Our Unspoken Grief: What Baby Loss Parents Want You to KnowDevan 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.
Here are seven 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 won’t 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.