Seeking Safe Spaces
By Megan Lacourrege
“Safe spaces.” It’s something I was seeking after experiencing two miscarriages.
I didn’t have a name for it at the time, but I learned this phrase through a presentation hosted in 2019 by the Archdiocese of New Orleans when Michaelene Fredenburg, the CEO of Life Perspectives, shared data-driven suggestions on how to create safe spaces for bereaved parents.
My husband and I attended, seeking a sense of community in what has been two of the most isolating experiences of our lives. It was affirming to hear Michaelene talk about the value of listening instead of lecturing.
When I look back on the darkest days of our grief, all we wanted was to be allowed to tell our story, feel sad and believe our babies’ lives mattered. Efforts to “fix” us, give advice and cheer us up were detrimental to our healing process. While I know people were trying to be helpful, these actions did not meet us where we were; they left us feeling more unheard and misunderstood than before the conversations started.
“Safe spaces” remind me of Pope Francis’ idea of accompaniment. When we accompany others, we commit ourselves to walking along with them on their journeys. We don’t expect all of their struggles to be solved in one conversation.
I remember, with gratitude, those who sat with me in my suffering. They welcomed God’s graces to fill them when they knew their words weren’t enough, and they allowed those graces to reach me.
I’ve often thought back on Michaelene’s presentation. In a way, all human beings could use safe spaces. Maybe it isn’t for miscarriage but another issue. Like miscarriage, some of our human wounds are deeply hidden.
What are ways that we can accompany others in their midst of their trials? How can we grow in openness to allowing others to accompany us in our struggles?