This morning, many of us read, with teary eyes and whispers of “same,” Meghan Markle’s powerful New York Times Opinion essay detailing the heartbreak of her recent miscarriage. In the essay, Markle writes about a summer morning that was totally normal — until she realized she was miscarrying what would have been her second-born child.
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” Markle writes. “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.”
This commonality and the widespread stigma that perpetuates so many women grieving their miscarriage alone was precisely why Markle chose to open up and share her story — much like Chrissy Teigen publicly shared her own pregnancy loss in October.
And yet, much like Teigen’s, Markle’s bravery and thoughtfulness regarding the countless other women who go through this process was met with completely uncalled-for vitriol, shaming, and more from critics on Twitter.
“This article is a joke,” wrote one reader of Markle’s essay on Twitter. “To what extent will she go for attention. I do not believe she miscarried. Sorry. She is one sick woman.”
“It was her choice to spend her best reproductive years as a yacht girl,” chimed in another.
Many more took a more classic approach, criticizing Markle for somehow grieving in the “wrong” way (PSA: We’ve said it so many times, but yet again: There is no wrong way to grieve.)
“She didn’t seem sad or grieving during her July/August speaking engagements.”
“Real pain is not so pretentious and theatrical!”
It goes on and on and on. These are all actual quotes from actual readers of this actual woman’s heart-wrenching essay about her actual trauma and loss.
Its OK to mourn a miscarriage, but say abortion is murder and everyone freaks out, hmmm.
— Zeke (@ZekesMommasKid) November 25, 2020
Yet others chose to muddy the waters between miscarriage (ie the tragic loss of a wanted pregnancy) and abortion (ie the wanted healthcare procedure to end an unwanted pregnancy). Teigen faced similar criticism last month, simply for being a pro-choice woman and a mother who wanted another child.
Because how dare she be, at the same time? Twitter wants to know. How dare we — women, mothers — be any more than exactly one thing, or contain any more than exactly one emotion/perspective/opinion at all times?
Of course, plenty of readers came to Markle’s defense — folks who have been through miscarriage themselves, who have known someone who suffered a loss, or who are simply humans with empathy and a heartbeat.
How dare we — women, mothers — be any more than exactly one thing, or contain any more than exactly one emotion/perspective/opinion at all times?
Even Teigen herself came to Markle’s defense. When Marco Giannangeli tweeted, “Is anyone really questioning the pain and sheer awfulness of suffering a miscarriage, or are they perhaps criticising Meghan’s decision to write a 1,000 word op-Ed about herself?” Teigen responded: “Award for today’s absolute piece of s–t goes to Marco Giannangeli. Congratulations, piece of s–t.”
But the biggest problem here is the fact that, while Markle has throngs of fans and supporters to catch her when the haters come out (like today), those trolls’ comments are more likely to seen by — and resonate with — miscarriage survivors who are more at risk than Markle, who don’t have that kind of support to sweep in and tell the haters to eff off.
So if you, or anyone you know, is even thinking for a moment about questioning Markle’s choice to write about her loss or criticizing any minute aspect of her way of grieving? Don’t. Just don’t. Because even if Markle never sees your hurtful words, someone far more vulnerable will.