I’m Back and Writing About Loss By Monica A. Coleman


The following is a guest post written by Monica A. Coleman, Ph.D., scholar and activist committed to connecting faith and social justice. An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Coleman has earned degrees at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University.  Coleman is currently Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology in southern California. She is also Associate Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University.

This post was originally posted on the Beautiful Mind Blog.  Be sure to check in there and follow Monica’s journey.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve noticed that I’ve been really quiet lately. Like all summer lately. What’s up with that? Well, part of the challenge of writing about depression is that it’s hard to write when depressed, and, well, depression happens.

But I’m back – well, back to Beautiful Mind Blog – and I thought I’d shake things up a bit.

  1. I actually have been writing this summer, even if not on Beautiful Mind Blog. So I’ll post some of the online articles and blogs I have been writing.
  2. I’m changing the format of the blog

I’ve been writing some longer-than-normal blog pieces reflecting theologically on various experiences of living with a depressive condition. I’ll keep doing that. But I’m going to intersperse those with shorter pieces about some of my daily experiences of what it’s like living with, wrestling, sometimes in great healthy ways, sometimes in I’ll-try-again- tomorrow ways with a depressive condition.

I’ve also decided to write a series about my recent experience with miscarriage. I’m not writing about it because it’s easy – because it’s not. I’m not writing about it because I want to share this part of my life with people I don’t know well. I’m writing about it because I’m called to.

I feel called to break silences that cause shame and diminish the qualities of our lives. That’s why I speak out against sexual violence. It’s why I write about mental health challenges. I’ve long been interested in women’s reproductive health, but I’m really interested in how women don’t talk to each other about our embodied lives as women. Sure, we ask how our derriere looks in these jeans, but we don’t talk about our uterus.

Popular society has called menstrual cycles everything from “the rag,” to “the curse,” to “Aunt Flo.” (Thank God for Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent for doing it’s part to encourage women to embrace our menstrual cycles in community!) I’ve recently written about dealing with uterine fibroids. Can I tell you – until I brought it up with my friends and damn-near strangers, only one woman (my mother) every talked with me about it. And about 75% of women may have uterine fibroids, with the African American women experiencing fibroids at a rate of three to five times their white American counterparts.

Likewise, I’m finding that miscarriage is something that women talk about – in whispers – after it’s over. Long after. Like years. Studies show that anywhere from 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s not an epidemic, but it’s not so uncommon either. But we don’t talk about it. Well, most of us don’t.

We don’t talk about any of these things. But womanhood happens. Womanhood is. We bleed. We don’t bleed. Sometimes it hurts. I find the silence deafening. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that we – women, men and society – are afraid of women’s uteri.

So I’m going to write about it for a little bit. I want to write about how I feel about motherhood – and how depression complicates that. I want to write about the grief that doesn’t end once the doctor says that “you can try again.” I want to write about how hormones play evil tricks on depressive bodies. And I want to write about the grief – and how it is and isn’t like depression.

I’m not writing about this because I’m brave or strong. Lord knows I’m not. I’m writing about it because I can’t write about anything else right now. Because I think we have to break the silence here too. Because I will not cry alone.

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Categories: Infertility, Loss, Women's Suffering

Tags: , , , ,

6 replies

  1. “I want to write about how hormones play evil tricks on depressive bodies. ”

    Please do. Thanks for this.

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  2. Preach. I’ve worked with a lot of women around reproductive loss. Encountered a lot of depression and grief in my life. Thanks for writing so honestly.

    Like

  3. I remember an essay by theologian beverley clack (uk) on miscarriage with reference to F Kahlo, but i can’t remember where it was published.

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  4. I am a (deeply grateful) student at Claremont School of Theology. While I have not yet had the opportunity to study with you, your presence is felt and known. And while I am not (yet!) a learned feminist, I believe that shining a light in dark places, in sharing what is often hidden, frees us and makes us stronger. You benefit, I expect, far more people than you know. While I am deeply sorry for your loss – and I am – I recognize the courage you take in sharing that loss so that we all might learn and grow. Thank you.

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  5. Dear Dr. Coleman,
    I find it very difficult to know how to respond to this post. I’ve been thinking about it for days. I can only imagine the pain of a miscarriage. Although, I worked on a labor and delivery unit during a CPE unit this past summer and ministered to women who lost their babies, so I am not completely in the dark. It just seems like such a sensitive and personal matter and I do not want to intrude at a time when you might not want to think about it.

    That said, I encourage you to write about it. Teach us. Women who lost their babies were confused about what God was saying to them. Also, well meaning people in trying to console them would say things like, “oh you’re young, you’ll be able to have others,” at a time when the mother just needed to scream and lament her loss — and might for awhile. The hospital language could use some thought also — the clinical term is “fetal death.” So cold and clinical as to not even come close to describing what I observed.

    You are on my heart.
    Annie

    Like

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