Sunday 25 August 2019

Dear Mary: I'm heartbroken after finding out my ex-girlfriend had a miscarriage

"I cannot get past the grief for our unborn child," a devastated reader tells Mary. Stock photo

Mary O’Conor

I am a man in my mid-30s, and two years ago, a nine-month relationship ended in a really traumatic way. The relationship had a lot of ups and downs, and we walked away from each other on multiple occasions. But the girl always convinced me that it was worth trying again, even though sometimes she treated me in a really bad way. I always gave in, hoping things would work out.

The end of the relationship was bad, and abusive language was used on both sides. We were both very frustrated and angry at each other. I think we brought out the worst in each other.

Sadly, three months after the relationship ended, she sent me a single devastating Facebook message. She informed me that she did not want to open a channel of communication, but was speaking to me on her counsellor's advice. She told me the saddest news I've had in my life, and something I will never be able to fully recover from - that she found out she was pregnant some time after the break-up, and that she lost the 14-16-week-old baby.

There was a lot more in the message, a lot of blame was thrown on me about how difficult the relationship had been. She told me I should seek counselling, which I did for a time. I met a friend a few days later and broke down completely. He comforted me, and I don't think he knows how important that was. Thankfully, I've never been suicidal, otherwise this message might have had other results. Ultimately I opened up to my father, and he tried to be supportive, even though he was also quite sad.

I saw my ex-girlfriend yesterday by accident. My heart sank. We didn't speak, I didn't dare to look at her, and I am not sure she saw me in the crowd.

I am feeling like the last two years of fighting to regain my confidence and composure are gone. I cried for a long time today, thinking that the only thing that will bring me some relief is to tell her how sorry I am, and to ask her for forgiveness.

I cannot get past the grief for our unborn child. My ex used light drugs (marijuana) and was a heavy smoker throughout the relationship, including the pregnancy (which she didn't know about for a long time since her periods were irregular). I still feel an enormous sorrow and pain that the child was not to be.

Should I, for my own sake, and for closure, at least write back to her and tell her how sorry I am about everything, even if she wrote that she doesn't want any communication?

Do you think I should move away from where I live - I own an apartment and have a good job - so that I won't have any chance of seeing her again?

I haven't been intimate with anyone since she wrote that message. I am in a really sad place on a personal level and my family and closest friends live abroad.

I sometimes have outbursts of anger, because I feel I deserved to know about the pregnancy, and she chose to inform me in the most distant way possible.

Mary replies: You are grieving for two things - the breakdown of the relationship and the miscarriage. Firstly, let us look at that relationship. It sounds far from ideal - in fact, quite the opposite. If you brought out the worst in each other then that speaks volumes. It ended very badly and I think that you should be thankful that it finished when it did before you did any more damage to each other.

Those who have been through a miscarriage speak of how devastating the experience is, and often say that people don't understand, and utter platitudes such as 'it was all for the best' instead of speaking to them about their loss.

Your ex-girlfriend sought help through counselling and obviously part of her moving on was to write to you.

She may or may not have been aware of how devastating her message was, especially as it was delivered in such a stark way.

You have to respect that she does not want to hear from you so instead why not write to her, telling her exactly how you feel, and then do not send the letter. It should be quite cathartic for you to do this as you will have worked through all the emotions you are currently experiencing. After a few days, you can destroy or delete the letter, depending on how you wrote it.

Obviously, seeing her again brought up all the old feelings. I don't think moving to a new place will necessarily make anything better - only time will do that - because you will still be the same person. I think it is wonderful that the friend in whom you confided was such a help. Do tell him how important it was for you to have him there and I'm sure he will also be there for you in the future.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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