Trigger Warning: This post talks about infant loss and includes photos of our baby’s grave. Please read no further if it would be too traumatic for you to do so.
One of the most difficult circumstances I have encountered thus far on our journey to moving our family 1100 miles from the only home we have ever known came the moment I realized that we would be leaving our baby behind. You see, 8 years ago yesterday, we lost our baby, Alida Rae. Her name means “little winged one, living in freedom.”
That day, 8 years ago, was one of the hardest days of my life. Yesterday ranked right up there as well. Every year on the anniversary of her death, we go to visit Alida’s grave marker. Yesterday, as I realized this would be the last time I would get to do this, I could not help but feel as though I was somehow betraying her by leaving her behind.
I know it seems silly. I know I have the hope of Christ that I will someday meet my baby face-t0-face. It hit me hard nonetheless. Turning and walking away when every ounce of me wanted to just lay down there beside her and never leave was devastating to say the least. In the 8 years since her loss, it never gets any easier and yesterday was particularly difficult.
In the aftermath of my miscarriage lots of well-meaning people had lots of well-meaning advice to give. Let’s face it, though. Death is uncomfortable. Rare is the person who knows what to do or say under such circumstances.
Here, I have compiled a list of things you should NEVER say, all of which have been said to me at one time or another.
10. This must have been God’s will.
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be presumptuous in thinking I know what God is up to, but my mind refuses to allow me to believe that God willed for my baby to die. In fact, I believe the opposite-that God willed my baby to live and I treasure every moment I had to be her mother.
9. There was probably something wrong with your baby.
This was said to me within five minutes of finding out our baby had died. It took every ounce of my strength to not want to jump across the table and smack the person who said this to me. I did NOT care one iota, nor would it have been a comfort to me if I knew something was wrong. I believe every child is a blessing and a gift, no matter what package they come in. This was MY CHILD. And every mama knows that her children are perfect!
8. You can always have other children.
Maybe. Maybe not. You don’t know this for sure so please don’t ever say this. I have several friends who have been through multiple losses and a remark like this can be incredibly insensitive. And even if it is true, as it was in our case, at the time of our grief, the only child we long for is the one that is gone. We weren’t looking for a replacement.
7. Was this child planned?
Who cares? First of all, this is a question you should NEVER ask, period. It is no one’s business. If the child was not planned, does that make this death any less tragic? For the record, our baby was most definitely planned and wanted, but it would not have made a difference to us had she not been.
6. I understand.
No you don’t. Even if you’ve experienced a loss yourself, you don’t understand. You are not in my shoes. You do not know my history and my doubts and my fears. Just because you went through your own experience does not mean ours was the same.
5. You’ll be fine. This happens to lots of women.
Actually, no, I will not be fine. I will NEVER be the same.
4. At least it happened early on and you didn’t have to go through labor.
3. It could have been worse. You could have lost a living child.
When you are in the middle of grief, nothing seems like it could be worse. This WAS my worse. And while I’m sure there is always someone in the world who is worse off than I am, this is MY reality. There is nothing worse.
2. Share your own horror story of loss and death
When someone is grieving, please do not compare their situation to yours. Don’t make it about you. And please, please, please, NEVER compare the loss of your pet to the loss of a mother’s child. (You think I am kidding, but I’m really not. You would not believe some of the things people would say.)
1. Get over it.
Gee whiz, it’s been 8 years already, don’t you think it’s time to move on? Maybe so, only you don’t have the right to tell me to do so. No one can tell another person how to grieve. We had a memorial service for our baby and lots of people thought that kind of weird, but it was something both my husband and I needed to do. Now, 8 years later, many people are surprised that we still grieve. We will never just “get over it”. It has become a part of our identity as a family.
Okay, okay, so reading back over that list makes me sound like a bitter, ungrateful woman and I’m not.
No, really. I’m not.
I am SO thankful for the people who were there for us during this time in our lives-even the ones who didn’t know what to say or who said the wrong thing. It was pure hell. And I know people have good intentions and I am thankful for that as well. My goal here is to just raise awareness and show people how their words can cause harm, even if they are unintentional.
On the other hand, there are lots of things you CAN do and say for a grieving mother. I will share some of the things that were most helpful to us in next week’s Top Ten Tuesday post.
I am linking up this post over at Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday.
Have you ever experienced loss? Did you get any of these comments? Do you have anything to add to my list of things that should NEVER be said to a grieving mother?