Capture Your Grief Day 30: My Grief – What I Want The World To Know

There are so many things I could say here, but one resounds stronger than any in my heart. Up until this year, I was very quiet, even apologetic about my grief. If someone asked a question that inevitably led to me mentioning Skye, I felt almost ashamed that I had to answer in a way that made them uncomfortable. In turn, that left me in pain, ashamed of my own feelings, saddened that I didn’t do my daughter’s memory the justice that it deserved. For most of 3 years I was a silent sufferer, afraid to shadow an oblivious world with the fact of my grief.

Then, as I began speaking about her, a beautiful thing happened. I began meeting moms I had never suspected that had suffered a similar loss. I met dads and grandmothers who I had known for several years, but I met the grieving side of them for the first time. Like me, they felt obligated by our society to be silent about the fact that their child had died.

We are “allowed” to speak about a friend who passes, a mother, father, grandparent, public official   – any well-known person that many people have met and remember. However, if the lost loved one happens to be an unborn baby or a baby that never took a breath at birth, or even a tiny baby that lived its entire life in the NICU, so many people squirm. They don’t know what to say, so for some reason they say things like, “At least you didn’t have time to get attached,” or “You can have more children, healthy children this time,” or worst of all, they say nothing. The more you speak about your child, the more withdrawn your circle of “friends” get, so you learn to be silent.

You don’t forget though. You never forget the tiny person who touched your life so deeply. No matter how small they were, they were your’s and you loved them with your entire heart. It is a shame that our modern society makes us feel bad for loving, caring, remembering our children.

If there is one thing I want the world to know about my grief it’s that my daughter was and is a person. I refuse to feel shame for speaking about her as often as I feel the need. I now know there are so many people just like me, moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. You don’t realize it, but you know at least one, right now, who has been deeply affected by the loss of a young child. You know them personally. She is your friend at work, your child’s teacher, a lady in your church, the gas station clerk you chat with every morning. When you find her, don’t feel bad or uncomfortable. Just let her break the silence and offer her the same sympathy you would to someone who lost their parent or spouse. Don’t change the subject quickly and make her feel like she is a terrible person for mentioning what is probably the most precious thing she has ever had.

Capture Your Grief Day 6: What Not To Say

Since losing Skye, I have had all kinds of things said to me that hurt. Some of them were well intended condolences, some were ignorant statements coming from inexperience with grief, some were just things said from insensitivity of the worst kind. As I thought about all these things that have been said, I thought they were all bad and hurtful, but there is something that is said more often than any of these by almost everyone at different times, and it spans many kinds of losses, but especially child loss.

That is “nothing”.

I have found the most painful and most often uttered words are nothing at all. Many people aren’t familiar with grief and death, it scares most of us, and in an age of doctors and cures and our society where abortion is a normal occurence, losing a baby is one of the most taboo subjects.

How do you talk about a baby that died? Nobody wants to really think about death, but especially the death of a sweet little bundle, one of the most alive things on the planet. It is foreign, it is uncomfortable, but the worst thing you can offer someone who is grieving the loss of a child is silence. Their grief won’t go away if you are quiet enough, you are not sparing them anything by not talking about the baby that doesn’t fill their arms. As grieving parents, most of us only have a few precious memories that we cling to, especially if our baby was miscarried, still-born, or died in infancy. It is like a slap in the face when people see your tears or hear you speak your child’s name and immediately try to change the subject as soon as possible. Most people reason that there is nothing they can say that will be enough to ease the pain, and while that is true, it means so much more than you know for someone to hear my daughter’s name or find out I lost a child and genuinely say, “I’m so very sorry” without trying to quickly move on to the next possible conversation or completely ignoring this important information.

Yes, silence is the most painful and most often afflicting thing that people utter.

Day 6: What Not To Say