By Jennifer Hassan
LONDON – Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, revealed on Wednesday that she had a miscarriage in July, describing in an opinion piece for The New York Times the “almost unbearable pain” that comes with losing a child. She urged people to “commit to asking others, ‘Are you OK?'”
Within minutes after the story was published, women began sharing on social media their own experiences of miscarriage and praised her for her candour.
The 39-year-old duchess, who married Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, in May 2018, wrote that the day of her miscarriage began like any other, a morning filled with ordinary moments: making breakfast, feeding the dogs and puttering around the family home.
The reactions to Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen going public about their miscarriages shows why so many people who go through the same suffer in silence. The cruelty of the trolls proves why it’s necessary to destigmatize miscarriages
— Ann Marie Lastrassi stan (@naledimashishi) November 25, 2020
Then she felt “a sharp cramp” as she was changing her son’s nappy, which caused her to fall to the floor with him in her arms, she wrote. Archie Harrison was born in May 2019 and is seventh in line to the British throne.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” she wrote. Once in the hospital with her husband by her side and holding her hand, she struggled to imagine how the pair would heal from the trauma of their loss, she added.
The duchess, long a target of Britain’s tabloid newspapers, cited the moment British journalist Tom Bradby asked her during the couple’s 2019 tour of Africa if she was okay.
“Not many people have asked if I’m OK … It’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she replied at the time, admitting to Bradby that life as a new mother in the public eye had been a struggle.
The honest and emotional response went viral, as many people took to social media to show support for the duchess, while others raised concerns for her emotional well-being.
In the article, Meghan reflected on her conversation with Bradby, pondering what the world would look like if more people found the time to ask about the feelings of others. She said she did not know that her response to his question would “resonate with so many,” including other mothers and people around the world who had been suffering in silence.
“Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break 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?,'” she wrote, before noting the pain experienced by so many during 2020 and urging others to make space for compassion.
She reflected on the grief wrought by a global health crisis and the divisions on display in the United States following a tense election period and a year in which people took to the streets to protest police brutality, citing the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
The duchess has been cast as an outsider by British newspapers, which have hounded her since she began dating Prince Harry in 2016. Before she became a royal, the American Meghan Markle was an actress best known for her role in the television legal drama Suits.
The Daily Mail said she was “(almost) straight outta Compton” – a reference to the N.W.A. rap album – as it explored the Los Angeles neighbourhood of her mother, Doria. The Sun newspaper was forced to issue an apology over a story in which it claimed she had appeared on Pornhub.
Media coverage of Meghan, along with her professional and personal relationships, became so vicious that the palace even stepped in to call for better treatment of the duchess. Harry has also expressed concern in the past that his wife would fall victim to the same bullying that his mother, Princess Diana, experienced at the hands of the media.
But in January, it became clear the couple had reached the limit of the unceasing coverage of their life together, when they revealed in an Instagram post that they would be “stepping back” as senior members of Britain’s royal family. They added that they wanted to work to become “financially independent” and split their time between Britain and North America.
Their announcement stunned much of the country – including Queen Elizabeth II, who allegedly was not aware of their desire to back away from the royal spotlight, according to the tabloids, which dubbed the move “Megxit”.
Buckingham Palace declined to respond to the article, saying the couple’s loss was “a deeply personal matter which we would not comment on”, Reuters reported.