The Duchess of Sussex has revealed her grief after suffering a miscarriage, in an article that speaks to loss and the importance of asking about others’ welfare in times of pandemic and polarisation.
Meghan shared the devastation that she and Prince Harry felt after she lost a baby in July and was admitted to hospital.
Writing in the New York Times, she described the moment, as she was changing the couple’s son Archie’s nappy at their home in Los Angeles, that she “dropped to the floor” in pain.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child that I was losing my second,” she wrote. “Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
She added that “watching her husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine”, she realised that the only way to begin to heal “is to first ask: ‘Are you OK.’”
Addressing the stigma surrounding miscarriage, Meghan continued: “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.”
In the pain of their loss, the couple had discovered that “in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage,” she wrote. “Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
Those who had bravely shared their stories had given licence for others to do the same. It was important to ask other women how they were doing. “In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing,” she wrote.
She referred to her TV interview in South Africa, given when she was “exhausted” and breastfeeding and “trying to keep a brave face” in the public eye. The ITN journalist Tom Bradby asked if she was OK, and she answered him honestly, she recalled “‘Thank you for asking,’ I said, “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.’”
Her off-the cuff remark, she said, “seemed to give people permission to speak their truth”. But it was not her answering honestly “that helped me most, it was the question itself”.
In the New York Times article, headlined “The Losses We Share – Perhaps the path to healing begins with three simple words: Are You OK?” she wrote that loss and pain had plagued many in 2020.
The world had become polarised – over facts, over science, “over whether an election has been lost or won”, she wrote. “That polarization, coupled with the social isolation required to fight this pandemic, has left us feeling more alone than ever.”
At Thanksgiving, with the pandemic separating many from their loved ones, “alone, sick, scared, divided and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for,” she wrote, “let us commit to asking others: ‘Are you OK?’”
The new normal, with masks concealing faces, was forcing people to look into each other’s eyes “sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears,” she added. “For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another. Are we OK? We will be.”