Ten percent of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage. So why does the subject still feel so taboo? For women dealing with the complicated grief of miscarriage, it’s not the stat that’s comforting—it’s the knowledge that they’re not alone, that there is a space to share their story. To help end the culture of silence that surrounds pregnancy and infant loss, Glamour presents The 10 Percent, a place to dismantle the stereotypes and share real, raw, stigma-free stories.
When I think about Pink’s and Beyoncé’s music, the word vulnerable doesn’t immediately come to mind. That’s not to say their songs aren’t personal—both artists have expansive catalogs of powerful music—but I associate their work with strength, not sadness. It turns out, though, both Beyoncé and Pink have tracks in their libraries that couldn’t be more vulnerable. Sandwiched in between the bops and bangers, both artists have songs about miscarriage.
They’re not the only ones, either: Lily Allen, Ed Sheeran, and Jay Z have also written about miscarriages. For Allen, it was her own; for Jay Z, it was Beyoncé’s; and for Sheeran it was a close friend’s. It’s a topic most people don’t talk about, much less put to music. And that’s powerful. If that’s not strong, I don’t know what is.
Pink is arguably the most vulnerable she’s ever been on the song “Happy,” from her most recent album, Hurts 2B Human. She sings, “Since I was 17, I’ve always hated my body, and it feels like my body’s hated me.” Those lyrics, as it turns out, partially derive from Pink’s having had a miscarriage at 17 years old. “The reason I said [that lyric] is because I’ve always had this very tomboy, very strong gymnast body, but actually at 17 I had a miscarriage,” the singer told USA Today earlier this year. “And I was going to have that child. But when that happens to a woman or a young girl, you feel like your body hates you and like your body is broken, and it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Jay Z, “Glory”
Jay Z released “Glory” in 2012 to celebrate the birth of his and Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy. But in the song he also sings about the miscarriage the couple experienced before becoming parents. “Last time the miscarriage was so tragic. We was afraid you’d disappear. But nah, baby, you magic,” he raps on the track. This comes after he alluded to the situation at the top of the song: “False alarms and false starts. All made better by the sound of your heart. All the pain of the last time. I prayed so hard it was the last time.”
In her 2013 HBO documentary, Life Is but a Dream, Beyoncé reveals she recorded a song shortly after going through her miscarriage. “I went into the studio and wrote the saddest song I’ve ever written in my life,” she said. “And it was the best form of therapy for me, because it was the saddest thing I’ve ever been through.” The song, called “Heartbeat,” was intended for her 2013 self-titled album but didn’t make the cut. But a snippet and some lyrics have been made public.
“I guess love just wasn’t enough for us to survive,” she sings. “You took the life right out of me. I’m so unlucky I can’t breathe. You took the life right out of me. I’m longing for your heartbeat.”
Ed Sheeran, “Small Bump”
Sheeran wrote his 2011 song “Small Bump” about his friend who had a miscarriage. “’Cause you were just a small bump unborn for four months, then torn from life,” he sings. “Maybe you were needed up there, but we’re still unaware as why.” Sheeran talked about the track’s story in 2011 with Interview magazine. “It was quite a difficult subject to tackle,” he said. “I wrote it from their perspective. It was my perspective looking on them to begin with. It’s quite a touchy subject, so I wrote it from the perspective of actually being the parent.”
Lily Allen, “Something’s Not Right”
In 2010, Allen experienced a stillbirth, which she then wrote about in a song for the 2015 movie Pan called “Something’s Not Right.” “Five years ago today I was admitted to hospital. 4 days later I delivered a beautiful baby boy, but sadly he didn’t make it,” she tweeted in October 2015. “It’s unlike me to discuss this sort of thing so publicly but I wrote this song in his memory when writing something for @panmovie.”
The lyrics to the song are quite emotional: “We had forever. We never got it together,” Allen sings. “I waited for you. For you, I made it better.”
Jay Z, “4:44”
In his 2017 song “4:44,” Jay Z reveals that he and Beyoncé experienced more than just one miscarriage while trying to conceive: They had multiple. “So I apologize. I’ve seen the innocence leave your eyes,” he raps. “I still mourn this death. I apologize for all the stillborns. ’Cause I wasn’t present, your body wouldn’t accept it.”
Daughtry, “Gone Too Soon”
According to songfacts.com, Chris Daughtry wrote “Gone Too Soon” following the birth of his twins in 2010. But the song took on a double meaning when he realized his brother and wife had experienced a miscarriage.
“The song is about realizing that today could have been the day that someone would be blowing out the candles,” he said, per songfacts.com. “It just hit me pretty hard. I remember playing the demo for my brother, and I turned around and he was bawling. I didn’t realize that my brother’s wife had suffered a miscarriage years before. It was a pretty emotional moment.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you,” the lyrics read. “I’m always asking why this crazy world had to lose. Such a ray of light we never knew.”
Hillary Scott, “Thy Will”
Scott, who is the co–lead singer of Lady A, put pen to paper and created “Thy Will” after going through a miscarriage in fall 2015. “Goodness gracious,” she told Good Morning America in 2016, according to cmt.com. “There’s this pressure that you’re just supposed to be able to snap your fingers and continue to walk through life like it never happened.”
The lyrics of the song touch on the roller coaster of emotions Scott felt at this time. “I’m so confused. I know I heard you loud and clear,” she sings. “So I followed through. Somehow I ended up here.”
Coby Grant, “Winter Bear”
The Australian singer-songwriter wrote “Winter Bear” for an expecting couple she knew who had a stillbirth. “The song is about this family’s son, but when I wrote, I thought of my mum and friends who have lost babies through miscarriage, stillbirth and SIDS,” she told Kidspot.
In the lyrics, Grant sings, “I knew you before I knew your name. I loved you before I saw your face. I longed for you for all of that time. And I held your heart in mine. I kissed you a hundred million times. I tasted the tears that I cried. I held you my beautiful child. And I’ll keep your heart in mine.”
Kellie Coffey, “I Would Die For That”
The country singer opened up in 2007 about how her fertility struggles led to the creation of this song. “My doctor assured me that nothing I did caused my miscarriage,” she wrote on her website at the time. “Still, I decided not to try to be superwoman during this pregnancy. I slowed down. Having this baby was the most important thing in my life.”
She continued, “A few months into my pregnancy, I started writing and recording again and it felt different. The songs came from a deeper place. It was as if I was being reborn as an artist and as a person as my baby grew inside me.”
Mandisa, “You Wouldn’t Cry”
Mandisa revealed the story behind this song in an interview with Chron.com. “I met a girl, who is now my friend, at a concert in Alabama,” she said. “I remember seeing her in the front row singing all the songs, and she was the first person in line after the show. She was very pregnant. Less than a week later, I got word that she had miscarried. I wanted to write a song for her and comfort her.”
When “Manic” came out earlier this year, one track that quickly stood out on the album to fans was “More.” On it, Halsey softly sings of “little feet,” and “small screens,” in quick gusts, offering another glimpse into the painful memories she has of her past miscarriages. The singer has been frank about her struggles with reproductive health, opening up to Rolling Stone about the miscarriage she experienced before a concert in 2016.
After panicking from the loss of blood and debating whether to go on stage at all, Halsey eventually had her assistant buy a pack adult diapers that she put on before heading to the venue. Afterwards, she threw up in the parking lot. “I want to be a mom more than I want to be a pop star. More than I want to be anything in the world,” she said.
Tori Amos, “Spark”
Tori Amos writes songs that are gritty and raw, and her song “Spark” doesn’t shy away from the ugly pain of losing a baby.
Written about her past miscarriage, Amos bluntly sings, “She’s convinced she could hold back a glacier. But she couldn’t keep baby alive. Doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere.”
Gary Barlow, “Let Me Go”
In the 2014 TV documentary When Corden Met Barlow, British singer-songwriter Gary Barlow shared the devastation he and his wife experienced after a miscarriage. He intentionally chose an upbeat tempo for his song, “Let Me Go” to keep his daughter’s spark alive. “It should be a celebration that song, because in some respects, it’s alive that record and those lyrics and what it relates to. It keeps a life and a flame in the whole thing.”
Jacob Lee, “I Still Know You”
A former contestant on Australia’s “The Voice,” singer-songwriter Jacob Lee wrote “I Still Know You” about a couple losing a child they barely had the chance to know but will never forget. He sings, “And though I’ll never get to recognize your voice. On the other line when you’ve grown. And made me proud to call you mine. I still know you. I still know you.”
Lee wrote on Twitter that the song was written from the perspective of a spouse trying to find ways to come to terms with the loss while supporting their partner. “It was written from the perspective of the man, looking at his wife or spouse, trying to piece together a way to comprehend such a sorrowful reality.”
Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer at Glamour. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrosa92.