My troubles are with my wider family.
When I was a child, our large London family led by my great grandparents, East End born and bred, was stereotypically known for it’s warm heart and tough exterior. Family gatherings were weekly and soap opera arguments were common. Families were celebrated in birth and honoured with black horses in death.
As the years have gone by and my generation have moved to other countries, to pursue university, marriage or new starts. So the strong family unit has dismantled, about the same time my grandmother passed away and my grandfather sold the house in Bow to a developer. With our moving came a wider understanding of life and politics, and we demanded more wisdom from our family peers.
I am not a father because my partner lost our baby at 6 weeks and we cannot conceive. We don’t have the money for IVF and as she approaches her late 30s, so time slips away. The bank were unwilling to lend us funds and when I spoke to my family, they were cynical that it would work and the topic never came up again. When I speak about our pain at family events,the subject is changed quickly. We’re expected to attend family events including christenings but often don’t because we cannot be true to ourselves.
Most of my family are on Facebook and social media. My brother, my cousins, aunts and uncles. Without exception not one of them has engaged with my timeline when I share something about infertility. Pictures of my cats yes. Any article about loss from the media. It is only ever our friends who comment. Never those who have grown up with me and known me for 39 years. It's staggeringly rude, complacent and yet incredibly common accordingly to my partner.
Ironically we’ve been tagged in photos of the family as we stood to the side and I wished my father was stood with me and my son. Swallowing down the anger at being party to such an event, I feel heartbroken and betrayed by this selective use of social media.
If you are a relative of someone who has gone through loss, don’t let your discomfort prevent you from reading about their work finding out how they are coping and talking to them. Engage with them and let them speak, trust that they know their own pain better than you and that they aren't the same person you grew up with. Miscarriage and infertility changes people, it disrupts relationships not only within their marriage or partnership but at work, with friends and of course families. Yet it never fails to surprise me how many families take for granted that blood binds can overcome all the hurt. It only overcomes when tolerance, patience and empathy are understood.
I will share this message at our next ‘do’ and be proud I spoke out.