A little over a year ago, Meghan Markle was asked if she was okay by a reporter. It sounds like a standard question, but it's one the Duchess of Sussex hadn't heard throughout multiple media interviews. "Thank you for asking,” Markle said at the time, detailing her struggle to transition to royal life and the media scrutiny of becoming a new mother. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”
Markle's raw and honest response was something we rarely see from the famously buttoned-up royal family. And now, Markle is breaking from tradition and sharing her truth once again — this time about the devastating pregnancy loss she and Prince Harry experienced in July.
In an essay for The New York Times published this morning, Markle writes about the moment she knew she was losing her second child while holding her son, Archie. "Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand," she writes. "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."
Markle wrote that she hoped sharing her loss would encourage the many families who have also experienced this pain, citing a study from the Mayo Clinic that 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage. "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," Markle writes. "Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."
Markle thanked those who have also shared their stories, including a wave of public figures like Chrissy Teigen, Kate Beckinsale, Beyoncé, Kate Mara, and Hope Solo. "They have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same," Markle wrote. "We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."
Sharing in grief can be incredibly powerful, and remind people that they don't have to suffer alone. "Everyone shares and grieves differently, but being open and sharing your story makes you realise how many others have been in the same or similar situations," Lilli Dash Zimmerman, MD, fertility specialist at Columbia University Fertility Center, previously told Refinery29.
Markle notes that along with pregnancy loss, there are many other traumas people are grappling with this year, including the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to COVID-19, the anxiety and isolation of a global pandemic, racial injustice and the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police, and widespread political unrest. "In places where there was once community, there is now division," she writes.
Markle encouraged readers to take a moment to start asking each other if we're okay and really listening to the answer. A small gesture, and a seemingly small question, can go much further than we think. And with a year as isolating as this one, it sounds like a good start.