As I was on my train into school this morning, earbuds clipped in tightly, and completing my morning ritual of checking my Twitter and Instagram feed, I came across a heart-breaking news article written by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, for the New York Times. In the article titled ‘The Losses We Share,’ Meghan was speaking personally about the loss many have faced in 2020, including details of her and her husband Prince Harry’s own personal loss.
As someone who has followed Meghan for a very long time, from before she became a member of the British Royal Family, and during the time that she was in Suits, I was initially excited to read this article. Since Harry and Meghan stepped down as ‘senior’ working members of the Royal Family and moved to North America to live a more private life back in March, we have seen less and less of the couple and their adorable one-year old son Archie. Every few weeks or so, we’ve been surprised with snippets of video clips from Zoom calls they have been making with charities and everything seemed to be going well for them, until I read this article.
The article, written in a first-person narrative from The Duchess’ perspective, woefully began with “It was a July morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib. After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right. I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second. 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 revealed that she had a miscarriage in July, writing in the article of feeling “an almost unbearable grief”. A source close to The Duchess has confirmed to the BBC that she is currently in good health and that she wanted to come out and share her story when she and her husband were ready. The couple had their first child, Archie-Harrison Mountbatten Windsor on the 6th May 2019, less than a year following their glamorous nuptials in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Meghan also spoke about events that took place last September, during a Royal tour of Southern Africa that she and Prince Harry took part in. After being subject to relentless trolling on social media during her first pregnancy, as well as her being a victim of a campaign by numerous UK tabloids spreading false and malicious propaganda which Prince Harry described as ‘deeply painful’ for her, ITV journalist Tom Bradby asked The Duchess “are you okay?” Meghan replied, “thank you for asking, not many people have asked if I am okay.” In the article, Meghan reflected on that day when she was asked if she was doing okay: “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heartbreak as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, “Are you OK?”
Meghan resonated with millions of people across the globe who have been plagued with pain and loss this year, either due to Covid-19 or other fraught and debilitating circumstances. I’m not sure about anyone else, but one of the key themes that I took away from reading this was one of healing. Yes, this year for all of us has been difficult, to say the least, with social isolation and the escalation of physical and mental health problems. She has also brought home the message of connection. There is an emphatic need to check up on our loved ones, a smile, or a simple ‘Are you okay?’ goes a long way.
As the Duchess of Sussex said, “In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.” She is not just talking about the pain of losing a loved one or suffering a miscarriage, but the pain that every single person faces; the pain that, perhaps, binds us together? Regardless of our gender, ethnicity, sex, race? I am aware that many of the audience reading this will be of a young age, so I just want to end this by saying three things. Firstly, continue to be kind, because it truly does go a long way. Second, check on your loved ones regularly, maybe not just asking someone ‘Are you okay,’ but building trust with them and enabling them to open up to you and share their emotions with others. And finally, to Harry and Meghan, we are deeply sorry for your loss, we thank you for sharing such personal details which will no doubt have a fundamental impact on thousands of people going through similar pains, and our thoughts and prayers are with both and Archie.
As Meghan ended her personal article with the following words, I would like to too: “Are we OK? We will be.”
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling and needs helps, there are several resources available that can offer expert advice. Here are a few that I would recommend:
- MIND https://www.mind.org.uk/ (A mental health charity that promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems)
- Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/ (Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair) Phone: (116 123 – a free 24-hour helpline)
- SHOUT https://giveusashout.org/ (A free, confidential, 24-hour text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope) Text: (85258 – free, confidential, and any time of the day)
- The Miscarriage Association https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/ (An organisation founded in 1982 by a group of women who had experienced miscarriage. They offer support and information to anyone affected by the loss of a baby in pregnancy. They offer free support and information which is unique to you via their website.)
Remember: Miscarriage, along with many, many other health problems in not a taboo. Now is the time to talk about it, now is the time for destigmatization. Just like we can talk about how we suffer the common cold; this is also a topic for discussion. Talk about it. Raise awareness.
To read Meghan’s deeply personal and heart-breaking article via the New York Times, visit the website below. I urge everyone to read the article in its entirety, it is so vital that we understand and acknowledge that it is okay to not be okay; just like it is okay to share your problems/pains with others.