Journalist Heather Lende has been writing obituaries in the small town of Haines, Alaska, for 20 years.
Miscarriages are fairly common. One in seven pregnancies end in miscarriage and the number increases as women age.
Many women experience great emotional loss with miscarriage and despite the fact that miscarriage is a very natural part of pregnancy, it is widely misunderstood and rarely talked about.
Karen Gibbons was 29 when she had her first miscarriage and she says that she and her husband felt very much alone because they did not tell anyone about it.
“No one knew what we were going through and other than my husband, I didn’t really have anyone to turn to,” Gibbons told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “I would sometimes just burst into tears for what other people saw as no reason, or somebody would tell me that they were pregnant and I’d have to leave the room because I could feel the tears starting. So that was difficult, putting [ourselves] in that position with no support system.”
“Don’t let anyone set a timeline for you, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to grieve. This was your child. This was your hopes and your dreams.”
Since then, Gibbons has miscarried twice more and also has given birth to two sons, 8-year-old Neil and 4-year-old John. She says the medical system was not very compassionate when she miscarried. She now has changed careers — she has just finished nursing school. She hopes to counsel couples and help them through pregnancy.
“I will tell them that they should allow themselves to grieve,” she said. “Don’t let anyone set a timeline for you, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to grieve. This was your child — this was your hopes and your dreams, and you have every right to grieve that.”
Gibbons also wants to help couples avoid the difficulties she faced in her first two miscarriages.
“I would encourage them to also make sure they have a support system in place, make sure they have friends and family that can support them,” she said. “I would encourage them to consider looking into a support group, because there is healing in telling your story.”
Peter O’Dowd follows the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train 150 years ago, to look at modern-day race relations and Lincoln's legacy.