(WARNING: this is an important and sad topic. I promise my next post will be happier.) My son was explaining to me that our atoms never completely touch. When we are touching something, there is a microscopic space between us and the object or person. The theory is that our atoms have only ever truly come into contact with our parents or our children. At conception, the chemical reaction where our atoms are fused and create “me” is the only time we really ever touch someone. Of course it’s only a theory, but when I meet a mother who miscarries or loses a baby through stillbirth or perinatal death, this “theory” of a ‘closeness like no other’ matches their sense of loss. October is when we take a minute to honor babies that have died and learn how to support the grieving parents.
An empty cradle: Understanding the loss.
Death is such a taboo subject in our society; which makes supporting someone who lost a baby, harder to navigate. Let me put it in perspective: when the stick turns blue, she is a Mommy and her identity has changed: her world has just been altered, permanently. When that baby dies, a part of her world dies and she cannot be prepared. Without memories to make this more concrete; only dreams of what would have been – this is surreal and just plain harder to process and find closure.
Upcoming gathering in Montreal:
Every October, Mount Royal Cemetery hosts a bilingual, non-religious, memorial service babies to honor the babies that have died. It’s on Sunday, October 27th at 2 PM. Call them at 514-279-7358 or contact me for the flyer.
What to say or do when someone has lost a baby.
When someone miscarries, people can mistakenly think that this is to be expected and that these things happen. The problem is that they’re only supposed to happen to other people! There isn’t even a word to describe it. We lose our parents, we’re orphans; we lose a spouse, we’re a widow or a widower: we lose a baby, we don’t have a name for it because it’s too horrible. A participant from a support group I facilitate for baby loss, wrote an excellent article on this subject. I especially liked her “to do list” at the bottom. Read the “to do list’ below or Click here for the whole article.
What not to say:
- You’re young, you can try again.
- I guess heaven needed another angel.
- He’s in a better place now.
- Aren’t you glad you don’t have to change diapers?
- You should talk to my sister/cousin/aunt, they also had a miscarriage.
- There was probably something wrong with the baby.
- Be glad you didn’t know the baby.
- It wasn’t meant to be.
- I know how you feel.
- Will you have another one?
- The next one will be the right one.
What to say or do:
- Do acknowledge the baby and the loss.
- Tell the person “I’m thinking about you today.”
- Remember important dates (anniversaries, expected due dates, etc.).
- Ask questions like: How are you feeling today? Do you want to talk about it?
- Don’t hesitate to say, “I don’t know what to say.”
To everyone who has recently lost a baby, my deepest sympathies. Every breath is difficult because you are holding back tears. Let them flow and lean on someone who loves you. I promise, with time, the tears will slow down, and they will then stop. And you WILL see the sunshine again.
If you have any comments on this topic, I would love to hear from you below or contact me privately if you prefer. Take care and next post, I promise a happier topic!