A few months ago I told my husband that I wanted to officially work on a project with my hashtag, “StruggleDoesNotHaveALook”. I came up with this saying over a year ago as part of a project within my group, RISE FOR WOMEN. But I felt it was time to REALLY bring this to the attention of the world.

My plan was to share the happiest portraits of those who have ended their lives to suicide mixed in with other happy portraits of those who struggle or have struggled with mental health issues.

Why? It seems only after a tragedy or when we find out someone needs help do we look back on portraits and say to ourselves, “but I would have never known. He or she looks so happy.”

A smile can sometimes hide all the pain and suffering. That’s why I always say sometimes struggle has no look. There have been many times in my life where I posted the happiest pictures of myself, walked into a meeting with a smile on my face, or put on the best dress and danced with friends. And the truth is. Sometimes I was struggling from a lot of emotional trauma. I went through a lot over the last four years.

Struggle doesn’t always have a look to the outside world. Sometimes it’s only visible to the one who suffers. It’s so important to check in on friends, family, and associations. Silence is dangerous. And we should encourage each other to talk about our struggles. Because something to always remember is that we all struggle at some point in our lives. And sharing our struggles is what connects us all.

Which brings me to this. I am still struggling from what happened in June. Today I may be dressed up. I may have smiled to people in the coffee shop. But on June 12, I saw our lifeless baby boy on an ultrasound, and on that Wednesday afternoon, I had surgery to have him removed. 

And I have cried and cried and cried so much since then. Every day is different. So is every hour. You know, life is both beautiful and messy. It can sometimes bless us. And then it can challenge us in ways that box us in so bad we can’t see the way out.

That is life. It can be you jumping around with your husband so excited to be having a baby to you screaming on the phone “our baby is gone. Our baby is gone.” And when you hear his voice, a low and crackled, “what?”, you are at the lowest of low. And in that moment, you don’t know how you can possibly live another minute because there is nothing you can do to save your baby. And you just feel so helpless and alone. Life is messy. And it can be so tragic. But let me tell you this. No one can escape loss. It doesn’t matter how little or much money you have. It doesn’t matter how little or much success you have achieved. We all face loss. And loss is different from person to person and family to family. But loss, is inevitable. And there is no way to ever prepare for how you’ll react to it. But when you do face it, it’s so important to talk about it. And if you don’t have a support system, please I beg you, find someone. Or, be that someone. We have to encourage each other to communicate to our loved ones and even people we pass by on the streets. We never really know when someone is struggling. The only way to know is by talking.

I’m thankful for those who have talked about their losses. When I was alone and screaming, “I cannot possibly live” in the doctor’s office, I then remembered women who posted about their recent miscarriages. And I immediately reached out to them. They, along with my support system, have truly helped me find the hope I needed to get to where I am today. But this doesn’t mean that my smiles today or in the coming weeks or months means I’m free of struggle. It doesn’t mean my husband or my children will be free from struggle. Remember sometimes struggle has no look. I don’t know how I am going to be. I don’t know how they are going to be. It’s going to be hard. It simply means that I am continuing to live in this beautiful and messy life. And that’s why I’m talking about it. Because no one should live in silence. Talk about things. Get them out. I am. 

Dana Dewedoff-Carney

Dana Dewedoffinspire