
But as Markle was changing son Archie’s diaper, she felt a sharp cramp. “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” she wrote.
"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second," Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, writes about her miscarriage earlier this year.
"I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'" https://t.co/hdkexCAS9V
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 25, 2020
She and Harry eventually wound up at the hospital, and her pregnancy ended in miscarriage. What’s incredible is that they were able to keep this news completely secret at the time. Sure, there have been tabloid headlines about her being pregnant, but we assume those are the normal speculations that occur about every celebrity of childbearing age, so it’s hard to know if any were based on real information.
And the duchess could have kept this quiet forever, as so many people who experience miscarriage do.
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she wrote. “In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
But rather than continue her own solitary mourning, Markle has decided to talk about it. Her reasoning, as it unfolds in the essay, comes from how much it meant to her last year when she was finishing up her tour of Africa and journalist Tom Bradby asked her, “Are you OK?” We all recall watching her tearful, moving answer, and she also recalls the public reaction.
“I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many — new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering,” she wrote. “My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.”
In the piece, Markle, who happens to be a very good writer on top of everything else, widens her lens to look at all the losses people have felt this year — COVID-19 deaths; the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black people at the hands of police; the loss of our ability to agree on what is true and what is opinion. She doesn’t offer a solution to all these problems. But she believes that if we ask each other, “Are you OK?” we can all begin to recover.
This is an interesting companion theory to the way Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have been discussing their pregnancy loss since October. Rather than waiting for someone to ask her about it, Teigen turned herself inside-out and let the public view their intimate, raw pain, instinctively knowing that it would make it easier for others to share theirs, too.
But not everyone can do that. In Markle’s view, we should be checking in on each other, as it helps the person asking as well as the one being listened to.
“We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”
If you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of an infant, visit Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support to find local support groups and other resources to help cope through this difficult time.
These other famous parents have been open about suffering miscarriages.