Another year, another April Fool’s Day gone by and yes, some bright person decided to ‘prank’ people with a fake pregnancy announcement. Oh yay. This year, Justin Bieber and his wife, Hailey, figured it is their turn to do exactly this – Justin took to Instagram and posted a few pics suggesting his wife is pregnant. But then, surprise, surprise, it was ‘just’ a joke. Haha, funny – NOT.
It is frustrating having to break this down yet again. Let’s get to it then.
Before I dive a bit deeper into this post, I want to stress that at the time of writing, it is still unclear, what exactly is going on with the Biebers. Justin has published a post saying it was just a prank and he is sorry that some people were offended. According to him, that is the risk one takes with a prank. Hailey Bieber has yet to make a statement publicly about the whole thing.
There are people who are concerned about Justin Bieber’s mental health. They are wondering if the Biebers indeed were pregnant and are trying to make light of their loss by doing this prank. If they lost a baby then the Biebers are entitled to handle their grief in a way that they see fit. At the same time, a layer of complication clouds this as they are a public couple and a lot of people take interest in them. They will have to figure that out by themselves.
Regardless, the urgency remains to talk about once more WHY fake pregnancy announcements are so inappropriate and painful.
Your prank stops people healing
Life gives us ample opportunity to have a laugh and be merry. But, there are times where life sucks and is hard to deal with. One might argue that even death is a chance for us to have a laugh – for example when we remember a loved one fondly at their funeral and get a few laughs. Nothing wrong with that.
Pregnancy loss is a whole other world though. Joking about it is NOT FUNNY because there is still so much stigma attached to it. Families that lose a baby to a miscarriage are typically pressured to stay silent about their loss and grieve privately.
When we make a fake pregnancy announcement, it ridicules these grieving families. Their REAL loss wasn’t good enough to get attention and compassion but everyone is here to have a laugh about a fake announcement. Babies are such a great conversation topic but only if they are either fake or living and healthy. Anything else does not deserve our attention.
By pulling such a shitty prank, you contribute to the wall of silence and misunderstanding miscarriagesurvivors are faced with.
You obstruct their healing.
You make them question their grief, their feelings and mental health.
You make them feel as if their loss was a joke, too.
How can this be ever ok?
Grieving people SHOULD NEVER be in a position where they feel pressured to justify their struggle and their grief.
Grief is grief, no matter the loss.
ALL grief matters. ALL losses matter.
Your words have a fucking impact
Language is a funny thing. It brings people together, it tears them apart. It can start wars and it can bring on peace.
The tone matters, the choice of words matters and how you deliver them matters. Pearl Strachan Hurd warned us poignantely when she said ‘handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs’.
SO FUCKING TRUE.
Words can never be taken back. They stick with people and cause them pain and anguish.
For our scenario here with a fake pregnancy announcement, words cause so much damage.
Sufferers feel devalued and belittled. It was ‘jus’ a loss, no big deal. Why do you carry on so much? Lighten up.
Sufferers get judged in a vulnerable time. When we read or hear about a fake pregnancy anouncement after having suffered a loss, we get triggered. We are thrown back to our loss and to everything we had hoped for but was ripped from us. It hurts so much but we are just supposed to have a chuckle and not be so sensitive.
Mischarriagesurvivors should NEVER be the target or at the receiving end of such a bad joke. You made the fucking joke, you take the fucking responsbility. It is not about rolling the dice with a prank, ok, Biebs? Not when precious little lives lost too soon are involved. If you want to get an idea what not to say to a miscarriagesurvivor, get some ideas here .
You add to the problem
This one should be obvious but apparently it is not. Public discourse dictates how we approach topics and how much we care about them. The spinmasters of modern politics have got that down pat. They are masters at manipulating public opinion (refugees hating, anyone?) and as long as fall for that shit, there is much work to be done.
What does this mean in regards to a fake pregnancy announcement?
Mischarriagesurvivors the world over, myself included, dedicate our passion towards breaking the silence and to enable any sufferer to grieve their loss properly and in their own time.
And guess what?
It’s very much a two steps forward, one step back type work. Why? Because of STUPID FUCKING THOUGHTLESS ACTIONS OF A FEW. I doubt Biebs has any idea how much his prank has hurt our work. Heck, I am here writing this post when rather I would focus energy on better healthcare for miscarriagesurvivors. But no.
Look, I get it to a point. Talking about death has become weird in our society. We rather look at glossy happy snaps from other people on holiday, the more skin we see,the better. Death doesn’t fit this scenario. Not surprisingly, I experienced backlash for talking about pregnancy loss (read my blog post about it here).
But death is part of life. It deserves more room than what it gets now. One such opportunity to give death more space is when someone loses a baby to miscarriage.
Allow them to grieve.
Let them talk about their baby.
Be there for them as long as they need you.
DON’T announce a fake pregnancy.
Simple but powerful steps that would help so many families heal. Let’s do that.
And, if you want to enjoy a good April Fool’s joke, enjoy Maisie Williams (Aria Stark) and Jimmy Fallon pull a good one off here.
Get your copy of my book ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families here .
Work with me ! Have a look through my counselling services here .