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Our Unspoken Grief: What Baby Loss Parents Want You to Know

By Devan McGuinness |

There has been a lot of sad news this week. A few friends and fellow bloggers unfortunately have become members of the club that no one wants to be a part of — the baby loss club. With the statistics on miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death, I know there are many of you out there who have lost a child in the past few weeks and are grieving along with us.

It hurts me to the core every time I hear a story from another mom, another family walking the path through perinatal grief. It’s not easy, and with the stigma against talking and the common misunderstandings around our loss, it can be a hard and lonely road.

Click through for 7 things baby loss parents want everyone to know:

1. Our grief is real.

It doesn’t matter if our child grew until 4 weeks gestation or 42 weeks. Our grief and pain are real. Allow us the space to feel the pain and stages of grief. Give us the same support you would to someone who lost an older child, spouse, or family member. We lost someone we deeply loved, even if you never got the chance to meet them. We grieve that loss as well.

2. Say something.

Many people fear saying the wrong thing — but saying nothing can be just as damaging. Acknowledge our loss, our grief, and our child. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing — simply say “I’m sorry,” if you can’t find other words. Let us know you’re thinking of us, check in on us, and let us know you care.

3. We won’t get over it.

You don’t get over the death of a child — you learn to live a new normal. Please don’t put a timeline on when you think we should be “normal” again. We all have our own grief journey and even years later, we’ll feel the pain. True, we will start to slowly have more good days than bad, but a bad day can hit us even years later.

4. Say our child’s name.

Don’t call it “the pregnancy”or “the fetus,” if we’ve given our child a name. We want to hear you speak it, even if it makes us cry. You won’t make us more sad saying it. You wont make us more sad bringing it up — we’re already sad. The beautiful letters of a name are the only voice we have for our lost child.

5. Our child matters.

No one wants their child to be forgotten, and that can be especially true for us baby loss parents. We want you to remember our baby, that they left some mark on this world. That they matter, they made a difference, and they will not be forgotten.

6. We’re not contagious.

Death is scary, it’s not fun, and grief can be messy to be around. Don’t distance yourself from us when we need you the most. You cannot catch grief. Becoming a member of the baby loss club is not something that will rub off on you. Even if you feel there is nothing you can do for us, just be there.

7. Listen and hear.

We want people to listen to stories of our child. We want you to hear that we are in pain. We don’t want you to fix it or make our pain go away — we just want you to acknowledge that we are in pain, acknowledge our loss, and sit with us when we need you the most. Allow us the time it takes, and don’t be afraid to ask how we are.

For support, resources, and a community of those who know the pain, visit UnspokenGrief.com

Read more from  on Accustomed ChaosUnspoken Grief
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Photo credit: modified from  dctim1 on Flickr

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About Devan McGuinness

devanmcguinness

Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is the writer of the lifestyle website byDevan. After surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan founded Unspoken Grief, a resource and support site for perinatal and neonatal loss. Read bio and latest posts → Read Devan's latest posts →

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10 thoughts on “Our Unspoken Grief: What Baby Loss Parents Want You to Know

  1. Clomid and Cabernet says:

    Great article, Devan. People are afraid to say the wrong thing…but we need words, comfort, and understanding. Sharing this on Clomid and Cabernet FB page.

  2. Adrienne May says:

    The list of things not to say is too long to try to give you. Just stop and think. Don’t minimize someone else’s hurt, ever. The frame of mind that “X is not as bad as XY” is very dangerous. Just accept that your friend/family/co-worker is hurting and that is all you need to know. The best thing someone ever said to me was “I am sorry for your loss.” The period is the key, stop there, stop while you are ahead. Do not continue with “I understand” or “you must feel X way” or “this will make it better”. Just “I am sorry for your loss.” Practice it. Allow the silence afterwards.

  3. Amanda K. says:

    thanks for sharing. i have friends struggling with this and it’s helpful to read articles like this one.

  4. Ruth says:

    Adrienne said it just right. Do NOT continue with “There was a reason” ” God wanted your child” “God needed an angel”. Don’t ever suggest God wanted my child to die. Just say “I’m so sorry”, those words always will be enough.

  5. Laurie says:

    This article is very accurate. I have lost two and have gone through all these emotions you describe in this article. I have been told that ‘life goes on’…’at least you have a child already’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’. On the flip side, I have strong support that listen to me cry, says my babies names out loud and doesn’t try and fast forward my grieving process. This is a cruel and grueling path to walk that no one should have to endure.

  6. JoAnne Palyok says:

    I’m a grandmother of a loss of a grandson. He was 40 weeks in the pregnancy when our daughter called to tell us of their loss. It was truly heart breaking. To this day (2 years have passed) I recall her words and I wish now as she does that this club was available too all of us. That night I wrote to our grandson about our feelings, mine and my husband’s, and how we will always miss him. I’ve got it in a frame and every day I read his letter. Thank you for just being there and the steps were truly real.

  7. Marie says:

    Thank you for writing this! As a mom who’s lost a stillborn baby, I can especially relate to number 4. I don’t know why, but for some reason hearing someone say my son’s name is the most meaningful thing in the world. It’s sort of an acknowledgement of his personhood, even if it does make me cry sometimes. Thank you

  8. Kristin says:

    Thank you for this great article. I’ve had two miscarriages and I definitely relate to number 1 and number 3. My losses were at 5 and 9 weeks and some people couldn’t understand my grief. Also, there is definitely no time frame for grief, especially if someone has been trying for years for their child. The most important advice I’d give to people is if you have said something perceived as offensive or hurtful just say you’re sorry, we understand it’s difficult to know what to say.

  9. Devan,
    This post touched my heart.My loss is still so new.it still hurts every day , I feel robbed completely.in my heart, I have three beautifulm children .. One whom I never got the honor of holding in my arms.Ot may sound morbid but it’s the one thing I look forward to now when I think of growing old and dying, one day I will get to hold my sweet baby . Thank you for sharing this, in only the way a mother who knows firsthand can do so. Thank you for all the love and support .xoxo
    Debi

  10. Syds.Kid says:

    Perfect list. Thank you for this. I hope many read and take to heart.

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