Three Days That Matter

Andrew running the Brighton Marathon for the Miscarriage Association.

Andrew running the Brighton Marathon for the Miscarriage Association.

If this year has taught me anything, all days matter.

‘More than one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage – around a quarter of a million in the UK each year’. (Miscarriage Association).

Such a straight-forward and factual sentence but one which is loaded with undisclosed pain, frustration and anger. My interest and connection to Miscarriage, sadly comes through personal experience. My wife and I had 3 consecutive miscarriages several years ago.

These were 3 days that mattered.

As a man I was devastated by what had happened and also by people’s lack of awareness about my feelings. It was as if miscarriages only happen to women. Yes, miscarriages happen to men. It’s not a competition for attention but indicates a social and cultural lack of awareness that men go through this process virtually un-supported.

In response I wanted to raise money and awareness for the Miscarriage Association. I decided to run 3 races: the Great North Run (13.1 miles), Ealing Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and the Brighton Marathon (26.2 miles). 3 races for 3 tragic deaths.

The hardest and most rewarding part of these runs by far was wearing the Miscarriage Association running vest. This process was full of emotional contradictions. It felt like the world knew what I had personally gone through, yet I wanted to hide. Yes, I wanted them to know but also could barely deal with it. I never wanted to wear the running vest of the Miscarriage Association. No one ever wants a miscarriage.

However, I am very proud of what I did, like so many other people who are compelled to raise awareness and having gone through or connected to miscarriage in some way.

Each run was wonderful, both physically and emotionally painful but very uplifting. The crowds, the other runners’ reasons for running was incredible and very humbling. For me it highlights what’s great about human beings.

Completing the runs and raising money feels good but doesn’t replace my loss or pain but hopefully through the Miscarriage Association, awareness is growing so people who go through this may not feel so alone and numb. Hopefully they will have the cultural and social support necessary to allow the grieving process to happen.

In addition, as a professional artist and lecturer, I decided to make a painting specifically relating to this. I’ve been working on it, a paper scroll (currently approximately 60ft long x 3ft wide) for the last 1.5 years. The imagery relates to not only my own story but includes imagery/text from other men and their experiences. On a personal level it celebrates my 3 dead children’s lives that never were. The story is much bigger and wide-reaching than the pictures.

When I’ve lectured at Universities to under & post-graduate level art students and spoken/shown the work to non ‘art’ people, it appears to hit a nerve. Both men and women seem very moved by the imagery and surprised a man’s the author, excited by the visual spectacle and informed by the work. It raises a lot of questions and opens a forum for discussion. The content is very wide-reaching, the artwork invites the viewer into a double-edged celebratory yet devastating narrative. Eventually I will exhibit this work.

This year has been one of the most challenging and uplifting periods of my life, which encourages me to celebrate life, accept its challenges and love the opportunities that my 3 dead children did not. Every day matters.

 

Photo by Tim Waterfield.

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