Why Sharing Publicly About Grief, Like Chrissy Teigen, Is So Important

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
Late Wednesday night, Chrissy Teigen shared a devastating piece of news with the world: She lost a pregnancy, her third with husband John Legend. The news came following Teigen's recent updates regarding her high-risk pregnancy that had caused her to be on bed rest, and eventually in the hospital.
"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before," Teigen wrote in an Instagram post to her 32.1 million followers. "We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough."
Later, Teigen tweeted, "Driving home from the hospital with no baby. How can this be real."
Teigen's posts were incredibly raw and intimate. In the Instagram post where she first shared her loss, she included a slideshow of black-and-white images from her in her hospital. One depicts her bent over with her hands clasped in front of her, sobbing in apparent grief. It's undeniably moving.
The slideshow was liked over 10 million times, and people have left more than half a million comments. Largely, the messages appear to be supportive, grateful, and loving. People's hearts are going out to Teigen and Legend during what is clearly an immeasurably difficult time for them.
"Oh, momma. It hurts," one Instagram commenter wrote. "I've been there. My Maya's birthday is Monday, stillborn at 21 weeks. Breathe, hug Miles and Luna, lean on your people. Sending you love and healing."
Another comment reads: "I'm so sorry for your family. You are helping so many people by sharing your story. You are helping so many mothers who have gone through this feel seen, feel less alone. Thank you for your bravery and honesty."
But some people have criticized the way Teigen chose to share her news. "Why would you take photos tho [sic]," a Twitter commenter wrote. Others have questioned her decision to share the photos.
To them, we say: There's no right way to grieve. Some people prefer to go through an experience like this privately, and that's fine. But being open about grief is not "wrong" — in fact, it can be incredible helpful and healing to the person grieving, and to others.
It's also not uncommon to document one's grief, says Lilli Dash Zimmerman, MD, fertility specialist at Columbia University Fertility Center. One hospital where she previously worked actually offered to take photos for grieving parents. Around half would say yes, Dr. Zimmerman tells Refinery29. "It's just such an individual process. Some people may want the pictures and never look at them again, and for some people it's very cathartic," she says. "For many people, having documentation and images reminds them of what they experienced and what they went through, in a positive or negative way. But I think it can be very helpful."
Miscarriage and infant loss are often described as isolating, mainly due to the stigma attached to it, adds Dr. Zimmerman. "Everyone shares and grieves differently, but being open and sharing your story makes you realize how many others have been in the same or similar situations," she tells Refinery29.
"Chrissy is letting [those who have dealt with loss] know that you don’t have to be afraid about making your loss public," says Georgia Witkin, PhD, head of patient services development at Progyny and assistant professor of psychiatry and Ob/Gyn and reproductive sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. "You don’t have to be afraid about letting people know how you feel so that they don’t have to ask." Dr. Witkin points out that even if you don’t want to share as publicly as Teigen, her openness is showing that grieving parents have permission to say, "It’s too early for me to talk about it, but thank you for caring," to those who ask.
For people who have experienced pain like this, Teigen's post could also be helping them find a community online. "Talking to people who are going through the same thing you're going through is usually the number one most helpful thing you can do for yourself," Dr. Witkin says. Scrolling through the comments of Teigen's post, it's apparent that her willingness to be open has touched many other mothers. And it's bringing them together, whether they choose to reach out to one another or not.
"For most women, [sharing] actually really helps because it opens up these channels to realizing that they're not alone and that other people have been through this that might offer support or help," Dr. Zimmerman says. "Everyone grieves differently, and some people may not be ready to talk now or ever, but if you are able to and ready to, whether it's a public social media post or one-on-one with family and friends, from my experience the outcome has never been regret."

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